The Minivan Years

From Gina Scaglione

Title:  The Minivan Years

Author:  Olivia Bruner

This was, by far, one of the most disappointing books I have ever read. I purchased it thinking it would remind me of all the a sons I became a mother.  Instead, I received Christian teachings on the importance of submitting to your husband and disciplining your children. No where on the jacket was I informed that this was a Christian-based parenting guide.  Very underhanded.

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

From Elaine Pasquali
Title:  The Gift of an Ordinary Day
Author:  Katrina Kenison
Kenison uproots her family from an upper middle class suburb to relocate to rural New Hampshire. The purpose: live a simpler life.  Kenison steam-roles over her husband and two sons with her relocation plans.  The family is uprooted; her youngest son is so unhappy he cries himself to sleep for a year.  The three month stay with her parents turns into three years.  Family finances are severely strained as is her marriage. For a while, Kenison’s perfectionism  becomes obsessive.  Eventually, she evolves, letting go of some of her need for control.  She begins to  treasure the ordinary moments of everyday life.  Her family moves forward and change becomes a fabric of their family life.  Was it worth the angst along the way?  You’ll have to judge that for yourself.

Please look after Mom

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  Kyung-Sook    Shin
Please look after Mom 
Once you read this novel, you will never look at your Mom in the same light. You will find yourself asking, “Do I really KNOW my Mom?”The story begins when a 69 year old  woman , suffering from dementia, is separated from her husband  at the Seoul train station and  goes missing. While her adult children and husband search for her, each recounts Mom’s sacrifices and their own selfishness…  What emerges is a portrait of a hard working country woman whose life entirely revolved around her children.  This book is more than a guilt ridden soap opera.  For me it explored the complex relationship between grown children and parents. When do children assume the role of parent for aging parents?   What does motherhood entail? Simply written, this is the first English translation of one of South Korea’s best-selling novelists.

Handle With Care

From Caryn Eve Murray
author: Picoult, Jodi
Handle With Care
I confess to initial reluctance to read anything by Picoult, largely because of her mass appeal. But I relented, thinking openmindedness might be a virtue a reader should cultivate. However, I should have followed my gut instinct. This book treats a timely, sensitive and highly relevant contemporary subject as fodder for the narrative’s population of drama queens. The plot erupts with so much over-the-top coincidence and tragedy that it discredits what might have been an insightful, tender book. Picoult is way off the mark on this one.

Secret Daughter

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Gowda, Shilpi Somaya
Secret Daughter
This moving novel tells the story of Kavita in India who gives away her baby daughter in order to save her, and Somer in California who adopts her.  It is about two mothers who both love their daughter and what they learn about themselves. This story speaks of motherhood (and fatherhood) and the loss they all share. The writing is excellent, the characters are real. You won’t put it down.