Flora Banks’ motto is Be Brave in the new Emily Barr book

33287077The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr tells the story of Flora, a seventeen year old who suffers with anterograde amnesia. Flora has memories of her childhood but now her brain resets every few hours and she forgets everything after the age of 10. Flora has a book with notes to remind herself who she is and what has happened over the years. It reminds her of who is in her life and what they mean to her.

One night Flora kisses her best friend Paige’s boyfriend, Drake, and the next day she remembers the kiss. This is the first memory her brain has kept since the amnesia took hold.  Drake heads off to Norway to study and Flora is certain the key to “fixing” her is tied to seeing and kissing Drake again. She also thinks she loves him. Flora secretly follows Drake to the very small town in Norway and meets many different characters who help her along the way and shows how a community comes together to help a stranger.

While Flora is traveling to Norway, she has enough notes to remind herself to lie to her parents about where she is as they have gone to Paris to take care of her very ill brother Jacob.  Jacob is a very supportive brother who is very patient and protective of her.  A lot happens to her brother that I will not mention but his story is an interesting addition to Flora’s.  We also find out why Flora has a tattoo on her arm that says “Be brave,” which is her personal motto and keeps her going through the dangerous travel to Norway.

I have read mixed reviews on this book. It seemed like either you liked it or you hated it.  I think the narrative through Flora can put some people off as she repeats herself a lot but that is what her amnesia is all about. As a mother, this book made me think of my daughter. How would I feel if she couldn’t keep a memory for very long? Would she try to go somewhere on her own? Would she be able to cope? What would I do to keep her safe? How far would I go?

I found Flora brave and adventurous. I can understand why she would follow Drake.  Who doesn’t want to be normal and it’s probably frustrating forgetting things and people, even who you are. I didn’t care for Paige who was a selfish, spoiled little brat. Her reactions really showed their age and shows no matter how mature you think you are, there is always room to grow.

This book took me into the mind of someone with amnesia and to get a small glimpse of what that might be like. It made me appreciate my healthy life and my family. I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad I read it.

Book Description:
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Does your father’s past affect your life?

21936844Jonathan Sweetwater has it all.  A wife he loves, two beautiful children and an amazing job that gives him privileges like playing basketball with Michael Jordan.  What he didn’t have was his father, Senator Percy Sweetwater, in his life since his 9th birthday.

Jonathan is the main protagonist of My Father’s Wives by ESPN’s Mike & Mike co-host Mike Greenberg.  The title first made me think this was about polygamy but actually it is about Jonathan wanting to learn more about his dead father, so he sets out to meet all of his father’s wives and ask them questions about his father.

One day Jonathan arrives home early from work to change his clothes before picking up his kids from school.  While home, he sees his wife Claire having an affair in their spare bedroom.  This sets into motion Jonathan visiting his father’s five wives to find out more about his father.  What he doesn’t expect to find along the way is himself.

This story takes place in about a week or 2 of Jonathan’s life.  He travels all around the United States and to London to meet these women who he’s never met before.  I found this story very fascinating and well written.  Mike surprised me with how enjoyable this book was.  I found myself pulled into Jonathan’s life and I cared about what was happening in his marriage and in his life.  This book is well worth the read.

Book Description:

The co-host of ESPN’s Mike and Mike follows up his New York Times bestseller All You Could Ask For with this poignant story of one man’s search to understand himself, his marriage, and his father

“Mike is as clever, astute, and perceptive as he is brilliant. . . . I can’t wait to see what he does next.”—Jane Green, author of Tempting Fate

Jonathan Sweetwater has been blessed with money, a fulfilling career, great kids and Claire, his smart, gorgeous, sophisticated wife. But there is one thing Jonathan never had: a relationship with his father.

Percival Sweetwater III has been absent from his son’s life since Jonathan was nine years old. A five-term U.S. senator, now dead, Percy was beloved by presidents, his constituents, and women alike, especially the five women who married him after Jonathan’s mother.

Jonathan hasn’t thought about Percy or the hole he left in his life for years. Dedicated to Claire and his family, he’s nothing like his serial monogamist father. But then Jonathan discovers evidence that everything in his marriage may not be as perfect as he thought. Hurt and uncertain what to do, he knows that the only way to move forward is to go back.

On this quest for understanding—about himself, about manhood, about marriage—Jonathan decides to track down his father’s five ex-wives. His journey will take him from cosmopolitan cities to the mile-high mountains to a tropical island—and ultimately back to confront the one thing Jonathan has that his father never did: home.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

One Plus One takes you on a journey

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes is about Jess, a struggling single mother after her husband 18693716Marty leaves.  Jess works hard at trying to pay her bills.  Many times she can’t make her bills, but through it all she stays positive.  Jess’s 10-year-old daughter Tanzie is a math wiz.  She is quirky and everything she sees, she sees in numbers.  She can’t help it.

Nicky is Marty’s son with his ex-wife and neither of them can to take care of Nicky so he ends up with Jess, who raises him like her own.  Nicky is 15, a gamer and he dresses Goth, so he gets picked on by the local bullies, the Fisher brothers.  They pick on him so bad he ends up in the hospital.

