Paula McLain’s, Circling the Sun, conveys the beautiful and detailed tale of one young woman’s life. McLain vividly paints the the Kenyan sky, elaborately drawing the landscape with her words in such a way that makes it nearly tangible to the reader.
British bred Beryl Markham grows up in Kenya - a place where the land is her playground. Abandoned by her mother and brother, she is raised by the native Kipsigis Tribe, her father and their horses. In a non-conventional manner, Beryl receives an education through experience, adventure and play. Her unique adolescence shapes her into a tenacious, captivating young woman, who seeks adventure, loves fully and embraces the unknown. Beryl’s world is turned upside down when she must attend formal schooling. Not soon after, her young adult life begins with a series of tumultuous relationships and conventional rules Beryl simply cannot conform to. Motherless, she is ill-prepared and lacking guidance as she struggles to map out the role women play in colonial Kenya in the 1920’s. Interestingly enough, this book - contrary to many colonial books of this nature- focuses on white women residing in Kenya, rather than the Kenyan colonial struggle itself.
In one light, Beryl is consumed by the traditional ways and so, she marries. However, she soon realizes the weight and personal incompatibility marriage bears. And so, she chooses to fulfill her long-awaited dream of becoming a horse trainer. In another light, Beryl is a fearless pioneer. Throughout her entire life, she constantly defied the customs that dictated it. Whether it was working as a female, training horses, flying planes or simply having lovers as opposed to being someone’s wife, Beryl erected the life that she wanted - and not anyone else. Written beautifully, Beryl’s accomplishments literally and figuratively fly off the page in this historical piece.
Circling the Sun, is a compelling adventure of trials, love, and perseverance. Brazen Beryl Markham pushes life to its limits in the most raw and fervent of courses. Her never-ending pursuit for greatness is garrisoned by her lust for adventure and her unshakable will.
I promise I really do read other authors, however when I go through my Jodi phases I read two or three books of hers at once and it is a huge treat (I have yet another one I have read this month that I will write on too! hehe).
I was very happy when I got this book in the mail. First of all it was special because it was a signed copy that my boyfriend had signed, and I got it in a time before I was flooded with Grad school reading and a packed schedule.
Keeping Faith is a beautiful story about how strong the power of faith can be, that often believing in something, in anything, has a beautiful and immense power itself. The book struck a chord with me because hardships endured childhood, often force children to find creative methods to cope. Children have an incredible way of finding faith, whether it manifests through a religious belief, a God, or finding the silver linings in daily life.
Faith, the main character, a young girl, who has found companionship in her own God, a female Guardian in whom she confides in and also manifests herself possibly through Faith to save people. This aspect of the book was written so intricately that it pushes the reader to consider religion, the world beyond, and both have confidence but also question Faith. The use of "faith" as both the noun and the verb is a further literary element that works as a vehicle that makes the reader stop and look around and as always to think. There is never an answer with Jodi Picoult, which makes her work consistently compelling.
Faith started seeing her Guardian shortly before she also encountered her father with another woman. As any young girl she didn't understand the complexities of what she had just seen, she only understood the effect it had on her own mother's emotions but also thought she may have been at fault for the separation of her parents. Soon after, her visions and the benefits of saving people's lives, put Faith in the center of a public sphere. She experiences extreme episodes where she falls very sick and after being able to the bring her grandmother back to life. People came to see her in hopes of their lives being saved, and she even inspired atheist Ian Fletcher, a religion debunker and entertainer to come to her and attempt to prove her visions wrong. The extreme exposure of a young girl draws attention also to the lawsuit of child custody she is part of. Faith's cheating father files for the custody of Faith, and the lawyer claims the mother is hurting Faith, in order to draw attention to herself indirectly.
The book begs you to think about religion, mental health, and law. It is raw and evokes emotion and thought.
Small Great Things is a necessary read. It is relevant for our time, pushes us as readers to look into different lenses, and maybe even to understand our own lenses better.
