The Elizas

Holy hell, this was a good read! The Elizas, by Sara Shepard, tells the story of Eliza Fontaine when she wakes in a hospital after falling drunk into a hotel pool. Or was she pushed? Her family and the police don’t believe her that she felt someone push her, especially since she cannot remember why she was at the hotel, why she was so drunk, and she has a history of attempting suicide by drowning.

As Eliza tries to piece together her recent past, we are able to read passages from her soon-to-be published novel about a sick girl and her aunt that cares for her. As the present gets more and more intertwined with the novel, its hard to tell whats fact and whats fiction. Who’s deceiving who? Who’s helping Eliza and who’s trying to kill her? Does she have a brain tumor again? So may twists and turns told by a narrator that we cannot easily believe.

Great, quick mystery!!

Read February 2019

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The Underground Girls of Kabul- in search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan

Jenny Nordberg tells a secret side of Afghanistan culture, the bacha posh. In The Underground Girls of Kabul – In search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan, Nordberg explores a culture that devalues girls and oppresses women, and what happens when there aren’t enough boys. Jenny Nordberg covers Afghanistan when she learns the little boy of her interviewee is actually a little girl. When investigating why, she uncovers so many cultural norms that restrict girls and condemn families without and sons. Afghanistan is a country that’s been at war for more years than not in recent history, but no matter who’s in charge, women are the lowest of society. So what’s a family to do to gain respect, to help run their family story, to run errands when the husband is at work? They often turn little girls into boys, who have more freedom and power than the women of the households.

This was such an interesting book. And such a strange world where a fake boy is better than a real girl. Its heartbreaking for the bacha posh who want to stay as they are. Its heartbreaking for the sisters and mothers to see a bacha posh be treated better than they are. And more heartbreaking is that I don’t know if there’s any help for these women and girls in a culture that seems to hate them. Its hard to understand how a society can hate half the population. Even the women seem to bring the other women down.

Read January 2019

Childtimes

Eloise Greenfield and her mother, Lessie Jones Little wrote this memoir about their childhood along with Lessie’s mother and Eloise’s grandmothers childhood. This memoir doesn’t dive too deep into politics or racism, but its about their childhood, not their adulthood when they would have had to deal more with that.

Each memoir – grandmother, mother, daughter, is told with short blips of events or people that they remember from their childhood. There’s lots to read through, the abject poverty, the overt and subtle racism, sexism, but there’s also a sense of freedom that belongs to childhood. They aren’t mired down with the world around them, but they seem to live in a nice bubble with their family, friends, and neighbors.

This memoir allowed for good, introduction to racism discussions with kids and it hints at much bigger events.

Read February 2019

Restart

Gordon Korman’s Restart was a great book to read with the 4th graders. Its about a middle-schooler who falls off his roof and gets amnesia. The kid he becomes is vastly different than the kid he was before. This prompted great discussions about bullying, social structures within schools, being cool, and following your own interests.

Read October 2018

Lethal Black Dress

When I started Lethal Black Dress, by Ellen Byerrum, I was initially turned off by the fashion talk about what everyone was wearing at the White House Correspondence Dinner. I almost returned the book to the library without finishing the first chapter.

But what started as all fashion, turned into a true fashion mystery. One that could only have been solved by someone with historic fashion knowledge. Which really surprised me that you could have such a fashion crime! I ended up liking the main characters and the way they interacted, even openly mocking the fashion angle and then having to take it back.

Cute read,

Read January 2019

The Perfect Couple

A perfect Nantucket wedding is planning for The Perfect Couple, but on the wedding morning, the maid of honor is found dead. Elin Hilderbrand tells the story from many different perspectives and many people behave suspiciously about the deceased and the wedding in general.

This is a great vacation read! Too bad I wasn’t sunning myself on a beach while reading this! The super rich live so wonderfully on the island of Nantucket and even the poor locals enjoy some of the luxuries.

Good read.

Read January 2019

Island of the Blue Dolphins

In Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphin, Karana belongs to a tribe that lives on a remote island off Santa Barbara. When the Aleuts come and kill many of the men in the tribe, the new chief decides to take the tribe to the mainland. After the ship leaves, Karana ends up on the island by herself, waiting and surviving for her tribesmen to return for her in the better weather.

Until their return, Karana realizes she must provide herself with food, shelter, and protection from the wild dogs roaming the island. She must combat the innate sexism she grew up with so that she can build weapons for her survival. She uses the skills she learned growing up by watching many of the elders do their work.

I read this book with a group of 4th graders who loved the survival parts of the story.

Read January 2019