Book Reviews

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Untamed

By Glennon Doyle

Review by Jana Fort

This story could be considered not just a memoir, but also a part self-help because it contains valuable pieces of wisdom from the author about what it means to live your best life. Glennon shares her experiences and struggles with marriage, divorce, starting a new relationship and blending families. She especially encourages women to be brave in choosing what they really want out of life, not just do what the world around you believes you need to be happy. The chapters it contains are short, some are filled with funny stories, others will touch your heart, but all of them will make you stop and think about life in general. For some, including celebrities, this book has been considered a life-changing experience and has given them a new outlook. There are so many good quotes from the book, but the one that I especially liked and I feel kind of sums this whole book up is this: “When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn to please herself.”

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD

By Melanie Benjamin

Review by Jana Fort

 

THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD is based on a true historical event that happened in the Great Plains on January 12, 1888, affecting hundreds of immigrant homesteaders and their children. The day began with mild weather for January, so most of the children went to school without wearing any heavy clothes or coats. When it was time for school to let out for the day, the weather had changed very rapidly into a blizzard. Young schoolteachers were faced with the life or death decision whether to let their children try to get home or to wait the storm out in the schoolhouses.

Raina and Gerda Olsen, who are sisters, are each teaching at different schools when the blizzard hits. Raina is teaching in Nebraska, while her sister Gerda is in the Dakota Territory. Raina at first thinks that maybe she should wait with the children inside the schoolhouse, but when a window is blown in; she decides they must take their chances and try to make it to the closest homestead.  Gerda on the other hand, dismisses her children sending them off on their own, to try to make it home, while she and her beau set off on their own. Her decision leads to devasting consequences for both herself, and for the children she was in charge of. Raina becomes a hero of sorts, when her bravery is taken note of by a newspaper man from Omaha who decides to write a story about her.

The story is divided into two sections. The first part is about the blizzard itself, and the story of how the survivors make it through. The second part is about the aftermath, and how the decisions both girls make affect their lives. I read this book during one of our snowstorms, which made it feel all the more real as the characters fought against the wind, snow, and cold. It was heartbreaking to read about the survivors who lost limbs in the cold, but also of so many who lost their lives, mostly children, who were lost in the storm. Many of the stories highlight the bravery and courage of those who fought to save others. If you like historical fiction, this is one you don’t want to miss! If you would like to learn more about the blizzard, the library also carries a non-fiction account of the same incident.

 

 

 

 

Book Review by Jana Fort

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half is a New York Times best seller, a Good Morning America Book Club pick, and was named Best Book of 2020 by The Washington Post, People, and Time Magazine. When I saw how great the reviews were, I thought maybe I should check out what all the buzz was about for myself.


 The story centers around identical twin sisters, Desiree and Stella. They run away from their small rural home in Louisiana and end up in New Orleans, but eventually they go their separate ways. After fleeing an abusive marriage, Desiree returns home with her young daughter. Stella, on the other hand, marries a wealthy man and lives in an expensive neighborhood, raising her own daughter.  The novel picks up a few years later when Desiree’s daughter, Jude, goes to college in Los Angeles on an athletic scholarship. Meanwhile, Stella’s daughter, Kennedy, becomes an actress, against her mom’s wishes. The two girls’ lives intersect at a party and they start spending time together. Jude realizes that they are cousins, but Kennedy has no idea.  The next part of the story offers several twists and turns that will keep you reading page after page. It is a story about family, racial identity, trying to hide your past, and finding out what really matters in life. The story does jump from one person to another and across different time periods in history, but I found it easy to follow. It was a great story and I really enjoyed it.