Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rambling Review from a Reader

The Right Thing by Amy Connor. 




Firstly, this review is written from my moral convictions and my literary point of view.

Secondly, I don't claim to be a professional book reviewer. I simply review books through my experience as the reader.

I had high hopes for this book. The cover looks is inviting giving the book a sense of innocence that one can find here in Mississippi. The title The Right Thing is also a reflection of the theme throughout the story. This is where my moral conviction influences my review. Annie is telling her story, vacillating from her childhood to present day. Throughout her childhood and present day adulthood, Annie finds herself with the daily struggle of doing "the right thing". Measured by the convictions in which I hold my own standards, there are only a few circumstances that I believe were actually the right thing to do. One being that Annie welcomes and befriends the little girl, Starr, who is the daughter of wandering preacher. Due to Starr's circumstances, she's always labeled the "white trash" of the community while Annie lives amongst the high socialites of the community. In the world of both classes, it's taboo for them to interact. But Annie does the right thing and befriends Starr seeing passed the social class taboos and in spite of the ridicule it brings her from family and friends. Annie also learns that sometimes choosing the right thing doesn't always result in the most rewarding consequences. Annie's desire to do the right thing is certainly honoring but some of her choices aren't morally right. This is what I don't like about the story. In a culture that embraces "the right thing" equates to whatever makes you happy, I can't truthfully enjoy or condone the way this author allows Annie to finally obtain the ultimate "right thing" for her life. Annie makes a conscience decision to do the right thing for herself because she feels she has always done the right thing for everyone else. The moral of the story, which is ultimately the ending, is that whatever makes us happy is the right thing and this is something I just can't support if it was the author's intent to justify Annie's choice in the end thus justifying such decisions made by all humans.

Now from a literary point of view. This is Amy's debut novel. I did not enjoy the writing as it's not well written. The book drowns in clich├ęs. There are too many and many of them do not make sense to me. The analogies she uses to try to make the reader understand her statement didn't do the writing any favors. As for the character development, I don't think Du (Duane) Annie's husband's character is developed enough to warrant the ending of why Annie makes the choice she does.

When reading books, I try to resonate with something in the story. I did find one aspect of Annie's life that resonated with me. Living the socialite life because it's expected or because it's the class you were born into it doesn't guarantee happiness. In fact, it can result in a life of superficial friendships and constant acting. Annie comes to realize this as an adult. And while her desire to no longer live this type of lifestyle that isn't the problem, it's the solution she chooses to get out of it just isn't "the right thing".

For the sensitive reader: you will find strong language throughout the book. There are elements of infidelity, mild racial issues (part of the story takes place during the 60s), transgender, mild religious mockery.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

No Phone Zone

Neither of our boys has a fully functioning mobile device. They each have an Ipad but we don't have a data plan on it so all downloading or internet use must be with wifi. We have old smartphones that we have set up for them to be able to text and FaceTime but no data plan.

One of our boys really has no intense interest in having a fully functional device. He's really indifferent, the other...reminds us every day that he's the only kid who doesn't have one and he'd like to remedy that. He's eager to grow up and having one of these would speed up the process.
Now, there are several ways I can handle this. If I follow the pc culture trend, I can approach this perceived disadvantage, crippling dilemma my son has with one of the following options:

1). I could create a safe place that will not allow him around fellow peers who have what he so desperately thinks he needs. I could only surround him with others who share in his despair. This scenario would allow only those who are like him, creating a scenario of sharing in their self pity or celebrating their uniqueness.

2). I could implore all other parents who allow his peers to have a smartphone to please cease with this privilege. I mean, their kid's privileges and material possessions are upsetting to my son. I don't like that he's upset so I must hold others responsible for his emotional distress brought on by not having what his friends have. It would be further upsetting if I told my son that he's responsible for his feelings about this so in effort to prevent further emotional distress, I explain that it's not his fault and others should stop with this privilege so he can he can feel better about himself.

3). I could give in to his pleas and follow the crowd. I could make myself a better friend to my son if I help him be like the kids he wants to emulate. I mean, what a cool parent I would be to allow him to dictate and further have his wants in our house and our society.

4). I could lobby for a law that would not allow anyone his age or under to own such devices. Since the parents obviously can't make the best decisions for their children, the government must step in.
Instead, I choose to be the parent who exerts a more therapeutic approach...reality therapy.

A). Your problem isn't really a problem. It's a mere perceived idea that having a fully functioning smartphone will make your life better, cooler and you will be like your friends.

B). What you have is a 1st world problem...not a smartphone problem.

C). And finally, I don't care who has one...you aren't getting one and no amount of whining, complaining, begging or just pure anger at me is going to change my mind. But I will make a suggestion that will help you better deal with this reality in life...get over it and appreciate what you do have. When you do this, you will be able to better deal with the disappointments as you face them in life.

Oh, one more thing...I love you, Son

Friday, April 7, 2017

When You Aren't a Speller

When you have a child who is weak in spelling, you teach him to compensate for that weakness. Recognizing his weakness, he does what is necessary to make it work. Ignoring doesn't work, cramming the words into his brain doesn't work (that's not even learning), nagging about or condemning his weakness, thinking he's just not trying doesn't work. Instead, you teach what needs to be done to improve or make more possible in this area. For him, it's learning ways to compensate for it.

Some people aren't "spellers", at this point in his life, he's just not so I refuse to let him think he can't do it or believe he's not smart...he just has to find a different way. When he doesn't know how spell something, he uses the dictionary. If he has a misspelled word in his writing or other assignments, I show him the misspelled word and he corrects it by using the dictionary. Only after he has tried the dictionary with no success, I will give him the correct spelling, of course, this is case by case basis.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

Rambling Reviews from a Reader...Commonwealth

I did not like this book. It's along the lines of a soap opera family saga..affairs, drama, self centered parents and over indulgent drinking. There are about 17 characters making it a little difficult to keep up with them.

Upon finishing the book, I don't have a clear understanding of the purpose of this book. The ending didn't even seem to bring it all together.

There is unnecessary use of strong language. (I'm not advocating that it should be acceptable in all books, by my convictions) but the use in this book had no bearing of the circumstances or setting. This kind of use is a turn off to me. I'm more understanding if the author is trying to make the situation more realistic but that's just not the case in this book.

It was written okay but the story just kind of dragged on with no seeming purpose. But there's always the possibility that I just missed it all together.
2.5 stars rounded to 3.