Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Read with Us 2020: A Book Published in the Decade You Were Born

For February's category, we picked A Book Published in the Decade You Were Born ... which means you'll get two books from the '80s and one from the '90s.

(Note: The title of each book links to its Amazon page. These are affiliate links.)

Becky's Pick: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

I chose Jacob Have I Loved (published in 1980, won the 1981 Newbery Award) for my February book. Prior to "reading" this book (I actually listened to the audio version), here's what I knew of Jacob Have I Loved:
Jacob Have I Loved - Trailer from Questar Video on Vimeo.

This trailer played on at least one of our Wonderworks Narnia videos (which, when I was a child, were just about the only videos we owned), and I practically had it memorized. I'm pretty sure I convinced my mom to let me borrow the movie from the library once, and I didn't like it. But many things I didn't like as a kid I like as an adult, so I thought, why not? Turns out, in this case childhood Becky's feelings were spot on.

I hated this book.

Here's the premise: Sarah Louise (Louise or "Wheezy") and her twin Caroline couldn't be more different. Louise feels that Caroline is the golden child who can do no wrong and gets everything she wants. There's definitely some truth to that, though Louise certainly has a "woe is me" attitude. It's mainly about Louise's teenage years, and then it finally, blessedly, skips ahead to Louise's future.

I liked two things about the book. 1). The final bit is about Louise's life after she leaves her small town. That part was fascinating, and Louise was infinitely more likable as an adult. 2). Actress Moira Kelly (The Cutting Edge, One Tree Hill) does a superb job reading the book.

But I found the book as a whole to be at turns boring and cringe-inducing. The boring part doesn't need explanation, but the cringe-inducing part does. Louise has somewhat of a sexual awakening as she gets to know "the captain," this elderly man in the community. While nothing happens between them, Louise definitely lusts after him (and his hands). I wish you could see the face I'm making as I type this ... it was so uncomfortable to read. Also, there's a plot line early on involving an elderly woman and her multiple cats where Louise, her best friend, and the captain intend to kill the cats. I cannot handle things like that, and I almost quit listening then and there. (The cats live, by the way, at least until a hurricane sweeps through and kills most of them.)

I almost picked Mandie and the Secret Treasure for this month's category, and now I wish that I had ... 1 star.

Val's Pick: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

For this month’s challenge, read a book written in the decade you were born, I read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, published in 1989. I chose this book after googling “best books of the 80’s” and seeing this pop up on one of the various lists I read.

Although the name of the book is the Joy Luck Club, only one scene in the book takes place at an actual club meeting (where the members play mahjong, eat, and discuss investments). The rest of the book is spent rotating perspectives among the three surviving members of the club (one woman has died just prior to the beginning of the book) and the four daughters of those club members. (According to Wikipedia, the book is structured like a game of mahjong. I didn’t come close to making that connection on my own.)

The four older women, the founders of the club, have each immigrated to America (San Francisco) from China, and each have heartbreaking back-stories. Some were fleeing China during the WWII Japanese invasion, some were mistreated by their families of origin, some experienced heartbreak at the hands of their husbands or were devastated by misfortunes that befell their children. But all were misunderstood by their adult daughters. And all the adult daughters (born in America) felt misunderstood by their mothers. I am a total sucker for mother/daughter relationships within books, despite (or perhaps because of?) having a wonderful relationship with my own mother.

I was worried that a book written in the 80’s would feel dated, but it didn’t at all. The only time I was
really aware of the date of the setting was when one of the daughters, who was in her mid-thirties,
referred to herself as a baby boomer. The mother/daughter conflicts and plot lines felt timeless and
relevant in any era.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Steph's Pick: The Princess by Lori Wick

This novel. It’s a Christian romance novel. More specifically, the classic arranged marriage requiring the main characters to fall in love after they are married. The book is a very quick read. It takes me three hours to get through the whole thing. It is also annoyingly addictive. I get very invested in the comings and goings of the palace. Every time I have read this book I have picked it up because I couldn’t sleep and don’t end up putting it down until it’s done….even if it’s 2 am.  I would definitely put this in the beach read category—not serious literature, but definitely entertaining. On this particular reread two things stuck out to me 1) having now dabbled in the enneagram, I was trying to type the characters. I don’t normally do that, but Shelby is SUCH a 2. It was fascinating to watch. 2) Lori Wick published a book that talked about a menstrual cycle in the 90's. Granted, the words period or menstruation are not used, but they talk about “her cycle” and that it can be irregular and more painful sometimes. So many women have painful periods, so it is refreshing to have a book, a Christian book no less, mention it as part of life for the main character. While that may be more common today, I am floored she got it published before the turn of the century.

Have you read any of our picks? What did you think? 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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