Day: March 19, 2017

Review: The Idea of You

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The Idea of You
The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars to Amanda Prowse‘s book The Idea of You, a fictional story about a women craving motherhood but facing many barriers to success. I was offered this book through NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for a fair an honest review. I am glad I read it and had a positive reaction. On to the review…


Story

Lucy has wanted to be a mother for a very long time, but she’s about to turn 40 and was recently dumped by her boyfriend who went on to marry Lucy’s own cousin. At a christening, she meets Jonah and he proposes within a few months. He has a 16-year-old daughter, Camille, who lives with her mother and stepfather, but plans to come visit for a summer before her final year at boarding school. Lucy and Jonah have several miscarriages before Camille arrives, and it’s starting to put a small strain on their marriage. Lucy struggles at work and with her family, unwilling to tell anyone about the pain she’s going through, secretly hoping the next time she gets pregnant, she won’t miscarry. Along her journey, she writes notes to each of her lost children, pining away for a little girl of her own. She and Camille do not get along well for the most part, but do find a few things that help bond them little by little. When the past comes back to haunt everyone, and new obstacles are thrown in front of the whole family, Lucy is forced to decide between what is best for everyone and what is best for her. And as the story comes to end, Lucy finds a way to make peace with her decision, understanding the impact it has on everyone involved.


Strengths

Lucy’s story, an all-too-common one, is a strong and beautiful journey not only for the woman who has miscarried several babies, but for the family around them who don’t always know what’s truly happening. The pressure from friends and siblings to get pregnant before it’s too late… the comments from people at work about having difficulty dividing time between family and your career…. the doctors who try to comfort you but really can only do and know so much. Lucy’s a very likable character. She has flaws and makes mistakes. She’s a bit immature in such situations but she’s handling all the emotions with great strength and fervor. I felt a strong urge to want to hug her.

There aren’t always fairy-tale endings in life, and I really enjoy when books face those consequences. I’m not giving away any spoilers as to whether she eventually has a baby or not, but regardless, her situation is not one anyone would envy. I felt privileged to watch the struggle, especially being so far removed from it, by being neither a mother nor a father. The author, who has mentioned her own struggles at conceiving and keeping pregnancies, puts a lot of emotional connection into the words and the scenes.

While it’s a sad story, there was a fine balance in pushing readers to tears. Perhaps because I’ve never been in any type of a similar situation, I held back some of my emotion; however, there were just enough points where you felt the pain and felt the emotions come full force. But not so much that you had to put the book down and take a break. Good balance.


Suggestions

While I understood it was important to get to the point where she has a husband and and her time is running out to have her own baby, starting the book when she’s 39 and then rushing thru the first year may have caused a few moments of less than helpful separation. I care about her as the story unfolds, but when you know little about her first 39 years, other than she wants to be a mother, you have a few questions that linger. Most are answered eventually, and possibly this is a “point in time / life” story, but… it could have used a little tidying up in this respect.

I wanted to see more about Lucy’s life with her sister and mother. I understand with some of the reveals that come later in the story why it wouldn’t exactly be easy, but it would have helped give her more depth.


Final Thoughts

I’ve read a few stories with this theme, and this is definitely one of the stronger ones. I like the author’s style and would want to read some of her other books. It’s not a major stand-out where I feel compelled to buy her next one immediately, but it’s got all the qualities of a good book you will enjoy. I pushed it to a 4 because it’s much higher than an average / OK book with a few good parts at a 3.

If you like strong female characters, this one’s for you. Lucy’s remarkable in her strength and only had 2 or 3 moments where I thought she was being a little too immature. Enjoy.

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365 Challenge: Day 7 – Irish

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Irish: containing roots from Ireland

On this, the seventh day of my 365 Challenge, and in honor or St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week, I have chosen a more physical characteristic about myself on which to blog: I’m about 20% Irish (as near as I can figure). Add in some German, English and Scottish, and you’ve got the rest. I look pretty much like you’d expect for this conversation, as PALE as could be!

I’m an avid genealogist who has traced back each branch of my family tree at least 6 generations; some are over 10! It appears as if I have about 20% of my roots in Ireland (both Northern Ireland and Ireland), arriving in the U.S.A. between the 1860s and the 1880s. There’s a bit of a blurred line for some of the Northern Ireland branches as I am not certain if they are truly English or Irish based on the information I’ve discovered. The key names:  McDonald, McGuire, Graeme and Flint.

