Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reminder to Me

Food is not supposed to be a soother. I’ve tried desperately in the last year to stop looking at it that way. It’s food, not a favorite blankie. But today was kind of a day, and this week has been a mix of good and frustrating and all hands on deck 24/7 coupled with insomnia, and when I can sleep there are vivid nightmares, and I didn’t get to see Piper today which is one of the only reasons I’m even sort of sane every other day of the week. Oh, and I’m not packed for our trip to Athens tomorrow. And Sammy loves working down to where he’s only nursing four hours a day so much (yes people, I said down) that he head butted me in the sternum four times. And it hurts. Plus I spent 30 minutes with children having my on-line banking password reset only to have it lock me out anyway when I tried to sign in again. So, I’m going to get gluten-free, dairy-free, coconut ice cream. I’m eating it all in one sitting. And I am not feeling guilty.* Forget the blankie; I’ll rest easy with my food.

*I know this is not an interesting post. I’m writing it to remind myself why I shouldn’t feel guilty when I start to feel guilty after I eat all the ice cream.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

And Today's Lesson is...

Explaining has become my new thing. It’s actually not new, but lazy set in the last couple of months, and instead of explaining why we can’t stay up till midnight, live at the outside pool, or throw balloons into the ceiling fan, I just started saying no. If argued with I offered a no, no, never, stop, my ears are closing! Call it living with two kids under the age of four for too long.

This week I’ve tried to explain more as kids are still human and deserve explanations. Plus, amazingly, things seem to run smoother when I explain. Even if they don’t agree, I can at least get a grudging okay, or 17 more well intentioned questions about how firm the final answer is.

That’s why, with good intentions, I told Wren before we left for Sunday School that her snack would be blueberries. When asked why she couldn’t take almond bread, I told her we want to try to take care of the needs of others and not everyone in the class can have eggs or nuts, both of which are in the almond bread. It would make them sick, and we don’t even want to take a chance they might ingest it. She understood and was 100% okay with this answer. Score for mom.

So when we made it to Sunday School and snack time rolled around, Wren announced how we don’t share our food, another lesson I wish every parent would teach their kids. It’s not because we don’t share, period; it’s because every other child I meet(including both of mine) can be seriously affected by food, and a child’s very well meant sharing can turn into another child’s nightmare. I was ready to explain why we don’t share food to the very-good-at-sharing three-year-olds who were astounded by this message. Didn’t Jesus say share? What’s up with this kid? To my dismay, Wren explained for me. She told all about how the almond bread she wasn’t allowed to bring to class would give everyone else diarrhea. She then continued with a vivid recounting of the diarrhea she had that morning. “Two times. I think it was the carrots.”

At this point, time just sort of stood still. I’m supposed to be teaching kids about the Golden Rule and the Great Commission; so far I’ve hammered in their brains that we don’t share and carrots will cause liquid poo. Zero points for mom.

To my amazement and horror, diarrhea stories started, well, flowing. Five kids jumped into this conversation as if it was not the weirdest event that’s ever occurred in Sunday School. Highlights from the conversation are below:

“I’ve had diarrhea.”

“Sometimes food gives me diarrhea.”

“I haven’t had diarrhea today.”

Wren, not wanting the last kid to feel left out: “Everyone gets diarrhea. It’s okay, don’t worry.”(I guess she wanted to assure this child that the diarrhea club wasn’t excluding members. You can join, it’ll eventually happen to you.)

The dominant question related to this incident was, “How did I raise a child so comfortable talking about crap?” Then I realized we are a family of Celiacs; we talk about it all the time. Here are some highlights from recent conversations in our house:

“Did the sweet potatoes cause weird poo last time we ate them?”

“Can you make those cookies I like, or will they cause you questionable poo?”

“Man, I am never eating two Larabars in one day again. Too many oxalates messes with my poo.”

And my personal favorite: “What would you score that poo? Are we talking definite intestinal issues or just too many raisins?”

Don’t get me started on how we rate the rankness of farts. I’d need a spreadsheet to fully explain.

