Well friends, I lied.
I said in my January post that I was almost done with “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, and I was, but then I got distracted and started another two books. Which is unfortunate, because I don’t want that to indicate that the book isn’t good… these other two books were just easier to fly through and I am still working at making more time for reading.
So with that said, in February I finished two books that were drastically different from each other, which was a good mix.
By Elizabeth Smart
with Chris Stewart
“For the first time, ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime.
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.
In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In 2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine.” (via GoodReads)
This case is probably one of the first major news events that I can remember happening as a kid. I was only a few years younger than Elizabeth and I remember following the news as things were happening and then again in college when her abductors finally stood trial. I think it is hard to write a review though, when the book is non-fiction and about a particularly heavy topic. I read a few other reviews on this book and couldn’t believe some of the criticism people gave it. Many thought it was too child-like and didn’t have any depth… umm hello, Smart was abducted when she was a young teenager, so of course even as an adult she still is going to process it and tell the story from that point of view. Others have questioned the fact that she never did formal therapy afterward or the impact her family’s religion had on the whole event during and after.
Personally, I was interested in hearing the story in her own, honest words as an adult and appreciated the approach she took to telling it. Overall, there were obviously parts that it were really hard to digest, but the resiliency and faith she had through that horrific experience is nothing short of amazing. I also really appreciated that she addressed quite a bit of questions and the criticism head on, and shared how she been able to focus on and live for the good things in her life, and not let this experience define her.
“Life is a journey for us all. We all face trials. We all have ups and downs. All of us are human. But we are also the masters of our fate. We are the ones who decide how we are going to react to life.”
3 out of 5 stars. I don’t know if its a book I’d recommend to everyone, but if it is a story that interests you, or you like reading non-fiction about resilience and things in the news such as this, then I’d recommend it. It’s a pretty quick read.
By Elin Hilderbrand
“Meredith Martin Delinn just lost everything: her friends, her homes, her social standing – because her husband Freddy cheated rich investors out of billions of dollars.
Desperate and facing homelessness, Meredith receives a call from her old best friend, Constance Flute. Connie’s had recent worries of her own, and the two depart for a summer on Nantucket in an attempt to heal. But the island can’t offer complete escape, and they’re plagued by new and old troubles alike. When Connie’s brother Toby – Meredith’s high school boyfriend – arrives, Meredith must reconcile the differences between the life she is leading and the life she could have had.
Set against the backdrop of a Nantucket summer, Elin Hilderbrand delivers a suspenseful story of the power of friendship, the pull of love, and the beauty of forgiveness.” (via GoodReads)
In some ways, this book was another Hilderbrand-standard formula for a good chick lit/vacation read. But it also took a bit of a different turn into a crime mystery that channeled reality. The husband of the book’s main character was caught for orchestrating a Ponzi-scheme, much like the real-life Bernie Madoff case. The story is told from the wife’s point of view, and really made me think about how the news and public views and treats the family and loved ones of those who commit crimes, and how they become another kind victim in the whole process.
The story jumps back and forth between the present day and the main character’s past, addressing the rise and fall of many of her relationships, including a falling out with her best friend who later becomes her only ally when her husband is arrested. While I enjoyed the story and its interesting perspectives on crime and friendship, I never fell in love with or felt like I could related with any of the characters (which is usually what I love about Hilderbrand’s books) and that made me like the book just a little bit less.
“Meredith immersed herself in the novels. For some reason, fiction hit on the meaning of life so much more concisely than real life itself did.”
3 out of 5 stars. It was a good combo of chick-lit and crime mystery.
What books do you recommend?