Greetings and welcome to the Hopeful Signs edition of You Are What You Read.
It is allegedly Spring People and yet it certainly is not feeling like it yet is it? The grey, the damp, the cold.
We are all at the end of our ropes I think.
I started thinking earlier this week that I needed to start thinking on the signs of progress that I was seeing and here’s what I came up with.
I have noticed that in the evenings that the rowers are out on the Norwalk River in their sculls pulling an oar.
Next door at Nielsen’s and across the street at The Gardener’s Center, there are pots of pansies available for you to purchase to brighten your thresholds.
In the gardens around where I live, there are crocus and snowdrops blooming away.
The birdsong in the early dawn and at dusk has certainly picked up.
Tonight we have the beginning of Passover (Chag Pesach Sameach to you all!) and on Sunday we have Easter (Rabbit Rabbit!). What this means is the cooking of giant meats which we will then place on beautifully garnished platters with perhaps a Lemon Pig or three. This is most decidedly a Hopeful sign.
Tonight’s full moon is the last blue moon for a while (Halloween 2020 People! Spooky!) and is called either the Sap Moon for the running o’the sap or the Worm Moon for the reappearance of earth worm casings. Kind of gross to be sure, but Hopeful just the same.
If you all have any hopeful signs that have gladdened your hearts this week, send them my way and I will share next week.
This week we have tragedy, an empty nest, conversations, self-awareness, water, a cat, and some flowers.
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann has just finished The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani. “This novel, a French translation, is based on the NYC nanny who is charged with killing the two children in her care. When the book opens you know that Louise, the nanny, has murdered the young children of the family she works for. Part of this novel looks back on Louise's life and relationship with her family, especially with her daughter while the other part centers on Myriam, the mother of the young children. She is so happy to be back at work and has such faith in Louise that she trusts her completely until some of Louise's behavior causes she and her husband to question keeping the nanny. They speak to her of their concerns and she takes it all in, but does not react outwardly to what they are saying. The ending is a bit abrupt but I would still recommend, The Perfect Nanny.“
Hello Kaitlin from the Rock! “Hellooo! I just finished reading Mrs. Fletcher, by Tom Perrotta. This was such a fun and quick read, though let me warn you that I would definitely say it's R-rated! Eve Fletcher is a single mom whose only son has gone away for his first year at college. The chapters alternate viewpoints between Eve and her son Brandon, with some chapters told from the perspectives of secondary characters. To fill her empty nest void, Eve starts taking a Gender and Society class at a local college, which leads her to discover a side of herself she never knew before. While she thrives in her newfound life, Brandon struggles with the challenges of his freshman year, from keeping up with his classes to having meaningful relationships. While the story is quite humorous, it delves into some pretty serious issues. Overall, I highly recommend it!”
Pat T is diving into some non-fiction this week. “Kelly Corrigan's latest book, Tell Me More, is thoughtful and thought provoking. There are 12 chapters, each based on an ordinary phrase that we all use in our everyday conversations. Kelly takes these phrases to weave a story from her own life that can be heartbreaking, funny, observant, sad and always moving and honest. It's one of those books that you can leave by your bedside, pick up to read intermittently and discover something new each time.”
Jeanne only has one thing this week. “Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala tells the story of 18 year-old Niru. He is black in a sea of white faces at his Washington D.C. private school. He is a track star; bound for Harvard and becoming self-aware that he is gay. This is made more real for him when his best buddy, who also runs track, and is female and white, kisses him. He had not planned on coming out any time soon, but then his Nigerian parents find revealing apps on his phone. His violent father drags him to their church pastor and it is decided that they will fly to Nigeria where homosexuality is considered evil. In his father’s hometown, Niru is forced to undergo a ritualistic purging of his perceived evil. It is as horrific as it sounds and more. The thing is, Iweala writes so beautifully, so evocatively, that while I found myself aghast at the homophobic words and actions, I also found myself falling into the author’s gifted style of writing and storytelling. I recommend it for adults and teens."
The Always Delightful Pat S has been raving about The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu to everyone who draws near. “In this time of growing Nationalism here in America and abroad, The Line Becomes a River is a remarkable portrait of the human cost of illegal immigration. Immediately after college, Cantu, a third generation Mexican American joins the Border Guard as a way to better understand his personal connection to the southwest lands as well as the arbitrary nature of a line dividing two countries that people will risk their lives to cross. What he discovers is a panorama of violence: that of the cartels, that of nature in punishing heat and absence of water, that of human nature in the smugglers and the guards. Told in brief snapshots, Cantu describes his attempts to understand what he sees-both through the eyes of the struggling migrants hoping for a better life, as well as through the eyes of the guard tasked with returning those individuals to Mexico. While Cantu offers no solutions to the problem of the illegal border crossings, he does make a coherent argument for re-branding it as a humanitarian crisis.”
Brit loves herself a Graphic Novel. Here’s what struck her this week. “This week I read Manfried the Man. It’s about Steve, a person-sized cat who owns a cat-sized ginger man named Manfried. Steve goes through what we would classify as typical people experiences. He struggles to find a good balance between work and home, doesn’t quite fit in with his friends who don’t own men, and views his pet as his best friend. He keeps Manfried sheltered, and gives him much more care than he shows in the other aspects of his life. Then one day while Steve is at work, Manfried goes missing. It's the adventure of a lifetime for both Steve and Manfried as they discover deeper meaning in themselves during their separation. It’s delightful, and a quick read that is coming out in May of this year!"
Diane has some pretty for us this week. “With spring flowers about to pop up in the garden and shops selling bunches of daffodils, tulips, Martha Stewart's book Martha's Flowers: A Practical Guide To Growing, Gathering, And Enjoying is the perfect reference book to start spring. Martha spends the introduction recounting her many years of gardening at the six homes she has owned or currently owns. She introduces us to Kevin Sharkey, whose beautiful arrangements are found throughout the book. Martha describes the twenty year relationship with Shakey as, she is ‘the grower and he is the cutter and arranger.’ This beautiful book is by season. Three flowering seasons are then divided into 6 chapters. The flower chosen for the chapter is then discussed in depth, from planting, pruning, maintaining and finally to arranging. The final page in the chapter has a conversation with Kevin Shakey as to his thoughts about the specific flower. The final chapter of this book is devoted to arranging flowers and the incredible collection of planters and vases Martha Stewart has collected. This new book is not to be missed if you love flowers and you certainly don't need to be a gardener to enjoy Martha Stewart’s newest book.”