Sunday, February 14, 2010

Great books

I wanted to highlight a couple great books I've read lately.

In the Time of the Butterflies is inspired by the true story of the Mirabel sisters, known as las mariposas (the butterflies). From the back of the book - "They were the four Mirabel sisters - symbols of defiant hope in a country shadowed by dictatorship and despair. They sacrificed their safe and comfortable lives in the name of freedom... [the book] describes the everyday horrors of life under the Dominican dictator Trujillo."

I knew the book was going to be a tearjerker. But I didn't realize how much it was going to draw me into the story, make me feel as if I lived under that government and was suffering for want of freedom. I was pulling for the sisters, hoping (irrationally) that they would survive in the end, knowing full well that the sisters were martyred. I couldn't put the book down even though I was heartbroken by the way the government treated its people and the consequences people suffered in standing up for themselves. This really is a story of courage and standing up for one's beliefs.

June Bug surprised me. I spotted this book on the "new" bookshelf at my library and grabbed it on a whim. I'd never read anything by this author, though I'm definitely going to look for his other books. This is the story of a young girl who discovers her photo on the missing persons board at Walmart. It describes her experiences in trying to find out who she really is as well as her adopted father's thoughts and feelings as he tries to raise his daughter by himself. The writing was great and I felt the author had an authentic voice for June Bug. What was even more shocking was how the ending, the events around John's adoption of June Bug, came as a complete surprise! Normally Christian fiction is very formulaic but this book was a breath of fresh air.

My only complaint is that I wish there had been just one more chapter. I wanted to know what happened next!

I loved How Do I Love Thee?, a slightly fictionalized account of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This is the first Nancy Moser book I've read but I can't wait to get my hands on others. The book started a bit slow and I almost returned it to the library. But then I started getting really interested in Elizabeth and Robert and wanted to know how they were going to marry when Elizabeth's father had forbidden any of his children to marry. Could their love break Elizabeth free from her controlling father?

While reading through the book, I couldn't help but wonder how much of it was based on truth and how much was fictionalized. The author was kind enough to include a chapter by chapter list of the events that were true to life. The vast majority of this book is true! That made the story all the more engaging.

This is one of my new favorite poems (and just in time for Valentine's Day!):

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
`I love her for her smile ... her look ... her way
Of speaking gently, ... for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.

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