Saturday, September 25, 2010

After You by Julie Buxbaum

I loved this book.  After You by Julie Buxbaum is really the story of Lucy, Ellie and Sophie.  Lucy and Ellie were life-long best friends, but Lucy is murdered by a mugger while walking her daughter to school one day and her best friend Ellie drops everything, leaves Boston, and goes to London to take care of he goddaughter Sophie following Lucy's death.

Lucy's husband, Greg, Sophie and Ellie all live under the same roof while dealing with their grief over the loss of Lucy in their own ways.  Sophie stops talking for a while and Ellie just knows she cannot leave Sophie to go home.  They start reading The Secret Garden together at night and it seems to help both of them.

Ellie then discovers things about Lucy that she never knew and her marriage starts falling apart when she refuses to go home to her husband.

I don't want to give away too much but this book covers a lot of issues from losing a mother, child, wife, husband to discovering secrets you never knew your best friend had.  I fell in love with the characters and appreciated that the author didn't just wrap everything up in a nice little bow or take the predicted path with the story.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars!  Highly recommended!

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley

I read this book on the recommendation of my small group leader.  In Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred, Carolyn McCulley examines singleness being a Christian woman.  She does write well and with humor.  There were parts I could really identify with, but overall I was not a fan.

Here is the table of contents to give you an idea of the content:

1. "You're Still Single?": Hard questions, Godward answers
2. Esteeming the Gift: Why the Bible calls singleness a gift and for what purpose
3. God's Quiet Providence: God is still working when nothing seems to be happening
4. A Woman of Noble Character: The priceless worth of a virtuous woman
5. Do Him Good All the Days of Your Life: Why guarding your heart before marriage matters
6. Respected at the City Gate: Observing and serving the men around you
7. Food From Afar: Having a love for the home and hospitality when you're oftne gone
8. Out of Her Earnings: Wisdom in the workplace with an eye on eternity
9. The Blessing of Children: Investing in the Next Generation
10. Deceptive Charm: The heart issues of beauty, aging, and Worldliness
11. Wise Speech: The impact of women's words for building up or tearing down
12. Reaching Out to the Needy: Subduing self-centerdness through serving others
13. Laughing at the Time to Come: How to finish well in a youth-oriented world

The one good thing I think she reinforced was that you can develop Godly traits (al la the Proverbs 31 woman) and not be married with kids.  I am working on that after having a Bible study last year on Proverbs 31.  In case your curious here are the traits I am focusing on:  become strong physically to be prepared for life's challenges (workout), always be helping others (giving/volunteering), facing the future with confidence (trusting God), and being hardworking (utilizing my time better and not being lazy).

The rest of it just kind of makes me annoyed.  I don't think Singleness is a gift.  Yes, you have way more time.  Time to devote to God and time to help others, but frankly at this point I am done with this "gift" and ready donate it to Goodwill.   Also, I hate being constantly told the I need to find all my satisfaction in God.  It makes me feel like I'm not just because I desire to be married and have a family. 

It was just another book that made me feel bad about being single and like something was wrong with me.  I already feel guilty enough admitting that marriage is something I desire.  I already get enough advice that something is wrong with me- "you're looking too hard", "you're not out there", "you're too picky", "you're not happy with yourself enough", "blah blah blah.  You know what, those are all lies.  I'm not looking too hard- During the week I am so busy working, working out, keeping up with my house and my pets- I don't even have time to be "looking too hard".  I am out there- I take every social invitation I get, I try new things, I am as out there as you can be without being a bar fly or a cougar at the club.  I am not too picky!  I lower my standards with each passing year and give everyone a chance.  I can only remember one guy that I flat out turned down for a first date because I knew him very well already and he had an alcohol problem.  AND I am happy with myself!  I think I am awesome.  Sure I have insecure days like everyone else, but I am happy with myself and my life and I DO find my satisfaction in God...I am not looking for some man to fill a void or make me happy, it's just that life is so much better shared and I am ready to share and I would love to have a family. 

Ok sorry for the rant, but yeah this book just felt like the same old stuff you heard people telling singles all the time.  And the fact is, if I never get married and have a family, I will be disappointed and I am tired of people making me guilty for feeling that way.

Ok rant over.  I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.  I think you would be better off doing a study on Proverbs 31 from a single woman's point of view.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

I was drawn to this book because in the description it says the main character makes a list of things she wants to do before she dies and you know how I love life lists!  Before I Die by Jenny Downham is the story of a young girl, Tessa, who is dying.  When the book starts she has been sick for some time and now she doesn't have long left. 

Tessa does make a list of things she wants to do before she dies, but they consist of most of the things you would think a typical teenager would put on such a list like "Have Sex" and "Try Drugs". She also steals her dad's car one day to experience driving.  I think she just wants to "be bad" and hey it is okay because she is dying anyway right? 

She has a friend who enables her in indulging her "wild side".  And sometimes she finds these things she thought would make her feel alive leave her feeling just a little bit empty. 

She does end up falling in love which is sweet and it was interesting to see the thoughts of a teenage girl facing death, but overall I was not a big fan of the book.  The end was pretty sad and I felt like her character really didn't grow that much over the course of the story.

It was an interesting book, but also really weird in a Catcher in the Rye type of way, and also pretty depressing.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald

I read this book when I was in Dubai and forgot to do a review on it.  Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald is the story of a girl from Iran.  Her parents send her to stay with her sister in America in the hopes of her finding a husband there so she can stay in America permanently.  Tami enjoys the freedom of being a woman in America.  She enjoys little things like being able to walk to her English class by herself.  She has a passion for photography and captures these little moments of freedom- like a girl enjoying a coffee at Starbucks or her first pair of tennis shoes- with her camera.

She makes friends in her English class with people who are all very different from her.  But her main focus and the focus of her sister is to find her an Iranian husband before her visa runs out so she can stay in America.

The book follows her on her journey of discovering freedom and trying to find a husband.  Complicating matters is her developing friendship with an American guy named Ike.

It was a great book.  A quick and easy read.  I really enjoyed reading it while I was in Dubai because every woman I saw in a headscarf I would image as the main character.  It really opens your eyes to some of the little freedoms we American women take for granted everyday.  It was a funny and sweet story.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

I just discovered Laura Fitzgerald has another book out called One True Theory of Love.  It's about a woman whose love of her life betrayed her and now she is afraid of getting hurt.  But when she unexpectedly meets an Iranian-American man who befriends her son in a coffee shop, she takes another leap of faith and begins to discover that in order to heal, you have to hurt, but most of all you have to live your life and put your whole self in.  It's already on my wish list!
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