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What is the measure of a person?

17 Mar


As I read Sarah Mlynowski’s book, Don’t Even Think About It, I was fascinated. The premise of the book is terrific. If you were able to read the minds of other people — and they could read yours – what kind of chaos would ensue? In this book we meet some delightful characters who all happen to share a homeroom at school. They share other things as well. Things all teenagers share. They worry about their weight. They worry about their grades (a little). They worry about how popular they are. They worry about giving speeches. They worry about their parents. They worry about parties. They worry about each other. Only now, the result of a contaminated batch of flu vaccine (which, by the way, I did not appreciate since so many people already have unfounded issues about flu shots) they know what other people think. You may tell me I look fine and I don’t need to lose weight but if I could read your mind I might find out something else And secrets? They are a thing of the past. The twist is that not only can I read your mind but you can also read mine. Not everyone, of course, only those students who got the contaminated flu vaccine.

The question arises, do you want to get rid of this ability? At times their ability has come in really handy. At times it has caused much pain. If an antidote can be found they can get rid of their mind-reading gift. But do they want to? I’ve always wanted to be able to read people’s minds, but I want the ability to turn it off and on at will. Oh, and I don’t want anyone to read mine.

I always thought that the true measure of a person is what they do and not what they say. But this book gave me pause. Where does what a person think fit in? Is what you think a truer measure of you than what you do? I discussed this at length with some of my current students. They are in 8th grade which makes them 13-ish. The discussion was fast, furious and engaging. I know what my personal conclusion was — but I pondered it for days. I know that my students did not agree with me or with each other. What do you think? What’s the true measure of you — what you think, what you say or what you do?

I would not recommend this book for my current students for two reasons. There is some sexual activity described in the book, and while not graphic, it is a bit too advanced for my middle school students. My current demographic is relatively conservative and this book pushes the sex card a bit too far for my families. For myself, other adults that enjoy YA literature, for more mature teens, go for it. It’s a book that I truly enjoyed and I think you will too. Let me know what you think.

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

5 Mar


I’ll be honest. I couldn’t follow The Husband’s Secret at first. It seemed like two totally different stories. But I’ve read books like that before and they always come together — and The Husband’s Secret did too. I had heard a lot of good about this book – read a few reviews and talked to a friend. I was not disappointed.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty had me interested from the start. A letter from a husband, written long ago, “To be opened only in the event of my death” was found. Should the wife open it? Would you? That’s the question I wrestled with as I read this book. Cecilia is a likable character. To see her struggle, to see her look at the pros and cons is frustrating. I wanted to rip the letter open and to slap her silly at the same time. But I kept coming back to me — would I open the letter? And I couldn’t blame her for any of the choices she made.

Then the book jumps to Tess and Will and Felicity. I related to Felicity having recently lost 65 pounds myself. I reveled in descriptions of Felicity like her “brand-new slender neck.” And once again we find a husband with a secret – but one that can no longer be contained. Again I found myself doing some pretty intense introspection. Given a similar situation, what would I do?

But the book wouldn’t be much without Rachel – poor Rachel. She’s got a delightful grandson who is the apple of her eye and brings joy to her life. I’ve got some of those too. But she’s also got a daughter-in-law who is a go-getter, a professional woman with a career. That’s not a bad thing, but it adds some angst when the wills of the children are completely opposed to the will of the parent.

To watch these situations unfold and to compare my reactions with Tess’ and Cecilia’s was engaging. My heart bled for Rachel. She hasn’t had an easy life. And it looks like that isn’t going to change anytime soon — at least not for the better. I like a book that will pull me in and not let go. I like to be sad that a book has ended and to have a book-hangover. I want to read a book that will make me think about it days, weeks and even months after I have finished the book. This book was all that and more. Many nights I stayed up way later than I should have because I couldn’t put the book down.

My husband always figures out the twists and turns of a story right from the start, but I never do. It’s probably no surprise that I ever saw what John-Paul’s secret was. I didn’t have a clue, but there were plenty there.

And the ending of the book — man, every book should end like this. You have to read it to appreciate it.

I heard that CBS Films may be making a movie from this book. That would be a great idea. Go for it, CBS. I don’t think there’s any room for disappointment with this one.

