Esperanza Rising

Pam Munoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising¬†was an Oregon Battle of the Books in 2019 and I read it with my son’s fifth grade classmates. It tells the story of a rich, property owner’s daughter who must leave Mexico and her lifestyle behind after her father dies and her unscrupulous uncle attempt to marry her mother and ship her off to boarding school. Once in southern California, she must work as all the other migrants on the farms. She must learn to be a servant after being the master her whole life.

There’s talk of uprisings against the farmers for more farmers rights, but others just need the money to survive. This led to many good discussions of racism – subtle and overt and workers rights.

Great read for an adult or kid.

Read February 2020

The Weeping Girl

In Hakan Nesser’s The Weeping Girl the past defines the present. Over 15 years ago, Mikaela lost her father but it isn’t until her 18th birthday that her mother explains the crime he committed before he lost his mind. Determined to learn about his past, Mikaela travels to the coast to visit her father for the first time in her remembered life.

Along the way, Mikaela meets DI Ewa Moreno, who is on her way to holiday with her new boyfriend. Ewa must first make a short detour to interview a notorious criminal who will only speak with her.

After departing from Mikaela and finishing her interview, Ewa learns that Mikaela has gone missing. Supposedly on vacation, Ewa cannot walk away from finding out what happened to the girl she met on the train. Ewa must determine the past truth to find out what happened to Mikaela and its not what everyone supposed.

This was a gripping read and a great glimpse into a small Swedish vacation town.

Read October 2015

The Return of the Dancing Master

This is the first non-Kurt Wallander book that I’ve read by Henning Mankell. I was worried when I picked up this novel because I really loved Wallander and his style and dry humor while investigating crimes. But Mankell does not disappoint in The Return of the Dancing Master and shows that his creativity and skill are beyond an iconic character.

Stefan Lindman is a Police officer from Boras who is recently diagnosed with cancer and is put on medical leave. While Lindman is awaiting his diagnosis he learns that his former partner, Herbert Molin was brutally murdered in a scarcly populated area in the woods of Northern Sweden.

In an attempt to avoid his own life and problems, Lindman is drawn north in order to discover what little he knew of his old partner and why he was murdered. The only piece he brought with him was a memory of Molin’s fear that someone else was sneaking up on him in the woods while they were chasing a criminal years ago.

Lindman has to come to terms with his own mortatlity while trying to peice together Molin’s hidden life. A life filled with secrets. Secrets that many Swedes held during WWII and after. During the investigation, Lindman encounters his own family’s legacy of Nazism. Dealing with his own shame and horror, Lindman pieces together the crime and long sought after revenge.

Mankell’s straightforward style adds to the mystery of the crime and drags the reader down many wrong roads before finding the right one. It feels like a true police investigation with the mundaneness of the job between periods of intense activity. Lindman is not a hero like Nesbo’s Harry Hole. He’s not constantly putting himself in harms way. He’s a solid character that seeks the quiet rhythm of the investigation and slowly and surely finds his way to the murderer. He’s a very introspective character, perhaps because of the cancer diagnosis, but he makes an intriguing character to follow around the northern woods of Sweden.

Read September 2013

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood

Father and son, Jim Fay and Charles Fay, wrote Love and Logic Magic… together. I don’t think this is the first in the series, and since it was published in 2000, it may not even be the last.

Unlike most books, I requested this as a tutorial for myself in dealing with my 4 and 1 1/2 year olds. And much like I expected there wasn’t a whole lot of new information contained in this book. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t helpful. What I mean is that this book has a lot of common sense approaches to dealing with children. A lot of which I feel I know, but lose in the heat of battle. Yes, I am comparing raising young children to being in a constant battle.

What I liked about this book is the simplicity and the structure that you can use in almost every situation. It was a good reminder that I’m raising my children not just to be good children, but to be good teenagers (scary thought!) and adults.

Of course there’s a lot of horror stories about children misbehaving at the worst time, which always gives me the self satisfaction of “well at least that one isn’t mine.” But parenting is also about feeling alone at the worst of times when someones screaming at you at the top of their lungs, the exact moment that its hard to think calmly and clearly. This technique is more about training the adults to act like the adults and give us repetition so that we don’t forget what to say at the moment. So that the adult can be calm and clear and most important consistent. All of which will benefit the children as well as the parents.

The point is to stop treating the tantrums as battles and let them be learning experiences. I like this in theory so far, we’ll see what happens in practice.

Read February 2013