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MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN: A Novel ~Suzanne Kamata

Monday, March 20th, 2017

MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN is one of the most beautiful coming of age stories I have ever read.  Perfect for young adult readers and people who have lived a full life.  The writing is like a lovely tea party and the characters are so full and well imaged.  The problems were real and inviting even though there was sadness, which rested in the heart.

Who are you like in your family tree?  Will you manifest a life like that or will you be the mystery person on the tree; always doing your very own “thing”?  Or do you have no family and must truly make your way in many situations and are you invested or maybe indifferent?  What does you lifeline say?

MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN is about a family who is with the Coast Guard attached to the Lake.   Mom was the Coast Guard Princess of the parade and now has two daughters, one traditional and one wondering about what will come next.  Elise is fascinated by the water, her town and reading all she can.  She is not a social butterfly but does find a friend in the young woman who comes to live with Grandmother a few doors down.   They have adventures and fall into love and ride the merry-go-round at the Carnival.   Music draws them together.

Elise has a Great Grandmother too who seems to be apart of her that wants to share in her adventures.   Great Grandmother was a wreck diver on Lake Michigan, she saw a mermaid, and truly her own spirit.

The story unwraps the mysteries of growing in a smooth language that draws one into the situation until you can feel as embarrassed as Elise or as concerned.  The characters questioning brings us right to the “Aha” moment and then lets us in without saying a word.  There is hope for the joy, which might just come with the realization. Secrets are exposed, are intimated, and revealed without saying a word.

There is definitely magic.

There is the tension found in the teenage life and tension of road trips that might now answer the questions.  There is love, lots of love and not true abandonment.

This story is a lovely capsule of life and living and tells a story that might just lead you there-you know to see a mermaid!    I just enjoyed every page.

TLC Book Tours sent me MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN for review.

A CHARMINGLY BEAUTIFUL STORY

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.

Suzanne Kamata Website
Suzanne Kamata Twitter

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The Whiskey Sea

All Gone: a Memoir of My Mother’s Dementia, with Refreshments ~Alex Witchel

Monday, October 29th, 2012


ALL GONE  was a great read and a good read about a tough and difficult change taking place in the author’s life.  Alex Witchel is a professional writer for the New York Times and started her career writing magazine interviews of celebrities.  Witchel always added a bit of interest to her interviews by sharing their favorite recipes and foods.  She shares her own deeper family history through a series of yummy recipes included at the end of each chapter.

Witchel’s mother was different from other mother’s in the 1950s.  She received her doctorate in psychology and taught in various colleges in New Jersey.  She had had polio as a child and was very driven to succeed and not let this disease compromise her living fully.  Her mother smoked and put her husband first and was not a terrific cook, and yet she produced a number of traditional Jewish recipes with her own grace and gift for connection.  She was a woman heavily criticized by her own mother who was a marvelous cook and disliked by her mother-in-law who was a fancy cook.  Witchel benefitted from all the cooks in her family and good traditional Jewish foods helped her to bond with her step sons.  The family was bonded by the love shared through these traditions and meals.

ALL GONE  is about the caregiving that boomer children are having to undertake as their parents are living longer and some are experiencing a slow dying process.  The caregivers are experiencing the pressure of maintaining their careers and family at the same time as they are doing all the care and paperwork of a person leaving this earthly realm.  Witchel was able to hire a daytime, fulltime care giver for her mother who was suffering with the onset of dementia. Her mother was depressed and confused and greatly missed her students and work experiences.  She refused to go to adult daycare or participate in senior activities as she grieved the loss of her former self.

The publisher’s blurb that came with the book said – “that she uses that voice – consistently frank, bittersweet and often funny – to provide an intimate look at increasingly familiar form of heartbreak – caring and grieving for an ailing parent.”

Only barely touched upon in All Gone, is the realization that the Medicare and pension programs that their parents received will not be there for their departure.  One is confronted with that as they are packing up the house and moving parents to apartments and assisted living centers, it is almost a daily reminder was one has to leave work for emergencies and doctor’s appointments  and loose precious income in their own  nest eggs.   Witchel has a good career and employed supportive spouse so she is able to only briefly share concerns in this area and she was able to pay for the needed caregivers and support workers.

What is important is Witchel’s sharing of the toll the grieving process takes upon a person when it is a drawn out dying process and not a sudden intrusion or change.   It is an amazing story of how one understands when the mind is gone and the body is still performing – it is only the tradition foods which keep the connection and the love bonded.

The book was a comfort to me as my mother was teaching and working when I grew up too, she was not a terrific cook, and though her mind was sharp and vigorous to the very end (her body gave up first) it is also her recipe box that I keep and use often.  I have translated her traditional recipes into gluten free and organic and they bring comfort and connection to our table.

What is it about the death of a mother that changes us and sometimes only food will comfort us?

I received an advance copy of this book from Riverhead Books and Irwin O’Donnell in order to review this book.  I appreciated reading it and the delightful wisps of humor found there within a tough change in the author’s life.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Thank you.  Donations are greatly appreciated.

Related Reading:
The Long Goodbye
So Far Away
The Somebody Who
When Women Were Birds
The Love Ceiling
WILD

The Art of Racing In the Rain ~Garth Stein

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The art of racing in the rain

This is a biographical work of fiction about a dog as told by a dog.  It is about living in Seattle, Washington and about racing cars.

Racing in the Rain is a multifaceted love story.  It is a hard story and an easy read.  Stein is a very delightful wordsmith who seems to understand and know love.

“The true hero is flawed.  The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles – preferably of his own making – in orders to triumph.  A hero without a flaw is of no interests to an audience or to the universe, which, after all, is based on conflict and opposition the irresistible force meeting the unmovable object.”

Mr. Stein has done a great deal of research as it appears from his bio that he is not a Washington native, but rather has come here with new eyes and he liked what he experienced and saw.  He knows dogs and he shares the communications of gestures and myths in a believable manner and fashion.  Stein knows car racing and expounds its practice, theories and the people involved in camaraderie of wisdom.  He knows people and their strange and quirky actions; he only explores one individual and his life and loves via his dog’s understanding.

“People are always worried about what’s happening next.  They often find it difficult to stand still, to occupy the now without worrying about the future.  People are not generally satisfied with what they have; they are very concerned with what they are going to have.”

I would never have chosen this book to read, and our book group has a rule that everyone gets to choose the book they want to have the group read – their own style.  I am so happy that Deb found this book and is insisting we all read it as her birthday gift this July.

I am very happy that it was a fictional story by a very good writer because I have felt the pressure of too many self- help books in a row.  A little good fantasy goes a long way to enjoying the moments of relaxation in our lives.

I try to avoid animal stories because they always – DIE.

Rain is an important part of this story and it could not have been told without this element

5 Ladybugs

“The visible becomes inevitable.  The car goes where the eyes go.”

Cute Enzo video here too!

No one paid me or gave me anything to read and write about this book.  Well, Deb insisted! But I bought the book myself and wanted to share this delightful read with you.  If you purchase any item from Amazon from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket or one could donate the purchase of a cuppa!

Related Reading:
Ecotopia
The Help
Teaching a Pup to Rain Walk
Merle’s Door: Lessons of a free thinking dog