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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Five

Here's what my five senses are experiencing...

A ton of books that I requested from the library have suddenly come available. So, I'm reading in the car (not while driving, I promise!), reading late into the night, and trying to fit in "just a chapter" here and there. Young One laughed as he watched me stirring a pot while deep in a book. These two books were fantastic and I couldn't wait to talk about them.

Remember the Columbine school shootings? Do you remember where you were and how it affected you? April 20, 1999.

This book delves into the massacre, not so much detailing the actual events, but how that day changes the lives of a couple. Caelum is a teacher at Columbine. Maureen is a school nurse. The story wraps around this couple, their imperfections, their past, and their struggles as they try to survive the aftermath of Eric Harris' and Dylan Klebold's rampage. Interwoven in this story is the story of Caelum's family and his troubled past.
I don't want to detail too much of the story. There were several pages where I just stopped and couldn't believe where the story was going. At over 700 pages, this book is hefty, but it was compelling and called to me whenever I had a spare moment.
This book touches on really deep subjects. Broken childhood and post traumatic stress syndrome are focused on, but not in ways that have been heard before. Quite honestly, I never really thought about the aftermath of this horrible tragedy and how it's victims, the survivors are never going to heal, but merely march on through life, scarred.

The history of Caelum's family struck a chord with me. I remember someone once saying to me, "Must have been nice growing up behind that picket fence." That comment literally stopped me in my tracks. I said to her, "Every family is dysfunctional. We all have our problems." She was shocked. I suppose from her take, from the outside, things did look that way. I, like Caelum have shattered family histories. Who doesn't? We all have alcoholism, mental illness, sadness, unanswered questions, and possibly violence in our past. It's how we come out of it that matters. Caelum gets some answers to questions he's lived with his entire life. It isn't always as it seemed. We all know this truth, don't we?

The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff

This book. I loved it. Loved it.

Two intertwining stories of polygamy, the modern day and past, mingle to create a fascinating look at this controversial subject. I've always been fascinated by this topic. Last year's Texas polygamists and their children was riveting to me. Who knew such an other world existed?
This book focuses on modern day Firsts who differ greatly from Latter Day Saints mainstream members. You'll find out these differences in detail, which, although this is a novel, seemed very enlightening. This book was researched extensively, and although still a novel, it rings with truth.

There has been a murder in the First's community and Jordan's mother is the suspected killer. Jordan had been outcast as a child and somehow has floundered around and figured out how to live on his own. He's determined to help his mother get out of jail and has returned home to do so. I won't tell you how it comes out, but I will say in the process you get a closer look at the hidden life of modern day polygamists. The welfare fraud, tax fraud, and abuse of this sect are examined in frightening detail.

Intermingled with this story is the story of the LDS church as it forms and their journey across the country to Zion in Utah. This part of the story focuses on Ann Eliza, Brigham Young's supposed 19th wife, although it's later revealed her number is much higher. This story is written with a fascinating combination of letters, research documents, personal diaries, Wikipedia entries, and excerpts from Ann Eliza's book.

The author is quick to point out that this is a novel and that, while some parts are truth, others are stretched or maybe it's best to say that he fills in for unknowns. I found his style of writing to be deeply compelling. I honestly couldn't stop thinking about this story and the plight of women in polygamist sects.

I think that perhaps it's because I'm a strong, vocal woman, that I find the polygamist life so fascinating. There's no way I could or would share my husband, nor could I be part of a religion that takes away my ability to have free thought. I suppose if one is born into such a society you become accustomed to this life. The abusive lives of these women, their courage to escape , well, I can't even imagine those challenges. The boy children that are outcast because they would compete for wives, are the lost boys of our country.

I strongly recommend this book. Be prepared to carry it with you everywhere.


I'm listening to this show as I'm typing. Pageant parents. Kids with false teeth and shaving their legs and highlights in their hair at 7 years old. Spray tans on their kids and unbelievable credit card bills, these families are unbeliveable. For the first time in my life, I'm glad I don't have a daughter. Nope, that's not it. It's that I would never, never, do this to a child.
As I type, they're trying to shove a two year old into a ruffly costume and the teaser for the after the commercial break hints at Mean Girls behavior. Yikes.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting. Recipe coming. I don't want to share it because D is a sneaky peeker.

Chopped veggie salad. One must cleanse before one eats cake.
Homemade birthday celebration presents, cards, balloons, and cake.

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Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!