Monday, January 13, 2020

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I had mixed feelings about this book. I did like it. Very interesting about the culture. I agree with some reviews on the toughest thing to read is about the girls how their foot binding proceeds. Man that's tough!

Lily who is the narrator I believe her strengths were that she knew of the rules for a Chinese woman to abide by and did what was expected. She would think what she would have to do and do it. But on the other hand I believe the same was her weakness. Lily believed what she heard. She wanted to be loved, especially by her mother. So when someone paid attention like her "old same", she believed everything she was told. And that was forever.

I think there is a concept of "old sames". Women have been good friends for many years. Some will be there for each other, thick and thin. What I notice is that todays girls know more info on each others SO's than when I was young. It wouldn't take a second for them to get involved to make sure their friend has a back to lean on. No friend would be alone.
For me I never had a "old same" or a part of being a "sworn sister". I just wasn't that lucky. I wish I did maybe I wouldn't feel so alone at times.

I think Lily tells her story to Snow Flower so Lily feels less guilty about the way she treated Snow Flower toward the end. But I do believe the two did love each other. Certainly  Snow Flower excepted her fate because of her father. And Lily understanding Snow Flower would be there for her for life but the level that she married into was a hard juggle for her to Snow Flower. But forgot there might be things going on in Snow Flower's life that of all Snow Flower needed someone to listen, and Lily forgot that.
I think Snow Flower would tell her story a bit differently. I think she would tell her story how she was jealous of Lily coming from a farmer's life to being the wife of a prominent family. But Snow Flower would always say she loved Lily and would stand with her. And did what was asked.

I must say when I was reading about Lily and Snow Flower as girls I did think that they were taking their relationship in a different direction. But I believe it really wasn't anything more than friendship. To think about it the culture the girls being "old sames " brings them very close, are curious about each other since they learn things that normally girls don't know.

That is a tough question, being a mother I don't know what I would do if I had to make the choice about my daughter doing foot binding on her. If it was this century, no I would let her choose. I don't think she would do this willingly, if it was part of tradition or not.
For me, yes I would be like Third Sister. First I have something wrong with my one side anyway. But my mother may not push to have foot binding done. She thought me worthless anyway. I was only good for what she wanted.

"Mother Love" pain-love. I believe true. My own mother raised all of us with a yard stick. What ever came out of her mouth if it gave me pain so be it. It would make me stronger. Wouldn't see it was hurting and I would do opposite. I got away from my mother as soon as I could.
Like Lily was doing to SnowFlower at the end.

For the most part Lily and Snow Flower showed their valve by stepping up to what was needed in their marriage for their families and friends.

We are still bound in some way. Families that are big tends to lean always toward that big family, forgetting about the other side. Work, is always demanding. Can't get anything without giving. The rules of our own culture such as women are expected to do things a certain way. Rules of the country, there is always something. If not in some ways life would be chaos.

Yes very much there are times in this day people take a e-mail, text, the wrong way. I too had that happen to me. And explaining sometimes makes it worse. And a response sometimes happens so off the wall. It is hurtful. Communication is very lack now a days.

Madame Wang I don't think she was a necessary evil. She was a strong business woman. Something that the Chinese women of that century needed. Wang might of gave off the impression of evil. But to keep economy and hopefully good matches kept the country going.
Today we have strong women. Same thing always looked as not knowing anything to being evil. A job needs to be done. A world needs to turn.

I give Snow Flower and the Secret Fan 5 



Tuesday, December 24, 2019

a son called gabriel

I'm not sure what to think about this story. I feel for Gabriel. He had these feelings and didn't know why or who to turn to.

I feel his relationship with his mother was like any mother in Ireland. She raised her kids the best way she knew. It was a job. And it is a job to take care of the family the way she did. I think Gabriel's parents were happy. But not in the sense as we know of. Mrs Harkin had a good provider, and she kept wheels of the family and marriage going. I think when she spat out to Gabriel who his father was, I think Gabriel had a hard time making peace with her. Somethings that he thought he could talk to his mother now made him think before he spoke.
And his relationship with Gabriel's father was strained. It always felt that he was picking on Gabriel. But than again Gabriel didn't see how Mr.Harkin was. He played sports, worked hard, did what was expected out of him. Made Mr. Harkin confused when Gabriel would be interested in things that were off beat. But there were good times too between them. Which made Gabriel confused of his father. It comes down to both had a horrible time communicating with each other. But again in Ireland that wasn't even thought of like that.

