Saturday, May 7, 2016

Catching up and a new book review

We finally made it up north to our cabin and opened it up for the spring/summer season.  I think this is the latest date ever for doing that.  And to make it even worse, we never traveled north in late fall or winter.  Our sons did, but we have not been there since October.  Unbelievable!! We made it there more often when I was still working full time.  But that long drought of time is over and I'm ready to spend lots of time there this summer.  The loon pair is back (although one adult may be a new mate as one loon was injured late last summer and we don't know if it survived). Hubby was able to golf one day and I sewed.  I keep my New Home (Janome) Memorycraft purchased in the mid 1980s up there, and despite being stored in an unheated building all winter, it ran like a dream.  I put together two small wall hangings and then started sewing large "string" blocks from my pink scraps.  Plan to put together a rainbow-type scrap lap quilt for donation.  Did a bit of housekeeping up there and Russ applied WET N FORGET to the siding.  We've got some dark staining on the siding, probably caused by moisture and the shaded woods.  We plan to restain the siding later in the summer --  solid, not semi-transparent, this time.

While there I finished reading WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE by Elizabeth Berg. It has been quite a while since I have read a book by Berg. Her books normally feature a female main character, someone who succeeds at overcoming whatever obstacle life throws her way -- divorce, financial loss, death, and more.  This book, set in 1961 Tulepa, Mississippi, features more than one strong female.  First there is Diana, just entering her teens, whose life is shaped by poverty and her mother's disability.  Paige contracted polio when pregnant with Diana, and delivered the baby while in an iron lung.  Left a quadriplegic and deserted by Diana's father, Paige refused to give her daughter up for adoption.  The fragile framework of this family is knit together by Peacie, the black woman hired to care for both Paige and Diane during the daytime.  Over the years, she has become much more than a housekeeper or maid.

As summer progresses Diana and her BFF think about boys, but Diana also begins to see her mother in a new light.  She sees Paige's beauty and influence over others despite being in a wheelchair.  She also witnesses her mother's vulnerability, her need to be loved and accepted as normal.  Plus Diana begins to become more aware of the society around her, including the protests and voter registrations that Peacie's boyfriend is taking part in.  Elizabeth Berg tells at the beginning of the book that she received a letter from a fan reader saying that she wanted her mother's story told and wanted Berg to do it.  The letter writer's mom had contracted polio when she was pregnant and had delivered a girl (the writer) while in an iron lung and then had raised the baby despite being confined to a wheelchair.
Berg consented to write the book, as long as she could write a fictionalized version of the mother/daughter.  WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE, complete with a surprise visit by Elvis, is the result.  This book would appeal to young adults and adults equally.

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