Jul 31, 2007

Woah. Book Review.

It's very quiet this evening. Shelly left late this afternoon so for the first time in two weeks, I'm catching up on the long list of blogs I like to read. (Some of you write way too much, btw!) Doug is snoozing peacefully in his chair with Harry Potter open in his lap and ESPN muted on the T.V. I'd almost forgotten what teenager-less life is like! Definitely less exciting but much quieter! (We miss you already Shelly!)

Sam is still wide awake due to an ill-gotten nap this afternoon and is staying busy by pulling out baby wipes and playing with Maxwell's toys. (He saunters out every 20 minutes or so to confess his misdeeds and be swiftly ushered back to bed by half-asleep dad in chair.)

For my part, I've had 5 or so ideas for blog posts I want to write swirling around in my head for the past few days and just can't figure out which one to start with.

I still haven't blogged our Palmyra trip, or the picture of our taped-shut (by Max with Scotch tape) fridge, but I think I'll delay those a little longer and go right for the drama:
I may or may not have offended half of my ward this last Sunday.

Doug and I were asked to speak. The topic was "Avoiding deception in the last days". When I learned the topic, nothing really leaped to mind. I had no immediate ideas or thoughts about what I could say.

After about a week of intermittent pondering, I had an idea. I could talk about the book I just finished! It was all I could come up with so I just went with it. I stood up and publicly blasted, by name, a book that is on the NY Times bestsellers list and may or may not be loved by half the congregation. And I'm about to do it again, just in case there was someone who ditched church who's favorite book this is, and can therefore join the ranks of "me haters."

SPOILER ALERT! If you want to read The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards, you should keep reading, let me spoil the ending for you, and save yourself some time. Furthermore, if you absolutely loved this book and recommended it to all your friends, please tell me why, exactly, so I can feel a little better about the lost hours of my life.

Here goes:
My first hint as to the merit of this book came right on the cover. An endorsement from Sue Monk Kidd. (Who, as you may remember, after writing "The Bloody Mermaid Chair", has earned a swift virtual kick in the pants and eternal raspberry from myself.) ANYWAY,

The Memory Keepers Daughter starts with a very interesting premise. A (bone) doctor drives his in-labour wife to the hospital where he is forced to perform the delivery of not just one, but TWO babies. A perfect little boy and a Downs-syndrome girl. He looks at his baby daughter and sees nothing but pain and suffering for his family in the future. He gives the baby girl, Phoebe, to a nurse (who's in love with him) and tells her to take Phoebe to an institution.

Now, strip away the interesting premise and good writing and here's what you're left with about 170 pages in:
*A Doctor/Husband who gives away his baby, lies to everyone by saying the baby died, and consequently lives the rest of his life emotionally constipated because he refuses to tell the truth or do the right thing. Oh yeah, and then dies suddenly--and unsatisfactorily--before resolving anything.
*A wife who gets depressed after the "death" of her daughter but then stays mad at her husband until she figures, "what the heck, may as well fall into bed with this stranger I met at the beach last night and may as well keep hating and resenting my husband and sleeping around because...well...I'm unhappy and my life hasn't been perfect. Oh yeah, and I need a full-time job and career because I get no fulfillment as a wife or mother and need to find myself." (I may have paraphrased that a bit.) (She was definitely my very least favorite.)
*A spoiled son who thinks his dad hates him and consequently starts sleeping with the high school hussy and using drugs and hating the world.
*A nurse who, although is trying to do the right thing for Phoebe, kidnaps her and claims to be her mother, refuses to let Doctor/Dad see daughter, and doesn't contact the family to fess up until the twins are in their 20's and D.D. is already dead.

At the end of the book, I was just left feeling empty. Where was the valor? Where was the character who showed real moral courage inspired by something other than guilt and fear? Who was there to cheer for? Nobody! Except maybe Phoebe who is without guile. But then, it sorta felt like she was totally secondary to the plot despite being the crux of it. (Am I using crux right?)

And thus we see how this relates to my speaking assignment. Thesis Statement: You can avoid deception in the last days by not reading so much of this tripe that you actually start to think reprehensible actions like those of the main characters in this book are normal, acceptable, or even remotely justifiable! (It's always good to start with a thesis statement.)

Okay. I think I finally have this rant out of my system. I'm going to bed early tonight! (After I read a few more blogs...)


Shelly said...

A) I miss you so much. B) I so want to see Sam be hyper. C) You're cute when you rant. D) You make it sound like I'm the reason you haven't been sleeping much lately when you've been sleeping more because - AHAHAH! - you've been sleeping in! E) I left my heart in Rhode Island

Okay, now it's REALLY time for me to sleep. Night Lovely HP fangirl<3 [That's right. I called you a fangirl.]

Mrs. Dub said...

i'm part of the unoffended half. i appreciate being spared from any novel that promotes adultery as a form of self discovery.

bloody mermaid chair, indeed.

Marni said...

LOVED your talk! No offense here! :) If anyone was offended, that's their problem to deal with.

Linz said...

Wow, that book sounds really depressing. I'll be skipping it! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I have to admit I kind of liked this book, even though the characters made bad choices and lived most of their lives in self absorbed misery. I don't mind reading books about people who turn their lives into virtual train wrecks as long as the consequences are somewhat realistic. I do however agree with you that the Mermaid Chair was just plain stupid (with the exception of her descriptions of South Carolina).
Anyway, I wasn't at all offended by your talk, maybe all that time I have spent reading Chaucer over the past two years has just left me jaded. I do have to add however, that this book is nothing compared to the bodice ripper romance novels my grandma reads. I got about halfway through one of them once when I was home visiting for christmas. I still feel a little icky from the experience...

Anonymous said...

I read this book a couple of months ago and while I found myself rapidly turning pages, I think it was more because I wanted something GOOD to finally happen. I also finished the book thinking, "That's it?" Luckily, I had borrowed the book and read it while sitting in a car on a road trip, so no $$$ or time was really lost.

acte gratuit said...

I did really like the book at first. It was mostly the actions of the mom that started making me really mad. And I felt, like Naomi, that I was just waiting for something good to happen and it never did.

Bartimaeus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I agree with you about this book. Totally meaningless and written for no purpose. Why I read..and finished it..I cannot say but forget Sue Monk from now on. Try Edward Rutherfurd.