Book Review: Angry Housewives Eating BonBons…

First of all, i LOVE the title of this book! And i loved it even more when i found out that that is the name of the book club which is the centre of action in the book; the AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating BonBons).

Second, i apologise as i will be skimming over the details of this book. i read this for my own book club meeting at the beginning of May and my memory isn’t what it used to be. But i liked the book and remember enough to want to talk about it some more.

Ok onto the book review proper…

The first few lines of the book (Prologue) immediately grabbed my attention and the writing style and story-lines held it all the way through the book.

“I knew all about having my life saved. When I was three years old, I broke free of my MawMaw’s callused grasp to chase a paper cup skittering across the street at the same time a jalopy full of new army recruits careened around the corner. A sailor coming out of Knapp’s Drugs and Sundries, with reflexes I hope served him well in his tour of duty, threw his bottle of Hires root beer to the sidewalk and raced out into the street, scooping me up in his arms. I can still hear the cacophony of squealing brakes, honking horns, and my grandmother’s scream, feel the sailor’s rough cotton uniform on my cheek and smell the soda pop on his breath…”

See what i mean. The writing is not complex but it is full of details which draw you right into the action, right into what the character sees and feels.

Faith, the ‘I’ in the above excerpt, is the main character who is also the one with the biggest, oldest secret in the story. (No spoiler here – i won’t tell you what’s the secret.) However, all the other housewives are so well-fleshed out that you live and feel for each of them as they take turns to tell their part in this story. i like Audrey for her dare-to-live attitude and Slip for her fight-to-the-end viewpoint. Their personal stories both take an unexpected twist. Merit, whom my heart goes out to, is amazing as she tries to keep it all together under an abusive husband and then when it falls apart, raises her girls on her own; not an easy thing to do in the Sixties. Kari, the ‘mother-hen’ of the group, who has her own sad story with a wonderful end, is equally interesting to read about.

i enjoy so much the camaraderie which the women share in those 40 over years they spent together; how they were there for each other at every turn. It is something i do not have – not to say that my life is lacking but such close friendships with people who live on the same street i have not experienced. i have wonderful friends but we are, unfortunately, at this point in our lives, not living in the same country even, let alone the same street. i have always wondered about living with neighbours who became close friends and i got to see that through the eyes of these characters.

The topics touched upon in the book are also varied and of great interest to me. Everything from the war (Vietnam specifically) and the peace marches to marriage (normal, abusive, divorce etc…) and sex; it also covers parenting, adoption, lost of loved ones, relationships and expectations between parent and child, religion, the gay movement/issue, and most importantly, holding onto secrets and its effects. There is no lack of tragedies with regards to all those issues but there are also lots of triumphs as well.

Of course, in those many years, these friends have had their disagreements and fights with each other and the process of healing the broken relationships was never easy. But they stayed true to each other, loving each other, even when they were ‘hating’ the other.

i love it that two of their children would carry on the book club in their own way, just as their mothers did. We leave the Angry Housewives in the midst of another battle in life:

The Angry Housewives tame a Hell’s Angel, I wrote. Next stop: world domination. I laughed, even though I was a breath away from bursting into tears. I looked at Slip, but my valiant, true friend did not stir, and I stared at the photograph for a moment more before adding, We’re still working on that one.”

i would read this book again some time in the future. (when my to-read list is finally no more… God only knows when that will be – hehehee;) ).

Have you read this book? If so, did you like it? Hate it? Do share.

syc

Book Recommendation: I Choose to Forgive…

i’m going to do an unusual thing today… i’m going to recommend a book which i have not yet read. You must be wondering how can i recommend a book which i have not even broken its spine to read.

Well, it is because i have heard the author of the book speak, twice. i spent last Saturday morning and this morning at Day Away Association for Women events, listening to this amazing lady speak of forgiveness and her story is all at once heart-piercing and uplifting.

She speaks of how God led her on a journey to forgive the murderer of her son. It is one of the most amazing stories i have heard and it leaves me no doubt that our God is living; alive and truly working in this world today. Her name is Dianne B. Collard and her book is called “I Choose to Forgive”.

