Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book E: Fabookulous December 27, 2011

Scars and Stilettos: The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer by Harmony Dust

Book description:

Fear of being abandoned keeps nineteen-year-old Harmony Dust trapped in an abusive and cruel relationship. She thinks she has hit bottom-tens of thousands of dollars in debt, struggling to get by, and so controlled by her boyfriend that she doesn’t protest when he begins openly sleeping around. Things can’t get worse . . . until someone tells her how much money she can make as an exotic dancer. For the next three years, Harmony lives a double life as Monique, a dancer in a fully-nude strip club.
 
Ok, I didn’t plan my letters appropriately and needed to use “E” for this one, you know, EXOTIC dancer. A stretch? I think not…
 
Anyway, this may be my last review on here as I believe LibraryLove and I will be saying goodbye to our blogging days in 2012. Neither of us completed this year’s challenge, but hey, life got busy. And in case you forgot, we BOTH read 52 books EACH in 2010. I’ll pause for applause… HA!
 
Ok, back to the review. Scars and Stilettos is a true story of a friend of a friend of mine. Once consumed by her need of approval from her boyfriend, Harmony found herself misguided and caught up in a vicious, dark cycle. Having read this book after Shelley Lubben’s autobiography, this one is very G rated. Same messaging (Christ’s redeeming love and power), yet much gentler story telling. Surely, anyone can relate in the sense that we all find ourselves at times seeking validation from other people or things. Maybe it’s your spouse, partner, fiance; maybe you are married to your job, home, car, material things; maybe it’s an addiction you seek acceptance from. The fact is, we can all find something in our lives that hold us victim at one time or another.
 
For Harmony, it was her boyfriend who dominated her for YEARS. This cat even got another girl pregnant, moved her into the apartment Harmony was paying for (and they lived in together), and then had the audacity to ask her to get him his own place because “he needed more room as a father.” And all of this supported by her stripping career. Are you kidding me?! (Easy to say that as an outsider, but imagine the background and what gets one to that place of desperation) As I’ve read more than one memoir of those in the sex industry (Shelley Lubben, Jenna Jameson, etc) it’s a classic history of sexual abuse, neglect, rape, father issues, drug abuse, and/or abandonment. So it is with Harmony.
 
While very sad indeed, what is compelling, uplifting and encouraging is God’s faithfulness through the dark valleys. He remains committed to us even IN the dark places. I love when Harmony points out that we don’t have to “get our act together” before God loves us. He always has and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can get ourselves out of the muck and mire. Having been to Harmony’s church, Oasis, in LA, I understand how she felt God’s presence so powerfully. I attended a GodChicks conference there in 2007 when a friend of mine was living in LA. Pastors Philip and Holly Wagner have such an inviting presence to them that makes you feel loved, accepted and valued.
 
Which is precisely what Harmony is now doing with Treasures, her non-profit, faith-based support group and outreach for women in the sex industry. She is setting out to teach these women in the over 170 strip clubs they visit annually, that they are valued, loved and purposed. The Bible tells us that God never wastes a hurt. And Harmony’s testimony proves just that–she is an amazing woman of God doing wonderful things that she could only do having gone through her dark places.
 
Thank you for sharing your story and for committing to serve other women in the hopes of turning their lives around too.
 
5/5 stars
 
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Book B: Fabookulous December 19, 2011

Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn: The Greatest Illusion on Earth by Shelley Lubben

Book description:

In Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn, former porn actress Shelley Lubben rips the seductive mask off of pornography and exposes the hardcore truth behind the “greatest illusion on earth”. Her spectacular journey from childhood to sexual abuse to prostitution to the deadly unglamorous realm of porn sets, Shelley is brutally honest about her past. But that’s not all. Having escaped the porn industry at 26, Shelley now shares her powerful story of redemption offering a message of hope to the entire world. The first ever book exposing the “secret” side of porn, Shelley wants you to know the hardcore truth. Pornography is modern day slavery for thousands of women and the millions of porn addicts who can’t stop clicking. But you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!

This book was an interesting and intriguing find for me. I discovered it when purchasing “Scars and Stilettos” by Harmony Dust on Amazon.com. Harmony is a friend of a friend and I’d heard about her powerful testimony as a redeemed stripper. When I ordered a copy of her book, Amazon suggested I purchase Shelley Lubben’s book with it. A redeemed porn actress? Intriguing. And talk about humbling.

