Book Chat

Book Reviews for this month:

The Choice reviewed here.

I found When You Reach Me by looking through the book club fliers my kids bring home from school. I don’t order books often, but I use the fliers to mark ones that look promising for checking out from the library.

This one looked good, so I got it for my 12-year-old. She enjoyed it, so I read it too. It was great! The premise:  have you ever wished you could go back in time to change something you did when you were younger? That’s what this book is about … sort of … it involves time travel, game shows, life as a tween, growing up in the 1970s … I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I’m aware that my review is pretty scattered. Honestly, the book is, too, though – read it and see. Alert that I recall one “bad word” in it (why do authors of young adult fiction feel the need to do that?), but other than that it was mercifully romance-free (another rare thing in the YA fiction world, from what I’ve seen).

In the last few days, When You Reach Me was named the 2010 Newbery Award recipient as best children’s book of the year. I think this may be the first time I read the award winner before it actually won!

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I knew I’d eventually want to read Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue: An American Life. I took the girls to see her at an October 2008 campaign stop in our city, and it was a memorable and wonderful experience. I’ve always liked her charm, down-to-earth style, and well – rogue demeanor.

This book read pretty much as I would have thought. I enjoyed learning about Sarah’s past (she’s almost exactly my age, which made it even more interesting). Although I like her, I don’t think she comes across as the sharpest crayon in the box (for instance, she got a D in a college course once and spent her first semester of college lying on the beach at a college in Hawaii. Nothing so awful about those things; just not what I’d expect from a very cerebral individual). I don’t say that to her detriment, though – despite the media beating she has taken, I think she’d make a good president. Don’t presidents have tons of advisors for the details anyway? And she has more executive experience than our current leader (not that he’s an example to live up to anyway, though).

I regret that so much of the book reads defensively, like an explanation for everything she was accused of by the press during the 2008 election. That’s too bad, and I regret that she felt like she had to keep explaining herself and her actions over and over.

In spite of that, what shines through is her non-nonsense demeanor and commitment to ideals such as individual freedom and doing the right thing regardless of party affiliation. I like that.

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We recently went through ADHD testing with one of our daughters. What a pain that was – financially, time-wise, stress-wise, you name it. Turns out she doesn’t officially “have it,” but that doesn’t help me much in knowing how to light a fire under her.

A friend recommended The N.D.D. Book: How Nutrition Deficit Disorder Affects Your Child’s Learning, Behavior, and Health, and What You Can Do About It–Without Drugs, and I’m glad she did. In it, William Sears posits that most kids diagnosed with something these days are suffering NDD (nutritional deficit disorder) instead of or in addition to other maladies.

Dr. Sears advocates eating whole foods. He sees the biggest food enemies for kids as high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, numbers (ie Red #40, etc), monosodium glutamate and aspartame. He’s big on eating more omega 3’s.

As you might suspect, certain aspects of the book annoyed me (the author recounts a conversation you might have with your child:  “Grandpa got cancer because he wasn’t making good food choices.” He also advocates having your child create foods for himself with strips of pepper, carob, sprinklings of flax seed, etc. and enthuses that “your child will be so excited by the colors that he won’t even notice he’s eating healthy stuff!”  Good luck with that).

But I have to say that reading this book really did motivate me to cook and eat healthier. One complaint is the effort it takes to actually do that – make almost everything yourself, give up almost all boxed foods, pre-sweetened yogurt, etc. I feel like I’m becoming a pioneer! On the plus side, hopefully my family will be healthier for my efforts.

 

11 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. Thanks for the tip on the Newberry Award Winner – I always try to buy books for my best friends pre-teen, to try to encourage her to read more, and this sounds like one I’ll have to look for on her behalf. Thanks for sharing, and happy reading!

  2. I’m laughing outloud about the child being so interested in food colors that s/he doesn’t notice that she’s eating FLAX SEEDS! ;D Right. As you say – good luck with that! I think the book would annoy me for the same reasons as yourself but the premise of the book is very intriguing. I’m glad you shared about it.

    I also enjoyed your thoughts on Going Rogue.

    Sounds like When You Reach Me is going to be a must-read as it is getting so many rave reviews. Thanks for pointing out what the book does NOT have in it. (Those are the things that typically make me avoid YA fiction.)

  3. Great post! I really enjoyed reading your honest opinions on these books. You made some interesting points.

  4. The NDD Diet book sounds interesting, but I don’t think I have enough time to put that much effort into our meals. I do try to stick with natural whole foods, but in a house where both parents work eliminating all convenience foods isn’t very practical.

  5. I just finished the Sarah Palin book yesterday and felt the same way. I wish she would have just told HER story HER way and let the chips fall where they may. Yet I did enjoy ‘getting to know her’ better through the book.

  6. I clicked over to your review of the Choice. I will be writing a review for 5MinutesforBooks, and I was planning to start it the same way (so please don’t accuse me of plagarism). 🙂 I started it with the idea that it would be “another Amish story”, and I was so pleasantly surprised! It is a page-turner!

    I’ll have to check out When You Reach Me. It’s sure getting rave reviews!

  7. Thanks for your thoughts about Sarah Palin’s book. I’m a little disappointed to read that she has to spend much of the book defending herself, but I’m sure I’ll still read it eventually.

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