Friday, March 27, 2015

Three Books

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Roz Chast is a celebrated cartoonist and illustrator, and in this, her first memoir, she tells the not always pleasant story of her aging parents' declining health as death approached and the uncomfortable and often heartbreaking role reversal that comes with the territory of the child- Ms. Chast- taking care of her parents as their health began to fail, all the way through to their eventual deaths.  I would be very curious to hear the opinion of someone who has been through this process themselves; I have not, and although I have watched others as they attempted to swim these difficult waters, I have a feeling being a spectator to the process and actually going through it are as different as watching someone cut themselves with a rusty blade and saying, "Boy, I bet that hurts," and being the one screaming and bleeding.  From my perch, the book was heart wrenching and darkly funny and very, very frank.

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Set in Memphis in 1959, Paperboy tells the story of a boy covering his friend's paper route for the summer.  Yes, the setting is interesting, as he questions the racism present in his life, but more than anything it's the fact that this boy has a rather severe stutter that is the driving force of the book.  His internal monologue by necessity vastly different from the words he is able to communicate to the outside world, it's an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking take on relationships and childhood and words.  There's a note from the author at the end, himself a lifelong stutterer, that lends a note of authenticity and hope to the tale.  Plus, as a short YA book, you have no excuse not to read this one, as you'll zip through it in no time.

The Prodigal God:  Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller

There are some stories that, if you've spent any time in a church, you just know.  The parable of the Prodigal Son, as many Bibles label it, is one of them.  You've read it in the gospels.  You've heard sermons on it.  In Sunday school you colored a picture of a raggedy-looking guy being welcomed home by his open-armed father.  You know this story, and you know you know it, so why the heck read a whole book about it?
Now, nobody panic, I'm not about to go down some twisty, Da Vinci Code, Illuminati conspiracy trail.  I promise I'm not.  Dr. Keller is not Dan Brown (puh-raise JESUS).  What Keller does in this book is break down the parable:  The audience to whom Jesus was preaching and what kind of message God was trying to get through to them; the culture of the day and what each piece of the parable means in light of that culture; and that, um, hello?  There are two sons in this story, each equally important, each with something to teach us, and how each one of us, with our own backgrounds and opinions and uniquely-shaped chips on our shoulders often behave like an Elder Brother or a Younger, and why we need to just stop it and clean up our act, already.  Except nicer, and way more eloquently.  You should seriously read this, especially if you've read and heard the story of the prodigal son so many times you give yourself special permission to mentally check out when your pastor brings it up.  (Not that I have ever done that.  Ahem.)


  1. I love your book reviews.

    I haven't read or lived through the situation of the first book. But a few years ago, when I took on the task of being my aunt's and then my mother's Power of Attorney, I did read "A Bittersweet Season" by Jane Gross. It was very helpful to read it before certain situations arose.

    1. Thank you for your recommendation of A Bittersweet Season. I'll try to look that one up at the library.

  2. My brother (and therefore mostly my SIL) took care of my mother during her last 6 months. It wasn't easy.
    That book by Roz Chast is on my wish list of books to read, and with your recommendation I am adding The Paperboy to my list, too.
    I have read the Tim Keller book, along with attending a Sunday morning class that had discussion on each chapter and watching the DVD. It truly is amazing that we miss so much if we don't take context into account when trying to understand the Bible, and this parable is a fine example of the need for context.

  3. Book number one--I am SO not ready for that season of life! The book looks interesting, however.

    Book number two--ok, not the book, but have you seen The King's Speech? That popped into my head for some reason.

    Book number three--LOVED! I loved it so much, in fact, that I rounded up a group of friends to read it with me and watch the dvds together. Mind-blowing perspective--and convicting.


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