Thursday, March 24, 2011

Never Enough Books...

If you're anything like me, you have a long list of books "to be read". I find new titles almost everyday. I find them in all kinds of places: your blogs, at work, magazine and newspaper reviews, friends' recommendations and sometimes I have no idea where I heard of a particular book.

Colleen, a friend of mine, always seems to hear about the most intriguing books. Forever ago, she told me that she receives a daily email from her local library highlighting the Book of the Day. I was intrigued, but never remembered to look into it. Well, yesterday I somehow stumbled upon it while trolling doing some research online. The East Providence Public Library here in RI provides this online service. You can sign up for book recommendations in a variety of genres and even for books for teens. Some of the emails arrive daily and others are weekly. It's a fascinating service and for book lovers it's a little like getting a gift every day. You never know what little gem will show up. And so far I've been impressed (yeah, I know it's only been two days) that the titles are not the ones that are already on the best sellers list. They are books that I hadn't heard of... yet. Which is saying a lot since I work with books and my personal life is also full of books.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this little gem with all of you bookworms. If you are like me and can never have too many books on your tbr list, you might want to sign up for East Providence Public Library's eNewsletter. Happy reading!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book Review: The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton

Finally! It's been a really long time since I've read a book that I truly love. A book that I am excited to recommend to my friends. After months (and I do mean months) of lamenting my dearth of good books, I've finally read a book that I'm excited to review - The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton. I have no recollection of how I heard of The Moonflower Vine, but I'm so glad that I did.

The Moonflower Vine was written in 1962 and it was Carelton's first and only book. After reading the forward, written by Jane Smiley, I came to understand that like many books, The Moonflower Vine had become all but forgotten over time. Then in 2005, Smiley wrote a book called 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, in which she discusses 100 novels (among other things), which led to the reissue of The Moonflower Vine in 2009.

The story takes place in rural Missouri in the first half of the 20th century and tells the story of Matthew and Callie Soames and their 4 daughters. It reminded me in style of To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and So Big. It's a very good story, simply told. The characters are all rich and complex, yet they are simple, moral people trying to live good lives. The story could have been told in a sensationalistic way, but instead Carleton chose to tell the story in a more realistic and subtle way. It's the story of regular people, who see themselves as being essentially good, yet they all struggle with secrets and flaws. What makes it so authentic is that they know they are flawed and they wrestle with the that knowledge and the fact that it doesn't fit in with their own or society's view of them. It's a great story. I couldn't wait to see how the story would play out, yet I didn't want it to end. 5 stars - It was amazing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review: Inconceivable by Carolyn and Sean Savage

By now I'm sure most of you have heard Carolyn and Sean Savage's heartbreaking story. They are the couple who where inadvertently given the wrong embryos during an IVF treatment. When faced with this horrible and horrifying news, they decided to not only continue the pregnancy, but to surrender the child to his biological parents and not fight for custody of him. It's hard for me to imagine a worse situation to be in. And if faced with a similar situation, I'm not sure I would have been as strong, gracious or giving as the Savage's.

The story was made even more poignant by the fact that due to medical considerations, this would be Carolyn Savage's last pregnancy. She would not be able to undergo another IVF treatment with her own embryos. I can only imagine her heartbreak. How difficult must it have been to carry that baby for nine months, knowing you couldn't keep him? And not because you didn't want him. You do want him. Desperately. But you choose to do what's morally right. From the beginning, Carolyn and Sean thought about the biological parents and what they would want if the roles were reversed. And they based their actions on that. Putting their own feelings aside, as much as was possible.

Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift presents an honest and sometimes raw account of how Carolyn and Sean came to the decision they did and how they got through this most emotional of pregnancies and deliveries. It is a surprisingly honest presentation of their ordeal, in that the Savage's don't try to hide or sugar coat their experience. It is all revealed - the good, the bad and the ugly - but with an astonishing amount of grace, dignity and respect. Carolyn and Sean Savage are amazing people. I was so impressed with their courage and their strong sense of morals. My heart breaks for them.

This book is definitely not for everyone. It's certainly not a book that I'm telling everyone to read. For me, I was interested in reading it because I was so impressed by their story and I wanted to know more about how they came to make this difficult decision and how they were each able to reconcile this terrible situation in their own minds. Additionally, I am interested in all things medical, but especially medical and maternal. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about this strong and compassionate couple, readers who are fascinated with medical ethics or anyone who likes to read stories that force them to question how they would behave in a similar situation. What makes it all the more fascinating, heartbreaking and incomprehensible is that it is all true. 4 stars - I really liked it.


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