From the Amazon book summary: New York City flight attendant Annie Taylor is grounded. Turbulence in the airline industry leads to her job loss—putting a halt to her weekends in Rome and independent city life. Just when she needs him the most, she loses her boyfriend and her apartment. Annie flees the city for the family farm in Kentucky. Her arrival is met by a shotgun-wielding grandmother, a suspicious stranger moving into the old stone house, and her attractive childhood friend Jake about to make the biggest mistake of his life. Struggling against her grandmother’s stubborn ways, Annie disagrees with her on the fate of the family farm but stays on to help her grandmother through a knee surgery by tending the garden and learning how to can the vegetables. Through the summer’s trials, Annie is forced to face her own past mistakes and the consequences. When the phone call comes from New York earlier than expected, Annie must choose between coming to terms with her deep roots or leaving it all behind for a return to the city.
Overall, I liked Grounded. Anyone who has lived in or spent time in small southern towns will certainly recognize the language, colloquialisms, and sense of community. That part felt very familiar to me as I was reading- almost as if some of my own relatives were speaking. As is the case in many southern towns, the church is a social center, so a tolerance for church relationships and mentions of Jesus are a must for readers to stay engaged and enjoy the book.
Annie is a believable character who grows as a person through the course of the story- albeit in a somewhat predictable manner. That’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable, just that I wasn’t terribly surprised by certain turns of events as the book progressed.
I liked the way the characters relate to each other. Sometimes you don’t need high drama to tell an interesting story, and understated can be just as entertaining as a tale fraught with tension.
I enjoyed Grounded and I’m looking forward to reading more from Angela Correll.
I finally got caught up on a couple of reviews. I posted my thoughts on I Am Malala yesterday. My review of Angela Correll’s Grounded will post late Tuesday morning. I just finished Nora Roberts’ The Dark Witch and have just started A People’s History of the United States 1492 to the Present so lots of reading going on.
I have friends doing some fun things this week. Because of when I changed jobs this year, I won’t be taking off a lot of time for the Holidays. I enjoy Thanksgiving. I’m beginning to plan for Christmas – but I won’t officially begin to celebrate until after Thanksgiving.
And that leads me to what I am thinking about today. I was reminded this week of the fun of play. When my mother was pregnant with me, she painted some wooden ornaments for our Christmas tree. These are the ornaments of my childhood, treasured memories. When I moved out, mom sent them with me to use on my own tree. Several years ago, doing some post-Thanksgiving browsing, I found some similar ornaments and bought them. I intended to paint them and add them to the collection on my tree. Like many ideas, this started enthusiastically and I painted several of the ornaments but then put them away where they sat in a box for more years than I can really remember.
Last week, I decided I wanted to paint these ornaments and use them this year. Of course, I had to buy new paints. The original paints had long since dried or were well past their prime in other ways. I sat down and started painting and quickly found myself lost in it, really enjoying it. I’m not artistic and coloring in the lines was always a challenge to me as a child because I didn’t want to be careful enough to make coloring neat. Painting, until last week, had been that way, too. Now, though, I enjoyed the smaller, precise strokes. I found myself in the zone, enjoying painting for painting’s sake, and found myself with a quiet mind.
Now, here’s the part about the fun of play. Any time I’ve had a few spare minutes this week, I’ve sat down to paint some more. Some of the ornaments are cuter than others, more my style. I was painting them all because they were there, but I wasn’t really enjoying painting some of them, or looking forward to putting them on my tree. That’s when some voice inside me said , “Don’t paint the ones you don’t really like.” Hello, light bulb and what should have been obvious. Then I thought about the cutouts from the boxes, providing guidance on colors for the ornaments. That subversive little voice inside my head said, “You know those are just suggestions, right? You can paint these any color you like.” Again, Duh!
But so much of life is orderly- follow the traffic laws, pay bills on time, follow processes at work- that I had forgotten that in play, you get to follow the rules. Or not. You can make up new rules, or decide there are no rules. It is so liberating to embrace play even in this small way. So I have put aside the ornaments I don’t really love. I’m using purple where pink is suggested, or glitter paint on some pieces, or deciding that the scarf doesn’t need to be red and green but blue and yellow, or any other number of things.
