Thursday, September 18, 2008

book review #1

Two recent reads of mine have prompted me to post my first ever book review! And, sometimes I read a book, and then months later I have no idea what it was about. Maybe writing about them will help me remember?

My rating system is black and white: either I recommend the book, or I don't.

1.) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I do NOT recommend.

The true story begins with Elizabeth divorcing her husband, entering into a deep depression, and then traveling around the world for a year to re-discover herself and her spirituality. I guess many readers have found the story to be extremely inspirational, but I felt anything but uplifted after reading it. I grew tired of Elizabeth treating herself as such a victim of her terrible divorce and depression, when she was totally at fault! (She left her husband because... he wanted a family! That was his huge fault!) I found it difficult to even respect the author for her choices regarding her family and felt that her search for happiness was extremely selfish. She brushes the surface of diety and spirituality, but I think she is totally missing the point. Her vision is blocked by her self-centered desire to just be "happy." To me, happiness not just includes, but is centered around my husband and family, and does not require a one-year trip around the world. (Although her endless descriptions of Italian food really made me want to go devour some myself!)

In summary, I found the book long, boring at times, full of too much personal information, and hardly inspirational.

2.) Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian.
I could not. put. it. down. I DO recommend!!

This story is of Sybil, an experienced and respected midwife in a tiny rural Vermont town in the 1970s. One night, she's attending a birth that turns dangerous. Due to a terrible winter storm, Sibyl can't take her patient to a hospital or call a rescue squad. After hours and hours of labor, Sybil believes her patient has died. She performs an emergency C-section with a kitchen knife, saving the baby. However, word gets out that Sybil's patiet may actually still have been alive when Sybil cut her open. A complicated trial then ensues, and there is much evidence against Sybil. The story is actually told by Sybil's teenage daughter, Connie, and it is as much about Connie's growing-up during the trial as it is about midwifery.

I was absolutely captivated by this story. I read the 300+ page book in 3 days. Even after I finished it (the last sentece of the last chapter makes you go, WHAT????), I had to skip back to re-read some parts to make sure I got it all. Not only was it entertaining, but it left me thinking deeply about issues like home births, working mothers, judicial systems, and how things always seem to work out in the end. Loved it!


The Hills... said...

I agree about Eat, Pray, Love. I felt like she was doing a lot of "poor me" writing. I thought it was sad too that she left her husband, then got together with that old guy in Indonesia.

It was interesting though and it made me want to eat Italian food!

Erika and Ryan said...

Wow, I have heard from so many people that they liked Eat, Pray, Love, and it's on my list of books to read, but after hearing your review I think I've changed my mind. It sounds like it would just be a waste of time for me, because I know I would see things the same way you did. But Midwives sounds totally good!! I want to get it! Thanks for the good reviews.

Salem said...

I've been wanting to read Eat, Pray, Love for a long time now! I think I even have the book for whatever reason. But I always end up picking up something else. Maybe it will end up being a dust collector...I'm definitely going to give Midwives a try!

Laney said...

There is a bar here in Buffalo called Otto's ,and whenever we drive past it we think of you guys.

JenSwen said...

I felt similarly about Eat, Pray, Love. I was told that it was a life-changing book, but I guess that's only if you're looking for a book to tell you that an intimate relationship with God can coexist with a life devoid of morals. I will have to try Midwives. I'm the book club leader for MSA this year and we met last night to choose our books for the year so I'll let you know if we read any great ones!