As the hours pass by and I pray no one asks me to step down as Sunday School teacher, I’ve realized something: my child has confidence, and I pray it comes from the fact that she was beautifully and perfectly made by God. Plus, she has awesome friends. Not once has anyone in her Sunday School class made her feel excluded, different, or not loved. If she has a new food while they eat animal crackers, they show interest and support her. If she needs to vent her feelings about diarrhea, they jump on board and sympathize. No judgment, no eye rolling. Just a bunch of sweet kids who haven’t learned that different can be misinterpreted as target.

When I’m having a bad day, I’m going to remember our very special day in Sunday School. Three-year-old Jesus lovers accepting others, even when they eat too many carrots; that’s the kind of world I want to live in.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review Part 3

1000 Days:  The Ministry of Christ -Jonathan Fallwell

This was a great book about Jesus’ time on earth during his ministry. Simple, straight forward, and in language that’s easy to understand whether a person is well versed in the Bible or not, I enjoyed it. It takes you back to the basics of what Jesus said to do and the example He set.

The Newlyweds-Nell Freudenburger

I’ve read everything by Freudenburger. This is her second novel, and she has a collection of short stories that were published before anything else. Her writing style is simple yet intricate, and her books always take the readers on a journey, this time from the U.S. to Bangladesh. This story is about a couple who marry only to realize they don’t know as much about each other, or maybe even themselves, as they thought. It’s a great study in how our cultures, our pasts, and our desires can conflict with the life we’ve created. Very good book.

Memoirs of Pontius Pilate-James Miller

Dennis read this one after I did because I told him how good it was. This book is a fictional account of the time of Christ from the perspective of Pontius Pilate. From what I know of history at that time, it seemed accurate, and being able to get into Pilate’s head, even through another author’s view of what he might have thought, really was incredible. Some questions I had about why certain things happened during that time were given possible explanations when looked at from the eyes of others involved. Ultimately, as Christ is about to be crucified and the reader knows it’s going to happen and knows it has to happen, it’s hard to feel anything but one emotion: don’t let it happen. Dennis and I walked away from this book so grateful for what Christ did for us and so saddened it had to come that. This was a very sad book, and I highly recommend it anyway.

A Moveable Feast-Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s account of life in 1920s Paris is both entertaining and informative. Whether he meant this book to be taken as fact or if he embellished is still up for debate, but it’s a good read either way. Hemingway’s straight forward style paired with interesting characters like Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgerald’s and more helped me finish this book in one night.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Maybe Today

A friend reminded me the other day of something I was supposed to be doing: as well as using the blog to chart our growing and deepening relationship with Christ, I was also supposed to be using it to help those who have Celiac, food issues, or just don’t want to eat food with chemicals in it anymore. It’s something I felt kind of called to do by the Lord when this all started, but I stalled out. She said she is still waiting. Here are my issues(this is the very abbreviated list pertaining only to this particular blog topic):

 There’s nothing I have to say that someone else hasn’t.

 I am not an expert. Every time I think I’m even head above water, something grabs my foot and pulls me back to the bottom.

 We are just now crawling slowly out of the trenches praying no one takes shots at our heads as we reemerge. I can’t really do much while in the trenches because my mind shuts down and I just keep hearing, “COVER, COVER!” over and over again in my brain.

 I am so very lazy about trying to publicize the blog or find people who want to read it who could benefit. I have no idea what the privacy settings are on my blog. They may be private or someone in Switzerland may be reading it. I probably need to figure that out.

Still, I have had a bit more time to write lately, and I’m enjoying it. I’m trying to branch out into the world of publication again, though I get distracted by the smallest things like our AC going out or the herd of ants that decided to take cover in our house after the storm this week.