So I ordered my package deal and waited for my delivery. Once these books arrived, I did not put Lubben’s book down until I finished it yesterday on my birthday. (Parties can wait–I was in the middle of a good book…)

A stripper, prostitute, and porn star, Lubben lived years of her life in a deep, dark hole struggling with alcoholism, drugs, unwanted pregnancies, abuse, neglect and a sense of desperation you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. In a nutshell? A classic porn star’s background. And I don’t mean that to be insensitive or cold. However, when women come from a past as broken as some of today’s porn stars and have this inner desire, inner NEED, to find validation from others (men or women) they can lose their sense of value and self and seek it anywhere they can. Shelley’s first “trick” paid her $35. And just like that, she began a destructive path of selling her body and trading her soul.

The star rating I gave this book is on the low side because to be perfectly honest, I’m still nauseous from the graphic detail of stories such as how she conceived her first daughter, her first filmed scene, and some of the rough abuse she and other porn actresses have suffered through. But similar to my thoughts on Precious (whether it’s true or not–that’s another story), maybe some stories can’t be told without the gritty detail. And I do mean grit. Like, eyes wide open, one eye closed maybe, holding the book away from you, wanting to take a shower and wash yourself from what you just read gritty. Like “women actually do this and suffer through this?” and “how does one get to this place–what must be going on in their mind?” Am I being too sensitive? I don’t think so…

The porn industry is a $70 BILLION DOLLARS a year industry. That is more than all professional sports combined. Is this for real?? This is our number one entertainment in today’s world? I don’t mean to get off on a soap box, but everytime you click on a porn site, buy a magazine, rent a video (gross–think of who else has “rented” them), you are contributing to the degradation of thousands of women stuck in a vicious cycle. What is hard to understand is how porn stars like Jenna Jameson can make no apologies for their career, show no signs of guilt, rather think they are quite the business women, and then there are others who are crying–literally crying. Crying in pain, crying in agony, crying for their souls, crying. Screaming. How do they deal with it? Drugs. Alcohol. Whatever numbs the pain to make it even a percent enjoyable so you can get through it and get your paycheck to cover your rent, or feed that unwanted baby, or, as sad as it may be, get that next high.

Shelley will take you through her dark experiences (and she’s got some dark ones– she contracted herpes, a non-curable disease that resulted in early cervical cancer where half of her cervix was removed), to the rejection of her parents, and her near deadly experience in a Mexican brothel.

But what is ASTOUNDING (and I mean ASTOUNDING–what word is better than that, I’m not sure), is how God proved faithful to Shelley even on set. Even in the dark alleys, even when prostituting herself. God was there. Whispering to her, protecting her from even WORSE consequences (and yes, there were some–wait until she recalls in hindsight toward the end of the book). God kept her near Him and proved the promise in the Bible when it tells us to raise a child in the way he/she is to go and when he/she is older they will not depart from it. Praise God that Shelley had childhood church experiences where she fell in love with Jesus early on! But hey, any Christian will tell you it’s easy to wander and stray as we get older, gain freedom, seek acceptance among our peers, etc. Some just take it a lot farther than others.

Shelley is herpes-free (can you attribute that to anything other than God?!), married and with 3 daughters. Her first-born (who was conceived during one of her nights prostituting) writes a chapter in the book as well about her pain from porn– including her mother’s boyfriends molesting her and attempts at suicide.

Devastating most of the time, readers cannot deny the power of God in Shelley’s life. And the biggest takeaway message for me? If God can prove faithful to Shelley during her years stripping for strangers, sleeping with strangers for money, and engaging in rough sex acts on film that will stay forever, and then redeem her and give her a powerful ministry because of it… well, then God is faithful to ALL of us and can use ALL of us. How could anybody read this book and NOT take that message away? However, if this isn’t the message you hope to receive, I’d advise to tread lightly–this book is not for sensitive readers.

Sometimes the very thing we work hardest to escape is the very thing God can heal us from and call us BACK to to minister to others still trapped in the vicious cycle. And that’s exactly what He did and is still doing in Shelley’s life. Bravo, Shelley, for sharing your painful story. I know that couldn’t have been easy, but God is the perfect Healer and Redeemer. Praise Him for rescuing you and keeping you near! Praying for you and your family this holiday season to know a joy and peace you’ve never felt as you bask in the glory of His presence.

