Tag Archives: Family

Review: Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

25th June 2013

pg1*This book was sent to me by the publisher Little, Brown in exchange for an honest review. I originally blurbed this book for Bloggers Recommend.

Jenna Carmichael’s wedding will be perfect. Her mother, Beth, has made sure of it. Knowing she was dying, Beth left the Notebook, suggestions for each aspect of Jenna’s big day. “…song lyrics often make good readings. Try the Beatles. No one has ever gone wrong with the Beatles.”

Taking Beth’s suggestions as unquestionable and gospel, Jenna and her older sister Margot, different as can be, do everything they can to stick to their mother’s wishes, but even with or perhaps because of her input, each family member still keenly feels the loss.

The Carmichaels and the Grahams, the groom’s family, are loving, but as in any family, tension and long-held resentments surface. Brothers and sisters rail against their traditional positions. The father of the bride desperately misses his former wife and questions his current marriage. The sister of the bride wonders where she stands with the man she’s secretly been dating. The groom’s mother and father – married twice – navigate an old rift, namely the woman with whom he cheated and had a child.

As everyone tries to come together, the Notebook and the carefully laid plans are threatened, leaving everyone to realize that in holding tight to the past, good or bad, they may be threatening their own futures.

A perfect summer read, add Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand to your Goodreads shelf.

One Pink Line by Dina Silver

7th May 2012

*I received a copy of One Pink Line from the author, Dina Silver in exchange for an honest review.

It’s finals week of her senior year, and Sydney’s in the middle of the hardest test – Spanish – when she realizes she hasn’t had her period. She gets to Wal-Mart before closing and buys a pregnancy test, hoping for one pink line that will tell her she’s not pregnant. Instead, Sydney sees two fuschia lines – one reminding her of her drunken one-night stand with one of her best friends and the other shaming her and reminding her of her loyal boyfriend Ethan.

Grace, on the other hand, is just a teenager, a taller-than-average teenager, but a hormonal, growing, moody teen all the same. At nine, after a lecture on sex education, she realizes her dad, who married her mom when Grace was two, can’t be her real dad. Devastated, she is angry at her mom, the man who calls himself her dad, and her real dad – the man who wanted nothing to do with her, and her anger and confusion follow her for years.

One Pink Line by Dina Silver is a story of mother and daughter – Sydney and Grace – who they are and how they become the women they are now. But One Pink Line is also the story of Sydney and her mother – a mom who is exacting and unforgiving of Sydney, Sydney and her older sister Kendra who acts as a surrogate mother to her and a go-between for Sydney and their mother, Grace and her paternal grandmother and aunts. It’s a story of being a woman with all its implicit joys and pains and about the men we allow to be a part of that.

Because at its heart, One  Pink Line is a love story. Ethan is good and kind and handsome, loving Sydney when she isn’t even sure who she is, but patiently biding his time. There’s no question of “if” for Sydney and Ethan, it’s a “when,” but that certainly doesn’t detract from the romance of One Pink Line. The absence of the will-she-or-won’t-she storyline allows it to be much more than just about romantic love. Family is central to the book, as is the question of who and what makes up family.

Plus, it’s funny, and funny always helps. When Sydney realizes her period is late, she tries to think back:

I remembered the last time I’d had it though, because I was trapped in an English Lit lecture hall with no panty liner, no tampon, and no break for an hour. As soon as the bell rang I sprinted to the bathroom, only to discover the tampon dispenser hadn’t been refilled since the turn of the century. It was a long, slow walk home with a wad of parchment-like toilet paper shifting around in my panties.

I laughed so hard at this. Industrial toilet paper. Gotta love it. Or when Grace realizes her dad can’t be her biological father:

I took her through everything I’d just learned, as though she didn’t know. “So how could he have come along two years after I was born?”