I can say this: I feel like(should I even type this? Everyone please knock on wood!) Celiac is not quite the defining factor in our lives that it was even a few months ago. Yes, I think about it every day in terms of what we can and can’t eat, but most of what we’re doing is almost autopilot now. The think, think, think part is starting to subside. We have come to terms with some realities that are probably never going to change(chocolate people, Wren will probably never be able to eat chocolate. Who cares that she can’t have gluten, we’re talking about chocolate! How is she supposed to survive PMS in the future??) We don’t use the word fair anymore. Our lives are more than fair. There is nothing about our situation worth wallowing in. Actually, we’ve already wallowed, so I think we’re passed it and we now realize we have everything and more, so we need to build a bridge and get over it(I’m still coming to terms with the chocolate, but I persevere). Wren is seeing a naturopath who we LOVE. Sometimes I email her just because she’s awesome. I’m sure she doesn’t see me as a stalker at all! And finally, after 16 months, we’re seeing real, great, healthy change. This is change that could be like setting the restart button on Wren’s gut. She’ll always have Celiac, cross-contamination will still be considered pure evil in our house, but the slew of secondary autoimmune diseases Celiac acts as a gateway for just may have to take a hike. Her immune system is in a fabulous place. Her body is getting the support it needs from Jesus and the food and supplements He provides. Her body should, like everyone’s body, be able to heal itself of damage on its own once she’s been supported enough by supplements. Our bodies were made to do awesome things. I am in awe again about how intricately the Lord made each one of us, and what awesome things can be accomplished.

All that being said, maybe I can start writing about our journey a bit. Our journey is never-ending, but looking back I can see definite turning points and moves that helped as well as moves that did not. I also feel a little more prepared to manage the waves that crash into us over time knowing there’s a bigger plan than I can see. So, even if I’m writing about all this and we hit a rough patch again, I hope not to dive head first back into the trench, cover my ears, and start rocking back and forth crazy style. At the very least, maybe I won’t be down there as long.

Now, I just need to become a computer genius. How do I hyperlink things?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Because You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

A couple of weeks ago it was High Maintenance Toddler Week in our household. I’m not sure if anyone else’s children participated, but mine were in rare form. I blamed the full moon.

Is there a chance this Mars landing I keep hearing about had some kind of effect on the brains of toddlers as well? With only a week break, High Maintenance Toddler Week Part 2 is under way. Let me share a vision of what a day with two, we’ll assume environmentally affected, children under four is like.

Tuesday, August 14th

Popping out of bed like gluten-free pop tarts from the toaster, the two precious angels began burping and bouncing on my head to awaken me. There’s nothing like a child landing on your head then saying, “Oops, I farted!” to really get you ready to move.

I decided to give them the choice between the splash pad or the mall for some it’s-over-100-degrees-again fun. They chose the splash pad, so I told them to hustle because mama burns after 11.

I must say Wren can hustle if it means going to the splash pad. Sammy mistook the word hustle for bend over, touch my toes, find my crack, stick my finger in it. After unsuccessful negotiations that included reminding him how much he liked the splash pad and how much he would not enjoy e.coli, I decided just to tackle him. He didn’t so much like that, so he wiggled away, grabbed his sister’s water glass and prepared to launch it. Now, this kid has broken more glasses than I can count, so I was ready for this. Grabbing under both arms, I put him in the you’re-under-arrest pose and clamped his wrists preparing to take the glass from his hand. Believing I had temporarily immobilized his upper half, I went to grab the glass just as he almost motionlessly flicked his wrist sending the glass sailing across the room. I’m an optimist, so I thought we were still good. It was going to land on the carpet. And it did, but it hit at just the right angle to shatter into a million pieces anyway. So much for hustle. (Why do my kids drink from glass cups instead of plastic? Because I don’t trust plastic, and the oldest never threw things. The stainless steel cups were in the dishwasher, and I had no intention of Sammy actually getting Wren’s glass.)

After cleaning up what we could find of the glass, we headed to the splash pad. That was actually fun. Kids, water, heat that can cause anyone but a Texan to pass out, these are all ingredients for fun on a random Tuesday. We actually had a lull in high maintenance activity until we attempted to get back to the car. That’s when the little one went rogue. Instead of following the concrete path that led to the parking lot, he shot off to the left for the grass that eventually leads to the road. I can’t 100% tell you what he was thinking, but I’ll do my best.