3/5 stars

Fabookulous

 

Book M: Fabookulous November 26, 2011

My Life, Deleted by Scott Bolzan

Book description:

Scott Bolzan went to work on December 17, 2008, like any other Wednesday. By that afternoon, he’d lost every memory of his past.

Awakening in a hospital with no memory of who he was or how he got there, the forty-six-year-old didn’t know that the petite blonde at his side was his wife of twenty-four years, Joan—or even what a wife was. He couldn’t remember the births of his two young-adult children, the daughter he’d lost, his time as an offensive lineman for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, or his flourishing aviation career.

Scott’s life and the lives of everyone who loved him were forever changed when he slipped, hit his head, and lost consciousness in his office bathroom, suffering one of the most severe cases of permanent retrograde amnesia on record. With heartrending honesty and no shortage of humor, the Bolzans share their remarkable journey as Scott navigates his way through a now-unfamiliar world. The challenges are initially overwhelming: Scott’s debilitating headaches, his relearning of social etiquette (taking cues from The Sopranos!), Joan’s grief over the loss of the man she married and their shared history, the financial burden of Scott’s lost income, his mounting medical bills, and the agony of their twenty-year-old son’s struggles with drug addiction.

But remarkably, My Life, Deleted is above all else a celebration of extraordinary perseverance, and of the enduring love that emerges when we are most tested. Scott learns to trust his intuition in a way few people ever will, while Joan taps into a well of patience and resourcefulness she didn’t know she had. Throughout it all, what unfolds—against all odds—is an enviable romance as Scott and Joan fall in love all over again.

Both gut-wrenching and brimming with optimism, the Bolzans’ captivating story makes a powerful statement about commitment—and the possibility of finding extraordinary opportunity in life’s greatest challenges.

On a recent flight to Florida, I opened my guilty pleasure for my in-flight entertainment. Yep, I was ready to go armed with the latest edition of People magazine. One of my favorite sections of People has always been the Book Reviews and that is where I discovered My Life, Deleted. Once on the ground, it wasn’t long before I made my way to the nearest bookstore to purchase my copy because I was too impatient to wait until I got home to get to the library and I figured I’d have that in-flight time on my return trip to relish this story that fascinated me for some reason.

Can you EVEN imagine? To lose ALL of your memories– both happy and sad, painful and exhilirating, times of growth and times of weeping. To forget what you do for a living, what you’ve done in the past, who your family is and how you fell in love to begin with, where you live, historical events, your role as a human. That’s where Bolzan finds himself after a mere accident of slipping, falling, and suffering a severe brain injury. What is most endearing (in my humble opinion) in this story is Bolzan’s DRIVE, his desire to remember himself, to relearn what he knew and to make a comeback, if you will. In a situation where it could be so easy to become bitter and suffer through your pain, both physical and emotional, Bolzan has a will to not only survive, but to thrive.

Once a successful business owner, Bolzan was enjoying a luxurious lifestyle prior to the accident. It’s refreshing to read of his selling big-ticket items, such as numerous watches that earned the family over $20,000 to apply toward medical bills. Frugal at my core, I rolled my eyes at some of the name dropping such as labels, brands of cars, and other expensive frocks the family had. I kept looking for the epiphany where Bolzan would mention how his brain injury made him realize the important things in life rather than the collection of material goods. While glimpses of that realization were apparent in the story, it seemed more out of necessity rather than a change of heart.

Then can you even imagine on the OTHER side of the story? Joan, Taylor and  Grant. Wife, daughter and son, respectively. Joan is an amazing woman who stood by her husband, familiarized herself with his situation and medicines, and talk about the patience of a saint! What an incredible load she carried as the matriarch of her family during this world-flipped-upside-down season. Thank goodness she had the support of a loving, courageous and faithful daughter, Taylor, who baked Christmas cookies with her dad and taught him all over again how to share in one of their  holiday traditions.

A heartbreaking twist in this story is the drug addiction their son Grant battles, before and through his dad’s recovery. How frustrating for the family! Grant exhausts his resources: financially, emotionally, physically, while he seeks out his next high and drains his parents’ strength one by one. Understandably, Bolzan is beyond frustrated because not only is he fighting his own battle, he doesn’t remember the stress of Grant’s addiction and can’t share in Joan’s pain, and now he is dealing with it firsthand. And Joan…words can’t even express how phenomenal she is to stand by her husband, support her son, and stick with her family.