I think by Gabriel being bullied did change his personality a bit. I think he became shy and again with his feelings of not "being normal" had to keep that in check. As he got older though enough is enough. He fought back, got himself some friends, trying for the normality. Although family makes it easier. I have experience in bullying. I was bullied. I would go out of my way not to be around these people as Gabriel did. It made me more withdrawn. I really never had friends when I was growing up. Until high school, but not a lot than either. But I think I turned out ok. Married my friend's brother, had a couple of kids. They accepted me as I am.
I think Gabriel thought that would happen to him by going to England and starting anew.

Well since Gabriel went to a lot of dances the 1st one is a little blurry. But I think being in a romantic setting shows that Ireland was/is changing with the world. Especially America these kids (girls), make themselves older than they are just to keep up with everyone else. It is hard to know what age they are. Why is everyone so eager to grow up so fast?

This novel I believe just focuses on the troubles of the Catholics and Protestants. I don't think the author really dug in with the politics. He tried with bringing the IRA character in. Which made Mr. Harkin more political than Mrs. Harkin. The IRA soldier might have a point on comparing the family of The Grapes of Wrath. Both the Irish and Joad Family put the families in the community to be stronger and safer against all. 
Gabriel is just as well a Irishman as anyone else. It's just that Mr. Harkin believes that you need to be strong and fight. Like a well rounded person like everyone else in that time.

The shocking news that Gabriel's mother had told Gabriel the news of his biological father was interesting. By this time I was waiting for something to come off the pages. I feel Gabriel needed to take all in with his siblings. All these years he thought they were blood. In time he will accept them, for they accepted Gabriel. They truly love each other. Mrs. Harkin eventually would take back what happened. She goes on instinct and didn't think how hurtful everything would be for Gabriel.

I know I wouldn't know how to handle things back than. I probably would of acted the same. But today, getting older, maturing I feel there is more acceptance with me. I love my kids. I choose sharing there lives with me. Being a part of family. I'm just sad that Gabriel was trying to find a way to be normal. That he had to make so many comprises to just fit in. And still there was a mystery of who he was. I have a feeling that Mr. Harkin even though knew it wasn't a 'phase' knew Gabriel was normal and will be who he is. I think he was the only one that believed in Gabriel.

I do agree on one of the reviews that the cliche's of being gay that they can't do anything else than being a hairdresser, fashion designer, play sports etc.. is wrong. That is why today we should be teaching our children that they can be anything, anyone. Even President!

I give a son called Gabriel 4 
Just because the story was more slow than the flow moving. It had it's moments but far in between.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Be Home By Dinner


A local author that gives his outlook down memory lane around the neighborhood. I tried to look at some reviews and many have said that the author captured how it was to grow up in the 70s,80s, and 90s. I was pretty excited to read about my old neighborhood and new again.
He hit on a lot of the homemade memories I remember. Like WillowGrove Mall, Springfield Mall, Flourtown, Lancers Diner without saying the name, only diner I know that looks out on the AF field. And the famous Treasure Island, Boy Scout camp. (Where my son had went and also he and his sister worked).

I tried looking for a common storyline but got bored with the story. Seemed like it was a never-ending one. Garvey went through what most of us did with growing pains. Had many friends. But also grew apart from them one way or the other. Had girlfriends for awhile. Rode Huffy bikes, calling back, be back. As long as he was back by dinnertime. Of course getting into trouble. Garvey's parents purchased their home with the G.I. Bill. (Just like my parents did).

There was a thread of a mysterious yellow car that wasn't so nice. We find out that this man, Kova and a Father Pal wasn't the nicest or the up and up people they claimed to be. Sadly some who Garvey knew were hurt by them.

Besides everyone listening to KYW News Radio, using gas powered lawn mowers, coming home from a good day of doing stuff outside the house and walking into a home that had a lemon smelling and Windex clean house, everything else was a story about a kid growing up. 

