Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Book Review Club (October 2009)

Welcome to the NINTH meeting of The Book Review Club! That's a lot of books reviewed! That's a lot of cyber coffee and cyber cookies and cyber muffins consumed! That's a lot of cyber calories!

I'll be completely up front and admit that I had a tough time settling on a book to present this month. Not that I haven't been reading. I have. Not that I haven't read some decent books this summer. I have. But somehow I just couldn't stick with a book. Until I decided to totally change gears. And visit my picture book shelf. Well, more like picture book bookcase.


I LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY CAKES by Rose Lewis (Little Brown & Co, 2000) is the story of a single woman's adoption journey.

The book starts off with:

Once upon a time in China there was a baby girl who lived in a big room with lots of other babies. The girls shared cribs with one another and became great friends. The girls had nannies to take care of them, but each was missing something--a mother.

The story continues:

Far away across the ocean was a woman who also had many friends, but she was missing something, too--a baby. That woman was me.

Then, the woman talks about writing to China, then traveling to China, then finally meeting her baby.

How did this happen? How did someone make this perfect match a world away? Did the Chinese people have a special window to my soul?

I cannot read this book with tearing up. You probably can't either.

The first time I read it to Child #3, he had a visceral response.

I had just returned from Korea and brought back Child #4, who was 5 months old. I opened I LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY CAKES, explaining to just-turned-five Child #3 how very special adoption was. I got partway through the book, when Child #3 slammed it shut, crossed his little arms and said, "I'll tell you how special adoption is. It means you're not the baby of the family anymore! Take her back to Korea! " And he burst into tears. The next morning, he bounded out of bed, checked the crib to make sure I hadn't made good on his suggestion and said, "I changed my mind. We can keep her. Because she's a cutie patootie." Awwwww....

I should also add that Child #3 was a little miffed that we didn't call the baby MUFFY! But a mother can only let an addiction to Marc Brown's Arthur books go so far...

And while the Korea adoption system is very different from its Chinese counterpart, the agency in Korea did match us up with Child #4. And every day, I look at this petite Asian girl living in a sea of blond-haired, blue-eyed rambunctious older brothers and wonder how a Korean social worker over 6,000 miles away managed to choose the perfect child for our family.

So....swallowing past the lump, please visit the links below. The reviews will be thoughtful and insightful and encourage you to add to your TBR list.

As for me, I'm off to the grocery store to get my flu shot, but will check in regularly today.

YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: TWO OLD WOMEN by Velma Wallis

Thao of serene hours: FLASH BURNOUT by L.K. Madigan

Stacy Nyikos: HORNS AND WRINKLES by Joseph Helgerson (middle grade, fantasy)

Jody Feldman: DYING TO MEET YOU by Kate Klise (middle grade) *sounds heavy, but according to our review is "totally cute and wonderful"

Linda McLaughlin: LIPSTICK JIHAD: A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP IRANIAN IN AMERICA AND AMERICAN IN IRAN by Azadeh Moaveni (memoir, can also be classified adult memoir).


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Sarah Laurence: BUT NOT FOR LONG by Michelle Wildgen (literary fiction), review and author interview

Kathy Holmes: THE EVER RUNNING MAN by Marcia Muller (Sharon McCone mystery series)

Scott Parker: THE BLONDE by Duane Swierczynski (adult pulp)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown (mystery)

Jenn Jilks of My Reflections: BLOOD LURE by Nevada Barr (mystery)

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: a surprise video about books. Very humorous!

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE by Alan Bradley (mystery)


AUTOBIOGRAPHY REVIEWS

Patti Abbott: TIMEBENDS by Arthur Miller


NONFICTION REVIEWS

Keri Mikulski: WHY SHE PLAYS by Christine A. Baker

Note to Reviewers: I think I was pretty organized this month and included everyone with reviews. But if I missed you, leave me a comment and I'll rectify the situation straight away. And award myself one less cookie today!



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20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this book, too. By the way, here's my quick review of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: makes you feel great about your own parenting skills and pathetic life. This poor Oscar definitely needed a Felix in his life, or at least Prozac. Brilliantly written, yet depressing in a life-sure-can-suck kind of way. Love ya, Santee Babe

Beth said...

Just those few excerpts moved me – as did your son’s welcoming of his sister.
It’s on my list…

Jenn Jilks said...

You deserve many cookies! Good work. My review is up, thanks to a times post. We are just back from the book tour. Lots of fin in Ottawa.

Thank you for hosting. I am too far away from any civilized human beings to belong to a book club per se, and this is the next best thing for me!

Stacy Nyikos said...

I really loved this book too. It's a great way to summarize all of the feelings and emotions that go into welcoming a new, little being into your family and life.

Rose said...

Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful book. I can see why this book would make you tear up; reading about your special little girl brought a lump to my throat, too. I love her older brother's response--so typical of the sibling who's no longer the baby of the family:)

My post won't be up until 10 AM CST. Thanks for hosting this, Barrie!

Scott Parker said...

Barrie, it's remarkable when a book is as perfect as this one is for you. That's when it becomes something more than ink and paper. Great review.

Stacy said...

I've always wanted to adopt internationally. Mind if I ask you questions some time? :D

Annie said...

Oh! Thanks you for a list of books. I can never get enough!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh, that does sound heartbreakingly-sweet.

kaye said...

such a tender post, I love a book that is part of your heart.

Kathy Holmes said...

What a sweet book! Adoption is a complex issue but you're just the kind of special lady who can make it work. Your post really touched me!

Barrie said...

Santee Babe!! YOU GAVE ME THIS BOOK! You also gave us that ridiculous bib that said something about Child #4 loved you best! And don't try to pretend that you've forgotten... ;)

Barrie said...

Stacy, you can ask me as many questions as you'd like about int'l adoption! I LOVED the entire experience. Best thing we ever did.

Keri Mikulski said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for the review. :)

Sarah Laurence said...

I’m tearing up without the personal connection. What a lovely story: how yours intersects with this delightful picture book. That is so sweet that you made room in your family for another child that needed a home, and that your son agreed in the end too. This is my favorite of all your reviews. Happy 9! Thanks for hosting.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

While I think the cover of this book is simply adorable, I've never picked it up. Sounds like I need to.

Teresa said...

I loved the cover of the book, and then when I read your story and your family's adoption experience, I was really touched. My eldest daughter (Twin A) nanny's for a family that adopted two children from China. It has been quite good for all the children because Twin A gets to share the Chinese part of her heritage with someone who is wanting to reconnect a little with her Asian roots. She has also worked with the mom to figure out things that honor both the American and the Asian. Our family has been very impressed with the patience, love, and courage of the adopting family. From your blog, I suspect your family is very similar. Thank you for sharing this book and this part of yourself. I'll let my daughter know about the book in case the other family wants to read it, too.

Kelly H-Y said...

I'm so glad you reviewed this picture book ... I haven't seen that one! And ... thanks for all the other links too!

Miss Chevious said...

that's such a great title! :) sorry for my absence from the blog world! i'm back and making the rounds! have a great weekend!

gabe said...

What a poignant tale you tell. Lucky little girl to have 3 big brothers and a funny mom.

I met a super nice author called Deborah Hodge at the Prairie Horizons conference back in September. She wrote a book called "Emma's Story" (Random House) about adoption.

All these book reviews make me need to want to read more and more. So much life in these books.
Thanks!