Monthly Archives: May 2012

Jubal Sackett by Louis L’Amour

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Jubal Sackett is the third son of Barnabas Sackett. When the boys were being described in “To the Far Blue Mountains” I knew that Jubal was going to be my favorite. And as is often the case, L’Amour did not let me down. Of all of Barnabas’s children, Jubal and he are the most alike.They share a desire to explore the unknown. “In that I was like my father. From the day he landed upon our shores his one wish was to travel to the far blue mountains, yet once there he wished to see beyond them. So it was with me. All this land about us was unknown and I wished to be among the first to see it. I wanted to drink from those lonely streams, walk the high passes of the mountains, and travel down the valleys by paths I made myself.” They both leave their homes alone and surround themselves with a small band of loyal, faithful friends.

Jubal leaves his home to explore the mountains to the west. He immediately meets a solitary Indian roaming the land and they become friends. The kind of friends that his father was often making. Lifelong, fight to the end together friends. He comes into contact with tribes of Indians. Some friends, some enemies. But, that is the way of life in his time, so he simply deals with them and moves on.

I loved this book. I think that book 2 “To the Far Blue Mountains” is still my favorite book, but Jubal is definitely my favorite Sackett. In so many ways I want my boys to be like him when they grow. His response to someone who speaks to him in anger is this, “To you I am nothing. To me I am something.” Oh that we all would understand how much “something” we are, even if those around us think we are nothing.

I leave you with this thought. It is one I want to pass to my boys. But it is one that you should think on for yourself as well.

“It is not enough to do, one must also become. I wish to be wiser, stronger, better. This-‘ I held out my hands. ‘this thing that is me is incomplete. It is only the raw material with which I have to work. I want to make it better than I received it.” -Jubal Sackett

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet Ann Jacobs

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I downloaded Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself one day when I was browsing the free books on the Kindle. Along with The Baker’s Daughter, this book has gotten me thinking about my role in this world. Am I purposely making myself ignorant of those around me who are in danger? “In view of these things, why are ye silent, ye free men and women of the north? Why do your tongues falter in maintenance of the right? Would that I had more ability! But my heart is so full, and my pen is so weak! There are noble men and women who plead for us, striving to help those who cannot help themselves. God bless them! God give them strength and courage to go on! God bless those, every where, who are laboring to advance the cause of humanity.”

In the book, Harriet goes by the name Linda. She was born to a slave woman and in her time, “the child follows the condition of the mother.” If the mother is a slave, the baby is as well, and belongs to the master of the mother. Her story is unique in many respects. She is raised surrounded by her family; she learns to read and write alongside her little mistress; and she acquires freedom for herself and her two children.

While her story has many unique elements, it is bound together with all slaves: past, present, and future, who share the feeling that as one created in the image of God, they should not be owned by another person. When she finally gets her freedom, here are her thoughts, “A gentleman near me said, ‘It’s true; I have seen the bill of sale.’ ‘The bill of sale!’ Those words struck me like a blow. So I was sold in the free city of New York! The bill of sale is on record, and future generations will learn from it that women were articles of traffic in New York, late in the nineteenth century of the Christian religion. It may hereafter prove a useful document to antiquaries, who are seeking to measure the progress of civilization in the United States. I well know the value of a bit of paper; but much as I love freedom, I do not like to look upon it. I am deeply grateful to the generous friend who procured it, but I despise the miscreant who demanded payment for what never rightfully belonged to him or his.”

Friends, I feel inadequate to write this review. I could not put this book down. I don’t feel like I should say that I enjoyed it, as it was a chronicle of so many’s suffering. But, every time I was forced to put it down, I grabbed it back up again as quickly as I could. I think you’ll feel the same way about it. Not only will you want to keep reading, I think you should read it. I think it is important for everybody to read this book.

The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

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Recently someone asked me if I had read The Baker’s Daughter. They were looking for a recommendation, but not having read it, I was unable to give one. Now, however, I can give it a good recommendation.

I enjoyed this book so much. You should probably read it.

Elsie Schmidt grew up in Nazi Germany during WWII. This is her story. But, not only hers because all of our stories are woven in and amongst the stories of those around us. Along with Elsie- the baker’s daughter, you will meet Nazi, Jew, sister, friend, daughter, border patrol agent, illegal alien. All will touch and enrich her life.

“People often miss things that don’t exist- miss things that were but are not anymore. So there or here, I’d still miss home because my home is gone.” I love the clear, honest thoughts that are brought out.

“Only God has enough of the story to judge our souls” So often, we judge without the right information. And we think it’s ok. But it’s not.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” -Edmund Burke. This was a clear theme of the book. Sarah McCoy tells us that we should not only act, but that we must be aware of what is going on. She shows us again that people would rather be ignorant of evil if it means that they don’t have to act in any way that would be harmful to their way of life. In your mind, you may be thinking that you’ve heard this story before. In fact, this is the same story you always hear in conjunction with the holocaust. But, she subtly asks each of us to look into our own hearts and see if we are actively ignoring the cries of those in peril around us.

I enjoyed this book. A lot. I would recommend it to everybody I know. I would recommend it to everybody. It was a fun read. And occasionally it made me think beyond simply having fun. Just the type of book I enjoy.

The Warrior’s Path by Louis L’Amour

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Aah, book three of the Sackett series. I was so excited to get back to my beloved Sackett family, but to tell you the truth, I missed Barnabas a bit. The Warrior’s Path is about his first born son, Kin. He is a very likable fellow, honest and trustworthy. Faithful and full of life as his father was, but without the same experiences and friendships. Of the first three books, this is my third favorite.

