Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 2012 Reading List

We're doing better at actually finishing read-aloud books this year, probably because I love historical fiction set in the Middle Ages! My own reading was a bit on the lighter side this month, but still thought provoking at times.

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
This is a heart-warming tale of a nobleman's son who seems to have lost everything when illness renders him lame. However, with the help of a kind monk, he regains both physical strength and hope for the future, learning to look for the silver lining, or as Brother Luke says, "to find the door in the wall," an opportunity for courage, perseverance, and thankfulness in the face of obstacles. Eventually, Robin quite literally goes through a door in the wall on a dangerous mission for which he is uniquely suited in his lameness, proving to himself and others that his illness has not robbed him of usefulness and purpose. Amazon reviews are full of complaints that kids think this book is boring, but it worked great as a read-aloud!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Of course, plenty has already been written about this novel. Like many others, I quickly became engrossed with the characters' unique voices and stories. It was an enlightening glimpse into Southern culture in the midst of the civil rights movement and the general unrest of the 1960's. Only one part seemed really out of place, that is, Aibileen's sympathetic acknowledgement of homosexuality in her recollections of previous employers. Sadly, it seems that almost all modern novels must have a token homosexual. Is that really necessary to appeal to the masses, or is it merely to placate the politically active minority? I'll continue to be politically incorrect and voice my objections to blatant disregard for God's order and Word!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Unbeknownst to us when my book club chose this for our February selection, A Wrinkle in Time was published 50 years ago and was celebrated with some fanfare in the publishing world this month. It's interesting, if a little odd at times, but I agree with Janie at Redeemed Reader that the inherent mysticism and dualism is neither biblical nor Christian. We listened to the audio version, read by Madeleine L'Engle herself, before I reread the book, and I wish I'd waited a few more years before introducing it to my daughter. Most of the subtle distortions of Christian truth were over her head, although I commented on a few obvious ones. We'll probably revisit it when she's older and better able to discern and discuss truth and error. For now I'll comfort myself that Little House and Narnia books are the usual fare for audio books around here.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce: she's awful, but it's still fun - and British - so I keep reading every new installment. I thought this one got off to a slow start, although it was fun to have something of a reunion of characters from the other novels. Am I the only reader who keeps expecting Harriet to waltz in and save the estate after living in seclusion with some remote people group in the Himalayas for all these years? Well, that's another reason I keep reading this series. That seems to be THE unsolved mystery - her death is always taken for granted - but why hasn't Flavia thought to investigate that one (apart from the intensely personal nature of the case and the fact that it would require travel and money which even she can't conjure up in the chemical lab)?

The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder
If my children were reading this on their own, this would probably be best for older readers, for it deals with the gruesome reality of war and various injustices inherent in the Medieval feudal system. Yet in spite of the hardships Evan, the main character, encounters, it is a story of hope, courage, loyalty, forgiveness, and justice. It worked just fine as a read-aloud to my almost 8 and almost 5-year-olds, who could understand it in terms of good guys/bad guys, and it really made history come alive as we studied the Battle of Hastings in our history studies. I also enjoyed reading it aloud because there was such a good balance of description, dialogue, action, and reflection - it kept me interested, and it was fun to try to vary my voice to the mood and setting of various passages. The historical characters and events seem fairly accurate, but even if the author took some poetic license, it provides such a vivid picture of various levels of Medieval life, I could recommend it for the social and cultural insights alone.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Please DO continue to be politically incorrect!!!

I had just picked up the second Flavia de Luce novel when we had our little smoke out. I keep thinking about that book. I thought the first was entertaining and I'm looking forward to reading the second!