Books Read in 2017


I want to grow hair, I want to grow up, I want to go to Boise by Erma Bombeck

I was so depressed about tomorrow's inauguration when I got to the book store, I was slightly nauseous. I decided I needed to read something light to take my mind off of things. Then I saw Erma Bombck's book on the humor shelf. Who better to cheer me up than Erma? Well, this book about kids and cancer wasn't exactly the funny book I expected, but it wasn't really a downer either. The title refers to what a child, suffering from cancer, said were his/her three wishes.

Bombeck was approached to write an upbeat book about children with cancer. She wasn't sure she could do it until she visited a camp for children with cancer and got to know them. What she has written reminds me of the book "When Someone You Love Has Cancer," by DanaRae Pomeroy. You get to "know" kids with cancer, you get to know their parents, you get a sense of the joy and the tragedy, and you get a feel for how someone who cares can help -- what to do and what not to do. Not Bombeck's usual belly laughs, but a wonderfully thought out and written book (I would have expected nothing less of my hero). And I didn't think of Donald Trump all afternoon.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
This has the "or" title of "One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World."  Travel writer Weiner sets out to find the happiest place in the world.  (Spoiler alert:  It's not the U.S., which  ranks 23rd in happiness on world charts. "The United States is not as happy as it is wealthy."

His travels take him far and wide, from his home in Florida to Iceland to India, to Qatar.  No, he didn't discover that happiness was to be found in his own backyard, but he did learn how relative it is and what is happy to one person may not be to another  (given the choice of spending eternity in Iceland or in Hell, for example, Iceland natives chose Hell because at least they would be warm!).  He discovered that wealthy people were no happier than poor people, as a general rule.  He found that the key to happiness was the camaraderie of friends and relatives, and a feeling of love in your life.

He did find Moldova the most unhappy place of all those he visited, and he seems to have found the greatest happiness in Bhutan. He received hate mail from Moldovans after his book came out so maybe they just hide their joy very well.  It did take me forever to finish this book, not because it was not interesting but because somehow I never sat to actually finish it.  I'm glad I did, tho.  It was a fun read and I learned a lot about some countries around the world.

Pronoun by Evan Placey
This is a play about a female-to-male transgendered teen in mid-transition. While the issues that transgendered people, especially young people, encounter are many, this play focuses primarily on the interpersonal relations, with his parents, his sister, and his friends, especially, Josh, his former boyfriend, who is still in love with the girl he dated for so long. This is a powerful play which explores the difference between "tolerance" and "acceptance"

Dean's monologue about tolerance before the school board is powerful and poignant and nicely sums up the whole point of the play. 

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
This was a crazy long book to have read accidentally!  It has been in my audio queue for a long time and when I recently talked with Walt's sister about a book she was reading by "Jeri's favorite author" I remembered that I had this book by her too, so I started reading it.  It seemed a strange book to have been written by Jeri's favorite author, but I thought maybe it just wasn't her best.  I was almost finished with the book before I found out that Jeri's favorite author is Ann Patchett not Jodi Picoult, but I finished this book anyway.

While the story was good, it just seemed overly long, at 500 pages.  The middle section seemed to drag on and on.  The story centers around Peter, youngest son growing up in the shadow of his talented older brother and bullied by classmates his entire life.  The brother's death in an accident was a terrible trauma for all, and when the bullying escalates, Peter finally loses it, takes a gun and runs rampant throughout the school, killing several of his classmates.

Also important are Josie Cormier, daughter of Alex, the judge who will be assigned to the case, and girlfriend of Matt, one of the shooting victims.  Josie was once Peter's friend, but had turned her back on him when she became Matt's girl, but her testimony may help gets Peter a lighter sentence under a 'battered wife' defense, the first use of such a defense in a bullying case.

This is a study in how a small town is torn apart when a tragedy likes this takes place, examines bullying and its effect on the victim, and looks at the emotional effect of friendships.  The ending came out of the blue and was completely unexpected.

Now I'm going to have to check out Ann Patchett!

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