Hi everyone and welcome to my weekly update. I’ve had a fun week. The weather has turned away from those super hot 90+ days. I’ve been rather social this week. I attended two book club meetings and then my grandson and I had a fun afternoon at the park playing with another little boy. Well, the boys did most of the playing. In addition to all that I read two books that really stirred up my brain. Let me tell you about them.
First, I read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. As I said on Tuesday, I have never read this author before, but so many people I know really like her stories. This book is a well-done, well-rounded look at one aspect of race relations in our country today. The whole story centers around one particular incident at a respected hospital. Here’s the summary from the publisher:
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
What happens following this incident is shocking, horrifying, but a real fact of life for many within our communities. The story is told through Ruth Jefferson’s personal perspective as well as that of the two white supremacist parents, and the public defender. In addition to seeing the story from a variety of viewpoints, there is an excellent “author’s viewpoint” at the end of the book. How and why she wrote the book, why she wrote it from the various perspectives, and comments about other writers and scholars have to say on the subject added, for me, an enormous plus to this book. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. It’s quite timely, given the current national dialogue.
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For our book club meeting I read Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. I swore I would never again read another Margaret Atwood book, but then you know how it is with book clubs — we are all in it together and have agreed to read whatever someone else chooses. I still balked. A week before the meeting, a friend sent me an email and told me to start reading, that it really was pretty good. She was right, of course.
Hag-Seed is a modern retelling of The Tempest by William Shakespeare. In this retelling a man who has, for years, been the creative force behind a theater festival is pushed out by an old enemy and his ambitious assistant. He, Felix, goes into hiding until one day, many years later, he sees an ad for a teacher in a literacy program in a correctional institution. Felix has a plan. He will use Shakespeare to help inmates improve their reading skills. Gradually, Felix also sees the possibility for revenge.
Margaret Atwood’s retelling was absolutely brilliant and beautifully done. It fulfilled the retelling of the original story and then some. There was the story within the story many times over. I loved how she sympathetically portrayed the character of Felix and kept true the character of Miranda and the others in the “cast.” In particular, I particularly enjoyed how Felix approached his teaching assignment. He treated the men with respect while still demanding they fulfill all assignments. It became a privilege to take this class.
Okay, I have to admit it — book club did it again! Forcing me out of my comfort zone was a good thing. I no longer dislike Margaret Atwood. I realize she is more than just the writer of The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m resolved to read at least one more of her books. Also, I’m going to check out this project of the modern retelling of Shakespeare by contemporary novelists. Have you read any of them?
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Update On My Summer Reading Challenge From the Library:
I finished it! Back at the beginning of the summer I shared with you the Adult Reading Challenge at our local library. It was being run along with the usual summer reading program for children. Both programs are now done and both were very successful. The library staff was surprised (and very pleased) that so many adults joined in. They felt that the participation of children was higher because the reading challenge was now a family event with parents and grandparents joined the kids in the “game.”
And it was a game. We all played Bingo as you can see with my completed card above. Within the 25 squares there were things that weren’t just “read a book.” One was to visit a local Sonoma County park, (a challenge sponsor). Others included “Attend a Live Event – library, music, etc.” and “Visit a Museum or Other Cultural Event” and “Perform a Random Act of Kindness.” And then, of course, there was the various squares for book reading.There were prizes, but they weren’t the objective of the challenge for me. It was simply fun to do — the challenge of filling in the boxes.
That’s it for me this week. I hope you’ve had a great week too. Happy Reading.