Perhaps you have noticed that America is on fire. Perhaps you have noticed that people of color are disproportionately dying of Covid-19. Perhaps you are starting to realize that America has been heaping violence on Black people for hundreds of years.
Perhaps you have then wondered “What can I do?” but you are not on Twitter or Instagram or wherever the kids are (is it still TikTok?) so you are not privy to the many links and lists and ideas flying around. Be ye no longer unprivy-ed. Here are lists of lists. Share at will.
The telling of this story is a dance itself. While it can be slow paced, there are abrupt stops and a change of rhythm, as if changing partners mid-dance. Sometimes seductive, sometimes frenzied, but each step and each move connected and leading into the next. The story is never tiring, but becomes so heavy it can wear the reader down, needing to take a break in order to soak everything in, just as a dance can tire the dancer to the point of exhaustion. But when the music starts to play again, up jumps the dancer, eager to continue, just as the reader picks up where they left, eager to fall deeper into the story. The characters are as rich as the language used to tell this story, and the story itself is one of both tragedy and triumph. This will be one of the few books I chose to read over and over again.
The beginning of this book intrigued me; I was extremely interested in the charecter of Mattie and mistakenly assumed the story would be told from her perspective – a slave narrative in the third person. Midway through the book Mattie makes a life changing decision and I was excited to follow her charecter through a new diretion, but sadly the author chose to drop Mattie’s story and go into boring detail of another charecter, Elizabeth, the child of the plantation owners that Mattie was charged to be a wet nurse and nanny. We follow Elizabeth through her teen years in antebellum Virginia, with all of the privledges afforded white families who owned enslaved African descendents. Way too much sugar coating of life on a plantation for the enslaved residents, and the implied innocence and naivete of the white women in the story is insulting, misleading, and inaccurate. While the reader eventually finds out what happens to Mattie, it is too little and too late, for my satisfaction anyway.
A great read! Texas Ranger Darren Mathews continues to find more mysteries to solve than the one/s he is originally assigned to investigate. I read this story slowly because I didn’t want it to end and now Ms. Attica Locke has left me wanting MORE! From the red dirt to the piney woods to the Caddo Lake and its bayous, this is pure East Texas gold. The characters come to life in such a way that I can hear and smell them. Some I want to shake their hands, others I just want to shake! Thank you, Ms. Locke, for bringing a great detective story so full of East Texas flavor that I savor for more.
When I learned the location of this story was in East Texas, I knew I had to read it. Darren, the African-American Texas Ranger, reminds me of a couple of my own nephews who grew up not far from the towns named in this book, one of them still living in the area and works in law enforcement. A VERY realistic portrayal of the ‘dance’ between Black and White and the law enforcement in this part of the country. The ignorance of these ways can be dangerous and costly, as was evident in the story. I finished this book just in time to begin book two of the series, “Heaven, My Home.” I would love it if a television program was created around this series of books, a modern day version of ‘In the Heat of the Night.’
This man, Jay Reeves, is a THIEF! At the recent IABE conference in Des Moines, he was caught, on camera, stealing a shop owner’s purse. He lied to police and the conference coordinators, and then tried to change his story once he discovered his crime had been recorded. Please be careful with your personal property if you see him at other conferences or book signings!
With the 4th annual IABE just a few weeks behind us now, I feel the need to talk manners once again. We had an author steal a purse on camera from a shop owner at the mall. Now the cops have settled everything, and I know I said I was over it, but fact is my buns are still burnt by this. A grown man stealing on camera, then trying to lie further to the police and us. Needless to say, here are a few things authors should keep in mind while attending events.
DON’T STEAL. 99% of venues have cameras now and film doesn’t lie. Especially if you go out of your way, on said film, to reach under a desk and grab a bag. While, walking away from a crime like this, especially don’t look through the bag as your running away.
What an incredible journey! I began reading this book in a similar fashion I enter the ocean, beginning with dipping my toe in the water to gauge the temperature. I slowly but surely enter the water with both feet, steadying myself, and begin to wade out as my body adjusts to the power of the waves. When I am confident I can handle the current, I dive in head first and begin swimming out as far as my energy will take me.
As with the ocean, I took my time, reading the first few chapters carefully, unsure of how powerful a story this would be. I waded slowly through most of the first half of the book, reading only a few chapters each day, even skipping a day or two. Midway through I was ready for the deep dive and read with a vengeance. Like the ocean, this story is powerful; it will take your breath away, and your soul if you aren’t careful. And much like the gentle lapping of the waves, James’ words lull you into a false sense of knowing what comes next, until the horror hits you from behind and swallows you into its powerfully brutal tale of life in 18th century Jamaica. As you drown in the violence, confusion, and sorrow of the circumstances of enslaved people, a breath of fresh air saves you – in the form of women who posses a knowledge and power not of this world.
