Monday, March 29, 2021
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Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Monday, March 22, 2021
Friday, March 19, 2021
Stay safe and socially distant, wear a mask, wash your hands and get the vaccine when it's your turn. We are getting so close to getting back to good times, can you feel it?
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
"No god you believe in will be okay with this. You must do unto others as you want them to do to you. That is it. That is all of it. There is nothing else which matters. That is what all the great religions of the world tell us."
That resonated so much with me.
I can tell how much I get from a book by how many highlights I make. Silence Is A Sense is covered with highlights, with insights into the plight of refugees, how memories can be deceiving, how dangerous it is for us to blame "the other" because we don't want to face up to our fears that the world is changing, and how "we all want the same things- freedom, happiness, safety".
The writing is deeply affecting, and looking at the world through our narrator's eyes is enlightening. I will be thinking about her and Silence Is A Sense for a long time to come. I give it my highest recommendation.
Thanks to Algonquin Books for putting me on Layla AlAmmar's book tour.
Monday, March 15, 2021
Reprinted from auburnpub.com:
March is Women’s History Month, and if you prefer novels to reading nonfiction historical accounts about women, there are two newly published excellent books that will satisfy you.
While researching another novel about WWI, author Lauren Willig found letters from alumni of the all-female Smith College about their time in France during WWI. A group of young women were recruited to travel to France and provide aid to villagers whose homes and communities were damaged or destroyed by the Germans.
That research turned into her latest historical fiction, Band of Sisters. When Kate, a Smith College alumni, gets a letter from her former college friend Emmie asking her to join up with the alumni group going to France to aid villagers, she is intrigued.
Kate was a scholarship student at Smith, and she stood out from most of the daughters of wealthy and influential families there. She was smart and worked hard, but she felt different from the other young ladies of privilege.
She and Emmie were best friends, until something happened that ended that. Still, Kate is looking for more in her life than teaching at a girls’ school, and she agrees to join Emmie in this endeavor.
When the young women arrive in France, their situation is not what they expected. The chateau that is their headquarters and living quarters is dilapidated, and they are expected to do things like drive and repair huge supply trucks, and purchase livestock, things they were not trained to do. The woman put in charge of purchasing chickens bought roosters instead, a mistake that led to no eggs and endless teasing.
The women were shocked at the conditions of the villages they were to help. They weren’t just there to throw Christmas parties and help them replant crops, they had to rebuild entire villages. They aided in medical care, (there was a female Smith alumna doctor with them), and had to figure out how allocate the little supplies they had to to do the most good.
The characters in Band of Sisters feel so real because Willig based them on real women- the writers of all the many letters she read, written by the actual alumni who went to France. These women rose to the occasion, and because the eyes of the world were upon them, failure would be a major setback for women just at the time that women’s suffrage was taking hold in the United States.
Band of Sisters is one of the best historical novels I have read because it is based in reality. The writing pulls you in immediately, and you care about these young ladies who leave the safety of their comfortable homes to come to the aid of people they don’t know. Lauren Willig drops you right into the middle of a war zone with these intrepid young women.
Kristin Hannah’s newest novel, The Four Winds takes the reader from the Texas panhandle in the 1920s to the agricultural fields of California in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
Elsa is a lonely young woman from a wealthy family in Texas. When she finds herself pregnant by the son of Italian immigrants, her family disowns her and she is reluctantly taken in by her new husband’s parents, who had hoped that their son would be able to leave their family farm and go to college.
When the dust storms roll across Texas and Oklahoma, devastating the farm, and the Great Depression destroys the economy, Elsa is forced to take her two children and flee to California, where they have been told there is work for them picking crops.
The reality of the situation is very different. There are many thousands of refugees like Elsa who are forced to live in tents, and if they can get work on farms, the pay is so little that they can barely subsist.
Although Hannah’s story is set during the 1930s, it resonates with what has been happening today. The refugee situation at the border, the growing inequality between workers and owners, the despair of people in difficult situations. Like Jess Walters’ novel, The Cold Millions, the story of the growing workers' movement is brought to life. The Four Winds puts the reader right in Elsa’s shoes.
Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig- A+
Published by William Morrow
Hardcover, $27.99, 538 pages
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah- A+
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover, $28.99, 464 pages
Friday, March 12, 2021
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