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FINDING LIBBIE: A Novel ~Deanna Lynn Sletten

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

‘Happily Ever After’ is the start point of this review and my sharing about this author.  It is a good love story nicely written and was a grand rainy weekend read – very much on the sweet side!

Emily Prentice is busy helping her grandmother pack up the farmhouse and move into the city and a new townhouse.  Emily has taken a job as a clerk in a clothing store and put her plans on hold to help her boyfriend Jordan get his schooling completed right through his doctorate and as she helps her grandmother she is pondering where the relationship is heading and if she wants to make “those” changes to her life.  The two women find an old hat box in one of the closets that is full of old photographs of Emily’s father and his first wife!  What a discovery and it leads to a full story of figuring out what happened and how life sometimes does not turn out the way that one expects it.

FINDING LIBBIE is about high school sweethearts from two different sides of the social divides.  Jack and Libbie fall in love during their senior year of High School.  Jack is working a number of jobs because he wishes to go to school to be a certified mechanic.  Libbie is the high school sweetheart; Homecoming Queen and well cared for younger daughter.  Jack’s family lives on a farm, everyone works hard and they are friendly and well liked.  Libbie’s mother has lots of “episodes” and her older sister Gwen takes care of her Mother and her own husband and child.  Libbie is sensitive and no one is expecting her to go to college, have a career or work.  That is okay with Libbie because she just wants to marry Jack.  They celebrate a lovely wedding day with family and friends.

The story turns darker with discoveries about alcoholism, pill addiction, financial concerns and just plain hard work and exhaustion.  Libbie begins to have her own episodes and begins her own regime of self-medication.  Car accidents, hitting and hospitalizations now the secrets begin to fly out of control.  The couple is parted.

Emily just must find out what happened to Libbie after she hears the story and she is persistent, which creates an clever story on it’s own and as Emily pursues her own future begins to take shape and she takes hold of her own life.

Happily Ever After is good in this story and just left this reader pleased to have spent the weekend reading.  I think others will like it very much and particularly those who are ready for Happily Ever After endings.

deanna-author-photo-lake-union

“Deanna Lynn Sletten grew up on the sunny coast of Southern California before moving to northern Minnesota as a teenager. Her interest in writing novels was sparked in a college English class, and she has been writing in some form or another ever since. In 2011, Deanna self-published her first novel and has since published several more, both on her own and with Lake Union Publishing.

Deanna enjoys writing heartwarming women’s fiction and romance novels with unforgettable characters. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes readers on the adventure of a lifetime. She believes in fate, destiny, love at first sight, soul mates, second chances, magic, and happily ever after—all of which are reflected in her novels.
Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian shepherd or relaxing on her boat in the summer.” (TLC)

Deanna Lynn Sletten Facebook
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Deanna Lynn Sletten Web

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MY SWEET VIDALIA: A Novel ~Deborah Mantella

Monday, February 1st, 2016

With a character name like Vidalia, I knew I was reading a Southern novel and so I prepared for some fairly scary scenes and painful moments.   MY SWEET VIDALIA was the retelling of a classic Southern scenario of poverty; racism and ignorance with a few bright and optimistic characters that kept the book moving forward and offered some relief from the negative environment of the 1950s.

The writing was very good and the dialect was well captured.  I was glad that the book did not drag out into epic dimensions and Vidalia did find a redemptive quality in the end of the story to express and to prove herself to be compassionate and not so “dumb” as her background would lead you to believe.  Her capacity to grow and develop kept me reading all the way through.  Whew!  That was a relief.

I liked the story and felt the discomfort of being outside the events and not being able to cajole or persuade Vidalia to move on and let go of her trials.  How does one move someone out of such ignorance when they do not know any better?  In the beginning of the story, young Vidalia falls in love with a slimy fellow who plays on her naiveté, then marries her when she becomes pregnant and beats her growing baby out of her womb too early for survival.   Vidalia finds a way to keep her baby with her through the whole story and this “spirit child” becomes her support system.

On the cover of the book Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife says
“ From its beautiful first words to its satisfying ending, MY SWEET VIDALIA is a unique, enchanting read.     Exquisite language, a cast of robust characters, and a solid and compelling plot keep readers captivated as Mantella straddles the thin line between poetry and prose, reality and either, fragility and strength.  With a deft and gentle hand, she navigates us through the travails of an impoverished young mother guided by her intrepid spirit child.”

I would place this story high up on the scale of good reads and a great weekend of escape reading, which took me back to my school days in the Deep South.  It was still a relief to leave these characters back in the 1950s and early 60s and find comfort in my more progressive environment of home.   I worked as a social worker in the South in the 70s and 80s and I am hard pressed to even think about returning for a visit.  I am sure my experiences prejudiced my reading of this story.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this well-written story for review.

From the cover:
“A transplant to the South, Deborah Mantella has lived and taught in various cities in the Northeast and the Midwest.  Now a resident of Georgia she lives outside Atlanta with her husband.  Mantella is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club, the Author’s Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators.  This is her first novel.”

Deborah Mantella Website
Deborah Mantella Facebook

Related:
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The Robot Scientist’s Daughter
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LIAR: A Memoir ~Rob Roberge

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Very happy to be asked by Net Galley to read this memoir, which pulled no punches about the read being dark and humorous at the same time.  It was just that, as the author is Bipolar (Manic Depression), suffers with alcoholism, and has been a junkie for most of his 43 years.