By the end
of the story I felt so battered that I did not think I would survive the ending,
but in the last few paragraphs this brilliant storyteller throws out a life
preserver, allowing the reader to float back to shore, not only relieved they
have survived, but grateful for the experience.
This was not the story I was expecting! Take a little Old Testament mythology, add in the Divine Feminine, some good old Mother Earth paganism, a few scenes of lesbian erotica and then read it after washing down a couple of peyote buttons with a bottle of red wine. Yep, that is what my experience reading this story felt like. The character of Naamah is someone I aspire to be before I leave this life – unpretentious, completely honest with herself, and as authentic of a person I have ever come across – in person or in literature. Sarah Blake has done a masterful job of sharing her image of the mother of humanity (post flood), as well as defining the kind of partner/husband she pictured Noah as being. In fact, I loved these two characters so much I almost wish I believed the ancient fable. Life on the ark is described from Naamah’s perspective as the ultimate caregiver to both her family and the animals, and it is quite a refreshing outlook. The reader is also treated to the magical adventures of Naamah when she is OFF of the ark as well. If I say anymore it would include spoilers, so I will conclude with a strong recommendation to read this book if you are hungry for a mystical fantastic story.
Janet Fitch is an incredible wordsmith. The language in this book is so beautiful, I found myself rereading several passages just so I could experience the beauty of her writing over and over again. The plot itself was captivating as well. As a woman who had my own very complicated relationship with my mother, I could identify with Astrid in many ways, although I was spared the horrors she experienced in foster care. I found myself nodding in recognition and understanding of the brilliance, beauty, and selfishness of Ingrid. I wondered more than once if my own mother would have been capable of murder given the same circumstances. My mother was enough like Ingrid’s character that I could relate to Astrid, and I could definitely see myself making many of the same choices Astrid did had I been thrown into her life. Both Ingrid and Astrid felt like people I already knew quite intimately, but Fitch’s writing still lead me places I didn’t expect the story to go and revealed sides of the mother and the daughter that I found surprising. A painful story that I couldn’t get enough of and I was sorry when the book ended, I wasn’t ready to let go of either of these women.
One of the
greatest joys of my life is spending time with my three youngest grandchildren.
The boys are ages ten and seven, the only granddaughter is eight.
Los Angeles affords my husband and I a variety of activities to enjoy with
these rambunctious yet well-mannered and inquisitive little ones. Besides the
occasional treat to a local theme park, our time together outside of the house
is spent camping, bowling, going to movies, participating in cultural
festivals, and visits to the beach and mountains. Watching the children play in
the ocean waves of the Pacific and build in the sand on the beach allows me to
relax and enjoy them at the same time; eventually I join in with the fort
building and wave chasing. On camping trips, I cherish the times spent roasting
hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire and making up stories and skits
around that same campfire; the more ridiculous the performances, the better.
These talent shows also include singing, including classic tunes, but most are
original and hilarious.
At home my
husband enjoys playing video games with the kidlets; specifically choosing a
Wii gaming system because it has the best selection of child-friendly games. I
cheer them on as they race one another in Super Mario Kart and hold regular
dance competitions with Dance Dance Revolution. We also have a vast collection
of movies that we enjoy watching together, complete with popcorn made on the
During the summer months, free from the responsibility and schedules of school, the grandchildren often stay with us for several days at a time. We take advantage of the extended time together by working on experiments and science projects that require more than a day or two for results. Another favorite summer activity is participating in the library’s summer reading program. In addition to reading books on their own, I read chapter books to them in the evening. We are currently reading “The Family Under the Bridge” by Natalie Savage Carlson, one of my favorite stories as a child. This Newbery Award winning book includes beautiful illustrations by Garth Williams and together tell the story of creating family and community wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.
On a recent afternoon we searched YouTube together for funny songs to sing and came across ‘The Duck Song.’ We quickly discovered there is a part two and three to the song. The video was funny the first few times; now I offer ice cream or some other treat to distract them making me sit through the videos for the umpteenth time.
In the evenings after dinner, the children insist on playing Uno; they are ruthless. Last night they teamed up against me to help their grandfather win, can you believe that?! To celebrate, my husband opened a bottle of sparkling cider, with each of us making a toast, and then a second toast, and then a third. The toasts ranged from sincere to silly, with a couple of close calls of cider spewing out of our mouths from laughing so hard!
These are precious moments with precious people. As I often remind them, they are my favorite people in all the world. I look forward to more adventures, trips, and memory making opportunities throughout their childhood and teen years, knowing how quickly that time will pass. I hope they will have some great memories to reflect on after I am gone. I know once they are grown and living their own lives, those memories will become even more precious to me, even the ones with that damn duck song.
I'm Michelle. This is my blog. I write about women and fatness, expound upon semi-coherent thoughts I have in the middle of the night, and offer tough love to those in whom I am disappointed; they are legion.