Working on the fifty.fifty me blog challenge
Majoring in: Japanese Fairy and Folktales
Minoring in: Steinbeck
March Books Read:
- Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Teen): Teenage Astrid has a confusing life, so she likes to relax on her picnic table, watching planes go by overhead. As she does, she sends the airplane passengers all of her love for safekeeping as she talks to them. In her daily life, she has a perfectionist mom who favors her younger sister, a stoned dad, an all-American prom queen best friend, Christina, who is closeted, and a secret relationship with her coworker Dee. Astrid hasn't told anyone about Dee, not even Christina, because she needs space to figure out what she feels, and she doesn't want to be popped into a category. With some guidance from her philosopher friend Frank (her imaginary take on a big thinker we've all studied) Astrid tries to muddle through to a steadier place. I thought this book was pretty great.
- Astray by Emma Donoghue (Adult): This is a collection of short historical fiction and the stories have a connecting thread: each character finds him/herself somewhere in life that they didn't expect to be. British elephant Jumbo and his trainer are on the verge of a move to America and a stint with P.T. Barnum, a young gold miner and his partner are about to part ways, a young lady learns the truth about the father she loves and more. This was a fantastic journey with interesting characters in sometimes heart-wrenching situations.
- Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway (Adult): Holloway's memoir details her relationship with parents whose behavior can be unsupportive, indifferent and cruel to flat out monstrous. During her childhood in the 1970s, her father is physically and emotionally abusive and her mother is rather pathetic. Once her mother remarries, she is aloof and essentially abandons her teenage kids. Holloway negotiates all this with some help from a friend's family (who own a funeral home) and her own college-age sister. As an adult, in spite of everything, she still loves her family although only her bound with this sister remains.
- My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis (Children): is a lovely picture book about accepting people for who they are (my review forthcoming).
- The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler (Teen): This fun story is about two teens, former best friends and next door neighbors Emma and Josh, who are fascinated with their Facebook pages. This is not unusual, but this is in 1996, before the social network was launched . When Josh gives Emma an AOL CD-Rom, she is surprised that something called Facebook comes up when she logs on, showing her life 15 years in the future. She shares her secret with Josh, who is initially skeptical, but becomes a believer when he learns that he will be married to one of the hottest girls in class. Emma's future is less satisfying, and she soon begins to tamper with it, causing other rippling changes. I got a kick out of revisiting a time with pagers, not cell phones, VHS tapes, mixed tapes and of course, when the Internet was still a novelty.
- The Ruining by Anna Collomore (Teen): I was interested in this because it has a connection to Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." In fact, I was hot to read it, and ordered it from the library right after I read the reviews. Young college freshman Annie leaves an unhappy upbringing in Detroit to become a live-in nanny for a perfect family in California. Things are magical at first; Annie loves her three year old charge Zoe and is thrilled by the friendship of her young and glamorous mother. Unfortunately, things start to break down really quickly and Annie must work harder and harder to please her employers. Odd things begin to happen, Annie begins to get physically and mentally exhausted, and things are obviously not right. I was annoyed by the naivete of some characters and had difficulty believing the end, but I do think teens will like this suspenseful story.
Folktales: Belching Hill, The Badger and the Magic Fan, Gonbei's Magic Kettle, The Furry Legged Teapot, Japanese Children's Favorite Stories, The Crane Wife, The Adventure of Momotaro; The Peach Boy, Momotaro and the Island of Ogres, The Five Sparrows (See my blog posts for extended summaries of these)
March Films watched:
- The Master (2012): I was drawn to this film largely because of the actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I love Hoffman! I'd watched him act practically anything. Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a post World War II drifter who meets up with Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) and his wife (Adams) who lead a movement called "The Cause." I've read that this is based loosely on L. Ron Hubbard and also somehow on John Steinbeck.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): My husband and I really enjoyed this movie about little Hushpuppy and her people, who live in "The Bathtub" a bayou community with its own culture. It took me about an half an hour of watching it to let go and get into it. Young Quvenzhané Wallis gives an amazing performance.
- Perfume : The Story of a Murderer (2007): This boasts Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman as actors, and an added attraction for me was Rachael Hurd-Wood, who played Wendy in the 2003 non-animated movie Peter Pan. It is a bizarre, bizarre story and I was fascinated throughout. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is a poor boy in 1700s France with an extraordinary sense of smell and little else, inside or out. He studies the art of creating perfume and becomes obsessed with making the perfect scent. Unfortunately, lovely young women provide the main ingredients. Don't expect realism with this story, but it's definitely worth watching!
- Touch of Pink (2005): This fun story is about Alim, a gay Pakastani man who is not out to his family and how that changes. He lives in England with his loving partner and is a successful photographer, while his traditional, critical mother lives in Toronto and wonders why her son isn't married yet. When his Canadian cousin's wedding is being planned, this stirs things up and Alim and his mom are reunited, with amusing results. Will he have the guts to tell his mother who he really is? Will she accept a white, non-Muslim son-in-law? Luckily, Alim also has a guardian angel in the form of the spirit of Cary Grant (played fabulously by Kyle MacLachlan) who helps him to be an elegant young man. My husband loved seeing the clothes "Cary" wore. He compared it to my love of the costumes of Downton Abbey. :)
Books total: 34/50
Books - folktale minor: 9/50