I’m not entirely sure where the time went… Yes, it’s summertime and there’s no school, but we have been very busy. It’s not as if we’re sitting around reading!
Let’s see. SG is doing various summer reading programs, so we have been to 2 libraries quite a bit lately. She’s also participating in some local day camps (so far she’s done one at her school and one 2-week theater class). She persuaded me to let her have some weeks without camp, which have been better than I thought they’d be. We’ve had slightly too much togetherness for me, but it’s all made great memories and we’ve done some new things around town. I suppose we’ve mostly been busy with family and friends, which is a good thing.
The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin De Becker
While Googling “dangers of kids having YouTube channel” one day, an article recommended this book. I figured I would read it, and was quickly engrossed in it. (It has nothing to do with online safety, BTW.) Many years ago, I felt unwarranted anxiety and fear about violence pretty much all the time. In the past few months, there has been more than normal activity in our neighborhood and surrounding areas, so this book was timely.
According to Gavin de Becker, everyone can feel safer, act safer, be safer — if they learn how to listen to their own sense of intuition. Our body and brain have ways of picking up clues and signals before we can logically process them. His basic premise is that each of us is already an expert at predicting violent behavior. Many of the signs are there… in this book he teaches us what to pay attention to.
De Becker talks about many dangerous situations people usually face — street crime, domestic abuse, violence in the workplace — and gives examples and advice on the best methods to deal with each of them. One small example: certain personalities are only encouraged by the attention of things like police involvement and restraining orders. Highly recommend.
Falling by Jane Green
A likable single woman who never really fit in anywhere travels from England to New York to a small Connecticut waterfront town, where she finds her true self and a new family. Completely predictable, but an enjoyable, quick read nonetheless.
“We make choices about how we want to be seen in the world, but as we grow older don’t we all forget to hold those constructs up, don’t we all start falling into the patterns of our youth? Doesn’t our essence always win out?”
The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green
Three sisters called home by their dying mother, lives changing and healing all around. Because the mother was a working actress when her girls were young, there were many stories about what a selfish and preoccupied mother she was. It was a great nudge toward being more present in my own life… you can’t get that time with young ones back.
“It doesn’t matter how many years go by, how grown-up we think we are, how much we presume we have changed or evolved, when we are back in our childhood homes, we become exactly who we have always been… we will all just slip back into the roles we have always played, whether we were ever comfortable with them or not.”
Family, forgiveness, self-worth… good themes. Although the book was a bit contrived, I liked the characters. This would be a good beach read.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
We Were the Lucky Ones is the true story of her Polish Jewish family under Nazi occupation. Hunter discovers that her ancestors survived the war that killed over 90 percent of Poland’s Jews.
“The day the Germans marched into Radom, her world was torn to shreds. She’d watched from then on as every basic truth of the life she once knew—her home, her family, her safety—was thrown to the wind. Now, those fragments of her past have begun to drift back down to earth, and for the first time in over half a decade she has allowed herself to believe that, with time and patience, she might just be able to stitch together a semblance of what was. It will never be the same—she’s wise enough to understand that. But they are here, and for the most part, together, which has begun to feel like something of a miracle.”
The individual family story lines during and after the war were very powerful. It’s well-written, heart-rendering, and amazing all at once. Highly recommend.
With chapter titles such as “Building an Independent Kid” and “Read to Your Kids For As Long As They’ll Let You,” this book covers it all. It discusses what Jewish mothers have done over time to raise moral kids who can thrive in a complicated world, which should be helpful to parents of all backgrounds. Ingall offers a consistent framework to build success in others and grounds it in the wisdom literature of Judaism. It’s humorous, relevant, and highly practical. I strongly recommend this book to any gender and any faith.
“For a people who’ve spent thousands of years seeing themselves as wanderers, what does it mean to have a home? Can we actually chill out? And if we’re actually in a place of ease and comfort where we can have meaningful leadership roles, how do we maintain the energy, creativity, and drive that fueled us for so much of our history as a people in exile? Can Jewish parenting continue to transmit the kind of solid values and flexible thinking that has served Jews well in an ever-changing, uncertain world? Are we doomed to lose the values and attributes that have made us so accomplished and innovative for generations?”