This month I found books that are just incredible. Some months are like that. I find books that hold my attention. I can’t wait to read them, and I don’t want them to end.
This was one of those months.
Girl, Wash Your Face By Rachel Hollis
Rachel Hollis is a lifestyle blogger who turned that business into an even bigger business which includes author, motivational speaker, and CEO of Chic Media. She has a fabulous personality and tells it like it is!
Which brings us to this book. Each chapter delves into a lie that is commonly told or believed by women. Rachel then writes about her experiences with that lie and her stories are laugh out loud funny and brutally honest. She turns the lie into her truth and then offers how she dealt with it and offers practical tips for making those changes yourself. And, the tips are meaningful. Hence the reason I started snapping screenshots to save the quotes.
The first quote I saved was on page 3. PAGE 3. The chapter is called – The Lie: Something Else Will Make Me Happy. Here’s what caught my attention. I mean like “sit up and read it again” kind of attention.
“Yet even though I fail over and over and over again, I don’t let it deter me. I still wake up every day and try again to become a better version of myself.”
On the very next page, there was this:
“This is your life. You are meant to be the hero of your own story.”
“When you really want something, you will find a way. When you don’t really want something, you’ll find an excuse.”
The chapters cover topics like – not being good enough, not knowing how to be a good mom, and other kids are better than mine. Each chapter ends with three things that helped her change her thinking or cope with situations. And what she writes is very doable for me and you!
I promise you will love this book. There may be chapters that don’t apply to you, but many of them will. Rachel’s realistic writing and quirky style will keep you reading. She also refers often to her faith and how she has relied on God and that faith to always talk sense into herself.
Five stars for this one! READ IT!
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This is the story of Celestial and Roy. Living in Atlanta, living their dream. They appear to have the perfect marriage. Then they travel to Louisiana for a holiday visit with his parents.
Not wanting to impose on Roy’s parents the two book a room at a local motel. During the evening Roy leaves the room to get something and meets an elderly woman that needs help. He takes care of a couple of small problems for her and returns to his room.
Such a small beginning to this book. It was just all real life up to this point. Two people in love, funny, quirky parents that want the best for their children, finding out that Roy’s dad is not his biological dad, reading some of the backstories of how the two met, and the story of how Celestial’s very good friend Andre fits into the picture.
And then the motel room door is thrown open and the police are arresting Roy. Someone has broken into the elderly woman’s room and she has identified Roy as the attacker. Celestial knows he is innocent because he was with her, but he is jailed and convicted anyway.
Sentenced to twelve years. Can this marriage survive? What about Andre? What can happen to all these people and how will their relationships change?
Much of this story is told through the letters that Roy and Celestial write each other. But it more about what is not written in them.
“It is the question just beneath the words in Roy’s letter, like he wrote it down, erased it, and scribbled over it.”
Read this one. It is beautifully written and definitely the story of a marriage- actually many marriages. Five stars!
It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice
Mr. Fitzmaurice weaves a poetic tale of his life with ALS. From the moment he first felt his foot give way and work incorrectly to the last words of this memoir you will be haunted by what he reveals. It’s a book about life and living with a disease and still maintaining a sense of love and dignity amongst all the things you hold dear.
The story is told in simple language, sometimes harsh wording with very little detail. Yet it is powerful. You never forget for a second that this is a man that is slowly dying and yet fights every day to maintain a semblance of normalcy with his wife and eventually five children.
“Time slows down, time speeds up and the mystery of how we live is ever present, despite our will for it to be otherwise. Our lives are not the legacy we leave behind, or the value of the work we do. Our lives happen in between the deeds and ideas that define us.”
This is a quick read, very short. It reads more like a poem than a novel and is quite beautiful. It’s another book you need to read. Five stars.
Note: If you wish to read more about Mr. Fitzmaurice or ALS, links are below:
Educated by Tara Westover
A must-read! Tara is a woman raised on Buck’s Peak in Idaho of Mormon parents that do not believe in schools or doctors. Dad owns land and a scrapyard and mom is a midwife. Tara begins the book by telling about being nine years old before she has a birth certificate. The family is intent on surviving on their own with no interference from the government.
The story of Tara and her brothers and sister growing up is inspiring and then heartbreaking. Dad has a stubborn refusal to bend his opinion even when the children are gravely injured or sick. Add to this that one brother physically and emotionally abuses Tara whenever he has a breakdown.
At age 16, Tara studies and somehow makes a high enough score on the ACT and she is admitted to BYU. It is this little adventure that teaches her about the real world. During her first week at school she is humiliated in class when she does not know a word in her textbook and when she asks for help the professor and classmates are appalled. The word she didn’t know: holocaust.
Ultimately Tara is triumphant. She finishes school, attends Cambridge, and now has her memoir. You can read more about her on her website but definitely, read this book.
I actually listened to this one and I am glad I did. The narrator is spectacular. Her voice is mesmerizing. Five stars for the book and the Audible version.
Long Way Gone by Charles Martin
What a beautiful story this is! Cooper leaves home to make music in Nashville – a typical musician story. But, prior to heading out from Colorado, he was working with his father singing in tent revivals. His dad taught him to play the guitar and nurtured his singing ability.
As one does as a teenager, Cooper wanted to do more and lied to his dad about where he was one evening. Dad caught him, of course, and this led to Cooper leaving home in anger. Somehow, though, his dad knew this might happen and when Cooper was on the road he found a map, some money, and a note dad had written,
“No matter where you go, no matter whether you succeed or fail, stand or fall, no gone is too far gone. You can always come home.”
Also, mixed into this story is the relationship Cooper has with Daley Cross and what happened to them as young musicians. Daley was a profoundly good singer and Cooper wrote songs for her.
Tragedy strikes and Cooper finally does go home. (This is not a spoiler- the book opens with Cooper back in Colorado). What might happen if a lot of years pass and Cooper and Daley meet again?
Read this one! It is beautifully written. The descriptions of the effect music has on the characters is amazing. If you have a song that touches you in any way this book will resonate. It’s a love story for sure. But it’s more than romance. It’s the love of a father and son and a family friend, it’s about making music and the instruments the Lord has provided. Just a heads-up- this author uses Bible verses and references to scripture in his writing. Eventually, the book has after-life references as well. It is well done and quite believable. Five stars!
Came for the STEM….fell in love with the books! I so enjoy your book reviews and recognize that all that we do as teachers can deplete us if we don't take the time to fill our own buckets – I do this through reading. Thanks for adding some great books to my TBR list! I will enjoy adapting so many of your STEM ideas to PBL projects and blend them with good read alouds that you suggest. What a gift you are! Thank you.
Carol Davis says
Thank you so much! I am so glad you are enjoying my book reviews and STEM tips! I typically add a Book Review post on the last Friday or last day each month and the rest is always STEM and Science!