Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
August, 2010

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There is still time to read this summer! Literary Mamas share what they are reading right now. Enjoy!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Columnist Heather Cori writes, "August brought four airplane flights and Jodi Picoult's House Rules to pass the time. Each short chapter is told from a different point of view, alternating between the mother, lawyer, detective, younger brother, and Jacob, an eighteen-year-old with Asperger's and a love of crime scenes, and who is on trial for murder. My favorite perspective was Jacob's as he has such a different way of looking at the world. He reminded me of a student I once had that could memorize vocabulary words in a single glance, but could never infer what someone might be feeling while reading text. I enjoy Picoult's mix of enough information to know each of the storytellers but not so much that it's overly predictable."

Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief and Columnist, says, "I am still completely under the spell of Katherine Weber's taut and powerful Triangle, a novel that kept me up past one in the morning because I couldn't put it down until I had finished reading. The novel introduces us to Rebecca Gottesfeld, her partner, the composer George Botkin, and Rebecca's grandmother Esther, the last living survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. As we follow their lives in New York City over the late summer and fall of 2001, we are also often plunged into the past as we hear, over and over, Esther's account of the fire -- which was, until 9/11, New York's most devastating workplace disaster: we read Esther's courtroom testimony, transcripts of her interviews with a scholar researching the fire, and the story she has told Rebecca and George. As we read, we discover slight inconsistencies in Esther's story and start to realize they they might not just be the result of an elderly woman's faulty memory. It is a tightly-woven novel that knits together the three individual stories and the two huge disasters in a delicate and haunting piece of writing."

Blog Co-Editor, Karna Converse, shares, "I finally got around to purchasing Katrina Kenison's new book the gift of an ordinary day and can't get her words out of my mind. I've followed her blog for several months and enjoyed her first book (Mitten Strings for God) so knew I'd love this book, too. This mother's memoir is made up of 15 thoughtful essays that speak to transitions involved in moving, changing careers, and in raising teenagers and letting them go. Nestled among the family stories are Kenison's supporting words, encouraging moms at midlife to reinvent themselves. The timing is perfect for me, a mom with three teenagers, the oldest who heads to college in late August, but I suggest it for any mom who treasures the ordinary moments of everyday life. The Reading Group Guide at the end of the book is an added bonus for me -- I am journaling about each essay's question as I read which I'm sure will help me through my own family's transitions."

Christina Marie Speed, Literary Reflections Co-Editor, writes, "I have one chapter left of Rachel Cusk's A Life's Work. Her memoir begins with an introduction asking the reader to consider what happens to a woman the day she becomes a mother? Where does one chapter end and another begin? Can they coexist? Should they coexist? She spends her chapters weaving her own mothering experiences into a rich tapestry for the reader to stand back and take in. She does not mince words; her concise text manages to sharpen the focus of a broader concept of motherhood, sharing the raw alongside the tender, the heart wrenching beside the heartwarming -- all without cliche. While I have a chapter yet to go, I believe her ending will leave me on a satisfying note: while I am not the same person I was before the delivery room, my womanhood will continue to grow and change within the context of the intense experience that is motherhood."

Katie de Iongh lives in Rye, New Hampshire with her husband and their three young children. She is a community volunteer, freelance writer and college English instructor.

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