Monday, May 25, 2009

Night by Elie Wiesel

As I discussed on my 30 Before 30 blog, I have become obsessed with the Holocaust. I saw this book discussed when it was featured as one of Oprah's book club picks. I knew it was about the Holocaust and Oprah liked it a lot so what did I have to lose?

Nightis a small book packed with emotion. It is Elie Wiesel's memoir of what he experienced during the Holocaust. His words really bring to life what the Jews in the concentration camps felt. I would almost shiver at his descriptions of the unbearable cold. My stomach would feel empty just reading about their starvation. I could feel their desperation and at times I was thinking there was no way I could have survived that. I would have just given up.

His driving force for staying alive is to be there for his father. Also they had made it so far, how could they just give in to death? Then it would have all been for nothing.

He also finds himself questioning his faith. How could God allow this to happen? I have those same questions. It seems unreal that this was something very real. Not some Hollywood plot line. These were real people that did this. Real people that had to experience it. There are no easy answers to those questions.

If you really want to understand what day to day life was like in the Nazi concentration camps, I highly reccommend this book. Even if you don't want to know, you should. So read it anyway. It will make you appreciate your life even more and instill in you a sense to watch out for evil like this in today's world.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio

This book was very interesting! Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio is written from the perspective of three characters- Diana, a childhood beauty queen now in her thirties suffering from OCD and her husband just left her, Jamie a seventeen year old girl who gives birth to Stella the third perspective we see. The first chapter I read from Stella's perspective made me cry and I am NOT a crier. But it was so sweet. Jamie was planning on giving Stella up for adoption and thinking bad thoughts about the baby so she won't get attached and then you read Stella's thoughts about how much she already loves Jamie.

These three characters lives become intertwined throughout the book and they each support and learn from each other. Diana has really bad OCD and sees contamination everywhere so it was really interesting to take a peek inside an OCD brain. Jamie is just a kid when she has Stella so it is interesting to peek inside a teenage mother's brain. And Stella inside Jamie and as a newborn baby was a very interesting perspective.

The overlying theme of the book though is motherhood. You see the relationships of various mothers and daughters- Jamie and Stella, Jamie and her mother, Diana and her mother, and even Diana and Jamie and Stella.

I really enjoyed this book and it took me no time at all to get through.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman

I borrowed this book from my Bible study leader because she said it really helped her when talking about the Gospel with people. I have never been comfortable in that area. I think it is such a personal thing and it makes it very awkward to talk about it.

Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman takes you through a lot of the common questions that non-believers might have and gives you examples of how to engage them with questions of your own to get to the deeper issues and share your beliefs while learning about theirs. Engaging people in a personal dialogue instead of preaching at them can be a much more effective way to talk about these deep issues.

He shares with you real life examples and sample conversations. He advocates active listening and trying to really understand the emotions and feelings behind people's questions and comments.

I didn't agree with everything in the book. But overall it was a very useful book. It helped me think of "sharing the Gospel" differently and it even gave me more confidence in that area. Hopefully I can put what I learned from the book into practice.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

This had been on my to-read list for a while. I was drawn to the cover for some reason and intrigued that it was based on the life of First Lady Laura Bush. So when I found La Belle Vie Book Club and saw their next pick was American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld I thought "Perfect!".

This was a big book (over 500 pages). It is broken up into four parts that take place at four different addresses of Alice, the main character, with the last being 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It starts with her in her childhood home and is mainly about Alice as a teenager.

Part One was by far my favorite part. A major tradegy befalls Alice as a teenager that I could somewhat relate to (although hers was much worse). There were so many shocking moments and it made me think about how all these bright, successful women I look up to were once teenagers and have gone through a lot in their lives.

Part Two is about Alice as a twenty-something working girl. She is a librarian at an Elementary school and like many young career girls, her life is mainly about work. Until she meets Charlie. This section was also pretty shocking and it was a little disturbing to read some of the more intamite scenes and imagine Charlie as George W. The plot lines were good and again I could relate to Alice throughout this section.

Part Three is Alice as a mother and wife of a man from a famous, prestigious family. Even though Alice has faced many challenges up until this point, this is perhaps the most challenging time for her. The plot lines slow down some, but you can see her internal struggles in this section.

Part Four is about Alice as the First Lady. This section was the most disappointing for me. The book had started out so well, but this section fell flat I thought. It didn't ruin the book, but it didn't end with a bang either.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it. I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction and not a biography of Laura Bush. And it did make me want to learn more about her, but even if it wasn't based on her, it would still be a great story!

I give it 4 out of 5 stars!
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