According to a Huffington Post article, originally sourced from Quora, there are 4 commonly “accepted” stereotypes about Irish people: (a) Frequent Drinkers, (b) Violent Fighters, (c) Red Hair, and (4) Articulate Wordsmiths. Let’s see how that applies to me:

  • Frequent Drinkers:
    1. I’d say compared to the stereotype, I’d likely not be considered a frequent drinker, but I’m definitely a drinker. It wavers… at some points in my life, I barely drank and at others, I’d have 1 or 2 every night. There have certainly been a fair share of excessive nights of drinking (mostly college), and one or two a year where a big group of friends just have a party and I succumb.
    2. What do I drink? Champagne. Wine. Whiskey. Lighter mixed drinks. I’ll drink beer and the occasional shot, but I’m more about something with a good taste or lengthy distillation or fermentation process. Whiskey & Ginger Ale is my go to drink. I can drink an entire bottle of champagne in one sitting at dinner. And I’m a Pinot Noir when it comes to wine.
    3. Why? It tastes good. It lightens my nerves (remember that post???). I’m not one to go to a bar, in fact, I dislike bars for obvious reasons (see post about my shyness)!
    4. In conclusion, I don’t think I’m the stereotypical example in this case.
    5. Score: 0 out of 1.
  • Violent Fighters:
    1. In comparison to the stereotype, I’m far from it. I’m not a peace-loving pacifist either, but I tend to shy away from arguing or fighting, whether it’s physical or verbal.
    2. Once in grammar school, when I was about 11 or 12, I punched someone. He was laughing at me and I’d had enough, so I hit him. That was the only time I ever hit someone. On the opposite side, my first ex punched me when we broke up because of well… that confession I told you about in the post on honesty. End result — 2 punches in my entire lifetime. That’s pretty good odds that I’m not a fighter!
    3. However… as a result of being so shy and generally calm (a post for another day), when I do get angry, it is extremely intense and volatile. Not physical. But I will spew several expletives, turn quite red and be unable to sit still.
    4. In conclusion (ugh, I sound so dull and formal), another miss…
    5. Score: 0 out of 2.
  • Red Hair:
    1. Oh… this is going to be a fun one. When I was born and up until 3 or 4, I’m told I had blond hair color. As I aged, it turned darker and was a medium brown. When I hit about 20, I started to get a little grey on the sides. And for the last 20 years, the grey continues to takeover. However…
    2. I’ve also dyed my hair for the last 15 years… ever since the first few strands of grey started to come in. Two reasons: (1) I’m very vain and (2) I tend to like going a little darker and a little lighter every so often. I get bored with my appearance and shift it around a little bit. We all do it… no judgments please! 😊 I’ve always admitted it when asked. I don’t lie about it. But I also haven’t really ever volunteered it.
    3. That said…over the last 20 years, the brown has started to take on a much stronger reddish tone. And the dye brings out the red even more. So, under the initial layer, I suppose I do have a noticeable percent of red hair. I’m certainly not bright red. And it’s much more apparent in the summer and in the sun. Maybe just like 20% of my DNA is Irish, 20% of my hair is red. Wouldn’t that be ironic!
    4. The HP and Quora post noted about 10% of the Irish are red-heads, which is the second highest right behind the Scottish with 13%. So… if I’m 20% Irish and 10% of the Irish have red hair (there’s a dirty limerick in here somewhere), then I had a 1 out of 50 chance of having a full head of red hair. (Oh, I’m good at statistics too… but that’s for another day)… I’d say given I have some strong red tones burrowing through frequently but I’m not a red head, I’m gonna give myself .1 for this trait, thus…
    5. Score: .1 out of 3.
  • Articulate Wordsmith:
    1. Well, if you know me, then that’s a definite YES! I mean… I’m doing this 365 Day Challenge. I’m a writer. At work, people LOVED to read emails from me but HATED to read them because it took so long. Hopefully in a good way.
    2. Truth be told, yes, for the most part, I am a natural wordsmith. I have a fairly good vocabulary. I know the grammar rules and usually only break them intentionally or when I’m not being formal. I tend to say more than I need to just because I have so many words to choose from, bouncing around my mind.
    3. However… there is some part of me, maybe 10%, where I stumble on my words. I think I know the definition of something, but I’m extrapolating too far and it doesn’t actually apply in the case I’m using it. Sometimes I forget words and it comes out like a 2 year old trying to talk (without even drinking). And occasionally I just say the wrong word; the right one is in my head but the wrong word comes out. And I have no idea why. I believe I think more quickly than I can actually articulate, hence the mouth and brain coordination is slightly off, but that’s an uneducated guess.
    4. So, in conclusion, once again, this is definitely a true statement, thus…
    5. Score: 1.1 out of 4.

Taking all that in… I’d say the 20% to 25% Irish is about accurate. In a funny kind of mathematical way. Too bad I don’t have the actual accent… I find it kinda sexy!