My Twitter writer-friend, Val Poore stated that she liked ‘how one book leads to another.’ She was referring to the fact that I ended reviewing two books about life on the Native American reservations. Truly, there was one thread that ran through similar themes.
Rez Dogs is more of a juvenile piece which is written in prose by Author Joseph Bruchac. The protagonist, Maia, is stuck at her grandparents’ home on a New England reservation when the Covid pandemic shuts down the world. She is in for a lot of lessons about the differences from her prosperous life in Boston. A reservation dog miraculously shows up to comfort and accompany her during her stay.
Shortly thereafter, a neighbor handed me a copy The Night Watchman, an adult-themed novel, which also takes place on a reservation outside of Minneapolis. It involves the trafficking and detainment of a Native American woman, alcoholism with other forms of abuse. Again, we see how life on the reservation requires improvising by those living on scanty and limited provisions. These two books gave me new insight into the lives of those that we rarely hear about, period. Each left me filled with deep reflections as I admitted how much we take so for granted.
I recently finished Kaia Alderson’s Sisters in Arms. It is a fictional account of two black women who were WACS or Women in the Army Corps during WWII. Though entertaining, it was based on many historic events that the women experienced in the 1940’s. Alderson offered a light spin on Grace and Eliza’s lives which overshadowed some of the more brutal and scathing losses that the women endured as they ventured into new and unknown places.
And then, it happened again. I broke my stride to browse an outdoor book sale and noticed Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith. It had a picture of a female pilot on the front. I picked it up and when I saw that it had been endorsed by Jacqueline Woodson, I took a second look. This time it looks like Ida wants to join the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), but there is a problem here. Ida is black and it looks like she is light skinned enough to pass for white. She plans to use that to get her toe in the door. Hmmm. Military? WWII? Brave, adventurous women? Again, a common thread and theme.
So now, I move from the Native American reservations to two books about women of color in the military during WWII. It looks like I am in for a real treat as the thread stretches on to loop through these similar themes. I will read on to enhance by learning as summer winds down to a slow crawl as we inch towards the fall season!
August 14, 2021
Ideas often run parallel like the events in our lives. They travel along side each other like streams. I recently penned a novella called It is Enough where the older characters conclude that life has given them what they need to live a productive life.
While writing it, I took a hiatus from reading other authors as I delved into my own project. But, the first book I picked up afterwards was Gloria Steinem’s Doing Sixty & Seventy. I wanted to see what she had to say and where see was in her outlooks and perspectives these days.
I saw her speak during my college years and she influenced my life in myriad ways. I don’t remember anything that she said specifically but her aura, her presence, her spunk and her resolve all stayed with me. She seemed so brave as she stood alone on that solitary stage and spoke to those of us who were about to make some important life decisions.
She advocated for women and aligned herself with women’s rights. Her own mother had given up her career as a reporter after a breakdown and Gloria and her sister Ruth cared for her. In her book biography it states “but those formative years gave Gloria a deep empathy with women whose spirits were broken and whose talents were lost to the world.” (Doing Sixty & Seventy)
Gloria spent a couple of years in India on a fellowship and this gave her a grand opportunity to become an astute observer of people, customs and societies. When she returned home, she had deeper insights and saw things from other vantage points. Thus, her life work began as a freelance writer and later as editor of Ms. Magazine.
In Doing Sixty & Seventy, Gloria mentioned that most notable women did their gravest work when they were in their sixties and seventies. She talked about the suffrage movement and other forms of activism where women championed people’s causes. She felt that they were finished raising the children and being the elusive good wife so they had the time and will to do so.
But, after nurturing and giving to others, the wiser ones learn how to slow down and breathe. She wrote, “What we keep is everything we need to support ourselves.” She currently likes to lose track of time as she lives in the present moment. She too realizes that life has offered her enough!
Lynn M. November 16, 2019
Rhy Bowen’s In A Gilded Cage caught my eye on the library shelf because of the woman’s fashionable dress on the cover. I checked it out and after reading the first few lines, I knew that I was in for a treat. It was written in first person and that immediately drew me in as I listened to what Molly Murphy had to share with me.
It takes place in New York in 1918 during the women’s suffrage movement and Molly’s tone was light and amusing. I packed my bags and traveled back into this historical era when women were standing up for the right to vote.
Molly Murphy has her own small detective agency and she is asked to join her neighbors Sid and Gus on a walk in the Easter Parade. But the Vassar graduates have a secret mission and they plan to wear banners for Women’s Right to Vote across their dresses.
Needless to say, this does not go over well with the police and all of the women are arrested. Molly, though from Ireland, has the chance to meet many of the prominent women who all attended Vassar College. Thus, she meets Fanny and Emily who both become the main focus of the story.
The women are surprised to know that Molly Murphy is indeed a detective and her affiliation with the police captain helps them get out of jail without spending a night. Daniel is Molly’s intended and helps her on several occasions.
Both Fanny and Emily hire Molly Murphy for private reasons. Fanny suspects her husband of cheating in a long-standing affair and Emily is not sure of her parentage and possible inheritance. Her uncle is less than honest yet quite wealthy while she struggles to make ends meet while working for a pharmacist.
Then, the tide changes when three of the Vassar women die a similar and mysterious death. It seems like influenza but there are other odd symptoms like hair loss and vomiting.
Who wants these society women dead? What are the ties that bind? Why are they a threat? As Molly tirelessly works to get to the heart of the matters, Emily is spared though Fanny is not as fortunate. They Molly and Daniel put their heads together and act as a dynamic duel. The shocking murderer is revealed.
As in life, there are many twists and turns along with false leads but as the saying goes, “There are no secrets in the Book of Life.” Read In a Gilded Cage and be reminded that all that glitters is truly not gold!
Lynn M. May 12, 2018
I happened to be reading two books simultaneously – one on my Kindle and the other an actual library book. As I was reading Down the Hidden Path by Heather Burch and No Place I’d Rather Be by Cathy Lamb, I thought, “Hmmm. So many similarities.
In both novels, Gray, a physical therapist and Olivia, a head chef are returning to their hometowns and both move into their grandparents’ vacant homes. They each run into their former flames and both want to avoid them at all costs for different reasons. But it is clear that there is obviously still some unfinished business.
Gray from Down the Hidden Path returns to Missouri runs into Jeremiah. She has a secret. They have a twelve year-old son named David and though another couple adopted him, Gray has always been a part of her son’s life. How long can she keep the truth from Jeremiah? He went off to war and he has no idea that he is the father of a tween. How will he handle the truth?
Olivia from No Place I’d Rather Be, on the other hand, is returning to Montana after losing her job as head chef in Portland. She almost veers off a cliff while driving in a blizzard, but Jace, her estranged husband, is there to save her and the two small girls she has in tow. Why are they not together? Who are the little girls?
Again, in both novels, Jeremiah and Jace are prominent ranch owners and well- positioned to assist these cash-strapped women. But will fear and pride cause Gray or Olivia to go under? Can they trust again?
Answers abound as I continued to read along. Jeremiah is livid when he finds out that he has a 12-year old son and he takes action against Gray which later backfires. In contrast, Jace understands Olivia’s love for these two little girls because she had lost their three children through miscarriages. But can she convince the courts that she is a better parent than their imprisoned birth mother who is about to be released?
These couples apparently have plenty of unfinished business and it seems that only they can work out the equations. Children’s lives are at stake. If the flames of the torches can be turned higher and hearts are opened, then maybe they will find grand solutions. Pick up either or both of these books and see how it all works out!
Lynn M. February 4, 2018