With watching tv and using a "Clicker" to turn the channels, the days of pimple popping until accomplished with blood, drinking beer (as Garvey puts it a "cold urine flavor"not a fan of it either) and what a surprise,  a welcome rebirth of my identity when I went to high school. Pretty much a nice memory lane book.
I am hoping Carl Franke, the author does better with his next book. There is something there. I just don't enjoy reading never-ending books.


I give Be Home By Dinner 3 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


It was a pretty good book. First thing I thought about while reading is Autism and Aspergers. How Christopher  dealt with his everyday life and with his parents.
It is a wonder how the brain works. Each one of us reacts differently. I like how Christopher thought about animals, in this case dogs."You always know what a dog is thinking" He used the death of Wellington as a mystery. For him it is like a puzzle. Along the way he learns a lot about life and others learn a lot about him. He was happy being a detective and finding out things.
He did find out who killed Wellington. So his relationship changed with his father, especially finding out that his mother was alive. Sadly a lot of people don't have the patience with Autistic or Aspergers people. For that, his mother couldn't handle the pressure.

Great that Christopher felt that he was smarter than the other children. He kept up with his Level A tests so eventually he can go to university.

A journey to show how Christopher thinks and will get along in his life.

He was brave and found his mother. And he wrote a book. With all that he can do anything.
I added a few highlights from Goodreads that I thought interesting

I give The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 4  

Because I did skip quite a few pages that started to slow the story down.
All in all good story.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The DollHouse

This was one of those books that was a Free Friday Nookbook. I must say I enjoyed it very much. I love how the author intertwined a good story of all sorts with the history of New York in this case, back in the 1950's. The characters were interesting. The author went back and forth then and today, which bothers me in books. But not The DollHouse. It told a story than, in 1950s and followed it up today 2016, which made perfect sense. DollHouse named for the "Dolls" who lived there.

Who knew that Rose a journalist, would find a story in history of the Barbizon, a women-only hotel in the last century. And the tallest in the neighborhood back then. The whole idea was to create a private club type building for women. Hotel guests had to supply three character references. She found out from the other ladies that they stripped the place of all it's character when they went condo. The powerful feeling like walking into a Moroccan bazaar was gone.

Darby McLaughlin so new to the city and naive, with book in hand titled "The Art of Conversation" tried to learn to be on her own. Rose tried to get this story written but to no avail. Seasoned as she was, the rest of the office were of bright young things. She preferred long-form writing, which didn't put her as a young bright thing. But Rose went about to do her story. She liked collecting facts and making a story out of them. At its perfection, science and art.
She had to tell this story of this hotel, of these bright young things. It just wasn't Darby, it was the other women also who came from different backgrounds.To be models, secretaries who tried to make it in a man's world. Because for Rose she seen some of her own life in theirs. Rose wanted to find out the ones who live there now what they thought of change from a women's hotel to a condo.  Darby McLaughlin was the link how women were treated in 1950 and the way they are now. She found the girls come to NY City only to learn a skill until they found "Mr. Right". Rose followed the story and found another part of Darby's story, Esme Castillo. Why were they fighting? And what else happened? What did she do with her life that makes her so unforgettable ? She made a friend Esme. Had a boyfriend, Sam. Sang in a jazz club and tried to do the right thing by her friend Esme, when she did the wrong thing. Her fault I guess, just to care It's about losing people you love, being alone in a big city with nothing more than four walls of your apartment"
 And after that Darby seemed to just fade in the distance. As Rose puts it Darby had a swagger almost, an elegant mystery.
Connecting their stories with Rose, Rose who was pushed aside by a married boyfriend, her dad with dementia (that I know all too well), and was giving a good stiff talking to by Darby and Stella (one of the other ladies). Rose had fears. If lonely and scared, deal with it now, they told her. Life only gets lonelier and scarier no matter how many people fill your home and heart. "It's up to you". So Rose did just that. Made decisions about her dad and Jason who she became closer to after the mess of Griff.

I give The DollHouse 5 
Will be looking forward to other books of this author.