My favorite part is when Joan and Scott take Taylor to college to begin pursuing her dream. I won’t even dive into the details but let’s just say this is a heartwarming scene that would be impossible to read without a smile on one’s face and maybe a tear falling down your cheek. This family is an incredible example of unconditional love and one who believes their marriage vows through thick and thin, for better or for worse.

Thanks to Scott for opening up and sharing his story. And you know what? I don’t feel guilty anymore for buying this book rather than waiting patiently for the library. Why not? Because at the end of the book it says “A portion of the authors’ earned royalties from sales of this book will be donated to the Brain Injury Association of Arizona and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital: Neuro-NICU Department.” And what good are these life experiences if they can’t be used together for good and to benefit others?

4.5/5 stars

Fabookulous

 

Book K: Fabookulous June 6, 2011

King of the Road by Alex Debogorski

Book description:

Between bear hunting, drag racing, doughnut spinning, cattle rustling, gold prospecting, and too many near-death experiences, it’s amazing that Alex Debogorski ever found time (or lived long enough) to spend twenty-five years hauling freight over frozen lakes to the most remote ouposts of the arctic. In King of the Road, Alex jams his storytelling into overdrive for a memoir that’s equal parts action-packed, outrageous, tender, and hilarious. You’ll find out how he once caught fire in the middle of a brawl, how easy it is to get killed driving a coal truck, how the sound of cracking ice is something you can never get accustomed to hearing, and what it’s like being the improbable star of a hit TV show. The true tales of this larger-than-life ice road trucker are not to be missed.

Having never watched the show Ice Road Truckers I came across this book when it was advertised in People magazine. I kicked back at the pool, opened up to page one, and all I can say is “Wow” from the first word. Alex Debogorski has lived quite a life and has many a tales to share about the hair raising ways of his youth through life as a family man. I could have done without the stories of life on the farm and the rough treatment of some of the animals. Sure those things happen, and it’s part of farm life, but I am a sensitive reader and love the animals, so personally could have done without those stories.

My dad has owned and operated his own trucking company for 25+ years and I used to work for him full time (though now it’s just a few nights a week). I’ve always been fascinated by the Peterbilts, all the buttons, knobs, controllers. I’ve enjoyed learning about the permit process, the heavy loads, weight requirements, DOT requirements, etc. And while reading Debogorski’s stories, I can just imagine riding along the highway listening on the CB radio as he tells crazy tales, some sad, some funny, some mind-blowing, and some heartwarming. In fact, after reading about some crazy driving escapades of a teenage Alex, I could hear the hootin’ and hollerin’, I felt the wind blowing and I thought I was watching a movie screen. I caught myself afterwards and even read the story again because it felt so real. Debogorski is quite the story teller and I enjoyed every minute of his wild days.

Stories of sleeping behind the wheel, speeding, and not paying attention are careless and dangerous. But thankfully Alex points out he is not glorifying irresponsible driving (particularly if young audiences are paying attention) but he is just telling it like it happened. But when he talks about a trip to visit Louise (his high school sweetheart and now wife and mother of their 11 children), he was tired and closes his eyes for a few minutes. Upon opening them, he is moments away from running into the train up ahead and sure enough, he hits the train. With all the danger Debogorski has faced and all of the “mishaps” that he’s endured, it really is a wonder (by the grace of God) that he is alive to tell about them.

With a new season of Ice Road Truckers just beginning, I spent time this weekend watching some episodes of the show to see what it was all about. I’m pretty sure it’s my new favorite show. It’s unbelievable the conditions these drivers haul through and deal with. But one of the more striking things is that they probably just view it as all in a day’s work. A dangerous day’s work. The banter between Alex and his rival, Hugh “the Polar Bear” Rowland, is comical and after researching more into the show and merchandise available, I realized Hugh has a book as well: On Thin Ice. Is it a coincidence that the two drivers on the series who have books out are rivals on the show, in constant competition? HA! Fine by me, I’m already in line wishing for a copy of Hugh’s book on PaperBackSwap.com. 🙂

Thoroughly enjoyable, King of the Road will keep your interest from start to finish. Cheers to Alex for surviving himself and sharing about it!

