Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Me, Before You by JoJo Moyes

Well, when your Mom recommends a book she read that was recommended to her by your sister...and then your good friend in Colorado also recommends it, you listen!   Here is what I said on Goodreads....

This is a remarkable book that went "where no book has gone before" in developing a relationship between a quadriplegic and his caregiver. Beyond that it gives voice to what makes life meaningful and valuable. A modern tale, a young woman with little going for her accepts a six month position caring for a thirty-five year old man who was disabled in an accident after "living large." The accident has left him despondent and his mother hopes this cheerful quirky young woman can give him a sense of happiness and hope about life again. He has already tried to commit suicide, and Louisa discovers this and begins to feel like she's been asked to be on "suicide watch" and resents it. He has a medical assistant who cannot be there all the time, and Lou isn't asked at first to assist with things she is uncomfortable with, but she struggles with her purpose there...and later with her rising feelings for the man in her care. It is delightful at times, even funny, as the two of them banter and become comfortable with one another. But it is also sad. More than that, it embraces what it means to have choices about one's life, and to live that life to its most full. Two people recommended this book to me, and I was very happy they had! An awesome read!

Friday, October 14, 2016


"Our son will be your son now." 

The diminutive sentence above is the heart and soul of the haunting book LaRose by Louise Erdrich. It is an affecting story of loss, love and the lore of a whole culture of people in North Dakota.

I learned about Native American life in the book. The good and the bad. The old and the new. There were so many well drawn characters. Like the wise beyond his years LaRose. The 5 year old boy at the center of the story. But there are many namesake LaRose's hanging from the family tree like beautiful wind songs. We meet all of them in the book. The mystical backstory of the first LaRose, was my favorite part. 

The conflict occurs when Landreaux, LaRose's father, accidentally kills his neighbor's child while deer hunting. The lives of all of the central characters are subsequently torn apart.  Landreaux resorts to the old ways for guidance. He visits a sweat lodge and is compelled to give away his son, to make amends for the one he killed. 

I wish I would have purchased this book at our local Minneapolis book store, Birchbark Books, owned by the author. Because then I could have acquired a signed copy. It was so good.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

There's a song of course...and the inference of moonshine running in the backwoods.  I thought perhaps this would be an account of such things in the Appalachians.  But, instead Stegner stayed with the west.  The first book I had read by him was Angle of Repose.  See that review HERE.  I was disappointed in the way that one had ended, but had otherwise loved the book.  I was ready for more, and was NOT disappointed.  Wallace Stegner is a master!  This time, instead of mainly California for a setting, the family he is writing about move from Minnesota into Canada and then to Utah, Nevada, and back to Utah.  The book chronicled the life of a single family and covers a lot of years, mainly over the Depression era.  It is a beautifully crafted book.  Below is my Goodreads review....

Wallace Stegner is an award-winning writer, and there is in his writing that special quality of knowing human beings, of telling their stories and digging deep into their inner beings in the process. He also has an amazing gift for detail and a wonderful way with words. This was a long book, but I have to say, I enjoyed every minute of The Big Rock Candy Mountain because each character became someone I knew intimately, and often grew to love deeply. The book is an American tragedy....but more than that, it is the tragedy of family relationships. No one can tell such a story better than Stegner. As Elsa and Bo fall in love and set their paths together despite problems that are evident from the beginning, their road in quest of that big rock candy mountain of song is filled with struggle and disappointment. Elsa asks for little, and Bo desires much...trying to fill a hole left in his heart from his childhood. And no one understands him better or loves him more than Elsa, even while their lives are all being torn apart, and filled with pain. What a meaningful tribute to human frailty! Great book!