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WRONG HIGHWAY: A Novel ~by Wendy Gordon

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Wrong Highway finds the reader at West Meadow, Long Island in New York about 1986 and we are thrust into a tale about two sisters; one a high energy mother of four who is very free spirited and the older sister a perfectionist mother of one who does everything just as responsibly as she is able.  We begin at the New York World’s Fair years before when Debbie is watching Erica enjoy the fair and dancing in a fountain scooping up coins.

Erica is not working outside her home, as her boys are 9 years, 5-year-old twins, and a new baby girl.  Her financial analyst husband is traveling all the time for his company and making a huge salary.  The family wants for nothing.  Erica is curious and busy driving the kids in Vance Volvo to their huge list of activities.  She plays with her children and enjoys them so very much.  She has a great deal of time on her own and fills it with exercise classes and beautiful clothes.

Debbie, a hairdresser, is worried about her son Jared, who is becoming a hyperactive and interestingly negative teen, who is experimenting with drugs.  Jared’s activities are counseling sessions, and doctor’s appointments and listening to music.  He wanders and cuts school a great deal and has stopped participating in sports.

Erica calls upon Debbie to rescue her when she has car trouble or needs emergency childcare.  Debbie calls upon Erica to befriend her son and help him through these troubled years.  Erica and Jared explore the friendship idea through smoking weed and heavy metal music.   Jared begins to open up about his strict parents and reveals a family secret, which Erica has been guessing about for years.  We travel through a world of Bah Mitzvahs and Sabbath dinners at their parents home.   It is quite a year; hold onto your hat and turn up the volume on the 80s hits you so enjoyed.

The author has found a new home for herself in Portland, Oregon as I think growing up on the East Coast was not her comfort zone.  She has captured the society and culture very well of the Eastern seaboard and all the programs and routines being practiced during this time period.  I think the story would be very different and yet similar if we were looking at the West Coast or the Midwest or South.  I think “weed” was being practiced in all those areas and fitness and teens were acting out after Vietnam too, but not so much “meanness” in the West.  We can witness the breakdown between the “haves” and the “have nots” beginning as it is captured in this small family paradigm.

I was in the early parenting stages during this time and the parents around me were beginning to struggle and making schools perfect for their child was just as important as having a garden and growing organic veggies.  Our kids were not being shipped off to so many activities, childcare, and camps but rather the parents were going to camps with their children and they wanted fun things to do that the parents enjoyed participating in as much as the children.  Family secrets were highly privatized to shield imperfections and the downward mobility financially.

Wendy Gordon has truly shared an interesting time period with quite a fascinating fictional story, which allows a look back and makes one want to turn up the volume and explore your old record collection.  What were we doing?  What were our secrets?  A very revealing read about family secrets and the effects of war on a society.

TLC Book Tours sent this book to Patricia’s Wisdom requesting a review.

From the Cover:
Wendy Gordon grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and lived in Boston, Chicago, and New York before finding her true home on the West Coast.  She received a B.S. in Nutrition from Simmons College and an M.S. in clinical Nutrition from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.  She has been a journalist for over twenty-five years, publishing in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet.  She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.  This is her first book.

Wendy Gordon Blog
Wendy Gordon Facebook

Related:
Whistling Women
Hidden Inheritance
The Qualities of Wood
Little Island

THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A Memoir of the Time Undone ~D.A. Hickman

Monday, April 11th, 2016

“Despite a crushing loss…here we have a warmth of spirit, understanding and compassion in a distancing world.”  (Madeline Sharples – from cover)

I believe that there is a need within each of us to read this book.  Yes, it is a well written memoir with lovely poetic sentences and descriptions, it is a poignant telling of a son’s life, it is a sociologic study of our society and culture, and most of all it is an amazing tribute to  a mother’s grief and the deepening of a spiritual journey into an awakening.  THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a book we need.

Suicide is a difficult end to a life and even with a note; there is rarely a possibility of verifiable understanding.   What was the truth of this life or this moment, which made the decision possible?   What enabled suicide’s success?  How will a Mother/ Parents and family create the mythology to answer all the questions or create the story that will bring release to the grief and sorrow?  Dare I intimate that there might be a letting go of the life and only memory left?

We are also drawn into a study with all the pomp and considerations of a master research paper.  We are invited to take a look at schools now and then.  We can observe the role of teachers and philosophy of schools and how the child will react or would have been received differently now.  Hickman catches the restlessness of a generation and the incredible work an educational system must engage in to meet the needs of children and get the “job done” for a future of usefulness and output with reward.   The study looks at the War on Drugs and how the need for entertainment grows and grows along with the lure of the “high” and the demands of addiction.  How does a society remedy this dis-ease and free the individual caught within its seductive nets?  Have we learned and do we know how to stop the progression?  Are we as a people all addicted to something?

There are nearly perfect descriptions in this telling of landscape and interactions and just beautiful memories of family – breathtaking.  There is a poetry of words and pivotal theological quotes and explanations.  Reading can free tears.

This is memoir which asks the tough questions, puts words to grief and opens the heart to an exploration of the depth and width of personal growth and spiritual path-finding and it is “Holy and beautiful and heartbreaking.” (Cover quote)

In the author’s own words:  “How do we better understand the human condition, the quest for inner peace?  How do we tap into the deeper mysteries, embracing challenge and loss as we go? How do we distance ourselves from a malcontent culture focused on excitement, escape, and excess?  And despite it all, how do we deepen our perspective…commit to sustained personal growth?”