5/5 stars

Fabookulous

 

Book H: LibraryLove April 23, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Book description~ All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.

The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin. Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:
“According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:

1. Oh my God, you’re just getting worse and worse.

2. I’m going to count to three, then I want musicality.

3. If the next time’s not PERFECT, I’m going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!”

But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters’ performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting- and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another.

Question 1- when did “doing what’s best for your children” equate to “forcing your kids to be what you want them to be”??? Question 2- what ever happened to unstructured free time to let kids just BE KIDS?!?!? Question 3- where was Jed the father throughout this story? He basically took a backseat. I believe parenting should be shared between a mother and father when a couple is married.

For starters, I did not like this book. This book was chosen by the book club I am in and our discussion next week should be extremely controversial and interesting to say the least. This book made me cringe and get very upset. However, because this is a memoir and because parenting is an EXTREMELY hot button topic, I’m going to keep my review as brief as possible. I don’t blog to ruffle feathers, incite a riot, or hurt loved ones. This blog is just something fun and lighthearted for Fabookulous and I to journal our adventures through books. Furthermore, it’s not my place to tell anyone how to parent or not parent their own children. The beauty of our country is the freedom to live your dreams and raise a family according to your beliefs. At the same time, we know many of you turn to this blog for book suggestions. At first, I was not going to write a review at all, but that defeats the point of only reviewing books I really liked.

Amy Chua (the Tiger Mother), believes in the extreme practice of Chinese Parenting. Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:

-Have a playdate
-Be in a school play
-Complain about not being in a school play
-Not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
-Play any instrument other than the piano or violin
 -Not play the piano or violin

Shocked yet? Yeah, that’s only the beginning.

One thing that scares me most about the Chinese Model of extreme parenting is that I believe it raises codependent children. Codependency is a disorder that will affect you later on in life, and in your interpersonal relationships. Have you ever met someone that apologized profusely for the slightest thing? Or was overly timid and needed approval of others to feel confident? I believe this model is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This model illustrates individuals who want people think their children are so smart and talented that they are forced into the rigors of unhealthiness in their hobbies, studies and extra-curricular activities. Codependency can manifest later in life through anxiety disorders, alcoholism and drug use because over 18 years of this model, children grow into adults that have only known how to put their own feelings/thoughts/desires/wants secondary to appease/please others. When finally they are out on their own, they have no idea how to navigate a life that makes THEM happy; they’re completely out of touch with their own drive in life.

Basically, codependent children live to make their parents happy and for their parents’ approval. This is an extremely tough concept for people to wrap their minds around but it happens daily as you bargain with your children. In my heart, I genuinely believe the Chinese Model of parenting raises generations of codependency, low self-esteem and subservience. No, I don’t have a degree in psychology but this is an area I have much life experience with.

Take my review with a grain of salt and read the book for yourself so you can decide. Then take some time and reflect back on the relationships you have or have had in the past, and the way you were brought up and you may begin to draw some seriously scary parallels. I freely admit that I have no answers or a magic bullet on how to raise children. This is something my husband and I will define for ourselves over a lifetime of trial and error. However, what I believe to be a helpful model is to expose your children to lots of different things and eventually they will find a niche that will build confidence instead of expecting them to find confidence because you told them so. I hope to find the wisdom and practice that will enable my children to be strong, independent people who make up their own minds.

I’m not going to say anymore; I’ll let you be your own judge. =)

2/5 stars

8 down, 18 to go!

Up next, A Place of Yes by Bethenny Frankel

xoxo,

Library♥Love


 

Book G: LibraryLove March 16, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Book description~ Jeannette Walls’s father always called her “Mountain Goat” and there’s perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents – Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls’s childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets.

Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls’ removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents’ knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them — despite their overwhelming self-absorption — resonates from cover to cover.

When you’re hungry, you reach for the pantry. When you’re tired, you crawl into your soft bed. When you feel dirty, you take a shower. When you’re thirsty, you open the fridge for refreshment. When you’re cold you reach for a blanket…well…not if your Jeannette, Lori, Brian, Maureen, Rose Mary or Rex Walls you don’t…

Never have I felt more humbled than when I closed the book on this unbelievable account of the Wall’s family struggles throughout the decades. Sure, we’ve all had our ups and downs and family struggles; I’ve definitely had more than my fair share. But after The Glass Castle, you too will completely rethink the simple pleasures and niceties your life has bestowed upon you and be truly in awe at the human ability to overcome.