I’ll never forget the look on Nurse Goode’s face. I’d stumped the panel, I’d taken that lovely, unassuming woman who could dispense Neosporin faster than the speed of light, and rendered her speechless. She was frozen, instant-read thermometer in hand, but frozen nonetheless. “Maybe we should call your mom?”

One Pink Line is funny and sweet, and it’s perfect for the start of summer. Plus, it’s a great example of self publishing done right.

Go here to read the first chapter. Buy this from Indiebound or for your Nook. (Pssst – it’s only $2.99 if you buy it on your Nook.)

Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

6th March 2012

*The publisher St. Martin’s Press sent me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Andi marries Ethan in her late 30s, but she’s glad she waited. She and Ethan are in love, and for the first time, Andi knows she’s with the right guy. The only thing lacking is a child of her own, and Ethan isn’t overly concerned as he already has two daughters, Sophia and Emily. Sophia adores Andi and has from the first time they met. Emily is another story. The first time she sees Ethan hold Andi’s hand, she shoves Andi out of the way, without a word of rebuke from Ethan. Andi wants Emily to, if not love her, accept her, but the harder Andi tries, the less Emily warms to her. Tension escalates as Emily enters adolescence and begins drinking and sneaking in at all hours. Andi doesn’t feel it’s her place to correct Emily, and Ethan is so fearful of losing Emily’s affection that he consistently fails to take up for Andi, pitting the two women against one another. When Emily gets pregnant, it will bring Andi’s marriage and her family to the breaking point, and she’s not sure she can take any more.

Is this book typical for me? Not at all. It has a pink cover, y’all. WITH a heart. However, I was in the mood for something a little different.

Did I want to ring Emily’s neck? You guys. This little youknowwhat so had it coming. Andi tried so hard to be there for her, and Emily just kept figuratively slapping her in the face. It was really difficult to watch Andi take so much crap over and over again.

What did I think of Ethan, who allowed his daughter to act this way? Gah. It’s rough because you could see how torn he was. He loves his wife. He loves his daughter. He gets to the point where he’s so incredibly frustrated that he just shuts down, and honestly, I can see how easily this could happen. He’s a good guy. He’s a loving husband and father, but he just cannot deal with these women.

So…overall impressions? I enjoyed this book. As a 30-year-old woman who hopes to someday marry, the idea of stepchildren is horrifying. This book did not lessen that. I admire people who mesh families and do it well because I can see how I would just out and out hate Emily. She’s as cruel as only a teenager can be, and it would be so difficult to feel as if you could not discipline a child who lived in your house and acted that way.

However, parts of this book I struggled with because of the unusual storytelling style. The novel is written in present tense, which usually doesn’t bother me, but it was pretty annoying here. Plus, the entire first half of the novel was told from Andi’s perspective. Suddenly, halfway through, the narrator begins to switch between Andi and Emily. Well, by that time, I pretty much couldn’t stand Emily and had no desire to hear what she had to say, and in my mind, she never redeemed herself enough that I enjoyed her narrative voice. She’s incredibly selfish whereas Andi, though she does make some mistakes, is largely generous and loving. Had Emily’s narrative voice come in sooner, it may have changed my feelings of INTENSE HATRED, though I’m not sure it really would have. The thing is, I know there are people out there just like her, so it’s really not far-fetched at all.

And last but certainly not least, did this book include salsa dancing? YES! If you don’t know, I love to salsa dance. I’ve been dancing for years and love a salsa club. Green includes a great scene where Andi and her friends go dancing, and it was perfect. She says, and I quote, “Dark, and sweaty, and filled with dark good-looking men eyeing the women up and down, they realized quickly that what was missing from these clubs was a threat. The men weren’t eyeing the women seductively, but rather to see who was a good dance, whom they would choose next, not as a lover, but merely a partner in the sensual beat.” This is what I love about salsa dancing. Going to a salsa club is a unique experience. You’re judged, not by how tiny your skirt is or how much boobage is hanging out, but by how you dance. It’s an amazing feeling, and I love that guys will ask you to dance, smile and dance with you and then settle you back in your seat with no expectation. It’s. Amazing.

