Wordy Weekend – Prompt #1

I am using prompts from various locations including books, websites and a fellow writer with a very creative mind. I will always reference the source, as needed, with the exception of my writer friend who has given me permission to use his prompts.

The Apple Never Falls Far From The Tree:

Like my father, I am strong headed, frugal and box shaped.

Like my mother, I am intelligent and witty, independent and capable.

Like my grandfather, I am curious and love to read.

Like my grandmother, I am a minimalist who hates excess.

Like my aunt, I am curly haired and green eyed.

Like my cousin, I am barren and heartbroken.

Like my sister, I am big chested and curvy.

Like my best friend, I am accepting and open minded.

Like my husband, I am light hearted and cheerful.

Like my dogs, I am easy to please and love easily.

Like my nephew, I love a challenge and adventure.

Like my childhood bully, I am flawed and imperfect.

Like my high school teacher, I have a passion for writing.

Like my coworker, I adjust easily to changes.

Like my childhood friend, I am most happy when I am working hard.

Like my therapist, I am empathetic and caring, thoughtful and considerate.

Like my doctor, I am interested in life and always strive to do better.

Like my dog sitter, I am unique and honest.

From all these trees I fall, from all these trees I grow, from all these trees I am.

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Handle With Care – Book Review

10 hours ago I finished Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult…and I could not wait a minute longer to share my thoughts with you.

If you have not read it, but might, stop reading here. There are spoilers in this!

Ok…so the only people still reading are not worried about spoilers, right?

For sure?

OK here goes:

What the fuckity fuck.

This book was awful – sad, painful, exhausting. It’s not just the controversial topic – a wrongful birth lawsuit of a disabled child who would have been aborted had the family known – but the series of tragedies, with ZERO resolution, that followed.

I know, I know, this is Picoult’s style. I get that, I really do. But this book was so damn sad and left me feeling so damn hopeless.

First of all – Willow was clearly a wanted child. Yet, through an incredibly difficult life that I could never understand, her Mother (Charlotte) wages a lawsuit where she is required to stand in front of a jury and admit that had she known how sick Willow was, she would have aborted her. Willow was 6 and old enough to understand, throughout the book she does numerous things to show that she feels like they will get rid of her because she’s “broken” – and still, it doesn’t slow her Mother’s resolve down.

Secondly – the person Charlotte is suing is her oldest, and closest friend. The woman she tells everything to, and have raised their daughters together (to be best friends)…pretty much a sister. Up until the moment the lawsuit is served, they are spending time together – shopping, being together, being best friends. The lawsuit destroys Piper – she is unable to return to work, she is lost under the weight of being sued by her very best friend, who she would do anything for, and who had never breathed a word of the thoughts that bred this lawsuit. Piper becomes a shadow of herself, just going through the motions and trying to figure out how to move on.

Thirdly – this lawsuit also destroys Amelia – Charlotte’s oldest daughter. She begins shoplifting, develops bulimia and starts cutting in attempts to make sense of what is going on. She loses her best friend (Piper’s daughter, who now hates Amelia and her family), she becomes an outcast at school. Her mother is so preoccupied with the lawsuit and Willow, she feels neglected and unwanted and she hates herself passionately.

Fourthly (I know, not a word), Charlotte’s husband Sean is in direct disagreement with the lawsuit. He refuses to say that he wouldn’t have had Willow, determined to give Willow a safe place where she is loved and wanted. He is horrified at the unfolding of the lawsuit and the way it is destroying everything. He eventually separates from Charlotte, and then files for divorce while testifying against her in the lawsuit that Willow was and is wanted.

 

Despite all of this unease and negativity – Charlotte presses forward, determined that this is the right thing for Willow. Even when Willow’s actions show she believes she is not wanted and not loved, Charlotte continues.

