Thursday Book Feature: Our Souls At Night

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Our Souls At Night

by Kent Haruf

Copyright 2015.

 

In Kent Haruf’s last novel, published posthumously, Addie, a widow, is lonely after the death of her husband. In desperation, she asks her long-time neighbor, Louis, a widower, to spend nights in her bed, keeping her company. Their relationship blossoms from friendship to romance amid gossip from people in the small town where they live and despite their families’ objections.

From the beginning, this author takes us directly into the story with little description of the setting. As the story progresses, we learn about our main characters’ lives through dialog instead of paragraphs of narrative back story. All this make Our Souls at Night a sweet story about two people finding happiness in their older years. The ending, though, leaves a lot to be desired.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Thursday Book Feature: The Unwinding of the Miracle

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The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After

by Julie Yip-Williams

Copyright 2019

 

In 2013, Julie Yip-Williams, wife and mother of two, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. In her memoir, published posthumously, she details events during the five agonizing years leading to her death. She flashes back to her earlier life: being blinded by cataracts as an infant in Vietnam after the war, escaping with her family to the United States and settling in southern California, having most of her sight restored through surgery, growing up to become a lawyer, traveling all over the world, meeting and marrying her husband, and the birth of her children. In her last chapter, she encourages us to take advantage of the time we have. Her husband Josh wrote the epilog, and in the recorded version I downloaded, he reads it.

I admire this author’s courage in the face of adversity, and I’m not just talking about the cancer. She was born into a society that considers disability a weakness. Although she regained most of her vision, it was a struggle for her to learn to use what she had. When she was a kid, she was excluded from movies and other social events with her siblings and cousins because she wouldn’t be able to see anything and someone would have to take care of her. Despite all this, she went on to do remarkable things. I respect her decision to stop treatment and let the disease run its course, despite having a husband and two young children who loved and depended on her. Knowing the outcome, this is a hard book to read, but the story is well worth it.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Thursday Book Feature: Mourning Has Broken

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Mourning Has Broken

By C. A. Balawyder

Copyright 2013.

 

The loss of her parents and sister inspired author and blogger Carol Balawyder to write the essays in this collection. She writes about her relationship with the loved ones she lost. Other pieces focus on such topics as travel, online dating, religion, and, of course, mourning.

Having lost my parents, grandparents, and husband, I can identify with the feelings the author expresses, especially the guilt at not having done more for her loved ones before they passed. If you are grieving and have similar feelings, this book should help you understand you’re not alone. If you’re suffering from a recent loss, be sure you have plenty of Kleenex handy when you read it.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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Thursday Book Feature: The Same Sea, The Same Gloaming

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The Same Sea: The Same Gloaming: Poems

By Eugene O’Connor

Copyright 2018.

 

The poems in this short collection center mostly on nature, covering such topics as oceans, darkness, and insects. The book opens with a quote from a recruitment ad for a 1913 expedition.

I like the vivid imagery in this collection. My favorite is “Making Snow Angels,” which brings back happy memories of doing the same thing when I was a child. Since poem topics cover all seasons, this book could be read at any time of the year.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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Thursday Book Feature: Songs of Heartstrings

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Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

By Miriam Hurdle

Copyright 2018.

 

The pieces in this book focus on nature, healing, and other topics. The book is divided into sections, each beginning with quotes from others. An entire part is dedicated to poems inspired by the weekly challenge on Coleen Chesebro’s blog.

I like the variety of poetry forms used in this book, including villanelles, pantoums, and acrostics. I found her pieces about her family moving and especially enjoyed “A Walk on the Beach,” since that’s one of my favorite pastimes when visiting my brother in Florida. Because some of the poems are about spring, this would be the perfect time to read this collection.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature: One with Willows

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One with Willows

By Joan Myles

Copyright 2019.

 

The poems in this little volume reflect on spirituality, nature, and other topics. Some have reference to certain aspects of Jewish culture, and notes with more information are included. An introduction explains how poetry sustained the author after her vision loss.

I met Joan a year or so ago when she joined Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities, of which I’m now president. Despite being totally blind, her poems display such vivid imagery. Each piece’s title gives you a basic idea of what it’s about. My favorite, “Tire Swing,” transported me back to a time when my father rigged a similar contraption in our front yard when I was growing up. Also, I found her glimpses into Jewish culture fascinating. Even if you’re not Jewish, these works should resonate with you, and this book is definitely not a long read.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature: The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems

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Since April is National Poetry Month, I hope you’ll take some  time to read a good poem or two. This month, I’ll be reviewing some poetry collections I’ve enjoyed.

The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems

By K. Morris

Copyright 2018.

 

This short collection contains poems mostly about human nature. When I downloaded the Audible version, I was surprised to discover that Alex Lee, the narrator, is a woman. She does an excellent job. Her reading of one poem about a clock and a refrigerator includes sound effects. Some poems remind me of Robert Frost and other such poets. I recommend this book as a delightful twenty-five minutes of poetry reading.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.