It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. As she says, it’s “a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!”
I am feeling rather poorly and sorry for myself – caught the kids’ wimpy runny nose cold and I guess because I’ve been so stressed and run down, it went straight to a tonsils infection and then my sinuses, so haven’t been much good for anything! I have two weeks left of work and – as is always the case when you know you’re leaving a job soon – have lost all interest in it, not to mention all energy! I’m just “hanging in there” these days, really. And feeling a little bit numb, though that could be the throat cold!
Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
Vamps and the City by Kerrelyn Sparks
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
Out of It
by Selma Dabbagh
I’m reading this for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge – August is the month to read books set in Palestine. This one began in Palestine, then moved to London and now, halfway through, the Gulf, though it still has a strong Palestinian focus as it follows three siblings – scholarly Sabri who lost his legs in an explosion; troubled Iman and her twin brother Rashid – through a tumultuous period of strife (ha, like there’s ever a calm period in that region?). I like the story and I’m interested in the characters, but I’m finding the prose to be a bit awkward and cumbersome, and at times a sentence, the way it’s constructed, doesn’t quite make sense, and this is slowing my reading down some.
Iman flew over the Gulf in the dark and below her the tankers bobbed around in its water like fireflies in oil. The coast was elaborate’ it had been dredged into loops, pearl drops and crowns, pinpricked a million times over with electricity, but Iman could think of nothing except the state that she was in.
They had questioned her for over ten hours at the Gaza border. Rotating the young soldiers with the old, the men with the women, the clean-shaven with the bearded, the plain-clothed with the uniformed, the hugely muscular with the puny and bespectacled, until the only thing they had in common with each other was their guns: hand guns, dinky pocket revolvers for the women, Uzis for the men.
[...] They went through everything: every seam, every tube of antiseptic, face cream and toothpaste, every scrap of paper. Then they stuffed it all in see-through plastic bags and threw them back in her case. The charade of personalities and questioning techniques seemed unrelenting, the questions being asked from behind her and in front, from the side, from ones, twos and threes, while she watched the others who were trying to enter or leave having their belongings thrown across the long white tables and on to the floor in the fluorescently lit room. Old women in embroidered thoubs being screamed at by girls a third of their age in uniform. The abuse shrieked through the room like jets flying low. Everyone was being yelled at, except Iman who got questions, and more questions, and more changes of personnel. She was moved from chair to chair from one side of the room to the other and back again. Iman thought to herself that it was fine, that she had been through it all so many times before. It was all fine, but still one of her hands kept trying to soothe the loose skin of her bent elbow as she sat, her fingers looking for consolation or to console.
Forcibly removed from the ancient village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejas are moved into the Jenin refugee camp. There, exiled from his beloved olive groves, the family patriarch languishes of a broken heart, his eldest son fathers a family and falls victim to an Israeli bullet, and his grandchildren struggle against tragedy toward freedom, peace, and home. This is the Palestinian story, told as never before, through four generations of a single family.
The very precariousness of existence in the camps quickens life itself. Amal, the patriarch’s bright granddaughter, feels this with certainty when she discovers the joys of young friendship and first love and especially when she loses her adored father, who read to her daily as a young girl in the quiet of the early dawn. Through Amal we get the stories of her twin brothers, one who is kidnapped by an Israeli soldier and raised Jewish; the other who sacrifices everything for the Palestinian cause. Amal’s own dramatic story threads between the major Palestinian-Israeli clashes of three decades; it is one of love and loss, of childhood, marriage, and parenthood, and finally of the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has.
Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative — and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.
Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters — a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.
In The Gravity of Birds histories and memories refuse to stay buried; in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again.
Iris Crane’s tranquil life is shattered when a letter summons memories from her bittersweet past: her first love, her best friend, and the tragedy that changed everything. Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women — a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love.