In the end, she wins the lawsuit at the cost of her marriage, her best friend, and both of her daughters mental health (Willow, at 6.5, slits her wrists during the trial and almost bleeds out). She then takes her 8 million dollar cheque and sticks it to her fridge, without even cashing it. All that ruin, all that damage, and she doesn’t even cash the damn cheque.

Then – in true Picoult fashion – Willow, the sweet girl that is the very center of this story, the girl that her mother lost almost everything for, the girl that is desperate to prove her worth falls through a frozen pond and drowns. The end.

I can’t even begin to imagine was Picoult was getting at. Was she trying to show the harms of a wrongful birth lawsuit? Was she pro-choice or pro-life? Is she just interested in making a controversy so complicated it’s impossible to pick a side?

The entire thing makes me feel sick. I cannot imagine birthing and raising a child, loving and caring for a child, and then suing the Doctor who diagnosed her with an illness – claiming that had I known, I would have aborted her. Especially if the Doctor was your closest friend. But then again, I don’t have a special needs child who’s needs are bleeding our finances dry – who I am afraid, every day, that something I cannot pay for will happen or that I will die and leave them with no one to care for them.

As much as I wanted to like and understand Charlotte, I mostly hated her. It wasn’t what she was doing necessarily (I understand it was truly about the money, and securing a future for Willow) – it was that she was willing to carry on, despite the cost of almost everyone else in her life, that made me hate her.

It’s such a complicated topic – but I like to think that if I were in her shoes, I would have backed down when I realized it was costing me everyone – my husband, my children, my best friend. But, then again, I suppose she was at a point where she realized she had already lost everything – why not carry on to at least having something at the end of it.

Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

Microblog Mondays – Coyotes

*Read more about Microblog Mondays here!*

Three weeks ago when Mr. Big and I arrived home from a party at around midnight, we got out of the car to the sound of 5 -6 coyotes howling at the big, beautiful full moon. It was the eeriest and most beautiful experience – but I have to admit, it sent chills up my spine. (side note…why DO they howl at the full moon??). I have occasionally heard one howling nearby, but never a whole pack. It was crazy.

Then on Saturday my Vet called us (and all of their rural clients) to advise us there has been a spike in coyote attacks on dogs, and to be cautious letting your dogs out at night.

Naturally, I awoke at 4:35 AM this morning after a horrible nightmare in which Beans (our small dog) was snatched by a coyote, taken into the woods and eaten. I tried to wake Mr. Big to tell him we need to move, but he was less than appreciative. I then spent the next 20 minutes on the desk in my jammies and a parka, armed with a snow shovel, while the dogs took their sweet time peeing.

As you can imagine, there was no going back to sleep after that.

Send coffee…and perhaps a guard Donkey.

 

Wordy Wednesday: Under the Same Blue Sky Book Review

Under the Same Blue Sky by Pamela Schoenwaldt:

Can I just take a moment to say how much I love the main character Hazel? She is everything I want to be – strong, passionate, courageous and morally right. Despite her German roots in a society that is quickly drawing lines between German and American – she remains a consistent force in spreading Peace. She strives to bring peace to the children in her life and teach them compassion, not war. She loves Ben and Tom easily and completely exactly as they are, without the frillyness of youth. She rises to challenges time and time again – first with teaching, and then with her work with the Baron. She forgives her father and her mother effortlessly, able to understand something far beyond her years. She refuses to let her Mother’s legacy dictate her life, despite her concern that it will anyway. She is tender and kind. I loved following her journey, and was constantly in awe of her ability to roll with the punches life threw at her. When her love returns, beaten and damaged, she embraces him wholly exactly the way he is. To me, this is a much more realistic love story than so much of what I read.

The book’s writing style itself was OK – while I LOVED the characters, and I appreciated that it remained true to the historical time it was placed in –  there were a couple things that were a large focus of parts of the book and then left unfinished (almost abandoned as though the author meant to remove them from the book) and that makes it feel incomplete.

