For a change, I decided to mix it up and read all adult books this week. I am sure my students were disappointed at the lack of recommendations, but some of you will probably be happy.
Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
Sarah nicely loaned this one to me, after a desperate email asking her if my children were normal. And after reading this, I'm happy to report that it seems that they are normal. At least, they're normal boys. I know so many moms of girls that lately, it's been hard for me to rationalize Luke's behavior. Although he was fairly calm as a toddler, he became explosive as a 5 year old and I didn't or couldn't understand it. What struck me early on in this book is that it explained that boys don't have the emotional literacy that 4, 5 and 6 year old girls do, so they will often yell or hit when they are frustrated or upset or sad about something, because they lack the words to explain what's going on. I read that and hugged the book close to my chest, because wow, my son is normal. Although I didn't agree with everything in this book, it was incredibly enlightening not only as the mom of two boys, but as the teacher of middle school boys. It was definitely a good read.
Although I, like most people, find Elie Wiesel stirring, I've never read any of his fiction. I'm glad I gave this book a try. It's about a Holocaust survivor who is kidnapped and held hostage by two terrorists who hope to use their hostage as leverage. In his capitivity, he survives through telling stories and through his memories of his life during World War II.
One Crazed Mommy recommended this book and warned that I would get a little teary. She was right. This book explores sibling relationships and somewhat, mother-daughter relationships, but it goes so much deeper than that. There are some elements of historical fiction within the novel and heavy themes on love and forgiveness. It's really beautifully written. It's also hard to talk too much about it without giving anything away, but you should definitely read this one.
Mr. Bridge: A Novel
Barb mentioned a few times that she was reading these paired books and I was intrigued by the idea, so I checked them out. I decided to read Mr. Bridge first, because it was longer. What I liked about the format was that for the most part, the chapters were kind of choppy so you didn't have to follow along too much. Mr. Bridge was a pretty insufferable human being, though I suspect that he was pretty common for most rich white men of the time. I was kind of hoping that at some point in the novel, he'd get hit by a bus. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy it, because I did.
Mrs. Bridge is slightly less insufferable than Mr. Bridge, but can probably be considered one of the original desperate housewives. What's interesting about her book versus his is that you see much more of the kids and less of her than you did in his book, which is reflective of how flat her life seemed to be. It was also interesting to see how different events different in her point-of-view from his. I've never seen an author do two novels like this and really enjoyed it.