So all in all, this book was outside my normal reading experience, but I enjoyed it. AND, the nice people at St. Martin’s Press have kindly offered a giveaway copy as the book is out this week. Leave me a comment telling me if you have any cruel stepmother/stepfather/stepchildren stories, and I’ll pick a winner by Sunday at midnight!

Buy this for your Nook. Or from Indiebound.

UPDATE: Giveaway closed. Congrats to brn2shop for winning! An email has been sent to you with instructions on how to claim your copy.

 

Picky Boy: The Kids Are All Right

14th July 2010

When I sat down to watch The Kids Are All Right, my mind was on other things. The pizza I’d just eaten (it was alright)…the Cole Haan shoes I want to buy (I can’t afford them)…the A/C unit we desperately need in our living room (wouldn’t it be nice?).

I simply wasn’t prepared.

Here I sit, two days later, and I cannot stop thinking about this movie. Just a quick synopsis for those of you residing in places where this film probably won’t be released: The Kids Are All Right, written by Lisa Cholodenko, centers around two lesbians, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), whose two teenage children have decided to exercise their age-determined right to contact the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) their moms used to conceive them.

That’s what you could say if someone asks what the film is about. But you’d be underselling it by a long shot.

First things first: The acting is phenomenal.

Though she is wonderful in The Hours and Far from Heaven, it’s so nice to see Julianne Moore successfully tackle a current woman again. Her portrayal of Jules is unnervingly honest and I was reminded of the gritty ‘Moore of yore’ in Magnolia and Boogie Nights …and as to why I regard her as a truly great actress.

Once again, I was charmed by Mark Ruffalo who stole my affection years ago as the bumbling, loveable druggie inYou Can Count on Me.

And Annette Bening is perfection as the uptight, breadwinning and wine-loving matriarch, Nic. Bening, prone to roles in which she gets to stretch her overdramatic muscles (a la American Beauty and Being Julia), unwaveringly steamboats her way through this film, unafraid to knock anyone from her path in quick, concise judo chops of wit & severe candor.

 

 

 

The Kids Are All Right

It would be sophomoric to claim that this movie is a statement about gay couples with children. There are so many currents pulsing through The Kids Are All Right, it is difficult to classify the film. It’s hysterical without pause to beg for laughter and it’s heart-wrenching without device-motivated melodramatic outbursts.

I guess it suffices to say the movie is true. It’s a glimpse into a home, not just a family unit. They have fun together, smother each other, support each other, say hurtful things and do even more hurtful things to each other. They laugh, cry, yell and curse. The parents have sex (gasp, it’s two women!).  The kids holler and stomp up the stairs, screaming (You just don’t understand!). The film boldly and unapologetically explores the complexity of relationships and illuminates what can happen if we become complacent and stop seeing the ones we love when they’re right in front of us.

In one pivotal scene, Jules interrupts her family watching a television program to apologize. Through tears, she explains that “marriage is hard. It’s fucking hard.” And all of a sudden, as a viewer, I was struck with the clamor of the film’s voice. The sexuality and gender of this couple…it’s irrelevant. No one is exempt from making mistakes or above hurting the ones we love (especially the ones we love). Even those who have fought for the right to be with the person they love or to be able to adopt/have children. No matter the partnership, be it a straight or gay couple, committing your life to another person is a process. And it’s hard. Year after year, the game changes. You grow, you learn—about yourself and your partner. Life is in constant flux and the world changes around you. For you to somehow change as a unit…how can one not make mistakes along the way? It’s how we approach the resolution, that’s the key. Is it worth fighting for? Has too much time passed? Were we looking for an out anyway? Can we mend this? There are so many questions when trust is broken. It’s refreshing to see a film approach these issues in a mature, realistic manner.

I strongly recommend seeing The Kids Are All Right, alright? It’s a beautiful film with a lot to say, so listen up. Picky boy out!