The Glass Castle is written from Jeannette’s first person point of view and she so candidly shares her family’s past riddled with alcoholism, abandonment all colored as “liberalism” from her parent’s eyes. Some of the scenes are down right painful while others are astonishing, but I urge you to pick this up and read it; you won’t be able to put it down.  I wanted to scream through the pages at Jeannette’s mother at times, shocked at how ignorant some people can truly be.  I could relate to Jeannette on so many levels, especially her inner drive and ability to focus on what was ahead of her, rather than dwell in self-pity over what could have been. This book has been on my TBR for sometime now, after a friend and her fiancée attended Walls’ book signing event last year in Walls’ now nearby hometown of Culpeper, VA.

I’d forgotten about this book until it was chosen as this month’s discussion selection for book club. Although it’s pretty unfair to critique someone’s life story, I can certainly critique Walls’ writing style, which I thought was delightful and so optimistic despite the hardships Jeannette and her family faced. I can’t wait to pick up Walls’ other book, Half Broke Horses, about the life of her grandparents.

“Dad was lighting his cigarette. I waved, and he waved back. Then he shoved his hands in his pockets, the cigarette dangling from his mouth, and stood there, slightly stoop-shouldered and distracted looking. I wondered if he was remembering how he, too, had left Welch full of vinegar at age seventeen just as convinced as I was now that he’d never return.  I wondered if he was hoping that his favorite girl would come back, or if he was hoping that, unlike him, she would make it out for good.”

Discussing the idea of how awesomely this memoir would translate to film, one of the book club babes and I came up with a few Hollywood celebs that we think would perfectly fit some of the main characters. Who do you think could best play the Walls’ family?

Billy Bob Thornton as Rex Walls

Juliette Lewis as Rose Mary

Abigail Breslan as the young Jeannette

Dakota Fanning as the older Maureen (think Cherie Curry from The Runaways)

Maybe Thora Burch for Lori although Lori is a bit of a ? for me…

Channing Tatum possibly as Brian??

5/5 stars

4 down, 22 to go!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

 

Book H: Fabookulous January 31, 2011

Heaven is for Real (A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back) by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent

Book description:

A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven.

Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Recommended to me by a friend, this is the story of young Colton’s visit to heaven, as described to his parents. For those familiar with similar stories, it’s reminiscent of 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. I’ve not read that one (I was skeptical of it) but this one is a similar concept. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this book. Let me try to explain.

On one hand I don’t think I believe the story and there are a few reasons why. First, Colton was a young three years old when this experience happened and kids like to tell stories. They’ll improvise and make up scenarios while they play and they’ll create ideas in their heads. I’m skeptical about believing one could actually GO to heaven and then come back to this Earth. Doesn’t the Bible say somewhere that no eye has seen? That it’s a beauty our minds can’t imagine? Wouldn’t that be anti-climactic to see heaven in all its glory at a young three years of age, and then have the rest of your life here on this Earth? The concept is a tough sell on me.

On the other hand, we ARE called to have minds like children. And to be frank, people didn’t believe Jesus in his day either. The things Colton describes (the gates of heaven, who he saw while there, what God looks like and that Jesus sits on the right side of Him) are all things in the Bible, but things Colton hadn’t learned yet in his Sunday school class. It’s an interesting concept, this idea of a young boy seeing heaven, and one you have to choose to believe or not…

As for the way the story was written, I got kind of frustrated. When remembering another detail Colton would share about heaven, author Burpo always had to describe the next reaction. For example, Colton says something to the effect of “I saw Pop there” (Colton’s late grandfather) and Burpo would say something about how he had a hard time driving on the road after that and he could hear the hum of the tires. I’m actually laughing out loud because I realize I’m not describing this very well. But the way Burpo explained his reactions to Colton’s revelations kind of got old after a while, making the story feel like it was dragging out (and it’s a short book!)

After all is said in done, this was book H for the year and it’s time to move on to another letter of the alphabet…

2/5 stars

Fabookulous

Up next: Decision Points by George W. Bush (at a whopping 518 pages, I’ll be taking my time through this one…stay tuned!)