“I will always be a dedicated student of society looking for the essential story, the universal message: a path with less suffering, deeper awareness.  Everything we experience is a reflection of the human struggle to somehow right itself against the rocky waves of time.  So on and on we walk…always into a deeper version of ourselves.”

Hickman’s Blog:  SunnyRoomStudio.com
Hickman’s Facebook

THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a part of my personal library and I am delighted to be sharing it with you.  I think we all need to read this memoir.

Related:
Shadows in the Sun
The Myths of Happiness
NEW: Understanding our need for Novelty and Change
Liar
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THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN: A NOVEL ~Gerard Kelly

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

“They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.  They’re wrong.” (cover)

The Boy Who Loved Rain is a beautiful story about healing a child and the lengths a Mother will go to uncover the truth and free her teenage son from his distress and open the window to a better future for her child.

Fiona is going from crisis to crisis trying to help her son, Colum who as he turns 14 years is becoming anorexic and is loosing the ability to care.  He is attacking other children at school and has been suspended several times.  With the help of her childhood mentor, Miriam, Fiona gathers her son and they head to an isolated retreat on the Atlantic Ocean in France.  Fiona’s brother Mark, a journalist and artist, joins them and begins researching and revealing secrets.  Colum’s father is the charismatic leader of a church centered on a Theology of Positive Parenting in London.  He is no longer close to his son and lets Fiona figure out what to do.

The big discovery is that Colum has signed a letter of intent to commit suicide by the time he is 16 and this is being promoted by an internet site and his only friend succeeds in following through on the site’s recommendations.  The story is serious.

Each chapter begins with a fact or quote about the nature of RAIN. THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN  contains a tremendous amount of symbolism and a great deal of detail about the nature of the weather and the symbolism of waves and ocean currants.  The story has quite a religious nature and historic connection to Catholic theology and women’s participation in religion within family and community.

Kelly writes with elegance and a poetic grace in THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN.  I could certainly identify with the struggle of the boy and the stress of the family.  The beautiful writing softened the blow of the hard, hard moments and kept me reading every page.   It was not a fast read, it was a stay with it read; I would have lost so much if I had speed read this story.    Helping a child find the way and heal is always a powerful story; I liked that Colum’s story helped to heal another child also.

There was a great twist in the story, that made me laugh when I did not even anticipate its arrival.   There were descriptions of the wind and the cold, that were so vivid, I had to put on a sweater to continue.

Quite a read for those who like psychology, secrets and stories about healing.

Gerard Kelly’s bio on Amazon

“Gerard Kelly is a writer, speaker and poet and a co-founder, with his wife Chrissie, of The Bless Network. Bless works alongside churches in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Croatia and Spain, empowering young people ‘to encounter the God of mission and find their place in the mission of God’. A member of the ‘Theme Group’ of Spring Harvest, Europe’s largest Christian teaching event and formerly Pastor of Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam, Gerard currently lives in Normandy, France, where he and Chrissie are developing a centre for missional formation.”

Related:
Our Love Could Light the World
In The Garden of Stone
The Clover House
Little Island

IN DOUBT: A Legal Thriller ~ Drusilla Campbell

Monday, December 8th, 2014

“She had participated in making herself a victim.  That was what shamed and silenced her.” (Page 138)

The writing craft of the author is what kept me in tune with this good piece of fiction, also the fact that I was driving right through the area of the story on the Redwood Highway (101) while reading the book made it fun.  I figured out the ugly truth of the story early on, but the plotting and movement of the themes made the story grab hold.

Campbell kept working on the theme of family relationships, how psychological factors play into an ugly situation, how far back the pain can originate; the human relationships and situations were vital to the story line and comprehension.  How do childhood events shape lives and change the trajectory?  What happens when the community decides the verdict and there is a mob response and vicious threats included?   How mean can people be in our current environment and how does that play out in a community?

From the cover:

“Defense Attorney Sophie Giraudo is about to open a new practice in her California hometown when the beloved governor is shot during a celebration in the town park.  The only thing more shocking than the crime itself is the identity of the would-be assassin: a seemingly gentle teenager named Donny.”

I recommend IN DOUBT for all those who enjoy a good suspenseful thriller because it is defined by a solid premise, finely crafted writing, interesting, and I think many people will enjoy the story because of the family dynamics and psychological reveals.  I think the lawyer had to be a woman for this story to find the drive and produce understanding for the reader; it made it hard to leave the story and do other activities.  I recommend this story to those who do not normally read legal thrillers because the story is not overwhelmingly violent, there is so much more depth.

“Drusilla Campbell is the author of the critically acclaimed novels When She Came Home, Little Girl Gone, The Good Sister, Blood Orange, The Edge of the Sky, Wildwood, and Bone Lake.  She had crossed the Pacific Ocean three times before she started school, and in her twenties lived in Europe and Central American.  Today she is happy to stay home in San Diego with her husband, attorney and poet Art Campbell, and their two rescued dogs and three horses.”

DrusillaCampbell.com 
Drusilla Campbell died of cancer October 2014
She won the San Diego Book Award for her last novel.

Larissa sent me a copy of this book.  It contained the study guide for book groups
Larissa Ackerman|Claire McKinneyPR, LLC
41 Main Street Suite B, Chester, NJ 07930
larissa@clairemckinneypr.com / 908-955-7579
Thank you for the opportunity to read this story and share my thoughts.

I work at being concise in my reviews because I just hate reading lengthy reviews and those wordy plot destruction spoilers.  I just want to tease your reading appetite while giving the reader a nudge.

Please Share this review – the buttons are here!  Thank you

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