I’m having fun, I’m seeing hints of whimsy. I’m following my gut.
Malala Yousafzai is a true heroine. She had the fortune, however, of being born into a family that already respected girl children more than was common for the culture. I Am Malala recounts the Taliban rise to power in Malala’s community, her fight for girls’ education, the Taliban’s attempt to assassinate her, and its aftermath.
When I started reading I Am Malala I began telling friends, almost immediately, that everyone should read this book. We know the news cycle details- that the Taliban boarded Malala’s school bus and shot her in the head. What the book gives us beyond that is insight into the Pashtun culture and details about how the Taliban came to power in Pakistan.
To me, those details are the power of the book. It’s easy for us to judge people who let the Taliban come to power so easily. But we forget that when a devastating earthquake hit Pakistan in 2007, it was groups supported and funded by the Taliban who were first able to get aid to desperate citizens. That sets a good foundation on which to spread propaganda. And it is easy to point out the group mentality and absurdity of burning secular CD’s, DVD’s and Books, except…. conservative religious groups do the same in this country. So perhaps we aren’t as far removed from fanaticism as we might like to pretend that we are. Then we see the further isolation and dehumanization of women in the culture. Twisting the Q’uran to justify their treatment of women- the rigid social behavior expectations, the denial of education- the Taliban used that and brute force to take over the government, intertwining religion and government. That’s another danger in this country- again, not so dissimilar in some areas as we might like to pretend.
That Malala’s father believed so strongly in education for everyone certainly gave her a different world view than she might have had otherwise. And her father, while protective, at the same time encouraged his daughter to speak out and stand up for her beliefs. The death threats against her father were not unexpected. That the Taliban would target his daughter? Unthinkable. The book doesn’t delve into it, but I wonder how all of that impacted Malala’s father. Does he question his decision to let her protest so vocally? And, of course, being shot aside, would he want it to be any other way?
The other part of the book that I found very interesting is the aftermath of the shooting- what it took to get Malala out; how long it took her to be reunited with her family. The lasting ramifications of the shooting on Malala’s religious beliefs and on the life of the family.
The book is written in a straightforward, matter of fact manner. Malala does not set herself up as a superhero, nor does she wallow in self pity for her experiences. She mourns the homeland of her youth. She calls out the Taliban for their manipulation of the teachings of the Q’uran. She maintains her own set of beliefs. And, as I mentioned earlier, if we pay attention to what she says, we recognize how deluded we might be about religious fanaticism in our own country. This book should truly be required reading for everyone.
Welcome to this week’s brief recap or download of all the things in my mind.
While I did finish Carry On, Warrior I didn’t blog about that or I Am Malala. I had an unexpected death in my family this week, and it threw me big time. I am hoping to get those written this week.
I am almost finished with Inferno, which I will wait to review until after my book club on Thursday, so that I can include some thoughts from the other attendees.
The big thing on my mind this week is the death of my cousin. Out of respect for her family, I am not planning to say anything more than what I posted earlier this week. I still don’t have any life lessons about it, except love, as hard as you can, as much as you can. Because in the end, that is all we really have.
A longer post next week, when things are back on track.
When I was very young, I would sometimes get a feeling that “something bad” was going to happen overnight, and it made me afraid to go to sleep. In my mind, this “something bad” was often a house fire, and it terrified me.
In the early hours of this morning, I lost a cousin to a house fire. We don’t know much of the details right now, but apparently she was just steps away from an escape when she- I hope- succumbed to the smoke.
This has devastated me today. I feel so much for my Aunt- my cousin’s grandmother- who lost her home, all the tangible memories of her late husband, and most importantly, her oldest granddaughter. Is there a point when life are too much to bear? Is this one of those instances when my Aunt will learn she has more courage than she ever knew simply because she wakes up tomorrow morning and puts one foot in front of the other?
Am I supposed to take from this some grateful life lesson of living each day to its maximum? I don’t think so. My cousin just lived her life. Although, I am glad that 6 or so hours before she died, what she posted on Facebook was a video that made her laugh. No matter how much terror she must have felt in the last moments of her life, I’m glad that when things were ordinary, what she did made her laugh.
I have no life lessons to offer from this. Only the observation that sometimes life sucks. And when it does, I try to remember love triumphs.