Sammy’s brain thoughts: Hmmm, everyone is walking on this concrete, but I’m not a sheep. Forget the herd, I’m making my own way in this world. I’m headed for the grass! Yeah, grass! Run, run, run! I’m so free…wait, this grass has not been watered. It hurts. Is this even grass? It feels like a million tiny needles pricking my tiny, delicate feet. I want to be a sheep, put me back on the concrete, I hate grass!!! How can I get everyone’s attention? Oh, yeah…scream! Now just stand here and scream. There’s no need to walk back to the concrete myself. That woman who nurses me needs to learn her place. Come get me woman, get me off the grass! I will keep screaming!

If you’re wondering why I was taking so long to retrieve my son from the grass, it’s not because I wasn’t trying. Unfortunately, while running to grab him I found another piece of glass from this morning’s incident. It was in my foot surrounded by blood. The pain slowed me down a bit.

We made it to the car and I gave them almond bread so everyone’s mouths would be too full to say things like: “Can we stay at the splash pad forever?” “Meat!!!”(that’s how Sammy asks to be nursed) “I don’t want to go home.” “Is there fruit in your bag?” It worked. I was able to bleed into my sandal in peace.

When we arrived home I thought maybe we hadn’t done a bang up job of removing glass from the carpet. I grabbed the vacuum and the carpet shampooer. I had no intentions of digging glass out of people’s parts for the next week.

Shampooing the carpet is always an interesting family time. I shampoo, the kids run in front of the shampooer attempting to lose toes. At the very least, it keeps them happy. For some reason, they bored of that game after ten minutes, so they disappeared into the office. Not to sound ungrateful because I love attempting to hit my children with a carpet shampooer, but I was sort of glad for the quiet and for how fast I could vacuum when no one dove in front of me. I did not check to see what activity had drawn them to the office. In hindsight, that was a mistake.

So pleased with myself for shampooing the carpet while caring for two kids, I made my way to the office and found a crime scene drawing of cookie monster on the floor. Blue crayon, light carpet, it looked like Cookie had one too many macaroons and met his end sometime around noon.

Me: “Who drew on the carpet?”
Wren: “Sammy.”
Me: “Remember how I said I would rather you tell me the truth even if I don’t like it instead of lie?”
Wren: “Okay, maybe I helped.”

In the end, I have no idea who wielded the blue crayon. The carpet shampooer was already out, so I guess it didn’t really matter.

Finally, we prepared for nap. When I say we I mean me. Sammy eventually gave in. Wren did not. Somehow we all still survived the afternoon and I escaped to work that night without giving Daddy much of a hint of what he was walking in to. He can just think I’m awesome for cleaning the carpet.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Notes on fasting

Fasting is supposed to be part of the Christian life. I fasted once before for 12 hours on Good Friday last year. It was cleansing, but 12 hours did not leave me feeling there was much to fasting. I mean, I was hungry, but we were also heading to Athens that day to see family. The whole day was a whirlwind of excitement and the inevitable sadness that comes with Good Friday. I wasn’t focused on the idea of fasting or the discomfort of being hungry. I did it, said done, and moved on. I don’t remember it being a majorly big deal.

Trying to make fasting a part of my life, I decided to give it another shot today. I started at 8pm last night by promptly falling asleep and not waking up until 8am this morning. That’s the first time in years I’ve slept for 12 hours. So far, fasting seemed to be working for me.

My original goal was to make it 24 hours. I made it almost 18. God woke me up from family naptime around 2pm to remind me chicken was about to be burning in my oven. Toasty brown describes it quite well by the time I made it to the oven. I then started having not so great symptoms of not enough food in my body: black dot vision, a slow but very loud heartbeat, slow motion head(don’t really know how else to describe the slow motion feeling of my body). I remembered my husband’s words from the morning: “Kris, please don’t go all legalistic with the fasting. I support what you’re doing, I’ve done 24 hour fasts, but there is nothing that says 24 hours is a magic number. You are nursing, still having issues with holding weight, and you have blood sugar dips. Just, you know, be calm.” With that in mind, I ate some chicken and it was a fine thing to do. I’m grateful for Dennis since he is the partner that keeps the black and white in me somewhere around the shade of normal grey. I’m the partner that helps him see sometimes things can be extreme and fun and necessary. And I still took so much away from fasting.

