Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

wrinkleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a 1960s book far ahead of its time. It captured some cool concepts about space, aliens, good vs. evil, and even spirituality. I read this book twice: once as an eleven-year-old, and once as a twenty-year-old. I loved it both times, but got more out of it the second time. A very neat YA fantasy read, which I recommend.

Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

poisonwoodSet in the 1960s, The Poisonwood Bible centers around the wife and four– very different– daughters of a preacher who takes his family to Africa as missionaries. This novel is a remarkable accomplishment by author Barbara Kingsolver. The chapters rotate between the unique voices of each sister: the beautiful Rachel, a vain teenager who simply aches to be back home in the States, where things are “normal;” twins Leah and Adah, the former, a girl who tries to be loyal and upright, the latter an intellectual and introspective young woman with a physical handicap; and lastly, the spunky, hilarious little Ruth May.

Each handles her new setting of Africa – and the Africans’ foreign customs, beliefs, and ways of doings things – differently, while growing steadily disillusioned by their father. The man is a stubborn, rock-headed preacher who continuously fails to understand the African people he seeks to convert. A brilliantly-woven narrative of family, culture, religion, history, politics, and fascinating details about life in Africa, The Poisonwood Bible is an eye-opening and unforgettable favorite novel of mine.

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

beesIn this beautiful and exceptionally-written coming-of-age novel, The Secret Life of Bees, author Sue Monk Kidd transports us to a 1960s South Carolina summer. Young Lily and her black housekeeper, Rosaleen, are on the run from Lily’s abusive father. Meanwhile, a group of racist white men are after Rosaleen for insulting them. Following the lead of a relic from Lily’s deceased mother, they take refuge in the beautiful home of three beekeeping women of color: sisters August, June, and May.

Although their calendar names may be confusing at first, each sister’s personality is unique and well-established from the others. Assertive August is a “queen bee” and leader-type. She is equally firm yet warmhearted, and interacts the most with Lily. June is rigid; she constantly refuses her boyfriend’s requests to marry him, and takes longer to display any affection, but readers will rightfully suspect she is protecting against a deeper sorrow within. Lastly, May is called “special.” Whether it’s due to mental illness is unclear, but sweet, sensitive May has the compassion of a saint and suffers on behalf of the world. When she hears something tragic, even if it happened to strangers, she cannot detach herself from the event, and lives in mourning as though it had happened to her.

Lily struggles with guilt and sorrow over the death of her mother, all the while fearing that her father will find her and force her to return home with him. But in learning beekeeping, falling into a forbidden interracial romance, and discovering a spiritual path of the divine feminine through the sisters’ patron Black Madonna, young Lily embarks on a deep inner-journey of growth and healing.

This is an incredible book and one of my forever favorites. Kidd is a phenomenal writer and had me thoroughly invested emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in her setting, voice, and characters. I love this book and recommend it to women everywhere.

Book Review: Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

ellenEllen Foster is a little girl in the 1960s who is neglected by her parents. She goes from family member to family member, each as cold and unreceptive as the next. All the while, Ellen retains her toughness, yet longs to live in a happy foster home. While the novel consists of her memories of suffering through different, unpleasant Dursley-esque living situations, every few chapters jumps back to the present time, where we can see that Ellen is now at peace and cared for in a foster home. This novel translated very well on-screen as a Hallmark TV movie.

Book Review: Dear America: Where Have All the Flowers Gone? The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty (Boston, Massachusetts 1968) by Ellen Emerson White

flowersThis is the story of the all-Irish-American Flaherty family in the 1960s. Molly is that girl in school who is outgoing and popular, her brother is the handsome jock whom everyone adores, her dad is a fiery Irish-bred firefighter, and her mother is a devout Catholic. But Molly is torn about her opinions regarding the Vietnam War… on the one hand, Molly is a free-thinker, which often lands her in the principal’s office at school, but on the other hand, her beloved brother, Patrick, is serving in the war overseas, and she does not wish to believe he is doing anything wrong by defending their country. Their mother finds peace in her religion, going to daily Mass and inviting their priest over for dinner, which I thought was interesting and could’ve been explored more, but Molly is quick to be doubtful and vague about her religious feelings and beliefs. Molly begins to volunteer, visiting wounded soldiers in the hospital, and she also stands up to her racist uncle in one scene, as she respects the Civil Rights Movement. This book explores both complex sides of the Vietnam War well.