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Book Review: Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero

Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero4 Stars. Pull on the heartstrings.

Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero was chosen for a book club that I host, the Edmonton Chapter of The Girly Book Club. This is the third book that I have read as part of the international book club and I am more impressed than I was with Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino.

I’m a sucker for novels with different points of view in them.  Using this skill speaks to the author’s ability to weave tales from the same tapestry, pairing with their imagination to bring each of those characters to the forefront. In Broken Angels, we have three characters: Elsi, a girl left in the ghetto; Matilda, a girl ripped from her home; and Willem, a Nazi doctor.

Three people, living through World War II, each with their own fears and perceptions. Each needs to know exactly is happening and their role in it. With something as large as war, the need to know is unsatisfied and each chooses to embrace their situation. They fight their own war, with hope of continuing their lives in peace.

Liviero is an artist with emotion. She encourages you to read a little further which propels you into the next character’s storyline.  You get some answers you beg for in the previous chapter but fulfillment comes upon return to that character.

In a novel with revolving viewpoints, each character has their own inner life and Liviero delivers. The following three quotes are from the Elsi, Matilda, and Willem respectively.

A thick cloud of smoke hangs above the city. Someone yells that there is another fire. There are whistles in the distance. A fire truck speeds down the center of the road, narrowly missing an elderly man who is crossing. One more life gone would not make a difference. (Elsi, pg 111)

 

Since we have come into the house, we have not discussed our future escape, thought the thought is still there. Commander once asked me about my parents and to describe where I lived. The officer who stole me did not write down where I came from in the brown file that has my name on the front. I did not tell Commander anything in case one day I do escape, and the child thief, Herr Lehmann, has hopefully forgotten where he has stolen me from. (Matilda, pg 346)

 

It was no one’s fault – a premature birth, a medical anomaly – and yet I remember the promise I made to be with her at the hospital. Perhaps I would have noticed her fever before it was too late. (Willem, pg 221)

The novel teems with structure and chaos on a background of loss. Each character loses along the way and each gains. It is a tale that is for those who are interested in the human perspective of World War II, have a strong stomach (there are quite a few ghastly scenes), and want a great read.

I am now a fan of Liviero’s and will look forward to more books by her in the future.

Book Review: Will You Love Me? by Cathy Glass

A true story about a girl named Lucy.

Will You Love Me? by Cathy Glass is a true story about Lucy. She is in Cathy’s care after eleven long years. She experienced neglect, abuse and poor interactions with the UK’s foster care system. Over her mere decade on this planet, Lucy endured many challenges. Multiple moves, with her mom and in the foster system. A lack of proper nutrition.  Very little bonding with her mother. Adult figures came in and out of her life without any intention of parenting her appropriately.

The story follows chronological order, as best as Cathy could piece together. The basis is from the notes taken by various care and foster workers who are in the folds of Lucy’s story. Lucy starts off as an infant with her mother, Bonnie, and is soon in the transient lifestyle. Bonnie reflects on her days before she was a mother and recognizes that her perspective shifted:

“One of the girls had had a four year old child with her, and at the time Bonnie had thought it was wrong that the kindshould be forced to live like that and felt it would have been better off in foster care or being adopted, but now she had a baby of her own it was different; she’d do anything to keep her child.” (pg 19)

As her childhood progresses, Lucy experiences multiple moves – until social services steps in and works to get her into permanent care.

Through multiple interactions at different levels from social services, Lucy’s plight is well documented. Most of her experiences in and out of the care system is retold by Cathy:

“Lucy improved dramatically in the eight months she lived with Annie and her family. She gradually lost her fear of strangers, began playing and talking more, and was starting to catch up with her peer group.” (pg 73)

Understandably, Lucy has challenges and demonstrates ebbs and flows in her adjustment to her carers.