My thoughts:

Fasting makes you appreciate food.

I have always had an appreciation for food, but today was different. I have never appreciated the fact that I’ve never had to wonder where my next meal is coming from. When my fast was over, I knew I had food to eat, waiting in my pantry just for me. I just happened to be born into one of the richest countries in the world. If food is going to make it to my table has never been a concern for me, but I should take seriously and care that it is a concern for other people. Being hungry or watching your kids be hungry is real for a huge portion of the world.

Fasting makes you focus on other things besides food.

I seriously cleaned the kitchen counters today just to have something to do. I decluttered parts of the house; I thought about detailing my car. I can be very efficient when eating is not an activity I can partake in.

Fasting helps you focus on one thing at a time; it’s almost impossible to multitask when hungry.

This was good for me. I sort of found the sweet spot of balance for about two weeks, but then in the last few days I lost it and insanity ensued. Everyone was crying at the same time, sassy at the same time, we needed to make dietary changes again, I didn’t get to work out for five days, and on and on. Nothing earth shattering, but I lost my balance. When I lose my balance I run around trying to do 50 things to get my mind decluttered. That is exactly the opposite of what I should do. Being hungry made me focus. Step one: read my Bible; step two: don’t burn chicken; step three: find my bra(don’t ask). One thing at a time. I’m feeling more balanced.

Fasting cleanses your temple. No need to explain.

Fasting makes you remember the Christian life was not meant to be always easy and comfortable.

This one was fairly huge for me since I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I live a very cushy life, and that’s not so much what the Christian life of the New Testament looked like at all. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but it’s worth being examined. Would I die for Christ when I don’t live for Him every day the way I should? Will I leave my comfort zone if it’s what I’m told to do(and essentially, it’s what every Christian has already been told to do)? Being uncomfortable and almost sick feeling made me realize that fasting was not really meant to be fun. It was meant to be beneficial and sacrificial, and that does not always mean fun. Despite the hunger pains and general brain fog, I remembered where my strength really comes from. It’s not me. It’s not food. The food helps, but the food is given to me by a higher authority. Getting out of my comfort zone was, well, uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t where I should be. That’s a lesson worth remembering.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review Part 2

What Alice Forgot-Liane Moriarty


This may have been my favorite summer read. Recommended by a woman from church who helps run a book club, this book was uplifting, hilarious, and thought provoking all at the same time. I prayed for
my children to take longer naps when I was reading this book so I could devour it as fast as possible, then I was sad when I finished reading it because it was over. It was that kind of book.

Alice wakes up after passing out at the gym believing she is 29, passionately in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. Those were her last memories before she blacked out. But actually, the bump on her head lost her ten years: she is 39, has three kids, and is in the middle of an ugly divorce. Confused and determined to get her life back, Alice embarks on figuring out what happened during those ten years. With a strong voice, real characters, and a dose of humor, Moriarty shows us how we can get from one place in our life to another, and that the journeys we take can lead us to places we never planned on going. Amazing, awesome, stop reading this and go grab this book!

Bossypants-Tina Fey

I’ve never really watched much Saturday Night Live because we don’t have TV, and if I am up that late I’m usually reading or nursing someone. The cover of Tina Fey’s Bossypants is what drew me in. I figured anyone whose book cracked me up from the cover and the descriptions on the back was worth a read. Plus, I’ll admit, at this point I was getting worried about making it to twelve books, so I was looking for a fast read. This did not look like a book that causes one to think exceptionally hard, and it wasn’t. It was hilarious though. Good fun, and not completely void of insight.

The Forgotten Waltz-Anne Enright

I found this title on Novellist or some other search engine I use to introduce me to new authors who I might not have heard of but who are making a name for themselves with solid literature. Enright is Irish which caught my attention because of William Trevor, an Irish author whose literature I fell head over heals in love with in college. The Forgotten Waltz follows the protagonist’s affair as well as her life leading up to it. The writing is clean, the story was good in the sense that it was not manipulative. No contrived surprises, no
drawing a reader in for the big boom at the end. It was well written enough to stand alone as the story it was written to be. The book was real and strong and I will definitely read more from Enright.

