The Girl In Between broke my heart

32739853There are a lot of things in life that are sad, things that can break your heart.  The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll is a book that is sad in so many different ways and broke my heart.  The story depicts life on the street and on the move for a young girl and her mother from the eyes of the young girl.

Life is good when the girl and her Ma live with grandma, but Ma doesn’t want to stay there, so they move out.  They don’t have any money and nowhere to go.  Ma is a drug addict and promises the girl she will stop the drugs and drinking and take care of her.  But Ma doesn’t keep her promise.  She forgets to feed the girl, she takes her daughter to scary places where drug dealers live and she doesn’t take her to school.

They end up on the streets until moving into an abandoned old mill they call The Castle.  The castle that Ma has promised the girl they would live in some day.  The girl explores the Castle, drawing on the walls, and from the roof, spies on the people walking by.  The girl must be vigilant to remain invisible from the outside world.  She can’t leave the Castle but can only let the Caretaker see her.

The girl thinks the mill is haunted and tries to lure the ghost out into the open.  She learns about the ghost from the Caretaker, who is struggling against his past and grief to leave the mill after forty-seven years.

The girl doesn’t want the Authorities to see her because they could take her away from Ma.  Now, the Authorities have come to the Castle, but not for her. They have come to take her Castle away leaving Ma and her with nowhere to live.  There are flashbacks intermixed in the story that slowly brings everything together ending with a shocking revelation.

The Girl In Between shines a spotlight on addiction, parenting on the streets, the relationship between a mother and a daughter and how drugs can make someone selfish.  No child should live on the streets and this book shows what it’s like for some of the children living on the street.  This is a very sad story.

Book Description:
I know the mill has a story cos there’s something strange going on. I heard something. I’ve decided that I’m going to find out what it is later today when Ma leaves. Cos even if it is scary, we live here and we’re never leaving. So if there’s something going on, I need to know. 

In an old, abandoned mill, a girl and her ma take shelter from their memories of life on the streets. To the girl it’s home, her safe place, the Castle. But as her ma spins out of control and the Authorities move ever closer, the girl finds herself trapped – stuck in the crumbling mill with only the ghosts of the past for company.

Can she move on before it’s too late?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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It’s all about relationships in Days Like These

29496483Days Like These by Sue Margolis is all about relationships. Relationships from siblings to parents, to friends and acquaintances and between the parents of the schoolchildren. This book is about Judith and her grandchildren Sam, 9, and Rosie, 5, and Judith’s Mother, Nana.  Judith (Judy), is asked to take care of her grandkids as her daughter, Abby, and son-in-law, Thomas, both doctors, are called away to help Nicaragua after an earthquake.  They are supposed to be gone for six weeks but then it turns into a lot longer than expected.

Judy’s mother, Freida, is a typical hypochondriac thinking she has every kind of ailment and searches her symptoms on the internet.  She also likes to cook elaborate meals. There is a bond between Judy and Freida that is tentatively explored. It appears that they haven’t always known each other very well. Despite their ease and teasing of each other, their bond is explored. Nana was a fun supporting character who brought smiles to my face and a few chuckles.

Judy soon has a nemesis at the private school in the form of Claudia, who always had a need to prove she is a better mother than anyone else. While all of this is going on, Judy is dealing with the loss of her husband. A new man, Patrick, enters the scene complicating things for Judy in many ways.

Sam has a hard time at school with a few of the situations develop into very serious consequences. Judy tries to navigate the situations as a grandmother and a temporary parent while trying not to destroy the relationship between her daughter and grandson.

Sue Margolis does a great job of showing how there can be conflict within a family, how we support each other and how we fight for each other. She shows how we can be strong even when we don’t believe in ourselves and how a family and community can come together for the sake of the children.  This was so worth my time.

Book Description:
In the new novel from the author of Losing Me, one woman is about to discover what happens when you take the “grand” out of “grandma.”

Recently widowed, Judy Schofield jumps at the chance to look after her two grandchildren for six weeks, while their parents are out of the country. After all, she’s already raised one set of children—and quite successfully, if she may say so herself. But all it takes is a few days of private school functions, helicopter parents, video games, and never-ending Frozen sing-a-longs for Judy to feel she’s in over her head.

As weeks become months, Judy feels more and more like an outsider among all the young mothers with their parenting theories du jour, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the school’s snooty alpha mom. But finding a friend in another grandmother—and a man who takes her mind off all the stress—almost make it worthwhile. She just needs to take it one food allergy, one incomprehensible homework assignment, and one major meltdown at a time…

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Henna House is about family and tradition

Henna HouseI’ve always been intrigued by the art of henna so this book caught my attention.  Henna House by Nomi Eve starts in Yemen in the 1920s, and tells the story of Adela Damari and her family.  Her father is a shoe maker and her mother is a mean woman who shows no love to Adela.

It is important for Yemenite Jewish children to become betrothed at a very early age to keep the Confiscator away.  If a father dies, leaving children with just their mother, the Confiscator will swoop in and take the children.  The Confiscator steals Jewish children as part of the Orphan’s Decree and they are instantly adopted by the local Muslim community.  The Confiscator has a keen interest in Adela and scares the crap out of her when he orders shoes for his wife from Adela’s father.

Every time Adela is betrothed to a boy something horrible happens to the boy and soon no one wants their son betrothed to her.  She is soon betrothed to her cousin Asaf Damari, who she is supposed to stay away from but secretly plays house with him in her secret cave.

Soon her Mom’s sister Rachel, her husband Burhan and their daughter Hani arrive to live next door to them.  At the last city they lived in, Aunt Rachel was well known for her henna creations on brides.  When things went bad in the marriages, Rachel was accused of putting evil spells into the henna so they had to flee the city.  Against her mother’s wishes, Adela soon starts to learn the technique of henna.  She soon finds it’s her calling.  Adela’s parents die one after the other and to escape the Confiscator, she must flee with her Aunt and Uncle as they head to Israel as part of the Operation of the Wings of Eagles.

I enjoyed learning about the Yemenite Jews and the art of henna.  Henna House is so worth the time. It is a story you will get lost in and you will lose track of time because you will be absorbed into the characters’ lives.  You will care for the characters long after the book is finished.

Book Description:

An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth century, from the acclaimed author of The Family Orchard.

In the tradition of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Henna House is the enthralling story of a woman, her family, their community, and the rituals that bind them.

Nomi Eve’s vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920, when Adela Damari’s parents desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter.  After passage of the Orphan’s Decree, any unbetrothed Jewish child left orphaned will be instantly adopted by the local Muslim community.  With her parents’ health failing, and no spousal prospects in sight, Adela’s situation looks dire until her uncle arrives from a faraway city, bringing with him a cousin and aunt who introduce Adela to the powerful rituals of henna tattooing.

Suddenly, Adela’s eyes are opened to the world, and she begins to understand what it means to love another and one’s heritage.  She is imperiled, however, when her parents die and a prolonged drought threatens their long-established way of life.  She and her extended family flee to the city of Aden where Adela encounters old loves, discovers her true calling, and is ultimately betrayed by the people and customs she once held dear.

Henna House is an intimate family portrait and a panorama of history. From the traditions of the Yemenite Jews, to the far-ranging devastation of the Holocaust, to the birth of the State of Israel, Eve offers an unforgettable coming-of-age story and a textured chronicle of a fascinating period in the twentieth century.

Henna House is a rich, spirited, and sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat