Thursday, August 28, 2008

This post is almost as long as the the book itself

So it is time for the unveiling of my book selection, I know you've all been eagerly awaiting my choice. However, first I want to put in my quick two cents about Odd Mom Out. (If you aren't interested, go ahead and scroll past it, I'll never know).
I thought this was a fun read, and definitely generated some interesting discussion. It wasn't exactly what I expected (I think the cover is misleading becauseI don't ever recall the the main character dressing in fishnet tights and stilettos). I think it's definitely a book of extremes. I don't believe all working moms are tough, relationship-avoiding women in combat boots anymore than I believe all stay-at-home moms are catty, spoiled Stepford-Wife-like clones of one another. (Although an interesting side note: I read some reviews on in which one or two of the readers claimed Bellevue women were just like that). For the story, juxtaposing these two very different types of women made a stronger impact. I found the relational aggression aspect interesting as it is displayed in both the mother and daughter generations. Why do so many girls and women psychologically torture each other?

I think what's attracts us to this type of story is that as most of you have mentioned, we can all relate to feeling like the odd person out at one time or another. Em feels that way with her sisters, Heather with all the Oregon free-spirits, and for me, I currently feel like the odd one out whenever I'm with my in-laws. My husband and his two brothers were all married within 7 months of each other, so 3 of us girls joined the family at once. Guess which one is having the hardest time fitting in? But I digress.
Quick story. My original intention was for us to read the Pulitzer Prize winning, Oprah-recommened, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I was going to break the current trend and suggest a book that I myself hadn't read yet. However, the more I read about it, the more hesitant I was to pitch it to you gals, not because I myself don't want to read it, it's just one of those bleak stories that I don't think I should force anyone to read. I would come up with an idea, then go on Mandy or Heather's Goodreads page and found one of them had already read it, and I wanted to choose something none of you has read before! Last night I was in a panick about what book to choose. I called my mom, and my sister-in-law, and couldn't get any suggestions I was really jazzed about. My husband, who is an avid reader of sci-fi and fantasy suggested a few, but no. Although I have to admit I cracked up trying to picture Mandy reading a couple of those titles. :)

SO. . . I was sitting as my desk at work this morning, and the inspiration struck. This is the form my inspiration took:

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

I've always had a soft spot for adolescent literature, as I know many of you do too. This is adolescent lit with depth though, and it's a pretty serious subject matter- great for those of us who love psychology. In summary it is about a girl who is about to enter high school, has something traumatic happen to her, then learns to cope by expressing herself through art. It's been a couple of years since I read this book, but I remember really enjoying it, and I hope you do too. It shouldn't be too hard to find in most libraries. (I hope!)

(Oh, and as a side note, after you read it you may want to check out the movie. The main character is played byKristen Stewart, who is set to play Bella in the upcoming Twilight movie.)

Now go forth and READ!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

and now?

What are we reading now, girls?? I'm so excited to know! :)

Friday, August 22, 2008


Finally got my hands on it yesterday. Interesting. Lots of stereotyping of all kinds going on there. I loved how Marta said stay at home moms got perfect hair, nails, plastic surgery, tennis, etc. (I would quote directly, but I don't want to find the page!) Yeah. Right. Stay at home moms with lots of $, housekeepers, nannies and maids get those things. The average stay at home mom gets an entirely different picture. But, to be fair, Bellevue stay at home moms are a bit different these days...not 25 years ago, though. I was born in Bellevue, in the days before Microsoft took over that and Redmond. When we go back now, my parents can hardly recognize it. But I digress.

I guess what bugged me was her assumptions that stay at home mothers have it easier. As a single mom, obviously she doesn't have a choice, she has to work. And I'm certainly not saying that it wasn't hard for her. She was stressed to the breaking point. But it's not just working mothers who are stressed to the breaking point. There are stay at home moms out there who make a very difficult choice economically (aside from all the other difficult aspects of the decision) to not work. Trust me, I'm living it right now. I did appreciate the scene where she ran into Taylor Young at the grocery store and thought she looked tired and old. And realized that it was a lot of work to be Mrs. Young. (Oh, and I did find the "brain and not just a body" line a bit offensive too. How dare she be so judgmental?!)

I guess what I really got from this book is that we all make choices and have struggles as a result. It's not fair to ever call someone else's life and choices easy, perfect or a sell-out. Mary and I have discussed at length in the last few years how our own ideals have changed. My mom was a bit of a feminist, though not quite like Mary's mom. She was one of three women to graduate in Business Management from BYU in 1974, as she so proudly told me growing up. She went into one of her business classes the first day and the professor said, "Miss, the typing class is down the hall." She said, "I'm in the right place," and sat down. My mom didn't get married until she was 28. She had a very successful thriving career as a business woman. Those are the legends I grew up on. And so, I had very strong ideas about what my life would be. I would NOT get married young, I would get a doctorate, maybe even an MD, and I would make a name for myself in the academic world. I had things I wanted to do with my life before I settled down and had children.

