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It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I realized all the books I read this month are about strong women, or written by strong women. And that made me happy.
Lilac Girls is a fictional account of three real-life women who lived through WWII. Caroline Ferriday, a French woman living in New York, is busy sending care packaged to orphans in France and providing whatever support to the war effort she can. Kasia Kuzmerick is a Polish teenager sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp for women in Germany, where she was used in gruesome experiments.
What I thought was most interesting about this book was that it also told the story from a third kind of person’s perspective who we don’t often hear about. Herta Oberheusers a real German Nazi doctor who performed gruesome experiments on 86 women like Kasia, who Kelly fictionalized in her novel.
If you are a fan of WWII novels, I think you would love this book because it gives you the perspectives of people not often written about – Europeans in America and Nazi doctors. But if you are not as into WWII books, I would probably recommend other books before this one, like The Nightingale, Salt to the Sea, or Unbroken.
I was especially interested in the perspective of Herta, hoping to get an insight into how she rationalized what she did or dealt with her emotions about it. I thought that this was where the book fell flat. I wasn’t able to feel any sympathy for her, she creeped me out, and she showed no remorse for what she did. However, after I tried to look up more information about her online, I discovered that she really had no remorse for what she did. I came to realize that the author really did the best job possible with her, but it just wasn’t as good as I was hoping.
“Don’t waste your energy on the hate. That will kill you sure as anything. Focus on keeping your strength. You’re resourceful. Find a way to outsmart them.” – Martha Hall Kelly
What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? Imagine Anne Frank’s strength, wisdom, insight, and talent as a writer to be able to write these words despite being forced into hiding for two years:
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank
She writes in her diary that she wanted to use her writing to have a meaningful impact on the world long after she was gone. She wanted people to read her diary and to understand that fear and hate lead nowhere because she knew that even after this war, people would forget. I hope that wherever she is right now, she knows how many people have been impacted by her diary. I hope that we can honor her memory by standing up to hatred and ignorance and by remembering what she endued.
I first read about The Girls on Lauren’s blog when she linked up this post to our book club linkup last month. Immediately I knew I had to get my hands on this book. It is about a woman looking back on her life as a teenager who was sucked into a Mason-like cult in the 60’s. How she got there. How she escaped. How it affected the woman she became.
“I waited to be told what was good about me. I wondered later if this was why there were so many more women than men at the ranch. All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you — the boys had spent that time becoming themselves.” – Emma Cline
This book is about so much more than a cult. It’s it’s about girls, the way we are raised, the way we are viewed, the way we are seen and not seen. I gave this book 5 stars and I can’t recommend it enough.
“That was part of being a girl — you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.” – Emma Cline
Lindy West is a talented writer, fierce feminist, and advocate for the fact acceptance movement. Her stories about her life growing up as a fat person and trying to find her way in a world that is hostile to fat people was very moving to me. Her book made me think a lot about the way that I have judged people without knowing their story. I think that alone makes this a worthwhile book. However, I should warn you that this book is not for everyone as she speaks forecefully about some hard and controversial topics.
“Loving yourself is not antithetical to health, it is intrinsic to health. You can’t take good care of a thing you hate.” – Lindy West
I've put myself on a mission to read everything that Neil Gaiman has ever written. One afternoon when I wanted something lighter to read, I picked this up and read it in a few hours. It's a children's book about Coraline, a young girl who saves her parents from her "other mother," who lives in an alternate reality through a doorway in her house. It might be a little bit creepy for certain children, but I loved this book because it is about a girl who is brave when she is scared. It's about a girl who saved her parents. It's about confronting your fears and doing what is right, and that's a great story for children to read.
“Because,’ she said, ‘when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.” – Neil Gaiman
Margaret Atwood is a queen. I love her dystopian worlds and her insight into where we
might be are headed. In Oryx and Crake, she imagines a not so far fetched world where corporations have genetically engineered humans, animals, and foods to the point complete destruction. Snowman is the last human on earth and takes care of a group of genetically engineered people who are sort of like humans but not really. He tries to make sense of what happened, of his friend Crake, who created these genetically engineered people, and of the mysterious woman he loved, Oryx. Through a series of flashbacks, we see how the world ended up destroyed, and through his present actions, we see the results.
“We should think only beautiful things, as much as we can. There is so much beautiful in the world if you look around. You are only looking at the dirt under your feet, Jimmy. It’s not good for you.” – Margaret Atwood