Hindsight is so 20/20.  It was amazing that Roberge could write, finish school, sing and teach as he worked his way through self-medication and mental health workers offering up loads of mediations and lock-up stints.

Roberge has recently discovered that he has a concussion illness and he will slowly loose his mind. After 15 years of being sober and not doing drugs he had a relapse with this new diagnosis and is motivated to write the memoir and tell his side of the story.  I want to go see the movie Concussion, which has just been released in the theaters because of reading this book.   As a counselor by training, the book touched me deeply to understand the process of mental illness from the inside and the experience.  I was upset that his supportive parents would never talk or explore with him about his mental illness and what he could do to find relief in more positive ways.

The book is due to be released on February 9th 2016, and Roberge must have a good following as the pre-orders are growing steadily.

We truly need to work on remedying our mental health coverage and understanding in this country and hopefully this read will be popular enough to bring about more action and understanding in our communities and our states.  It is a hard read and a good read and I am very pleased to have been asked to review it. LIAR is an important communication to our world.

“A darkly funny, intense memoir about mental illness, memory and storytelling, from an acclaimed novelist.” (Amazon page)

The writing is quite good and does not leave the reader wanting; it pulls one into the story and the sadness that accompanies the confusing and difficult circumstances, which are part of this life story.  The words move at a fast paced with a clarity that many of us do not see.   It is a 40 year old interpreting what he experienced when he was young; looking for resolutions still for what may not yet have answers for those who wish to understand and know.

“Rob Roberge is the author of four books of fiction, most recently The Cost of Living. He teaches creative writing, and his work has been widely anthologized. He also plays guitar and sings with the Los Angeles –based band the Urinals.” (From Book)

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DARING MY PASSAGES: a Memoir ~Gail Sheehy

Monday, September 29th, 2014

“’ The Change’ was not a curse that turned older women into victims; it was a freedom that allowed older women to stop trying so hard to please.” (p365)

“His study (Erik Erikson) found that men only moved on to the next period of development when they began working at a new task and built a new structure for their lives.” (p. 213)


In the 1970’s millions of readers celebrated Gail Sheehy’s amazing book PASSAGES.  She shared with us that adults keep growing, changing and developing and were not fixed beings unable to change.   Sheehy was a journalist and reporter, who did her homework and made her living writing primarily for magazines; she developed quite amazing ideas centered on questions that people were asking themselves as they worked through their lives.  As a single mother, with her own life challenges, Sheehy had a knack for discovering the important questions of the time.   DARING MY PASSAGES the author shares with us her wisdom and hindsight of how she experienced those passages and her own developments and changes.

Sheehy is the author of one of Oprah’s favorite quotes:  “You can have it all, just not at the same time.”

The book begins with Sheehy’s interesting childhood and her gutsy moves when swimming or taking the train by her very, young self into New York City from a sleepy town north.  Dad was driven but not happy and mom was becoming an alcoholic to cope.  Her mother had extremely limited options and Gail could see the problems clearly.  This set the stage for a driven perfectionism.  She always did her homework and more research than what was needed, questioning and writing, and she created a new form of journalistic interviewing techniques formed by these characteristics.

Sheehy married a medical student, Albert Sheehy, who was the father of her daughter, after putting her husband through school the marriage, was broken and she took on the role of single mom and breadwinner in a daring move. She had gotten a job with J.C.Penney and was helping Penney develop his human resources and build character and wholeness in his employees.  From there she began writing for the Herald Tribune and New York Magazine.  Her peers read like a who’s-who of journalistic name dropping: Eugenia Sheppard, Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Betty Friedan,  Phil Spector, Ken Kesey, Andy Warhol, Saul Bellows, Gloria Steinem, Clay Felker, Dick Frost; the stories she shares about competition and bonding over all the questions young women were exploring in the 50s and 60s to the adult contemporary concerns were exciting to revisit.

I could not put this fascinating book down, it was important to me to revisit that experience and those heady times.

Oh, and the folks that she interviewed and wrote articles about are fascinating, well worth the read for the backstories.  Sheehy shares a great deal of gratitude to everyone in her life and from whom she learned so much.  I have read all of her books over the years and have gained from her perspective and voice.  I think this is a valuable read and a good perspective to take into our future.

From the Book Jacket:  “Fascinating and no-holds-barred, DARING MY PASSAGES is a testament to guts, resilience, and smarts, and offers a bold perspective on all of life’s passages.”

“GAIL SHEEHY is the author of sixteen books, including the classic New York Times bestseller PASSAGES, named one the of the ten most influential books of our times by the Library of Congress.  A multiple-award-winning literary journalist, she was one of the original contributors to NEW YORK magazine and has been contributing editor to VANITY FAIR since 1984. A popular lecturer, Sheehy was named AARP’s ambassador of Caregiving in 2009.  She lives in NYC.”

www.gailsheehy.com
www.SheehyDaringProject.com
www.facebook.com/gailsheehy
Twitter @Gail_Sheehy.#DoYouDare
tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours   sent me a finished hardbound copy of this book to review and William Morrow publishing is offering a free copy for a great comment by October 10,2014 USA/Canada.

DARING MY PASSAGES is well worth the read and a comment.

Did you like Passages?  Do You like Memoir?   Did you lives through all these passages?

Related:
Transitions
The Signature of All Things
Daring Greatly
When Women Were Birds