I think the main themes in the book are strong and clear: enduring, thriving, forgiving, loving and living. Hazel endures so many challenges, but continues to push through them all. She thrives at what she does, forgives easily, loves and lives with purpose. It is a good read, and I doubt anyone can read it without falling in love with Hazel.

 

Microblog Mondays – Books

Check out Stirrup Queens for more information on Microblog Mondays, and see how you can participate too!

It’s not secret that I love to read. Sometimes, I can read 6 -8 books a month and other times I read only 3 or 4. It’s my escape from the world and I love that I get to learn so much and experience so much with each novel I pick.

BUT….

It is costly. I spend anywhere from $40 to $120 per month on books (which gives Mr. Big a stroke). I buy used wherever possible, but I have an issue with books that are smelly or dirty (crusty food drops on pages are the products of my nightmares!) – so it’s hard for me to buy used or use a library. I always flip through the book first to ensure it is clean before buying or loaning.

It’s also space consuming – I have three book shelves and the top of our linen chest covered in books and I am already out of space. I love having my house filled with books, but at the same time – I’m out of room!!

So I’m reaching out to my fellow readers: how do you save money on books and do you keep your books or recycle them? (Note: By recycle, I mean donate or give away).

Wordy Wednesday

Wow…has it really been 3 weeks? I’m sorry, first I was struck down with the gastro plague for four days, and then work got crazy busy …. I am barely treading water these days!

However – the one thing I can always make time for (because it is my main escape/relaxation inducing thing) is reading. And I read some goodies! I noticed while writing these reviews that I love a strong heroine who can stand on her own (without the fairytale Prince Charming coming to rescue her)…it doesn’t mean she can’t choose love, it just means she is strong in herself, too.

  1. Across the Green Ocean by Wendy Lee
    • This is a story about an immigrant family, (Mother and two children), who are shocked by the sudden death of their father – which then causes them to re-evaluate their lives and leads them on the most interesting journeys (two in America, and one in China). I love that in the story, both main characters learn to make choices for themselves – not for their spouse or parents. It’s about learning independance and how to live for yourself when it feels like everything else is collapsing. The ending is a bit open ended for me, but I also like that – in this case, there was no fairy tale ending. Just a real, relatable ending.
  2. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
    • Love, love, love!! This is a beautiful story of a conventional housewife and her unconventional mother as they try to bridge the gap between them, caused by an enormous white lie. I like seeing Jessie become something more than the traditional role she has found herself in, and it is intriguing to watch her process how she seemingly has everything, but is still not fulfilled, and the unconventional decision she comes to in the end.
  3. The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin
    • I’ve got to be honest, this author did an amazing job of creating a character that the reader would feel defensive of. From the beginning I could see Lee being bad news for Nora, and I enjoyed watching their story unfold. It’s also intriguing that the author humanized Lee’s actions, making her more likeable (albeit, not as much as Nora). I also like the way the story weaved back and forth in time, and most importantly the way the story ended. Beautiful and haunting.
  4. Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones
    • Excellent, excellent book! A good read – it weaves together the stories of two very different but equally struggling people, and their experiences in a world that believes everything about them is wrong.
  5. When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt
    • This was a page turner for me. Following Irma’s journey, and watching her blossom into such a strong woman was a pleasure. So many of us can relate to Irma. She is strong and powerful in a quiet way, that does not attract harm but still sets boundaries. I like that her story is not a traditional one (go on a journey, find a man, settle down, and they lived happily ever after). It’s a story about a strong, quiet girl who makes difficult and terrifying choices to lead herself on the path of her choosing. The important thing I took from Irma, was that no matter how difficult it got she continued to choose her path. Sometimes, it is easier to give up – but those are the times we need to press on, even harder than before.
  6. Fiercombe Manor by Kate Reiordan
    • Enchanting, haunting, beautiful, sad…this novel is all of these things. I finished it in one day. Truly a beautiful and delicately woven tale of the hardships of being a woman. Read it! (But please note it has some pregnancy and loss in it).