Then there is Ed.  A software programmer who just sold his company and gave information to a woman he just wanted to get out of his life.  Sharing this stock information has put Ed into the middle of an insider trading scandal.

Jess cleans Ed’s vacation house and also works at a bar.  While suspended from work, Ed goes to the bar where Jess works.  One night while Ed is totally drunk, Jess takes him home in a taxi and after Ed has been put to bed in his home, Jess finds Ed’s work building access key card and a roll of money.

Tanzi has been invited to a math Olympics in Scotland which if she wins, she would earn $5,000.  This money would help with tuition to a private school.  Jess packs up the kids and the very large dog Norman into Marty’s junky Rolls Royce which breaks down on the side of the road.  As the police are talking with Jess at the side of the road, Ed drives by and stops to help.  He then agrees to drive the family to Scotland since he doesn’t have anything else on his schedule.

During this three day journey (they can’t go over 40 due to Tanzie and her motion sickness), each of them starts to heal from their different wounds.  Ed starts to realize that what he is missing in his life is a family.

I really enjoyed this book.  Jojo knows how to give substance to her characters and knows how to make the reader care for the characters.  You start to hope things work out for all of them and everything becomes right in the world.  Jojo Moyes is becoming one of my favorite authors and this is a book that should not be passed up.

Book description:

Suppose your life sucks.  A lot.  Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for.  That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them.  Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean.  But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

Until next week…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Trains, planes and bumps in the road

My friend Debbie is someone you don’t want to travel with.  Don’t get me wrong, she is a ton of fun.  But she rarely has a smooth trip.  It’s like every time Debbie flies, the travel angels are on break.  She has experienced delayed flights, canceled flights, mechanical issues, no plane at the gate, and really bad turbulence.

There has to be a red flag by her name from Homeland Security, because she usually is stopped at security and searched.  She has been wanded, patted down, swabbed, x-rayed and her bags usually are searched every time.  One time, flying home from a conference in LA, she forgot there was a water gun in her carry-on.  That was an interesting search!

This summer my daughter and I went to Europe and I felt like Debbie was traveling with me.  My issues started right away with the first flight from Kansas City.  It was delayed by an hour, which was not good since I had to get to the O’Hare International Terminal for my Copenhagen flight, still doable.

Once we arrived in Chicago, it took around 25 minutes to find a ground crew to bring the ramp to the plane.  As I sat there, I knew I would be cutting it close since there was a tram to get from my terminal to the international terminal.  There were other people making comments like “my plane just left” and “my flight left five minutes ago.”

I did the OJ Simpson Hertz dash through the airport with a few stops and starts since it was really confusing how to get to the international terminal.  By the time I got there, I had five minutes before the flight took off.  The security area was dark, which was not a good sign and then I was told they already booked me on another flight.  That flight didn’t leave until the next night at 10 p.m, just like my current flight.  Hello hotel at 1 a.m. with no luggage.  At least I wasn’t the only one.  There were hundreds of people standing on the hotel curb with pink slips for hotel.

The very first flight delay caused a ripple effect – one that included an international call to my daughter to have her change our Copenhagen hotel room to the next night.  Luckily they switched us with no extra cost and upgraded our room.

The delay also made us miss our train the next morning to Berlin, which cut our Berlin visit from two and a half days down to one.  Visiting Berlin had to be very compact.  We figured out a game plan from our guide book and hit everything we wanted to see.  But it was stopping at locations like the Brandenburg Gate and Pariser Plaz- where Hitler marched the soldiers and gave his speeches and staying a short time at each location.  We took a few minutes to soak it all in and then it was “ready to go?” “Yup, are you?” “Yup, let’s hit the next location.”  We did take time to see everything in the HolocaustMuseum and the Pergamonmuseum.

My daughter in our sleeper cabin on the train to Paris.

Oh but “Debbie” was still with us.  Our original train from Copenhagen to Berlin didn’t arrive as it had mechanical issues.  So for an hour we sat on the floor of the entrance of a train until we could get on one that was correct.  Then from Berlin we took a sleeper train to Paris, which arrived in Paris an hour late due to mechanical issues in the night.

Luckily this was the last of our mechanical issues.  The rest of our “Griswold” vacation was more tourist error.  Every time we left the hotel in Paris we would turn the wrong way on Saint Germaine.  We wouldn’t realize it until usually four blocks into the walk.  One day we were headed to Notre Dame and ended up at the Louvre first so we toured and then headed to Notre Dame only to realize we were about five blocks from Notre Dame had we gone the other way.

Our plane in Edinburgh. It was pouring and we had to walk in the rain.

We even got pulled to the side in Birmingham, England for our connecting flight to Edinburgh, Scotland because they thought we were “the French people” and they needed to fill out paperwork on us.  Never did figure out why they thought we were French.  I think Edinburgh might have been our last blip of confusion when we headed out of the hotel and went the wrong way trying to find the castle.  Once we figured it out, we had to walk back past the hotel, which turned into a good thing as we needed to pick up jackets.

Once we hit London, we knew the city and underground system so it was a piece of cake.  We just had to deal with our hotel keys never working and taking the local bus system from Heathrow to our hotel every time we wanted to use the underground system.  But what’s a European vacation without little bumps to make it interesting.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.