My take-away from her talk is this:

There are many layers to forgiveness. What does this mean?
Remember the story of Peter coming to Jesus and asking, “Lord, how many times should i forgive the man who wronged me? Seven times?” And Jesus answered, “Seventy times seven”?

Did  Jesus mean that we count the number of times we forgive someone and then take revenge once the 490th “crime” has been committed? No. i have learnt that when Jesus said 70×7, He means 70 to the power of 7, which means you take 70 and multiple by 70 and do that for 7 times. Does it make sense? If you are like me and have no head for numbers, then simply take my word for it that it is a number greater than you can count. And what that really means is every time, all of the time we need to forgive, which should be a normal way to respond for someone who has experienced God’s marvelous forgiveness.

Then she brought it to another level. We can forgive the person who wronged us (but that doesn’t mean the other person is right or that the person is getting away with the “crime”). But if some time down the road, we start to feel the emotions of this “crime” again and start to resent/hate this person or the consequences of his/her action, we need to forgive again. It doesn’t mean that we didn’t forgive that first time around. It simply means that there is another layer of forgiveness we need to take it to, a deeper level. A friend reminded me: it is just like peeling an onion, every layer we peel back makes us cry but brings us closer to the core.

My eyes have been opened and there are issues i have to deal with. But it has also explained to me why i sometimes feel the way i do in certain situations. i have to take it another step further. It’s going to be hard but another important point she made was – the choice to forgive lies with ourselves, but the power to obey (follow God’s commandments to forgive) is in God.

If we are obedient to forgive, just as God commanded, then powerful blessings can flow from the throne of God into our lives and into the lives of others around us. Read to the book to find out more about these fantastic blessings which Dianne experience in her journey of forgiveness.

If you have the desire to hear the talk i heard, then leave a comment with your email and i will try to see if i can get you a copy of her talk on CD. Or visit her blog or her ministry website to find out if she is going to be speaking somewhere near you.

syc

NOTE: All profits from the sale of her book goes to getting translations and getting the book published in countries which cannot afford to publish it. And the profits for those sales (if there are any) are given to a ministry in that country which helps people in great need. It’s a gift which keeps giving. Her statement is that she could never make money from the death of her son.

Book Review: The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was published in 2003 and has had glowing reviews since. It has taken me almost 7 years, since i first heard about it, to finally get round to reading it. i’m glad i did.

i’ll try not to give the whole plot away (my brother has said before that i’m terrible at this).

First of all, this book surprised me. From the back of cover description, i was expecting a fair amount of talk about the wars in Afghanistan. But there was not a whole lot of talk about the wars. Yes the wars were used as a catalysis for the actions taken by the characters in the story.

However, it is essentially about the journey of a boy into manhood and how a single incident shattered his life as he knew it and shaped most of the rest of his life, how he regrets what happened but felt that he had could do nothing to make it better. It is also about relationships; the relationship between a father and his son, the relationship between best friends, the relationship between fear and action, guilt and atonement.

The story pulls us into the life of Amir, literally by a kite string as it starts out as a fairly inconsequential account of a boy’s life; a boy born into what we might call a ‘silver-spoon-in-mouth’ situation, a boy who tried hard to be the son his father wants him to be, a boy who carried a dark secret with him till he could find redemption years later. Many points in my reading i wanted to take Amir and shake him. Then i remember he is but a boy and he reacted as a boy would.

Amir’s father too, carried secrets, as did his loyal housekeeper and his long-time friend. But they all hid their secrets for different reasons; fear of social shame, fear of rejection. They also hid the truth out of love for the people they cared about. i’m still not sure that hiding the truth to so-call “save” a loved one pain is really the right or good thing to do. This is the thing to do where i come from so i completely understand the thought process behind this reasoning but i’m not certain i agree with it. (but that’s a whole other post.)

When the truth comes out, finally, the path to redemption slowly unwinds. The end brings closure for almost all the characters. It is not a complete ‘Hollywood’ ending but it ended on a hopeful note and that i feel is important, because the secret Amir carried and the result of it was so terrible that hope needed to be found in the end, how else can we humans still live on except by finding and walking towards that little dot of light at the end of a long long tunnel.

If you have read this book, i would love to hear what you think of it. If not, do you think this is a book you would pick up?

syc