Author Archives: Andrea Sigetich

Bewilderment

Richard Powers

Fiction 2021 | 278 pages

four-hearts

I am shocked to discover that there exist people who did not like this book! I think it is nothing short of brilliant.  Theo Byrne is raising his neurodivergent, undiagnosed, nine-year-old son Robin, after his mother’s accidental death.  This, all alone, is the making of a challenging story.  But add to it, in true Powers’ sentiment, a dying planet, climate change, and species extinction, and you reach a deeper level of sorrow.

Theo is an Astrobiologist.  His work is searching for other planets, perhaps planets that sprout life. He tells Robin numerous bedtime stories about made-up planets, where something unique is occurring In the ecology or with the inhabitants.  These are great stories, fueled by a vivid imagination.

Meanwhile, Robbie becomes a patient in an experimental neurofeedback treatment program.  He learns to use his mind to move a dot on a page, and then he and the artificial intelligence (AI) take off from there. Eventually the researchers invite Robbie to witness a similar treatment, done a few years earlier, with his mother, and Robbie begins to experience his mother Aly more clearly his life, including her knowledge, her values, her sensibilities, and her love.  It is quite amazing what happens for him, and how he improves in managing his fear, anger, confusion, and neurodiverse behavior.

While the story line is intriguing and compelling, the real reason why I fell in love with this book is the writing.  It simply is beautiful writing.  Clear.  Dynamic. Sensual even.

Read this.  Do not hesitate to read it as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.

March 2022

 

Go Tell the Bees I am Gone

Diana Gabaldon

Fiction 2021 | 903pages

three-hearts

(TRYING FOR THE TENTH(?) TIME … PERHAPS, JUST PERHAPS, WE HAVE SOLVED THE WORD PRESS ISSUES.  SORT OF.)

This is the ninth book in the luscious Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  I carried the 903-page 2.2 pound brick with me on airplanes and throughout my week at beaches and infinity pools at Puerto Morales.  It was a constant, but heavy, companion! Drawing me into the American Revolution and entertaining me with the lives of the Frasers, MacKensies, and many (many!) other characters.

Unfortunately, I think Gabaldon has run out of things to say and stories to tell.  Her tales of life on Fraser’s Ridge amidst the families … Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Quaker … who have come to build homes, feed their families in the 1770s, add many children to the growing generations, survive and even thrive in the western mountains of North Carolina; were engaging, interesting, and built upon the extremely well-developed characters of Claire, Jamie, Brianna, Roger, and numerous natural and adopted offspring.  However, her stories of many men, negotiating their way through the politics, loyalties, and very confusing family lineage in the war, were often confounding and difficult to follow.  And I found little tension in her story … little mystery to uncover.  I seldom cared what might happen next.

For diehard Outlander fans, Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone, is a book to read out of loyalty and curiosity, but not out of a sense of “it is compelling, and I can’t put it down” commitment.  So yes, continue the saga, and read it.  For non-Outlander fans, you MUST go back to book one, Outlander, and start there!  Yes, if you begin and become hooked, you have 8047 pages of reading ahead of you, and Gabaldon is writing book 10 of the series as I type!  I do love the series, I just don’t feel this is her strongest work.

March 2022

Not a new post. IGNORE!

bell hooks

Nonfiction 2001 | 238 pages

two-hearts

testing again.

 

I am lost. WHY are we reading this book in my Decolonization book club? It is a diatribe on everything that is not working. It begins with multiple chapters that point fingers at parents who lead dysfunctional families and do not teach their children how to love, and it goes downhill from there. I kept reading, seeking for when she might turn positive, and found a bit of redemption in the chapter on spirituality. I was hoping there might be more “new visions” (this book’s erroneous subtitle) in the chapter on romance, but she begins “Romance” with the assertion that we all have not been “schooled” in love, and therefore don’t know how to do it. It isn’t that hard, Ms. hooks. You open your heart and make a choice.

Plus, she quotes the Bible about 27 times more often than I am comfortable with.

A depressing book … I can’t come up with any reason to recommend it. She has written 39 (or so) books. I am not putting any on my reading list. This ranks near the top of my “books I struggled to finish because I sincerely disliked them” list.

February 2022

 

The Book of Longings

Sue Monk Kidd

Fiction 2020 | 432 pages

four-hearts

Writing this post feels like a sacred act.  For centuries biblical scholars have debated whether or not Jesus married.  The scholars have convened on “no” as the most likely answer.  However, Sue Monk Kidd has wondered all of her life if perhaps there is another story to tell.  She writes this novel from the perspective that Jesus did, in fact, take a wife.  Her name is Ana, and this is her story.  Fully immersed in the stories, fables, truths, realities, and parables that appear in the bible, Kidd adds a layer that will cause you to think, wonder, and enjoy the possibilities.  This is a truly engaging piece of art!

We see Judas (Ana’s brother), Lazarus, Mary and Martha, John, who baptizes new Christ-followers, Herod, Pilate, John and Joseph, Jesus’ mother Mary, and more.  All the context we would expect.  And yet this additional perspective retells the story of Jesus on this earth in a new light, especially the years that bible does not address at all, Jesus between the ages of 12 of 30.

