Posts tagged ‘Family’

Rise

Rise.jpgTitle: Rise: How a House Built a Family
Author: Cara Brookins
ISBN: 9781250095664
Pages: 310 pages
Publisher/Date: St. Martin’s Press, c2017

Pouring the house’s footing had been a wake-up call. Not only was the project a million times more difficult than I had imagined, but it was a mere metaphor for what I really needed to do. I had fooled myself into believing that building a physical house was the same as rebuilding our family. While we might still use the physical build to accomplish the personal one, they were two distinctly different creatures and required individual diets. I felt enormously out of my league in both cases, like I’d adopted a Saint Bernard and an elephant. (92-93)

Cara Brookins and her four children suffered from her marriages, first to a man suffering from delusions and schizophrenia and then to an abuser. Both were scary in their own right, leaving everyone in the family, including the dog, jumping at shadows, looking behind their shoulders, and checking the locks on their doors. Intent on making new memories and helping her kids and herself, Cara pursues a piece of land, a construction loan, and a nine month timeline to build a new house, and hopefully a new home for her family. With no experience, knowledge, or free-time due to school, work, and chores, even they realize the impossible task they have created for themselves.

Even though I laughed over the image of the kids and me as a construction team, I liked the idea a lot. Sure, it was a little nuts, but it was the first workable plan I’d come up with that fit our limited finances. We could do it. I knew we could. Building a house would prove we were strong. It would prove that despite my stupidity in staying with idiots for so long, I was still intelligent. It would prove so many things–most of all that we were alive. (22)

Several of the reviews mention that Cara embarked on this effort due to financial necessity, but if that was mentioned I didn’t catch it. Instead, she stresses repeatedly the need for a safe harbor, a place where ghosts wouldn’t plague their fragile state of mind. In alternating chapters, she jumps from flashbacks focusing on two of her unsuccessful marriages (briefly touching upon her first marriage to an unnamed high school sweetheart) to an accounting of the nine months it took to raise the house from nothing. The flashbacks are graphically detailed, and the fear the whole family felt is palpable when they are chased in a car by the schizophrenic ex-husband and their dog is abused when left alone at the house. It’s psychological warfare, whereas the third husband is physically abusive towards Cara.

The actual build is composed of delays, setbacks, and uncertainties. Things get slightly repetitive, and the addition of pictures and diagrams might have aided in the explanation of how the walls were raise, the pipes were laid, or the electric wires were strung. That was when I felt most invested in that part of the story, like when she discusses how she rationalized the choice of piping, or what they had to do to make the waterlogged wood work. The enterprise began in 2009, when YouTube was in its infancy and there were no smart phones, which makes it all the more impressive.

It’s impossible to not be awed by her tenacity, but I do wonder about the children, who Cara frankly admits do not get to experience a true childhood during that time frame as they slog through mud, slinging studs and sand around. There are benefits in their pursuit, as they all gain valuable skills and confidence and come together as a family. For those who might be inspired to follow her pursuit, she might have included a timeline or list of resources. I’m a huge fan of triumphant underdog stories, and while it does leave me wondering what I could accomplish if I committed to a goal like Cara and her family, I certainly don’t have the confidence (or is it naivety?) to attempt it by myself.

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Jabari Jumps

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Jabari Jumps.jpgTitle: Jabari Jumps
Author/Illustrator: Gaia Cornwall
ISBN: 9780763678388
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2017.

The diving board was high and maybe a little scary, but Jabari had finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and now he was ready to jump. (unpaged)

Debut author and illustrator Gaia Cornwall writes a rite of passage tale about African-American boy Jabari also doing something for the first time: jumping off the diving board at the public pool. After several false starts, his dad counsels him and Jabari completes his jump. Several aerial perspectives relay the height and anticipation that Jabari must feel as he looks down on the pool, where his father and sister wait in the shallow end. Details stay consistent throughout the story, and close examination of the illustrations allow you can track the movements of the other pool attendees.

The Ring Bearer

Ring Bearer.jpgTitle: The Ring Bearer
Author/Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
ISBN: 9780399167409
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC, c2017.

