by: Roxana Robinson
This is a complicated plot; it mostly follows the perspective of Julia, (mother to Steve & Jack & ex-wife of Wendell) who had an affair, divorced her husband for the same reason, & then moved in to take care of her parents in their old age. Her dad, a former neurosurgeon, is the one she's most like & thus she butts heads with him quite a bit & her mother, Katharine, is losing her mind due to Alzeheimer's. She has to be reminded of things, even important events like Jack's intervention. Harriet, Julia's sister, only comes around mid-book; she and Julia were estranged as young girls & have an awkward relationship.
Julia's younger son, Jack, has been living in New York City & he's a heroin addict. He kept asking his parents for large amounts of money, claiming he was in a band. (He used to be a musician but he turns into a total junkie.) When he is really in heroin's clutches, his parents decide to have an intervention & hire a man named Carpenter, who helps bail Jack out of jail for petty crimes once he escapes the hospital, in pain from the withdrawals of heroin.) It's a pretty heavy book; there are some major gems as far as quotes & takeaway messages, but ultimately, it's very heartbreaking what Jack's addiction *costs* the entire family.
"People were so ready now to give up, throw everything away, but divorce was the solution to nothing."
"Now of course, you were taught that any exchange between colonials and indigenous tribes was inequitable, but Julia chose to see the scene as benign. Blankets for furs was not a bad trade, and the blankets were heavy, warm, handsome. She chose to see the exchange through its beauty, and wasn't this the way you defined your vision of the world?"
"You had to create your own balance, your own certainty. You had to find your own faith, you had to stand up for it against the assaults of logic and fear and the articulations of the whole critical world. You had to close your eyes to everything else, repeating your personal creed, reminding yourself of what you were doing, why you were doing it."
"You were judged all the time, by the critics, by your colleagues,your peers, your family. Your work & your life. You were judged as a person as well: there was some code, moral, ethical that underlay everything. She understood that she was always striving to be good, to be virtuous; she could not have said for whom."
My Rating: 3 stars (mostly due to explicit language)
Title: The Shoebox Effect
by: Marcie Keithley
All of us keep shoeboxes of some kind; mental ones or physical ones. Often, they are a key to our past complete with trinkets & symbols ...a Pandora's box, if you will. "The Shoebox Sherpa" (Marcie) asks questions & provides tips at the end of each chapter, based on her experiences. Marcie has some difficult things happen to her in her life; a loveless marriage (which she ends up calling a divorce on), a child out of wedlock who she then gives up for adoption, and a lonely lifestyle.
Marcie chooses to become an advocate for state's having an open birth certificate policy & working against birth mother confidentiality, since it took her & others so long to get in touch with their biological children. While she hadn't been ready for a baby in the moment her lover left her, she spent many years of regret trying to find her daughter, & she eventually did. It's nice that she points out that we all have to face or open our shoeboxes at some point; we cannot run or hide from the truth that is our lives.
"Though our instincts tell us the opposite, gathering courage & honestly dealing with what we've tried to ignore is the secret to lasting freedom from what haunts us. This is true even when our greatest pain comes from choices & situations we brought upon ourselves."
"The shoebox effect starts long before we gather memorabilia to put inside--it begins with the decisions that create our memories."
"Expressing my thoughts & feelings in words 'for my eyes only' did make me feel better. It also made it easier to review my past, process my present, & prepare for my future."
"As close as we were, we never talked about the shoebox effect, and how we'd used ours to try & survive our excruciating situations. We felt desperate to escape it, so we hid instead of healed."
Joy TITLE: Lovely War
by: Julie Berry
I couldn't recommend this book to anyone more, especially if you like historical fiction! It is definitely the best book I've read to date! I think I will be reading more of her works if they're all this good. It's hard to read about war times, but she did a masterful job; it wasn't too gruesome, yet it still painted a very realistic picture. One character (Collette) has her entire family ripped away from her by the Germans. (By the way, this takes place during World War I, & I haven't read much WWI literature.)
The love stories of 4 mortals (Hazel & her beau, a soldier named James) & a black soldier named Aubrey who is also a very talented pianist falls in love with Collette is told by the gods; the god of war (Ares), God of death (Hades--who has a different sort of presence in this book), goddess of love (Aphrodite), god of music (Apollo), & the god of blacksmith/forgery (Hesphaetus, Aphrodite's husband who calls together the court to try his wife, who he catches being intimate with Ares.)
A beautiful & heartwrenching story is told of darling Hazel as she goes off to volunteer in the YMCA to provide music (on the piano) which is how she meets Collette (also a volunteer.) James is a sweet gentleman, who like many in the war, is greatly impacted by it. He becomes a sharpshooter & suffers a lot of mental anguish from all the terrors of war he experiences in the trenches.
The value placed on physical appearance & scarring becomes an important theme in this book as Hazel later tries to convince James that she's unlovable & ugly after a shell hits their train. James reminds her of how he was when he was sent to a hospital to recover after seeing his good friend get slaughtered in war; he had even pushed her away when she tried to come visit him & continued to distance himself. Their love story was very raw & perfected over time; it made me cry. SO good! I would definitely befriend a woman like Hazel; she's an amazing, resilient & loving individual. And in the end of the book, the goddess of love herself unfolds more of her personal story & background than the reader could have possibly understood in the confusing beginning of the story.
"The first casualty of war is the truth."
(After Collette glimpses Aubrey in her home, after believing him to be dead)- "Joy can do that. It can hurt as much as pain."
"I am so often moved by souls whose first concern is not for their own lost years, but for the grief their passing will cause to those they love. It's more common than you might think. The most ordinary mortal bodies are housed by spectacular souls." (Hades)
MY RATING: 5 STARS!!!
Thriving is considered the third metric of success for the life we want; money & power are the first two metrics. There are four pillars of thriving:
I liked the views expressed in her text about mindfulness & meditation; they are truly components for success & increased well-being..not so much "New Agey" anymore. Also, she discusses the importance of the sleep factor (famous author of the Sleep Revolution) in our well-being & counsels you to stop treating it as a flexible item that counsels you to stop treating it as a flexible item that can be moved around for work. She suggests starting with just adding 30 minutes a night by going to bed earlier.
And then there's the discussion of the "hurry sickness" that we allow to creep into our schedule & we start pushing it off on our kids. Children are much more cognizant of being present in the moment than adults.
"Death is not the sine qua non of life. As soon as we're born we're also dying. The fact that our time is so limited is what makes it precious."
My rating: 4 stars