Book Review

Book Reviews: February 2017

With all that’s gone on this month, this post is more of a “To Read” list than a review. Hey, I at least started reading all of these titles…that must account for something, right? And I actually read ONE of them to completion . . . so . . . yeah. Okay. I’m a failure at book reviews this month. Now that the house is DONE (OMG HAPPY DANCE FOR DAYS! I can’t wait to share a post of all we’ve done!) it’s a simple matter of packing and readying it for listing, which will be happening in the next few weeks. So I’m hoping to be able to kick back and spend a bit more time reading once that’s done.

Total side bar: I know that’s a complete pipe dream what with scheduled viewings, meetings, paperwork, and beginning our own hunt for a house, but come on, a girl’s gotta dream!  

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The Notorious Dr. Flippin

The Notorious Dr. Flippin

by Jamie Q. Tallman

Ah, the ONE book on this list that I did complete! This is one that’s been sitting on my shelves for months. I kept renewing / checking in / checking out / renewing until I finally decided I needed to read it. Even though it was difficult going at times, and wasn’t entirely enjoyable, it was incredibly well-written biography and of history of abortion and the times. And, potentially, a little telling of the frightening times yet to come. Often, I would set the book aside and feel extremely disturbed by the idea that there are those who wish to return to those days.

First of all, this wasn’t a pleasure read, but one I read as research for my WIP. I also have this hefty read waiting for me that I started reading last year, but set aside because the content bothers me so much. I’m a firm believer in allowing each individual to choose what they want to do with and to their bodies but it was difficult to read stories of women who literally had their bodies used against them, not by the abortionist, but by those whose job it is to protect: doctors and law enforcement.

At the time, it wasn’t illegal for a woman to procure an abortion in Nebraska, but it was illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion. (Because, of course, laws and government  ALWAYS make sense . . .) So if a woman went to another doctor and demonstrated symptoms of complications following an abortion, it was suggested by state officials that that doctor should deny treatment until the woman gave a full confession and named the abortionist. If she refused, than the doctor was basically justified to say, “welp, I hope you enjoy death. Byyyyyyeeeeeee.”And so when the young woman did eventually die, they protracted the “dying declaration” which was allowed as testimony in court. And because the defense had no actual witness to cross-exam, these “dying declarations” were extremely damning.

It was an interesting view of abortion from the 1880s – 1910s, especially of rural areas. But it was also a little disturbing to read, and I have to wonder why anyone would think we should return to a time of illegal abortions. Just as history has taught us, simply because something is illegal, doesn’t mean it’s stopped.

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Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

by Ruth Franklin

I love Shirley Jackson. I still remember the chills I got while reading “The Lottery” and wishing I could write something so brutally frightening. Having lived in a small town for much of my life, the heart of the novel isn’t too difficult to imagine happening in real life. Reading “The Lottery” led me to read “The Haunting of Hill House” and probably my favorite of hers (that I’ve read), “We Have Always Lived in the Castle“. I sometimes wonder if my distaste for children stems from the reading of that story . . . But, I digress.

While I didn’t finish reading this bio before it was due, what I did read was extremely interesting. Franklin talks of Jackson’s early childhood, especially her relationship with her mother, and relates it to the person Jackson became, as well as her writing. I gave up reading it when Jackson became involved with her future husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, who basically thought he could fuck anything in a skirt and Jackson just needed to accept that. And while she wasn’t overly enthused at the idea of a cheating husband, she didn’t beat his ass with a cast-iron skillet (or maybe she did and I just didn’t read far enough into the story) and she didn’t leave. And my heart broke for her in reading her intimate letters to him at the time, and the pain that just flowed from her. She just wanted to be loved, by her mother, her family, her husband, and it seemed all too tragic to continue. But if she had had a happy and joyful life, would she have written such dark and brilliant pieces? I suppose that’s the irony of the situation. If you’re a fan of Jackson’s, I would definitely recommend this read. It’s one I hope to revisit in the future.

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This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything

by Naomi Klein

Last year, I read the fantastic “The Sixth Extinction” and I’ve been searching ever since for something that gripped me from the get-go. The first few pages of “This Changes Everything” seemed to promise such a book, but where as “The Sixth Extinction” had me rapidly turning pages to learn more, “This Changes Everything” is a littler harder to digest. Basically because in the few pages I read, I felt like no matter what I do, I’m destroying the planet. Not such a great feeling.

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Wesley the Owl

Wesley the Owl

by Stacey O’Brien

Because, OMG, it’s about a fluffy owl! And his name is Wesley! (I literally said these words at work when I found this book on a Novelist search.) My original intention was to alternate this with “This Changes Everything”. A fluffy book to battle the difficult book. But once I got it home and was looking at it, I was struck by the realization that I was a holding an animal book in my hand. And we all know what happens in animal books . . .

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