I was excited to get to know Kin and Yance. We had gotten glimpses of them in “To the Far Blue Mountains” such as this: “So my son was born on a buffalo robe in the heat of an Indian battle, under a tree by the side of a stream in a wild and lonely land, and he was given his name by a chance remark, a name he would carry forever. For we called him Kin, and thought of no other, and kin he was to all of us, to the meadow, the woodland, and the forest.” As well as this introduction to Yance, “One day when he had offended they put him in the stocks. It took nine men to do it, but they did it. Only that night a girl stole her father’s key and came down and set him free. He built a careful fire against the stocks and burned them down, but by the time the fire was discovered Yance was in the hills, and being Yance, he took the girl with him, and she, being the kind of a girl he would choose, came willingly.”

In the beginning of the book, Kin and Yance are informed that Yance’s sister in law has been captured by Pequot Indians, a fierce and warring tribe that are feared by most. Of course the boys head right out to rescue her as well as her companion who was captured as well. It is not long before they realize that Indians are not behind the capture of the two girls, and set out to not only rescue the girls, but put a stop to any future kidnappings. In true Sackett fashion, Kin makes some friends along the way. But, here begins a new idea, I believe. “Pa always said, ‘I want it understood that no Sackett is ever alone as long as another Sackett lives.” Kin doesn’t need to make as many friends as his father did, because he has family. In the form of actual blood relations, as well as friends of his father who are no less family for their lack of common blood.

As you can see from the timing of these posts, this book was a quick read… done in a day. Short book, short review. This will not be the book that hooks you and makes you want to read the whole series, but that’s ok, because the first two did that. This book is fun and makes me so excited about what’s coming next: Jubal Sackett. I can’t wait to meet him.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” was recommended to me a few years ago, when I was looking for a book to read for our book club. In the end, I chose “The Help” and put this book on my mental shelf. I forgot about it, until a few weeks ago when it was once again recommended. So, I borrowed it from the library onto my kindle, and jumped feet first into Seattle, WA. 1942.

The book opens with Henry Lee as a grown man standing in front of an old Japanese landmark, the Panama Hotel. During renovations, the new owner finds a basement full of Japanese families’ possessions that were hidden when they were forced from their homes. The sight takes Henry back to his childhood. A place where his traditional Chinese family will have nothing to do with the Japanese families who live in the next neighborhood over. Henry’s father spends every moment trying to think of ways to assist with the Chinese war against Japan raging in his homeland. Henry, however, finds an unlikely friend and ally in Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl who is the only other asian in an otherwise all white school. They form a bond that is unbroken by her family’s relocation to internment camps.

In the opening pages of the book, as Henry is remembering his childhood, he also recalls his son and wife, Ethel. So, while reading the sweet story of childhood love and adventure, you know with a certainty that somehow this is not a lasting relationship. The questions linger as you read. Does Keiko not make it through? Does Henry finally submit to his Chinese parents’ rules? Does somebody break faith with the other? How does Henry end up with Ethel? But, you are willing to keep reading and find out what happened because he speaks of Ethel with such love and reverence. Somehow, he doesn’t settle for a second choice, but is given a second chance at happiness.

Although a main theme of the book is the treatment of the Japanese during World War II, it is not all there is. My favorite character of all is “Sheldon, a sax player twice Henry’s age who worked the street corner, playing for the tourists’ pleasure and pocket change. Despite the booming activity at Boeing Field, prosperity didn’t seem to reach locals like Sheldon. He was a polished jazz player, whose poverty had less to do with his musical ability and more to do with his color. Henry had liked him immediately” and I felt the same way.

I will share with you one of my favorite parts of the book. It is the day that all of the Japanese in Seattle are rounded up and sent by train to the Puyallup fairgrounds which is set up as a temporary internment camp. “He and Sheldon walked all the way to the steps of the Nippon Kan Theater, across from Kobe Park and in the shadow of the Japanese-owned Astor Hotel, which stood silent like an empty coffin. The prettiest part of Japantown, even vacant as it was, looked beautiful in the afternoon. Cherry blossoms covered the sidewalks, and the streets smelled alive.

‘What are we doing here?’ Henry asked, as he watched Sheldon open his case and take out his saxophone.

Sheldon slipped his reed into the mouthpiece. ‘We’re living.’

Henry looked around the deserted streets, remembering the people, the actors, the dancers, the old men gossiping and playing cards. Children running and playing. Keiko sitting on the hillside drawing in her sketchbook. Laughing at Henry. Teasing him. The memories warmed him, just a little. Maybe there was life to be lived.

His ears perked up as Sheldon drew a deep breath, then began a slow wailing on his sax. A sad, melancholy affair, the kind Henry had never heard him play on the street or in the clubs. It was heartbreaking, but only for a moment. Then he slipped into something festive- something up-tempo, with a soul and a heartbeat. He played for no one, but at the same time Henry realized he was playing for everyone.”

I love the reminders that are woven through this book that there is always life to be lived. No matter how bleak the outlook, keep living the life you have been given. Tomorrow may be different from today.

This is a book of reconciliation. Of lives lived well. Of memories that should not be forgotten. Of friendships that are not hindered by time and race. Of love, true and lasting. Of joy and grief. Of life and death. If you are in the mood for such a book, then I recommend this one to you.