Tag Archive | Oprah

Book #8 – Midwives

by Chris Bohjalian Book 8

When starting a book, I normally do not read about the author until finished, and typically the author info is at the end of the book.  I don’t want a picture in my head of the writer, his Vermont farm and two fluffy dogs running free while he works.  I just want the guts of the story.  This book, “Midwives” began with the author’s page, his picture and bio.  What I mostly learned early on in the reading is that I am a sexist.  HIS picture.  The name, Chris, could go either way, but he is clearly a he.

This was the first time I have begun a book and kept shaking my head thinking, “a man wrote this????”  It just felt odd.  The story is told from the viewpoints of a very young teen girl and her Mom, a midwife.  A man wrote this????  As I struggled to get past my personal bias against male authors telling girl stories (who knew?), I also struggled in the beginning just getting into the book.  Rather than getting into the heart of the novel, HE started with more on the life of the teenager and her angst of trying to be noticed by her current crush.  There is a horse, and lots of standard girl wants you to notice me on a horse stuff.  Booooring.

I am glad I stuck with it, however, because once the lovestruck nonsense was put aside for the telling of the tale of a midwife and a birth gone wrong, it got interesting.  This is a culture to which I cannot relate, and keep in mind that I homeschooled which is a culture to which a lot of people cannot relate.  I even have a homeschool friend who delivered all three children at home, and seemed very pleased with her choice.  So in addition to my bias against male authors speaking as teen girls, I also identified early that I have a bias against home births.  I was going to say non-traditional births, but ironically, wasn’t much of our ancestry born at home, so wouldn’t that be considered the tradition???

Knowing that I had a natural inclination to agree with the side of the prosecutor (something bad happened during a delivery; you can guess), it is amazing to me that Bohjalian presented material on both sides which made sense.  I would have been a juror who honestly had no idea how to vote once in the jury room.  That is a good book.  Characters were believable and interesting, and I especially enjoyed the fact that I did not know how it would end.  Another keeper for the bookshelf.

 4.5/5 stars

Book #4 – The Book of Ruth

by Jane Hamilton

I know we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I almost ruthjudged this book by its “recommender”.   This sounded intriguing but then I noticed it was one of Oprah’s book club choices.  Ughhh.  I admit publicly that I am that one person in America who is not an Oprah fan.  The fact she told the world to read this book was almost the death knell on me reading it.  But, since this is my year to be opposite Sue and do new things, I resisted my normal urge and started to read.  And I read, and read.  I hate to admit it, but Oprah was right about this one.

Ruth is in many ways me.  She came from a difficult childhood; trapped in a world where the likelihood of escaping and finding normalcy and happiness was very small.  Her loving father abandoned the family leaving Ruth and brother Matt in the hands of an incapable, failing mom.  She was probably normal in intelligence, but compared to her genius brother who could do no wrong, and without benefit of a good parent or mentor, she is seen as below average.  Coming from a small town, dysfunctional family and in need of being loved, she fell into a marriage with the wrong man, Ruby.  Despite his obvious inadequacies, Ruth manages to find her first taste of love and completeness.

Poverty, however, requires that she and her new husband must live with her tragically domineering mother and this is the story of those three adults and how the world in which they live imprisons them.

Jane Hamilton writes in prose which makes the reader pause to absorb.  I kept finding myself marking passages which resonated within me and made me think of my own childhood.  If Ruth is considered of normal ability, Ruby definitely had severe mental challenges.  Concentrating, problem solving, motivation – all beyond his reach.  Ruby, however, had a spirit of innocence where his world would have been filled with joy had mother in law not continually tried to emasculate him.

Three people in a marriage is hard, but the addition of a fourth, a baby for Ruth and Ruby, brought this group together and with a purpose.  Hamilton does an excellent job reminding readers who are parents of the magic of children.  “With a baby you have to look at the world as if someone has just given you a pair of eyes for the first time.”  The parts of the book which dealt with impending parenthood and those early months will fill your heart.

I am glad I didn’t let Oprah’s name keep me from opening the cover of this book.  I not only recommend “The Book of Ruth” but have given it a place on the bookshelf for a future read-again.

4.5/5 Stars