Friday, August 31, 2012

August Book List

August was a memoir-heavy month! People interest me.

Thin Places by Mary DeMuth
To say Mary DeMuth had a rough childhood would be an understatement. Raised by a hippie mother and a series of stepdads, she was repeatedly assaulted at a young age by some neighbor boys, with no one to rescue her. It's difficult even to read about her experiences. The book highlights a series of "thin places" - moments past and present when she's very aware of God's closeness and presence in her life. I probably describe too many memoirs as brave, but this one really is. It takes guts to present your life not as a textbook before-and-after-Jesus testimony, but as an ongoing work of God, still in progress. To publicly wrestle with your past and your scars, and admit that bad things happened to you and you don't know why, but you know God loves you anyway. This is real stuff, and I'm thankful to Mary DeMuth for writing it.

Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by Kelle Hampton
If you're already a fan of Kelle Hampton's blog, most of this memoir will be a re-tread to you - but no less moving than the first telling. The book chronicles the first year of her younger daughter, Nella, who has Down syndrome, and Kelle's emotional journey toward embracing the realities of that diagnosis and even finding joy in it. I think Kelle is a fantastic writer and all-around awesome person, so I enjoyed the elaboration not only of Nella's story, but also of Kelle's family background, how she met her husband, etc. The book itself is in full color, with many of her own great photos, and looks and feels like a yearbook. I loved it.

Shooting Stars by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger
This is the coming of age story of LeBron James and his four best friends, from his perspective. LeBron, Little Dru, Sian, and Willie started playing basketball together in a kids' league in a rough area of Akron, Ohio. They established an instant bond, and at a young age, made a pact to stay together through high school and win a national championship together. In high school they were joined by transfer student Romeo, who became their fifth BFF and the final piece to the achievement of their dreams. This is a heartwarming, inspiring story - even more so because it's all true. I cried!

Hana by Lauren Oliver
This short story for Kindle recounts and fleshes out the events of Delirium from the perspective of Lena's best friend Hana. It was a nice complement to the first book. I probably shouldn't even count it because it was so short, but oh well.

The Summer of My Greek Taverna by Tom Stone
I was prepared to be charmed by this memoir of an American living and working on a tiny Greek island. I enjoyed the insights into Greek life, but even with the interesting people and good food, the book fell flat for me. I had a hard time finishing it. I do plan to try some of the recipes though!

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis
Considering how long I went on in my Goodreads review, I should have devoted an entire post to these books. I've been hearing about them for years from my friend Marie, and when I saw them available in my library's e-book section, I decided to take the plunge. Quick summary: In 2060, society has mastered time travel, and historians are sent back to key points in history to observe them. After Polly, Eileen (real name Merope), and Mike are sent to various points around the London Blitz in WWII, they find themselves marooned, unable to get back to their time. With difficulty, they find each other and try to find a solution, while also surviving the Blitz and preventing any of their new friends from finding out who they really are. While the plot could have used some heavy editing, it's the characters and their bravery and sacrifice that make this story wonderful. I was an emotional wreck after reading it, and it'll stick with me for a very long time.

Books for August: 7
2012 year to date: 45

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