TUESDAY TEASER

This meme, hosted by the Purple Booker can be a lot of fun.

The Tuesday Teaser “game” asks readers to copy a couple of sentences from their current read to “tease” other readers to read the same book. Today’s T T is from Alda B. Dobbs’ Barefoot Dreams.

An exciting true story

WHOOPS! I placed it in my Little Free Library after lunch, not remembering I hadn’t copied my “lines” for TT, and although it is only four o’clock now, the book has already been taken! Stay tuned tomorrow for a full review. How’s THAT for a Tuesday Teaser? LOL

WATCHING GLASS SHATTER by James J. Cudney: A Review

Watching a family with the surname of Glass shatter sounds like a pretty bad reading experience, but the author’s depiction shows how although shattering herself due to secrets revealed after her husband’s death, Olivia Glass holds together her family of five sons.

Synopsis: Father of the Glass family, Benjamin Glass dies unexpectedly, and Olivia, his widow and five grown sons each react to his death in their own way. Because of a secret confession “from the grave”( in two letters left to be opened after his death), Olivia decides to visit each son as she tries to make sense of the secret Ben has kept from her.  Because it involves one of the sons, although she does not know which one, she tries to discover the secret on her own. She discovers, instead, that like their father, each son has kept his own secret from her and the rest of the family.  Unraveling and revealing every family secret kept me turning the pages, guessing (often wrongly) at the secrets and surprised many times by the twists and turns.

Cudney’s characterization is excellent.  I , for one, was interested in each individual as the character’s thoughts, secrets, and actions unreeled. The major characters, Olivia and her “boys” are people I came to care about. A secondary character I grew fond of was Diana, Olivia’s sister who not only was the family “listener,” but also had figured out more than one son’s secret and didn’t blab. Significant others who were secondary characters were also believable, very likable, and integral to the story.

The writing is outstanding. Irony abounds, and the word choices and phrasing are captivating from the first page:– “…his discrete office hibernating in the corner of Brandywine’s downtown historic district…”– to the last:– “…Sewn into the last few pages of the album were parchment scrolls that displayed in beautiful calligraphy the Glass Family tree–”

I give this book a five out of five and would definitely recommend it as a “darned good read.”

TWO RECENT READS

Boston Girl by Anita Diamont (author of the bestselling The Red Tent) was the selected book for November at my “new” book club.  I knew everyone present, several for thirty years, and only one woman was a new acquaintance. The discussion was insightful and the study guide questions in the back of the paperback edition were the source of many interesting comments and answers. Here is my brief review of the 2014 novel:

Addie Braum, the Boston girl of the title, is the third child of a three sister family, the only one of the three born in the U.S. A brother, born on the ship on the way to America, died, and was buried at sea. Through her story, the author explores “love, friendship, and family.” Through her membership in The Library Club and a summer’s stay at Rockport Lodge, run by women who are forward-thinking women and attended by becoming-liberated girls, Adie changes and comes in conflict with her immigrant parents. Her mother, a vengeful, never-satisfied, and just-plain-mean-spirited woman often thwarts Adie’s desires to become educated and attend college. Later in the novel, her husband, a true mensch, encourages Adie in ways she has never been loved or encouraged before. In the novel, more than just a coming-of-age story, we see a picture of WWI, WWII, and postwar America. We see changes in Addie as well as in the culture and make up of the U.S.A. The book club gave the novel a “grade” of B+.  I would give it four out of five points. It is a darned good read.

The other day I finished Jeanette Walls’ “true life novel,” Half Broke Horses, which I gave a full five points out of a possible five. It is the story of Lily Casey Smith, Walls’ grandmother, whom a review described as a “woman of gumption.” And how she needed it!  Throughout the story, Lily experiences  floods, tornadoes, droughts and a fire, all the while surviving the Great Depression. The writing is “plainspoken, yet heartfelt” (Chicago Tribune). I agree wholeheartedly with People magazine which writes it is “impossible to forget.” Half Broke Horses has been described by one reviewer as “Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults.” I was especially interested in her adventures and misadventures as a teacher and her unique teaching methods.  Photos added a great deal to the book and reminded the reader that it is all based on the life of a real woman. It is a perfect example of short, sweet, matter-of-fact writing while it deals with horrific issues, It is one of the best novels I have read this year.