A trio of JFK wonders

5 Jul

Serendipitously I read 3 books about JFK — one fiction, two non-fiction. Together they gave me a good idea of Camelot and the public (and private) life of JFK.

I began with the Stephen King book 11/22/63. I am not a fan of time travel, but this book hooked me from the beginning. Maybe because the main character, Jake Epping, was a teacher, or maybe not, but I was hooked. Jake’s friend Al (and I use the term loosely) is dying and he wants to share his secret with Jake. If you go into Al’s pantry, and walk forward a little bit, you will travel back in time to September 9, 1958. Al wants to stop the assignation of JFK. It’s as simple as that. But i typical Stephen King fashion, it’s anything but simple. Anyone taking that step in the pantry into the past resets the past. Al has done it lots of times. But now that he is ill he wants Jake to take over and save Kennedy’s life.

This book does a terrific job of mixing fact with fiction. If you don’t know a lot about the assignation of JFK, you will. And interesting book, it kept me engaged and holding my breath on more than one occasion. Should the past be changed? And if it is, what changes occur in the future? This is what plagues Jake, and me too.

The second book I read was Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. This is all fact — no fiction — but it is easily read and digested. Since the same characters are in both Killing Kennedy and 11/22/63, I felt like I was seeing old friends. The questions about conspiracies and exactly what happened on that day are investigated by O’Reilly and Dugard. In my mind they put to rest any questions about what happened and how it happened and why it did so. The book is delightfully easy to read and held my attention throughout.

Finally I read Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford. This book puts a human face on both Kennedy and those around him, although that face is not always flattering. This book is not one for kids, nor should it be. It tells the story of JFK from the viewpoint of one of his female friends. Interesting to note the comment about 11/22/63 and why Jackie was in Dallas with JFK. Put together with the other two books, it ties them all together with compassion, and passion, and wit. The book is a quick read, in fact, I had trouble putting it down. For a teacher this could be a problem were it not for the fact that this is summer break.

Why it was not by design that I read these books, I am glad that I did. I am not overly fluent in history, but I feel like I now can carry on a descent conversation on this topic. Give them a try. Let me know what you think.

Drawing Out the Dragons

28 Jan



I received an ARC of this book from the author, James A. Owen.  Thanks James!

This is the book you will reach for time and time again. It’s a quick read (less than 90 minutes) but the messages and inspiration will stay with you. James A. Owen, master story weaver, tells a different story with Drawing Out the Dragons. Instead of dragons and mythical lands, he write about illness, Superman rings and Hollywood. This autobiographical story pulls the reader in and refuses to let go. Need inspiration? It’s here. Need motivation? It’s here. Need entertainment? It’s here. 

Not only have I read and reread this book, I read it to each of my 8th grade classes. Some lessons are best learned early — and James provides them. No matter if you are young, or not-so-young, you will find what you are looking for in Drawing Out the Dragons.

The content of this book is appropriate for all ages, but will be best appreciated by readers (and listeners) ages 11 and up.

The Promise of Stardust delivers more than expected

28 Jan


I was given an opportunity (by and William Morrow books) to read and review this book.  Thanks for this amazing  gift.

Matt and Elle have a wonderful life but it is not without struggle.  They first met as infants, became more than friends as teenager and married each other more than a decade later.  All that is missing in  their life is a baby.  But this is not your average “We want a baby” book.  Through twists and turns in the story — twists that will keep you turning the pages as quickly as you can — you will be kept on the edge of your seat.  Not only will you be entertained, you will be intrigued and, if you are at all like me, become emotionally invested from the start.  Days after I finished the book, months later, I am still haunted by their beauty of the love between Matt & Elle, and I still feel an emotional connection to them and their plight.

This book was riveting.  It’s more than a love story, more than a book that will motivate you.  It will crawl into your heart and soul and stay there long after you have finished the book.  But be careful — it will ask you to think about issues you may want to ignore.  And, if you are at all like me, you will resent anything that keeps you away from finishing this book.  Things like sleep, work and family.  You will be so glad you read it — and you will fall in love with the characters, like I did.

This is Priscille Sibley’s debut novel — and I can’t wait to read more!

Hello world!

15 Aug

Welcome to NancyFootenotes.  You’ll find a little bit of everything here so sit back, relax and enjoy!!

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