Tag Archive | divorce fiction

Into the Land of Snows

by Ellis Nelson

I read young adult novels.

At almost 52.

There, I’ve said it.

A book worth reading must make the reader feel a connection to the characters. When reading a legal or medical thriller, or contemporary women’s fiction, I relate to those characters in a way reflective of my current life.  I can commiserate with the struggling mom, worry for the cancer patient, feel anger for the victim in a lawsuit.  And that is good.  Empathy and understanding are traits which are necessary in our world.

What I enjoy most about YA fiction is returning to my younger self.  Not identifying with the middle aged mom but, instead, seeing the world through the eyes of the angst ridden teen; reflecting on my own childhood and feeling the pain and rooting for this younger soul at the start of their journey.  blog

“Into the Land of Snows” by Ellis Nelson is not your typical YA book.  One clear distinction is the lack of young adults in the novel.  Sixteen year old Blake, a child of divorce, runs into some trouble with drugs and is sent to spend time with Dad, a doctor with a climbing expedition at Mount Everest.  Blake talks about a friend from home, and one of the Sherpas seems to be young, but otherwise the novel is filled with (don’t be offended) old people, or at least older people than you’d expect in a YA book.

This is actually crucial to the growth Blake experiences during his travel.  The use of marijuana is the least of the issues with which he struggles. He is angry. His entire world collapsed when his parents divorced. And the icing on the cake was Mom moving him from his hometown to her childhood hometown.  She immersed herself in her own depression. Dad escaped to the Himalayas. Blake was left alone with his own sadness and no way to process his grief.

The trip to Everest was supposed to be an opportunity for father and son to reconnect, but after an unexpected climbing tragedy, and potential further danger, Blake is instead sent on a hike with Sherpa Ang, across the mountains to safety.  Opportunity for introspection, long discussions with wise Ang, encounters with Buddhist Monks, a truth which had been kept from him, all provide Blake with the tools he needs to move forward.

Nelson created a world which also allowed the reader to grow.  As a Christian, I admit to ignorance of Buddhism, and probably also an inability to accept a lot of their beliefs, but I did appreciate the opportunity to hear of their religion and culture and to think.  What struck me most about Blake’s travel in a world so completely different from the United States, was the civility he encountered.  Spend some time on social media reading the vitriol spewed right now about our presidential election and see that rich, first world, is not kind to one another.  I enjoyed the kindness shown by those who welcomed a stranger.  It was a respite of peace.

“Into the Land of Snows” is a journey worth taking.

 

Book #30 – he’s GONE

by Deb Caletti  book

Another book both liked and disliked.  The author knows how to speak to a reader.  The first few chapters, especially, as I listened to the narrator’s voice, I thought to myself that I could have written this.  Not because I am an amateur, but because in my own head I narrate my life using the same words and thought processes as this main character.  I was very comfortable with Dani right away.

The story begins with Dani talking about her secret thoughts, her view of life.  Immediately I saw myself in her shoes, which as a reader makes the character even more believable.

“…before I traveled, I did wipe up spilled stuff in my microwave and remove that big slab of fluff from the dryer vent that wasn’t supposed to be in the dryer vent.  I made sure my house was clean.  Tidying up my domestic crimes so no one would find out that I made messes and couldn’t keep my appliances under control, which is probably some version of the wear-your-clean-underwear-in-case-of-an-accident game.”

That is me!  My kids get so irritated that in addition to packing for vacations, I am vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the house.  I have always held a secret fear that in the case of my unexpected death, my girlfriends would enter my “normal” home and judge me.

This is a story of two middle aged people with grown children who “found each other” while they were both married to other people.  Going back and forth from the initial mystery of where is her husband now, Dani tells the story of their courtship, their destruction of their former lives, the rejection felt from old friends and children, and the realization that fairy tale endings don’t happen.  The other ultimate irony which seems expected, “if he’ll cheat with me, won’t he cheat on me?”

Once I realized how much of the book focused on the breakup of two families to make a new family, I lost interest in Dani.  Long time readers know a bit about me, but as a daughter to a thrice-divorced woman, I am solidly in the ranks of injured children.  Instead of oohing and aahing at the true love they each (thought) they’d finally found, all I could feel was sadness for what ended up destroyed.

And this topic upset me.  I have now promised my husband to be more careful in book selections.  I am already dealing with my recovery from brain damage, and he really, really wants me to read more uplifting material 😉

3/5 Stars

If you want a glimpse into real life Sue and why I need “happier” books, please visit:  http://newoldgirl.wordpress.com/

 

Book #23 – deep down true

by Juliette Fay Fay

Some of my blog readers may know I am dealing with some brain damage and while it repairs, I am finding reading difficult. I can last about 15 minutes at a stretch, versus the girl who used to be able to read an entire book in a day. It was so nice to open up “deep down true” and feel like my old self. This one reads easily and joyously. It is not a textbook, you won’t put it down having felt virtuous for the time spent, but it was a vacation for me from not feeling well.

Fay created a world where a strong, recently single Mom juggles a life she didn’t plan. She deals with her young children, a wayward niece who seeks refuge, an ex with a younger model, money issues and entering the workforce after years of being a stay at home.

I enjoyed the characters, very easy to like (or hate as the author intended). The dialogue and plots seemed believable, and I appreciated the strength of the main character. Probably since I am facing my own battles, it was encouraging to see someone in an unplanned situation come out better and stronger.

Part of the plot also centers around adult sisters who are now left without parents, but continue to carry childhood baggage. One particular piece of dialogue struck me:

“Know what I thought of the other day? Mom adding water to things. Empty tomato-sauce jars, shampoo containers – remember that? She hated to leave anything in the bottle. There was always something left, she said, even when it seemed like there was nothing. She could wash pots for days on those last diluted drops of dish soap.”

I’m feeling particularly sentimental about a life without health issues, and this line made me think that at times when I feel like there is nothing left in me, perhaps I just need to rehydrate and make the most of whatever diluted Sue is left.

4.5/5 Stars

In case you care to read about the real-life saga of Sue, here is a link to my other blog: http://newoldgirl.wordpress.com/