Jackson has an important job at the wedding, and he’s not sure he can do it. (unpaged)

In a mixed media style that has always reminded me of the pointillist art movement, Floyd Cooper conveys the fears that young Jackson feels in serving as ring bearer at his mother’s wedding. Straightforward text relays the tense moments before the ceremony begins, where un-aged Jackson and soon-to-be-sister Sophie are coached on how to walk down the aisle. Body language shows that this is a loving family and captures lifelike snapshots, such as Jackson riding astride the groom’s shoulders, with Jackson’s hands grasping his head and just missing his eyes. The facial expressions are also striking in their realism, from sheepishness to pride and confidence. Recommended for blended families looking for representation.

Knit Together

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.
Knit Together.jpgTitle: Knit Together
Author/Illustrator: Angela Dominguez
ISBN: 9780803740990
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dial Books for Young Readers, published b the Penguin Group, c2015.

The unnamed narrator likes to draw and admires her (single?) mother’s fiber arts creations. After trying her own hand at knitting and failing, they collaborate on a creation they can both use. It’s disappointing that she doesn’t ultimately learn how to knit, but it’s also refreshing in a way that a picture book allows the main character to quit trying at something they are unsuccessful. It doesn’t always work that try try again will eventually yield results. It’s a sweet story well-themed for Mother’s Day sharing with bright illustrations.

Monday is Wash Day

Monday is Wash Day.jpgTitle: Monday is Wash Day
Author: MaryAnn Sundby
Illustrator: Tessa Blackham
ISBN: 9780991386666
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Ripple Grove Press, c2016.

Rain or shine, Monday is wash day.

A quiet story of a family’s efforts to keep up with the wash, fans of Little House on the Prairie would greatly enjoy this slice of life story taking place during simpler times. It would also work well as an inter-generational read-aloud, where great-grandparents can discuss with their grandchildren what life was like for them when they were young. The unnamed narrator and her sister Annie (possibly twins) aid their mother and baby brother in washing, rinsing, and hanging to dry the clothes, all without the use of appliances.

The illustrations are stunning show stoppers! With hand-painted, cut paper collages, debut illustrator Blackham brings debut author Sundby’s story to life. Look closely enough and you’ll swear you see shadows being cast by the dog and cat as they scamper across the pages after the girls. The clothes flutter on the line, the rug is rumpled, and it certainly appears that the slats on the house are individual pieces! This was most certainly a labor of love. Tiny little clothes pins are photographed on a suspended line, adding dimension to the endpapers. Your own wash can wait, slow down and savor this story.

Tell Me a Tattoo Story

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Tell Me a Tatoo Story.jpgTitle: Tell Me a Tattoo Story
Author: Alison McGhee
Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
ISBN: 9781452119373
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Chronicle Books LLC, c2016.

You wanna see my tattoos?
Why, little man, you always want to see my tattoos. Here we go then.

Pastel pens and watercolors depict the meanings behind a father’s many tattoos. He tells very short stories (more like explanations) of reading with his mother, meeting and marrying his wife, traveling overseas in the military, and finally one commemorating the birth of his son. Several of the tattoos seen aren’t explained, providing the possibility of readers developing their own story behind the ink. Portraying a rarely depicted portion of the population, it’s refreshing to see an inked father doing dishes instead of the stereotyped selling drugs or getting arrested. A necessary addition to collections, especially those serving less conservative populations.

Hammer and Nails

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Hammer and Nails.jpgTitle: Hammer and Nails
Author: Josh Bledsoe
Illustrator: Jessica Warrick
ISBN: 9781936261369
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Flashlight Press, c2016.

Darcy crumpled up her playdate plans and plopped onto her bed.
Her best friend was sick, and now Darcy’s entire day was ruined.

Father and daughter take turns completing their to-do lists, including mowing the lawn, laundry, dressing up, doing their hair, and *gasp* manicures! Is Darcy’s Daddy man enough for a manicure? Brightly colored illustrations invoke small details, like grass stains and the slowly deteriorating hair styles. Aside from a blurry background wall photo and the too-big heels Darcy clumps around in, her mother is never mentioned in the text. While children will laugh upon seeing stocky Daddy dressed in plaid with a pink tutu, the message is clear that Darcy is loved and dads and daughters can do anything they want.

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