Jodie Picoult is my favorite author because she always takes on the difficult topics and forces readers to consider how answers are rarely black and white, and the human experience is a product of our environment.
In Small Great Things, Picoult explores how racism can be intense, and in your face, but also how it is subtle and built into institutions. Picoult's ability to write from a such contrasting perspectives has always amazed me but this book left me in awe. She focuses on two primary narratives: a white supremacist, who is openly prejudice and a black nurse, who has spent her life building a career and a family.
Ruth, the nurse who has established herself in a world that has a largely a white affluent make-up has dealt with institutionalized racism throughout her life. For instance, although she is older and more experienced, someone will assume she is the assistant, or when she was attending Yale she carried a mug with the University's label just to send the message to onlookers that she was part of their world. In these ways Picoult does an incredible job showing how heedless privilege is, how these are experiences white people do not run into on a daily basis, and we mustn't consider small details when interacting with others because our status as a white individual is enough to be respected. As a white reader it consistently pushed me to recognize my privilege. Chapter after chapter I would set my book down and think about what I could do differently, to be a better citizen, and also to help break down my own stereotypes that are a bi-product of the world I have grown up in.
In a much more advertent manner, the white-supremacist, Turk also shows how we all think of racism, as an intense hatred. These chapters left me in chills and absolute disgust sometimes, but also Picoult was able to shape his perspective in a true and honest way. It was very similar to the movie American History X for me, where overarching generalizations and hatred is rooted from single experiences and differences. However, I think it was vital for Picoult to show the many ways race plays into society, both intentionally and in a systematic way that has historical roots. Many of us think we are not racist because we do not act deliberately and therefore our definition of racism becomes people who are outwardly hateful. This was an important aspect to this book because racism also has wide spectrum of intensity: ranging from hate groups to institutionalized racism and daily experiences.
Small Great Things left me thinking and it will stay with me. It made me think about how I perceive society and how I interact with it. It made me think about how I can try to be a better advocate, how I can speak up when I see or hear racial jokes, or inaccuracies.
It is a book that should be read, and read now. In a time where our political landscape is largely based on populist thoughts, on fear of others and focused on differences, it explores the compassion humans have, how people can recreate themselves and how all humans harness the ability to do small actions, greatly, for a better world tomorrow.
Girl on the Train:
So I read this book on the plane over to Italy and then finished it my second night in Rome. It was a quick read and to be completely honest I do not think it lives up to any of the gold standards it has been given. Yes, you do want the main character to change her ways, and as a reader you are hopeful, but I think the drinking may have covered up her lack of direction/ lead on the investigation maybe too much. Reviews said it was similar to Gone Girl, but after the various hints that her husband could be crazy there was no plot twist, he was just crazy and that was that. I expected something more after 300 something pages.
Found this book in a hostel. Definitely a trashy novel, full of gossip and dark secrets but it filled with vibrant details and Nora Roberts writes with passion.
The book speaks to how there is never a right way, and how we our deepest secrets often are the creation of the pivotal moments in our lives that shape us. At points I hated what was happening, but as the story unfolds it you are left wondering what is right and would you rather leave a legacy, the truth, or both? How far should you go to reveal the truth if it will dismantle the life some have created for themselves?
Anything Jodi Picoult: While many of them follow a very similar story line where a character must confront a very difficult decision, one where there is no black of white answer, but rather a thousand shades of gray, they all make you think. Think about what you would do, if there really is a right answer and if people can be right in many different ways. I think I have read all but six of her books because while they are similar they force you to think about serious subject in a objective manner, while also being influenced from various character perspectives.
My top five:
-The Story Teller
-My Sister's Keeper
-Night Train to Lisbon-simply beautifully written. It makes a point to note that all humans can become complacent in our lives and as adventure beckons we can find so much more, we can get involved in lives we never knew and be touched by souls everywhere
-The Unbearable Lightness of Being
-Ralph Emerson Short Stories
-All the Light We Cannot See
-All the Harry Potters
-Three Cups of Tea