Book Chat

Book Chat book reviews may contain affiliate links. Thanks to Bethany House for Get Your Teenager Talking, and to Blogging for Books for Girl at the End of the World.

book chat

"the woman in white" collins“This could be an entire season of Sherlock,” my oldest daughter wrote about The Woman in White. As a fairly new devotee of that detective program, and as a fan of the classics as well, I didn’t need any more enticement to download this book for free (God bless Project Gutenberg!) onto my Kindle.

So, the premise is that our book’s main narrator, Walter Hartright , is hired to teach art to two wealthy sisters. On his way to their house, he runs into a ghostly and mysterious “woman in white,” and we’re off to the races with a gothic tale. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say off to the races, because Woman in White was written in the 19th century, that time when authors felt free to take a full page describing a character’s walk down the hall. The book runs to almost 700 pages and thus comprised most of my May reading. Actually, I’m still finishing it up, hoping to learn once and for all the tale behind the woman in white and how she relates to Laura, the narrator’s sweetheart.

It’s interesting to note how “slow” many classics read — they’re very descriptive, and I’m sure that were this book written today, an editor would have slashed half its length. Once I get into the flow of this type of writing though, I do enjoy it. One of the book’s themes is the sorry plight of women of the day, as noted in many quotes: “You shall not regret, Walter, that you have only a woman to help you” — “What a woman’s hands are fit for, early and late, these hands of mine shall do” — etc.

If you like Jane Eyre and tales of that sort, I think you’ll enjoy Woman in White.


girl at the end of the worldI was anxious to sign up for a review copy of Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future, feeling that some of the author’s memories might be similar to mine, recounted in my own memoir. And to be sure, there are some similar memories.

But sheesh, I did not like this book. Elizabeth grows up not in a mainstream Christian church, but in “The Assembly,” a denomination (cult?) founded by her grandfather. Her parents take her out on the streets to stand on a milk crate and “preach.” She is sent to public high school so she can try to convert the godless kids there. Her dad (who sounds like he would have been a jerk even had he not been an Assembly bigwig) is abusive to her, in the name of the Lord.

Part of my aversion to this book comes simply from the fact that I didn’t like its style. Despite the truly bad things she suffered through no fault of her own, Elizabeth comes across as hyper-emotional and attention-seeking — a personality type that grates on me. The book also needs some editing — it frequently switches from past tense to present and back to past, all within a single page. Perhaps this is on purpose, but if so, I’m not sure what that purpose is. I found it distracting and it took me out of the story. Finally, this book is published by a Christian publisher, Convergent. I’m not sure why, but it seems to be a “hot” thing in Christian publishing circles now to publish books that show the damage religion can do. Because … the crusades??? … bad Catholic priests??? I’m not sure, but it seems that Christians are awfully eager to expose their bad side. When’s the last time you saw a liberal publisher putting out books about how many lives have been scarred by a progressive worldview? Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Convergent publish a book by Obama apologizing for America. Seriously! (side note — looking at the publisher’s website, I see they’re currently hyping a book, “God and the Gay Christian.” I think that explains a lot)


Get Your Teenager Talking: Everything You Need to Spark Meaningful Conversations

Years ago, when my three girls were little, if I imagined them as teens at all, I think I imaged a house full of talking and noise. Instead, it’s very … quiet. It’s surprising to me how little they talk at all. Often, when I bring up a topic, I get silence, or a roll of eyes, or a “MOM!” I kind of regret it, because they’re some of my favorite people, and I’d like to hear what they have to say.

So, I was happy to review Get Your Teenager Talking: Everything You Need to Spark Meaningful Conversations. After a very brief introduction, author Jonathan McKee gets right into topics to bring up. I am using these, and while I do get comments about using a book to come up with conversational topics, I generally do get some discussion going.

Some examples:

  • If you could text any person in the world right now, and he or she would actually text you back, who would you text?
  • What is your favorite item in this room, and why?
  • What is one thing you wish people knew or understood about you, that you don’t think they do?
  • If you could visit a fictional place for a week, where would you go?

…and so on, for 180 topics. Each question also has follow-ups and insights listed. Helpful, and fun for any family — even one without teenagers. Keep it at the kitchen table or under the front seat of the car.


3 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. I read, or rather listened to, The Woman in White earlier this year (reviewed here: I’ve found I like listening to older classics – since I am usually doing something else while listening, I don’t feel as bogged down as I would in a book with so many drawn out or descriptive passages. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

    I’ve noticed that trend, too, in Christian publishing. I could understand it if it was done to alert the church of problems that it needed to correct, but that’s not the vibe I get from the ones I have seen.

  2. Well, I don’t think I’m on the same page (no pun intended) as you on these books. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t choose to read any of them. The one I’m (still) reading is “Monday Morning Faith.” I took it along to my oncologist’s office last week because I always have to wait a fairly long time there. I got into it so much that I was actually crying out in the waiting room. When the med tech called me back for my appointment, I was sniffling. She asked if I had spring allergies! Ha! I had to do a bit of explaining. I’d recommend this book if you can find someone who is asking for reviews on it.

  3. I was just leaving a comment elsewhere about how slow classics can seem! I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov and it is so descriptive and their stories are so long, many of which seem irrelevant to the plot. (Am I being blasphemous to speak of a classic this way? yikes. ha)

    I’ve been seeing “Girl at the End of the World” pop up here and there, so it’s nice to hear another perspective. I haven’t had access to a copy yet, but maybe I won’t get in a hurry about it. Seems like there are lots of spiritual memoirs out there right now in general…. I do enjoy them, but not too many at once and depending on perspective.

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