Fairy Tale Interrupted-Rosemarie Terenzio

Once again, I judged a book by its cover. John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Bessett Kennedy adorn the cover of this one, and it is told by Kennedy’s assistant for the last few years of his life, Terenzio. This was also a quick read and chronicled Kennedy’s time at George, the magazine he founded. It was nice to hear about this beautiful power couple from someone who knew them both pretty well. I remember where I was when the plane carrying JFK, Jr., Caroline, and Caroline’s sister Lauren went down, and this book brings back those feelings of sadness and loss. Terenzio weaves in the story of her life and how it intersected and was forever changed by her relationship with Kennedy.

Next up:
The Ministry of Christ 1000 Days-Jonathan Fallwell
The Newlyweds-Nell Freudenburger
Memoirs of Pontius Pilate-James Miller
A Moveable Feast-Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Jesus Year

I am turning 33. At the age of 33 Jesus had raised the dead, healed the sick, helped the blind see, fed 5000, turned water into wine, and died and risen for my sins. In my 33 years I have managed to do a few things of consequence, but I mostly treaded water, screwed up a lot, and kept asking for more when I already had enough. Today on the introduction to my Jesus year I am going to eat coconut cake and schedule a Swedish massage for some time next week. Earth shattering stuff, I know.

My priorities are almost always a little off kilter, and even when they’re spot on my follow through is not always great. I can just imagine how fabulous I would be if I was a bit slower and more steady instead of passionately on/off, black/white, all/nothing. There are advantages to my personality type I’m sure. However, the years of my life so far have pointed out the disadvantages pretty well.

Entering this year I am sick of politics, stupidity, stupid politicians, people who lie about what they put in food, everyone whose motive is money alone, my apathy towards others who need help, and a host of other things. I may be the most jaded I’ve ever been in my life. Don’t get me started on my thoughts about food(we’re eating our way to death), healthcare(most doctors are great when you’re sick and almost useless at keeping you from getting sick in the first place), insurance companies(this is a real love/hate issue for me), or politics(someone please just point me to the lesser evil come November). I listen to Lana Del Rey while biking, pedaling as hard as I can to push my body to forget all the injustices I’ve learned of and caused myself, with a little Carly Rae Jepsen tossed in so I don’t throw myself into oncoming traffic.

As jaded as I am, and as sure as I am that my Nanny was right about almost everything(more on that later), I haven’t lost all hope. There are good things, life is not a bunch of don’ts, I can trust Christ. He will beam me up one day more effectively than Scotty, and I will blow this joint in a big way. In the meantime, I think I better start using the time I have left for something besides griping, because I could do that forever and still accomplish nothing.

This is my Jesus year, my year to try to be more like my Savior and King like I should have been doing every year, to start some habits that stick that are in the positive category in hopes that will help knock some of the negatives out, the same way working out keeps me from diving into and eating every chocolate vegan brownie in one sitting.

I think it’s great to vote; it’s a civic duty. I think it’s good to stay aware of what’s going on with major issues in the world to form sound opinions. However, I am going to occupy more of my time this year with what Jesus occupied His time with during his years on Earth: people. Sinning, crazy, politically incorrect people. You know, people like me. I am going to focus on feeding the poor, helping the widows and orphans, loving my neighbor(even the drunk ones who randomly take my trash out on non-trash days). I am going to work on building relationships instead of judgments and remembering that everyone is coming from their own place with their own feelings, hurts, and issues. My hope is that this will become habit, I won’t have to think about. I will memorize scripture and it will occupy my thoughts instead of pride; I will sing praises and that will escape my lips instead of complaints; I am going to make living like Christ a discipline He leads me in instead of something I’m just waiting to see happen because I am a Christian. I am going to trust that where I’m being led is where I need to go, even if the vision in front of me is sometimes zero visibility. I am going to start my Jesus year.

*Things my Nanny was, and still is, right about: everyone should be taking supplements, some big business/government/insurance/some company has cures to diseases they are not handing over because of the money that would be lost in treatments(I thought she was nuts when she said this and now I SO get it), and things are not going to get better down here, so get your life right!

