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When I Married My Mother

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 by kate

My grandmother wanted to die in her own home. And at the age of 98 she did just that. So reading Jo Maeder’s When I Married My Mother brought me back to a time of Ensure shakes and hospice help – and it made me miss my nana.

When I Married My Mother is the story of a middle-aged woman who abandons her life in New York to buy a home in the Bible belt and care for her estranged, elderly mother, Mama Jo. Maeder is frank when relaying her broken relationship with her mother, (“I strongly suspect if you’re not right with your mama, you’re not going to be right with anyone.”) and is just as honest in sharing how much she enjoyed caring for her mother.

“I was living with my very own little Buddha. She would claim her only resemblance to him was her belly. What I saw was a joyful person who greeted everyone with an all-knowing grin, made pithy remarks, and was happily served by others.”

Maeder savors every moment of the three years she spent with her mother, from watching old Any Griffith episodes to dancing with drag queens.

“Occasionally, someone would make a comment to me about how I was earning a halo or angel wings by taking care of my mother, as though it were an unpleasant obligation. It felt strange to hear that. I didn’t deserve any special recognition. I enjoyed doing this. It was an honor.”

Maeder pulls you through the heart wrenching act of caring for a loved one who is slipping through your fingers before you’re ready to let go.

“It ripped a hole clear through my heart … It was like watching a photograph slowly fade. She was paler, more hunched over, more easily winded when she walked, eating less, sleeping more.”

This is a beautiful, sweet memoir. Anyone who has cared for a loved one, or is considering taking on such a duty, should pick up this book. You won’t regret it. It might even make you call up your mother. Just because.

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Oprah's next pick

Thursday, September 17, 2009 by kate

Someone let the book out of the bag.

According to Washington Post, book distributer Ingram International leaked Oprah’s next book of the month a day early. Ingram claims Uwem Akpan's 2008 short story collection, Say You're One of Them , will be the next pick for Oprah's Book Club.

Oprah is slated to announce the pick Friday. She hasn't announced a book club selection since David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle last September.

Are you planning on picking up Say You’re One of Them? Have you read any other Book Club picks? Were you pleased/disappointed with them?

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fall book list

Thursday, September 10, 2009 by kate

Here’s a rundown of the bigwigs coming out with books this fall:

The Last Song (Tuesday)
by Nicholas Sparks
A film based on Sparks’ latest novel is due out next January, starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, and Kelly Preston. Sparks actually wrote the screenplay before he wrote the book.

True Compass (Sept. 14)
by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy A firsthand look at one of America's most famous political dynasties.

The Lost Symbol (Sept. 15)
by Dan Brown
Growing Up Bin Laden (Oct. 27)
by Najwa Bin Laden and Omar Bin Laden with Jean Sasson Osama's wife and son share their view of a husband and father feared by many.

You Better Not Cry (Oct. 27)
by Augusten Burroughs

Last Night in Twisted River (Oct. 27)
by John Irving

Ford County (Nov. 3)
by John Grisham

Under the Dome (Nov. 10)
by Stephen King

I, Alex Cross (Nov. 16)
by James Patterson

Pirate Latitudes (Nov. 24)
by the late Michael Crichton
What's on your fall book list?

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Blago's book is out

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 by kate

Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared on the “Today Show” this morning to promote his new book, which hits the shelves today.

The book, The Governor, reveals the former governor’s side of proceedings that led to charges he tried to sell Pres. Obama’s vacant US Senate seat.

'I was arrested in the early morning hours on Tuesday, December 9, 2008. I didn’t anticipate it or expect it. I had no idea it was coming. It came out of nowhere — a nightmare that was hard enough to live through as it happened and, quite frankly, is hard to relive now.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Blagojevich also uses the book to attack White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, claiming he tried to get a placeholder in his House seat when he took the White House job in case he wanted to go back some day.

If you haven't had your fill of Blagojevich yet, he's scheduled to appear on "The View," tomorrow, "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Thursday and "The Daily Show" on Sept. 24. He also has a date with court next June.

And even though he was stripped of his governor status, Blagojevich has set up his own website called GovernorRod.com.

Are you sick of hearing from Blago? Any plans on reading his tell-all?

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Hurry Down Sunshine

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 by kate

Hurry Down Sunshine is a moving story of a father trying to face his daughter’s abrupt mental breakdown.

Author Michael Greenberg does not tip-toe around the subject as you can tell when you open to page one: “On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad.” Her transportation from a vital young woman to a possessed, feverish psych patient is sudden and drastic.

But Greenberg does not hide behind the cloak of fiction either – he tells his family’s story with the view of an insider but the voice of a cold, hard lens. You won’t find any sugar coating here. Not even when the stress builds up and explodes out of his hand onto his wife’s face. “I slap her face, a hard nasty snap … My head is roaring. The tensions of the summer seem to mass in me, and it is as if I am walking beside myself, hollow and enraged.”

From her acute psychotic attack on a playground, to her medicated stint in a psych ward, 15-year-old Sally has to learn to question everything she thinks is real. “I don’t trust my mind anymore. I don’t know when I’m being psychotic.”

At one point, Greenberg even swallows a full dose of his daughter’s medication in an attempt to feel what she feels. “The air feels watery and thick, until finally I am neck-deep in a swamp through which it is possible to move only with the greatest of effort, and then only a few feet at a time.”

Hurry Down Sunshine is about a father’s helplessness, a mysterious disease and a life that slaps you in the face when you least expect it – “a hard nasty snap.”

This isn’t a story with a happy ending. In fact, there is no ending. It gives an honest look at mental illness and refuses to package it up in a pretty bow. Sally’s struggle to anticipate bouts of psychosis is ongoing. “I’m trying to recognize when it’s coming on so I can get out of the way or at least drop to the ground like you would when caught in the crossfire of a shootout.”

Whether mental illness has touched you in some way or not, Hurry Down Sunshine is a gripping story you won't want to put down.

When Greenberg told his daughter he was writing a book about her, she simply replied, “I want you to use my real name.” Obviously brave honesty runs in the family.

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