Monday, March 24, 2014

My Favorite Books this Month

I know that everyone is probably getting sick of book recommendations, but I read so often and it's such a huge part of my life that I can't make myself deny you of these wonderful books!  :)  This month, I've read many different genres, so this post kind of has a little bit of everything.  (All photos from Goodreads)

Dancing With Rose - Lauren Kessler
Lauren Kessler's mom passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer's.  Having difficulty coming to terms with her mother's death and the disease that claimed it, the author decided to become an employee at a facility for patients with Alzheimer's, known in the book as Maplewood.  The work, she discovers, is backbreaking and emotionally devastating.  The pay, she also comes to find, is not nearly enough for the things the employees do.  However, the book was rather hopeful - there was some unexpected grace, humor, and beauty the author came across while working at Maplewood.  Her patients are humorous and endearing, while the work is humbling, and I adored this memoir.  It was equal parts funny, sweet, poignant, and inspiring.  Very beautifully written with great character development.  I want to own this book!  (But if you decide to read it, have a few tissues handy!)

Back to Normal - Enrico Gnaulati
This book may be controversial for some - just a forewarning.  Back to Normal is a nonfiction book about how the big pharmaceutical companies push medications meant for adults onto children, and the way doctors go along with it.  This generation of children is more medicated than any other, and the author questions if disorders like ADHD and autism may be overdiagnosed.  The drugs most often given to children for disorders like these are usually expensive and have a variety of side effects.  He argues that many times, children are medicated for "just being children."  (His words, not mine.)  This book will be unpopular for a lot of people, I can imagine.  But it really made me think.

This book sounds like it could be dry, I know, but it really wasn't.  I found it to be super interesting, and it really gave a lot of useful information that I wasn't aware of before.  I have seen ADHD and severe autism up-close and personal, so I know that they are definitely not "fake conditions."  However, the doctor did make some good points.  I will also vouch for the fact that conditions like anxiety and depression can be misdiagnosed or overdiagnosed:  I was diagnosed with anxiety and prescribed Xanax after no testing and only a few questions (I don't have anxiety; I have a heart condition), and after telling my doctor I thought I was depressed, I was prescribed Effexor with zero questions asked.  I really do have depression, and the Effexor has helped me very much - I just thought there would be more to the appointment in order to walk out with a prescription in hand.  (I apologize for the medicine cabinet reveal - this is the kind of stuff I find really interesting :)  )

Midwives - Chris Bohjalian
This book was on my "to-read" list for about two years before I finally got around it, and I'm so glad I finally did!  Sibyl has been a dedicated midwife for 15 years, and her reputation is sparkling.  Until a woman dies under her care.  Under extreme stress and danger and unable to leave the house due to a storm, Sibyl makes the tough decision to perform an emergency Cesarean section in order to save the baby's life.  The mother appears to have died in labor.  But according to some witnesses, the mother was not dead - in which case, Sibyl would have killed her with the C-section.

This novel was narrated by Sibyl's 14-year-old daughter; I loved this point of view.  The plot is all about the aftermath of this terrible accident, and the ending was a huge surprise that I thought about for days afterward.  This was an awesome read - highly recommended!

Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld
Curtis Sittenfeld hasn't disappointed me yet!  In this novel, Kate and her twin sister Violet have "senses" - premonitions of sorts - and they have since they were very young.  But where Kate tries to repress her senses, Violet embraces them, even to the point of embarrassment - like when she predicts that a huge, unlikely earthquake is going to destroy their hometown.  Kate doesn't know for sure if this is really going to happen...but her sister's predictions haven't been wrong yet.  Exploring the bonds between twins and sisters, Sisterland was very thought-provoking and intriguing.

Mother, Mother - Koren Zailckas
Josephine is the mother of three children:  one has run away from home, one has been checked into a mental facility, and the last one absolutely adores her.  When a terrible incident occurs, Josephine wonders if she can hold her family together.  An out-of-control mother and her autistic son are two of the main characters in this disturbing and haunting novel.

Raising my Rainbow - Lori Duron
I have been reading the blog called Raising my Rainbow for about the past year or so.  It follows the life of Lori, her husband, her oldest son, and, most importantly, her youngest son CJ.  CJ is known as "gender creative" - he is a boy who likes "girl" toys, colors, and clothes.  CJ wears tutus and has Disney Princess theme parties; he likes to watch the Oscars for the fabulous gowns and the Olympics for the dazzling ice skaters.  He's not too interested in the things his big brother is, like sports or getting dirty or Transformers.  This book is about parenting such a child - the ups and downs, the confusion of other parents, the question of whether or not this should be encouraged.  I found it absolutely fascinating, and I think they are wonderful parents - this was a sweet and fun read.

Happy reading!  (Also, Cyber Saturday was skipped this week, so I'm was a busy weekend!  :) )

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