While at Cathy’s, there are serious concerns about Lucy’s ability to make sincere connections with her peer group, dealing with her anger, and her relationship with food:

“…one thing I did know was that the following day, when everyone was at school, I would go online and research eating disorders.”(pg 163)

As Lucy’s carer, Cathy is diligent throughout the book with her discovery and implementation of strategies; all efforts to make Lucy a member of her family. All members of the family love Lucy and express it openly:

“We were through to the living room where my parents gave Lucy her birthday present, and we all watched while she opened it. Lucy had previously told my mother that she wanted to be a famous beautician when she was older and do the make-up for film stars. Now, to Lucy’s unimaginable delight, the present from my parents was a large play beauty salon, set in a big red sparkling case.” (pg 233)

Will You Love Me? is a great book! It is full of moments that are wrenching, enlightening and tough to read. The book is interesting and recommended to anyone learning more about the fostering system, childhood adversity and interesting life stories. There are triggers throughout the book so I would not recommend it to anyone who may share a similar past.

Solid five stars and I am thankful to Cathy for sharing her stories with the world.

Book Review: Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living by Paulette Dahl

Cover of Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living by Paulette Dahl - Reviewed January 2017
Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living by Paulette Dahl is truly a gift from her heart to yours.

When I first read Love Letters, I ditched the suggested guide and read it cover to cover. Mainly so that I would be able to give an appropriate review on content. However, this review will cover content and experience, as I took some additional time to experience the book as recommended, by reading Letters randomly.

Reading the book in rogue style (cover to cover) tugged at my insides in a blessed way. Something within me knew that certain letters were just. Right. Dahl doesn’t back down from the darker, deeper emotions that visit each of us during the course of living. The importance of the emotional pairings demonstrates the duality of perception. Not simply that life is duality but rather, that acceptance of the emotional experience is okay. It is okay to accept grief when it comes to you. Same with depression. The Letters acknowledge these seasons in our lives, along with an appreciation for them and a line of caution about how they may impact us. There is a balance and sense of honour for each Letter, regardless of the topic. Readers will experience emotional ties to this book that they didn’t know they had and should prepare to be surprised by what arises.

Take some time with the book.

Readers should take the time to enjoy the preface of Love Letters, as it explains Dahl’s intentional use of Love as a verb (yes, with a capital L!), rearrangements and dis-section of some terms. As I was reading the preface, I was thankful for the explanation of the deliberate choices she had made in getting her point across. I am also deeply grateful for her sharing the process it took to arrive at the concept for the Love Letters.

When reading the book as intended, I arrived at the same set of letters a few times and have come to appreciate the need for constant reminders during this season of my life. I discovered that reading the Letters out loud had more impact for me. Made me read at a slower speed and really consider the communication from the Letters to me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The length of the Letters is perfect (maximum of four pages) and the smaller details are well-thought out (like the hearts around the page numbers). I would recommend it for anyone who would like to look at their emotions in a different way, is looking to explore their internal world, or is curious about what Letters may let them do.

Four stars.


Completed this for BookTasters. Want to get free books in exchange for an honest review? They’re fabulous to work with and I highly recommend them!

What’s Up at ReadViews: January 2017

It’s January, a fabulous time to read, review and generally be ambitious.

Reading-wise, I’m pretty excited about this year. I’ve made a personal goal of reading 40 books. You can join me on Goodreads and see how I’m doing with the reading challenge!


Here are the ReadViews you can expect in January:

Cover for The Blood Red Nails of War by Hannah Warren - Reviewing January 2017
The Blood Nails of War
Author: Hannah Warren

Cover of The Cottage on the Border by Hannah Warren - Reviewing January 2017

The Cottage on The Border: The Jenna Kroon Series
Author: Hannah Warren

Cover of The Farm on Nieuw Land Road by Hannah Warren - Reviewing January 2017
The Farm on Nieuw Land Road: The Jenna Kroon Series
Author: Hannah Warren

Cover of Lover Letters by Paulette Dahl - Reviewing in January 2017
Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living
Author Paulette Dahl


This month I’ll be reading:

Cover of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Reading in January 2017
The Great Gatsby
Author: F.Scott Fitzgerald

Cover of Alice Munro's Best: Selected Short Stories - Reading January 2017
Alice Munro’s Best: Selected Stories
Author: Alice Munro

Cover of Daring Greatly by Brené Brown - Reading January 2017
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Author: Brené Brown

Cover of The Rose and The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh - Reading January 2017
The Rose and The Dagger
Author: Renée Ahdieh

For The Girly Book Club

Cover of Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra - Reading January 2017
Only Daughter
Author: Anna Snoekstra