On the Shelf

Friday, 20 August 2010
I've read zillions of books lately (slight exaggeration) but I especially like the three I'm reviewing for your pleasure today.

The Help (fiction) by Kathryn Stockett. A recommendation by my friend Adrian, I started reading this one right away. The book is thick and the type set is small. It was a welcome challenge for me. The reader follows the lives of women in a small town in 1960s Mississippi. The white women have "help" and the "help" are treated like lesser citizens. 

One young women watches her friends treat their maids badly and decides to do something about it. She writes a book by interviewing black maids and tells their stories regarding how they are treated by their white employers. There is an underlying current of fear thoughtout the book.  The maids fear their employers are going to find out they're telling the truth about their experiences. The writer of the book fears her friends will shun her for standing up for civil rights.  The writer's mother fears her daughter will be an old spinster and needs to settle down like other "good girls."

The read is inspiring, may challenge you to do something positive for your community and will also make you laugh.

Lost Boy (memoir) by Brent Jeffs is horrifying but extememly interesting. Brent tells his story of growing up in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or FLDS compound in Utah. He had three mothers, was constantly preached a message of obedience (Brent calls is brainwashing) and was even taught in his private academy on the compound that the reason dinosaur bones are on the Earth is becasue God used scraps from other planets to create it. 

Brent writes he was beaten with wire hangers, Lincoln Log poles, metal spoons and belts, pushed, slapped and screamed at while growing up. He says his mothers would also get into physical fights that his father would break up. Brent also reveals the Prophet of the church, Warren Jeffs, raped him at least 10 times while he was 5 and 6 as Warren's brothers kept watch.  Brent also said his older brother Clayton was raped by Warren but he evetually committed suicide.  His other older brother Dan, died from a drug overdose.  Brent doesn't know if Warren also raped Dan. The boys were too afraid to say anything to their parents out of fear of "going to hell".  Also, since the church leaders regularly gave "revelations" they supposedly received from God, the boys feared they would say it was revealed to them that the boys were lying and should be ex-communicated.

Warren was finally caught and arrested in 2006 on charges on facilitation of rape of an underage girl. He is supposed to serve 10 years to life but may be paroled.  Warren also commonly sent FLDS men and young men out of the church because of disobedience or mixing with Gentiles and would keep their wives for himself.

It is shocking what happens in this country. Extremism has so many dangers and faces.
My favorite book this summer was Farm City, The Education of an Urban Farmer (memoir) by Novella Carpenter.  She lives with her boyfriend near Compton in Los Angeles and she starts a garden in an empty lot near her apartment, literally near the ghetto. She doens't just raise corn and beans, she raises chicken, turkeys, ducks and pigs for meat. Her account is one of humor, struggle, heartbreak and hard lessons.  While inspiring, her story is also surprising. She goes so far to provide for herself and her boyfriend in holistic ways, even eating for an entire month only on things she had grown herself or could trade her produce for. Novella even gets a hive of honey bees and cries when she finds they left their cozy abode after just one year.

Please pick this book up if you've ever wanted to grow something, like the idea of knowing where your food comes from or just enjoy a good story. The writer (who has a background in food writing) even includes instructions on how to raise animals and shares recipes with her readers.

What are you reading?


Annie said...

First, I love the facelift!! I visit your blog religiously and I love the content.

Right now I am reading "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Neither here, not there" by Bill Bryson, and "My Place" by Sally Morgan. I've read the latter before, but it's such a good read that it's worth a revisit. It's a narrative that deals with some of the issues Aboriginies face in modern Australia. Two thumbs up.

Teri's Blog said...

Cool new background!

Denae said...

Thanks for the props on the blog change. Def going to get a copy of Sally Morgan's book. Sounds great.

Unknown said...

Farm City is a fun book. We have the garden, but now I want chickens too!

I believe her farm was in Oakland, not Compton.

Denae said...

Jeff - I also want chickens! Great to have you on the blog. You're right - it WAS Oakland!