Monday, June 16, 2014

Breathe: A Memoir of Motherhood, Grief, and Family Conflict, by Kelly Kittel

Kelly and Andy had a good life, living on the west coast near Andy's family, and making frequent trips to the east coast to visit Kelly's family.  They have beautiful children.  Then, in an instant, their life trajectory takes a turn, and a life is lost.  Less than a year later, the family suffers another loss, and this time, they want answers.  Sadly, in their search for truth about their loss, the find heart breaking other truths as well, about family, loyalty, and trust.

How does one talk about liking or disliking a book dealing with such raw subject matter as infant loss.  I struggle to put this review into words.  I simply cannot imagine having gone through all that Kelly and Andy experienced in such a short course of time.  This book deals with so many different kinds of loss- loss of children, loss of faith in medical practitioners, loss of familial support.  Just so much loss.  Yet there is such an air of positivity to it.  Kelly seems like such an incredibly strong person.  And her faith is evident throughout the book.

I found myself consumed with this story, and could not stop reading.  I wanted justice for this family.  I wanted healing for this family.  I wanted a happy ending.  But, this is not just a story, this is not fiction.  This family will forever feel the loss of their children.  And that is so hard for me to imagine.  What a brave, wonderful book this is.  I highly recommend it to anyone having gone through child loss or familial estrangement.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Moving Day, by Jonathan Stone

Peke and his wife are in their 70s, preparing to move from their home of 40 years, drive cross country, and set up a quieter, simple life in California.  Suddenly, all their plans are shattered when they are swindled out of all their worldly possessions by thieves posing as moving men. Most men would submit an insurance claim and buy new things, but not Peke.  Peke fights back, with a fire in his belly.  You see, Peke is a survivor, in more ways than one.

This book was unlike any thriller I have ever read.  When I realized what had happened to Peke and his wife, my heart sunk like a stone, as if they were real people.  I was that captured by the writing, from the very beginning.  The author took this very mundane thing, moving, and turned it on its end.  I simply could not read fast enough to suit me.  The characters of Peke and Nick, one of the thieves, are well written, and play well off of each other.  It almost feels like each is what the other might have been, had life taken different turns.

I love the strong emphasis on survival in this book, and coming to terms with what one is willing to do to secure that survival.  There were quite a few twists I never anticipated, and I was riveted the entire time I was reading.  If you are looking for a book full of action, and a plot unlike any thriller you have ever read before, then this is the perfect summer read for you.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sweet Tooth: A Memoir, by Tim Anderson

As a teenager, Tim started to realize that he was different, that he was attracted to other boys.  He knew he needed to keep this a secret, so he started daydreaming; just when he thinks he is beginning to deal with his sexuality, life throws him another curveball, when he discovers he has Type I diabetes.  Tim struggles to learn how to deal with this life altering disease, and along the way he suffers severe reactions when his blood sugar drops dangerously low.  People in his life learn how to spot the signs and take care of him, but between his disease and his sexuality, he spends quite a few years as a big, sloppy mess.  Eventually, however, he learns to manage life, as well as any of us do.

I am a sucker for a great memoir; real, personal stories are the ones I find most interesting. Which is exactly why I loved this book so much.  I felt like this book can really speak to people.  A reader needs to look past the specifics- one does not need to be a Type I diabetic, or gay, or a boy with curly swoopy bangs, to relate to this book.  One needs only to have struggled with something, anything, that made them feel different, defective, outcast.  And who among us has not, at some point, had such a struggle?

I found the book to be incredibly well written, a perfect balance of wit, self deprecation, and seriousness. The chapters are interspersed with vignettes of Tim suffering severe reactions, and I found those to be highly educational.  I never realized, despite the fact that I too have seen Steel Magnolias, the drastic shifts in personality and behavior that can occur when a diabetic person's blood sugar bottoms out.  I wonder how many times we think someone is drunk or high or crazy, when really, they are just a diabetic in need of some juice.

I found this book to be brave, and honest, and raw.  I wish more people had the courage to tell their stories the way Tim has.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.