Well. I got married at 22 (I did graduate from college first though!). I gave up a $20,000 scholarship to the #2 master's of social work program in the nation because my husband had a full scholarship at BYU. I had my son at 24. I stay at home with him now. And you know what? I am so glad. The dreams I embraced when I was younger were only part mine. The other part of those dreams were my mom's. Lucky for me, my mom has supported my choices. I think her ideals changed over the years too. After all, when she had me at 31, she choose to stop working and stay at home when I was just a few months old.

Bottom line: We all make our choices, and then have to live with them. And no one else knows what is best for us (and they certainly shouldn't have the presumption to think they do!).

Next issue (SO sorry, I know this is really really long): different just for the sake of being different. That's so funny to me right now, seeing as I live in Eugene, Oregon, the land of the eternal hippie (peace, love and campaigning to legalize pot), tree hugger, protester, liberal, etc. Here, I'm the odd mom out. ME. The stay at home mom conservative. The student body at UO takes themselves very seriously. They are so proud of their diversity. But frankly, I think they are about as diverse as BYU was/is. If you gather together everyone who is different and put them in the same place, are they still different? I don't mind people living their lives, of course, but make your choices based on more than a desire to be different. And also realize that no one lives in a vacuum, and the mantra that it's-my-life-and-I-can-do-want-I-want-my-choices-don't-affect-any-one-else is a fallacy.

And that is what I think. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's okay, I'm done too!

I had felt like this book suggestion couldn't have come at a better time because I was feeling pretty left out myself, with almost all of my friends here & in Utah starting families & me still waiting for a clean bill of health before we're allowed to start trying. But I have to say that rather than feel better about being different, this book made me identify even more with the "in" crowd. I actually disliked Marta for most of the book because it seemed like she was only being different for the sake of being different, & hated the other moms just because they fit in.

I might be a little biased because Eva & Marta are a whole lot like me & my mom: my mom escaped to L.A. to get away from Utah & the pressure to be the same. She was a hippie & wore jeans at BYU before they were allowed. Now (& all while I was growing up) she works long hours & has made quite a name for herself as an excellent bond lawyer, but she gets upset when women make comments in Relief Society about women working outside the home even though that's a choice she made for herself. I, on the other hand, have rebelled against her rebellion, so to speak: my lifelong dream all through school was just to be popular & fit in, I went to BYU & loved it, got married while I was in college, & plan to be a stay-at-home mom. I think that these choices disappoint my mom a little, just like how Eva's quest to become the most popular girl in school disappoints Marta.

I thought it was interesting that Marta insisted that Eva fit in, but "on her own terms," not the popular girls', when in reality, those terms were Marta's, not Eva's at all. I finally started gaining more respect for Marta when she started realizing that it's tough to be a stay-at-home mom too, & that there's a lot of pressure to be perfect.

I also liked that she finally started to realize that her daughter needed a father, even though she'd sworn off men because her heart had been broken. I think that was a theme throughout the book, that Marta often thought she was doing what was best for Eva when in reality she was just serving herself. Like how she went crazy on maternity leave & wanted to get back to work, where she could "be a brain & not just a body." That was really insulting! & that she wouldn't even try to go on dates because ONE guy had broken her heart, even though Eva really wanted a father. I'm just glad that Luke was persistent enough to break down the barriers she had put up, so that all 3 of them could be in a stable family situation.

Anyway, I definitely feel like there were a lot of issues at play in this book, & I enjoyed it (except for those more "adult" parts I had to skim). It was a great read, & it prompted some conversations with my husband about how we'll treat certain situations when we have kids in school. Good pick!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I'm almost ashamed that I'm already done...

But not as ashamed as those who were "sucked in" to read the last vampire book. :) I read the first one and Eldon teased me so mercilessly about the plot (and granted, it's not well-written) that I stopped. I think he came up and smelled me for weeks. :) But I might succumb...I have a MALE cousin who lent me his copy of the second one and insists I need to read them all. He and his wife love them! And my little sister loves them, who is definitely not a reader.

ANYWAY, "Odd Mom Out" was darling. I loved almost every page. There were a few scenes I blushed during, but other than that I thought it was a great read that made me think about my opinions on a LOT of issues. I'd be interested to know what y'all think about moms who stay home vs. moms who work outside the home, if conformity is a necessary evil, and the secret culture of girls and women. I thought a lot about all of those things ...

I hope you like it too!