This past week

July 29, 2007

I am happy to report that this past week we have not had any urgent trips to the hospital and we still have air conditioning! We have also had fun getting to know new friends, Ben and Ericka (thanks to my Dad's intro) and celebrating new life with the arrival of Cort (the sixth Solley). And to make the week even better we actually had periods of coolness (80 degree weather) thanks to some cloudy days. Life is good. And we are happy.

And one more thing this week that made me appreciate our good life is the book "Jesus Land". A compelling, but tragic memoir. I was drawn to it initially because it is a sister's account of her childhood with two adopted brothers (I haven't come across many adoption books from the sibling perspective), but as I started reading I was also interested in the connection to the Dominican Republic (where my mother spent part of her childhood) and the issues of identity, race, religion, family dynamics, and abuse boiling in the stew of adolescence. I gobbled it up in two days and it left me feeling very grateful for my own childhood, my family, and my children.

This book is one in a string of memoirs that I have read in the last few months. At our most recent book group (Families with Children from China book club) we discussed the book "Falling Leaves" and part of our discussion centered on the apparent increase in this genre of memoirs ("The Mistress' Daughter", "The Liar's Club", "Angela's Ashes" etc). It was interesting to consider why there has been an increase in their popularity. Is it a reader's version of "reality tv" that compels us to soak up others tragic stories as a point of comparison for our own lives? A way to connect? or to increase appreciation for what we have? Our book club struggles with finding monthly selections that aren't too depressing but our primary subjects of China and/or adoption aren't usually the source for humorous material (if you have suggestions please share them!).

To counteract some of my recent heavy reading, we watched a very entertaining/uplifting documentary called "The Journey" ...a guy, his dog, and VW van...a great summer film.
Anonymous said...

I wonder too about the popularity of the memoir genre. Somehow it works at this time. I'm not super concerned with the facts or the debate over the thin line between fiction and memoir. I just know I love to hear people tell their story however they choose to tell it.

I don't have any tips on books with adoption themes. Wish I had some. I do have some thoughts on less weighty or less tragic tales. Eat, Pray, Love which I had already mentioned but it is so provocative and inspiring and I wish I could be friends with her! Also, anything by Anne Lammot. Anything that is not fiction. Bird by bird or Traveling Mercies or Operating Instructions. Or some favorite fiction, wrenching but hopeful and real: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner or A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Or anything by Barbara Kingsolver fiction or non-fiction.

My two cents for what they are worth.


Lucia, Adam, Noah and Camille said...

Lammot, Irving, and Kingsolver are some of my favorite authors,too. And I have added Eat, Pray, Love to my library list. Now I'll have to check out Stegner. Thanks and when are you moving back to the States so we can actually talk about books (and other stuff) in person?

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