Summer Book Review

I am continuing grad school starting at the end of this month, so I decided to have one last hurrah while I was free to read what I chose instead of what the syllabus says I must. I’ve spent the last two months devouring books to complete my goals for the two summer reading programs I signed up for, and I made it! I read 12 books in two months while caring for two children, keeping the romance alive with one husband, cooking seven roasts, running my son to the potty 1800 hundred times so he could pee for 1.4 seconds and then scream “Bye pee-pee”, and sleeping at least six hours a night. This may be my biggest lifetime accomplishment so far. As practice for grad school, I am reviewing these twelve books on the blog. As a Library Science major, I’m going to be forced to do this in three weeks anyway, so might as well give it a shot while I’m not under duress. I’ll review them four at a time and would love to hear other reading recommendations for when I am free to read my own choices again at Christmas break.

While I was Gone bySue Miller

This was my first book by Miller. Part mystery, part a tale of marriage and family, this story explores how your past can land in your present with chaotic results. Very enjoyable, some violence, a good book that keeps you reading to find out what happens.

The Last Nude-Avery Ellis

This book combined with watching Midnight in Paris began our newest obsession: 1920s Paris, the lost generation. I am now reading The Sun Also Rises and The Paris Wife, and am planning on diving into F. Scott Fitzgerald's books next.

Ellis' book centers around 1920s Paris, the artist Tamara de Lempicka and her muse. This book is fiction, but it has a historical fiction feel to it. Several characters from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast appear here as well. Passion, betrayal, and an overall sense of Paris as a paradise and also a kind of hell to exist in during this time period kept me reading. There are highly charged, somewhat intricately described sex scenes, which I wasn’t expecting since I knew nothing about 1920s Paris, but they aren’t what the book is about as much as it is about relationships, trust, and what people will do to survive.  This is not 50 Shades of Grey 1920s style for those of you who are like me and trying to avoid that. 

Gone, Baby, Gone-Dennis Lehane

This book is hard to give an accurate review of because I have mixed feelings. I could not put this book down, which is a warning that you may not want to pick it up in the first place. Lehane creates a mystery involving missing children, corrupt systems, and two private investigators who have not always made the most by-the-book decisions. Combined with his descriptions of Boston and characters you care about a little too much, Gone, Baby, Gone is unforgettable. It’s so unforgettable that I will never read anything by Lehane again.

I have a very sensitive mind, and when an image lands in my brain, it settles. Disturbing images have a special way of doing this. Violence against children, some very unsettling freaks, and Lehane’s amazing ability to describe this until the reader hurts still leave me trying to projectile vomit some of the images from my brain. When you finish this book, you will be left with moral and ethical questions galore, and I love that in a book. However, after a couple of months to reflect, it was not worth the mental anguish I suffered knowing, even though this is fiction, some of the scenes in this book actually happen to people in the world. So, thumbs up if you can handle this kind of stuff or have figured out how to use bleach to clean your brain. If you cried at Gremlins when you were nine and threw your Gizmo doll in the trash can because you got it wet and thought it was going to kill you, maybe not. If you still won’t watch Gremlins(I’m serious, never again) for sure no.

There’s also a movie. I didn’t watch it. Refer to Gremlins above.

Fragile-Lisa Unger

Why I jumped into another missing person book after Gone, Baby, Gone is unknown to me. This one did not cause me tears of anguish or make me run to check on my children every 15 seconds for two weeks while they slept, though it was disturbing in its own way. A teenage girl goes missing in a small town, the past and presents of the townspeople collide, and a missing girl case from long ago is brought back to the surface. Again, really good moral and ethical questions, but I found by the end of Unger tying off the loose ends again and again, I didn’t care about the characters as much as I probably should have, and I think the book could have ended sooner. She made her point, and she had a purpose in what she wrote, but some of it was so interwoven at the end that I just needed it to stop.  Still, strong writing, and I may read another book by her.

Next up to review:
What Alice Forgot-Liane Moriarty
Bossypants-Tina Fey
The Forgotten Waltz-Anne Enright
Fairy Tale Interrupted-Rosemarie Terenzio