I am not a Christian, and so I wondered how I would engage with this tale.  I found it delightful!  First of all, it is a love story.  A profound, beautiful, enduring love story.  Second, is a magnificent statement on women at the time of Christ … an entire gender we hear little about in the bible.  The women in this novel are surprisingly strong, delightfully self-knowledgeable, intriguingly active.  Ana, of course, portrays a strong and powerful woman who finds her voice, her destiny, and her passion for writing.  And her Aunt Yaltha, her mother-in-law Mary, her sister-in-law Pamphile, Chaya (Ana’s cousin) and numerous other women are not as we might picture them from reading the bible alone … where they are often depicted as chattel, powerless, demure, hidden.  So, in truth, this is also a feminist novel.  Actually, it is an intriguing and useful accompaniment to the bible.

I highly recommend The Book of Longings and look forward to your comments.

March 2022

The Book of Longings

Sue Monk Kidd

Fiction 2020 | 432 pages

four-hearts

Writing this post feels like a sacred act.  For centuries biblical scholars have debated whether or not Jesus married.  The scholars have convened on “no” as the most likely answer.  However, Sue Monk Kidd has wondered all of her life if perhaps there is another story to tell.  She writes this novel from the perspective that Jesus did, in fact, take a wife.  Her name is Ana, and this is her story.  Fully immersed in the stories, fables, truths, realities, and parables that appear in the bible, Kidd adds a layer that will cause you to think, wonder, and enjoy the possibilities.  This is a truly engaging piece of art!

We see Judas (Ana’s brother), Lazarus, Mary and Martha, John, who baptizes new Christ-followers, Herod, Pilate, John and Joseph, Jesus’ mother Mary, and more.  All the context we would expect.  And yet this additional perspective retells the story of Jesus on this earth in a new light, especially the years that bible does not address at all, Jesus between the ages of 12 of 30.

I am not a Christian, and so I wondered how I would engage with this tale.  I found it delightful!  First of all, it is a love story.  A profound, beautiful, enduring love story.  Second, is a magnificent statement on women at the time of Christ … an entire gender we hear little about in the bible.  The women in this novel are surprisingly strong, delightfully self-knowledgeable, intriguingly active.  Ana, of course, portrays a strong and powerful woman who finds her voice, her destiny, and her passion for writing.  And her Aunt Yaltha, her mother-in-law Mary, her sister-in-law Pamphile, Chaya (Ana’s cousin) and numerous other women are not as we might picture them from reading the bible alone ... where they are often depicted as chattel, powerless, demure, hidden.  So, in truth, this is also a feminist novel.  Actually, it is an intriguing and useful accompaniment to the bible.

I highly recommend The Book of Longings and look forward to your comments.

March 2022

Call Us What We Carry

by Amanda Gorman

Poetry 2021, 228 pages

I am sure this is a delightful collection of poems. From what I read, Gorman's poems are creative, relevant, easy to understand, stark, and beautiful ... I am simply an unpracticed poetry reader, so I struggled. Please blame my paltry single heart on my own deficiency.  If you love poetry, you will enjoy this collection from the amazing Amanda Gorman, I am certain. (In case there is a bell ringing in your head, but you can't quite place the name, Amanda Gorman is the youngest [age 22] inaugural poet ever to grace the stage at a presidential swearing in.  Joe Biden, 2021).

March 2022

 

 

 

 

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Nothing to See Here

Kevin Wilson

Fiction 2019 | 254 pages

four-hearts

Ingenious, original, clever, witty, and touching.  Some reviewers say this book is about friendship.  I say it is about love.

Lillian struggles in her life, working at the Save-A-Lot in Franklin Tennessee.  She lives with her estranged mom, in the attic of the house she grew up in and has no friends.  Except for Madison.  Madison is an odd type of friend ... they knew each for a year at a girl's boarding school.  Lillian was thrown out before the end of that first year, taking the fall for Madison for illicit drugs in their room. And now Madison, who stayed in touch through letters, is married to a Senator and living in a mansion.  And she has a job for Lillian.

She asks Lillian to come to the mansion and take care of her husband’s 10-year-old twins, Roland and Bessie.  They had been living with their mother, but that ended when their mother died, and now the Senator has to figure out what to do with them; how to integrate them into his life with Madison and their toddler son Timothy.  Bessie and Roland will live with them for the summer, and Madison hires Lillian as a governess of sorts.

But these kids are not exactly normal.  They spontaneously combust when they get angry, anxious, or scared.  Yes, they literally burst into flames.  It does not hurt them, but the fire is real enough and burns their clothes, and anything combustible in the area. Yes, an odd premise (hence, “original, clever.") Somehow, Kevin Wilson pulls it off.  As a reader, I found I accepted the premise and became a cheerleader for Bessie, Roland, and Lillian. The tone is fun, irreverent at times, but also emotional and serious.  I found the friendship between Lilian and Madison to be intriguing for sure.  But the love that develops between Lillian and her two charges is the soul of this novel, I believe.

This is an easy read, and I do recommend it. The Casting Crew Book Club likes to read short, fun novels in February.   Thanks to Louise for suggesting this one! Nothing to See Here is fun, engaging, and will shift your perspectives on power, politics, and how inconvenient children can be.  The only criticism I have is the title.  I can’t ever remember it.  I would have preferred something along the lines of Fire Children or Fire Starter.

February 2022