Tag Archives: female hero

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

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The Wild Girl” is a dark and beautiful book that reminds me of King Solomon’s words:Image

“What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.”

Dortchen Wild grew up next door to Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm and is one of their main sources for the fables and tales that were rewritten and published to make sure the world didn’t forget the old stories that had been told from generation to generation before them.

The story begins as any good fairy tale does, with young love and adventure and excitement. But, soon, the dark realities of life in the early 1800s in the German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel set in. With war in the background and hunger and poverty in the foreground, we read the story of Dortchen who has to battle evil even in her own home.

Near the beginning of the book, Dortchen and Wilhelm are talking about the power that words have. “He said that words have a remarkable power. The word “God” is only three letters, yet how much meaning is in those three letters? It’s vast, unimaginable. Think of the word “liberty”. Only seven letters, yet it changed a whole country and looks like it might change the world.” This sort of thinking sets up the whole premise of the book. How often do we speak or read words and stories without really examining the meaning behind them. We accept them at face value without delving into the depths that are contained inside. Kate Forsyth does that sort of digging for us, though, and this book is a possible insight into the lives of Wilhelm and Dortchen. She never says that this is their story. But, she lets you know that it could have been. Just as it is the story of so many before and after them.

The book left me with a heavy heart, but it’s the kind of heaviness that reminds me that people are broken and hurting and we need to hear their cries for help, no matter how they are disguised. I didn’t want to put it down. I read it every chance I got hoping for redemption and a happily ever after. I won’t tell you if those come or not. You’ll have to read it for yourself, and you will be glad you did. Enjoy your foray into the tales of your childhood. See how they have changed through the years, and the circumstances that created them, and what may have changed them.

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Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle

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9781414371719_p0_v1_s260x420 (1)“Every mother knows the reason Robert Frost took the road less traveled is because he wasn’t traveling with children who needed to go to the bathroom every thirty minutes. Otherwise he would have taken the road paved with McDonald’s and truck stops with restrooms, covered by antibacterial hand soap and prayer. And that would have made all the difference.” –Melanie Shankle

The thing about parenting is that it is simultaneously the same and drastically different for everybody. Whether you have boys or girls or both. Lots of children or only one. There are things that are the same straight across the board. There are difficulties and joys, and we as Moms love to share both. We want to tell you all about our experiences, and in turn we want to hear just how you have handled the situations you have found yourself in. Reading Sparkly Green Earrings feels like you are just sitting down with Melanie and having a conversation about your day. Of course you don’t get to say anything, and the day in question actually lasts a few years. But it’s the kind of conversation we all need to have every now and then. The kind that makes you laugh. Not the mean kind where you’re  laughing at someone, but fun kind where you shake your head and say, “Oh man, I remember that!”

This is my favorite kind of parenting book. It’s not a list of rules and how to’s. There is no magic formula for having perfect children. It is just a simple story of one woman’s journey. She is willing to sit down with you (ok… she sat down a while ago… now it’s your turn to sit) and share the things she has learned as she parented her daughter through her first eight years of life. It is full of the honesty we expect and appreciate these days. Then, while you’re still holding your sides, and trying not to laugh so loud you wake the baby next to you, she drops a little revelation on you. Something about looking at your children through the eyes of their creator, or seeing yourself as you really are, or finding the meaning of grace and love and mercy simply by holding your newly born baby that very first time.

“We like to believe they are better versions of us, but the truth is, they are us. They are full of our selfishness and impulsiveness and pettiness. They want things to go their way just like we do, and they scream and yell and throw things when it doesn’t work out. The only difference between them and us is what my grandma would refer to as ‘home training.’

God gives us these raw little people, and we have to form them and mold them and teach them how to operate in society. And if we get a glimpse of all the ugliness that lies right beneath our own polished surface? Well, then, there’s a humbling lesson too. It’s those moments when I realize I have to extend grace to Caroline as she figures these things out by trial and error in the same way God lavishes me with mercy, even as I make the same mistakes over and over again.”

Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living With Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel and Bret Witter

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“We are born alone and die alone, but all my favorite moments of life had been spent with someone else.” –Susan Spencer-Wendel

Until-I-Say-Goodbye_custom-234c902cc18a9db2bd48b9c9f4f7aa29af7856b7-s6-c10I have had this book sitting on my Kindle waiting to be reviewed for a long time now. I can’t quite figure out how to explain to you that you should read it. Because you will love it. Because you will be challenged by it. Because you will see that it is possible to live with joy. In any circumstance.

In 2011, Susan Spencer-Wendel is diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She knows that this diagnosis means a loss of her career, her mobility, her freedom, and ultimately her life. And her life is not simply the breath in her lungs, it is also a husband and children, friends and family. Once she receives this diagnosis, she decides to live these last days fully. To give her children and her husband memories to help them through the hard days ahead. She says this, “I thought of my new uncertainty: How long can I live with ALS? I thought, ‘Don’t search for answers. Live the question.’ Enjoy life more because of the uncertainty, not less.” She takes trips with her children, and her husband, and her best friend Nancy. She lives her life while she still can. And when she is incapable of the outward, physical side of life, these same people step in and perform each and every task for her.

I remember describing Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy to someone while I was reading it. I started crying, and I know they were thinking, “Why are you reading that book if it’s so sad?” But the thing is, it’s not sad while you’re reading it. It really is filled with joy. Somehow, Susan manages to truly live with joy. She pulls her mind out of the funk as often as she has to and reminds herself of the joy to be found. And in doing so, she will remind you too. The story is sad. But the telling is incredible. It offers hope. Susan reminds us to live our own lives no matter what the circumstances. To love your children and husband with everything you’ve got.

I’ll leave you with this thought of Susan’s. It may show you a little bit of why I enjoyed this book so much.

“I said I felt like the luckiest person in the world.

And I did.

I might have been dying, but that night- on that terrace, after that meal, with those people- I was experiencing the full wonder of life.

I had arrived a stranger, but I was leaving with a new family.

I was unafraid.

Fearless.”

Ride the River by Louis L’Amour

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“How many are there? Of the Sacketts, I mean?”

“Nobody rightly knows, but even one Sackett is quite a few.”

-Echo Sackett

Ride the River is the first Sackett book about a girl. Echo Sackett, named after the girl from Greek mythology, is a mountain girl who can take care of herself. She leaves her home to go to the big city to get some inheritance money that is owed to her. When she gets to the city, she finds herself in the association of men who would like to keep the money for themselves. Lucky for her, the Sacketts who went before her made the kind of friends that last generation to generation and she meets up with 86 year old Finian Chantry. Chantry is a well known and liked lawyer who helps her to get what she is owed. I love this. When three men decide to rob Finian, he replies with this, “You’re a pack of bilge-swilling swine’ Chantry said. ‘I’ve money enough in my pockets to keep you drunk for a month of Sundays, but if you come for it, you’ll be wearing your guts for neckties.” Only Louis L’Amour would have an older gentlemen making threats like this. And then have the ability to back it up.

When Echo heads home with her money, she is followed by a group of men who wish to reclaim it. She leaves the stage behind and heads into the hills to have a bit of advantage. Finian, in fear of just such an arrangement, sends his grandson Dorian Chantry and another man named Archie out to escort her home. Before they are able to catch up, she proves that she is able to take care of herself, as all Sacketts can. When the boys join up with her, she feels the responsibility of them joining her group, and does her part in keeping everybody safe. I liked L’Amour’s representation of a girl. She was brave and strong, but she knew her limits and made up for them with the element of surprise, and a couple of well hidden weapons. But, she was also able to rely on Dorian and Archie when the need arose. At the end of the Sackett books, the hero always gets the girl. This book was no exception, except that this time the hero gets her man.