I also listen to it while I fold laundry. I also
There are not many books that can make me do that and still be counted among my very favorites. Wilson Rawls is an absolute master at description, at characterization and believable dialogue, at setting and at boosting Kleenex's annual sales.
But what strikes me most during this read/listen (I have read it at least three times before...maybe more) is the very real and very beautiful family relationships Rawls creates. Billy has what we now see as an old-fashioned respect for his parents and grandfather, a deep love for his three little sisters, excitement and joy to learn that yet another sibling is expected. All this without limiting the tension of the story one iota.
I want so badly to write a book like this one, that I could almost cry just from that.
2. I found this gem at a used book store this past weekend:
It's the only Deep Valley book (Deep Valley, of Betsy-Tacy fame) that I haven't read. I did one of those, "Oh, I'll just crack it open to see how it starts..." only to find myself an hour later 50 pages in and completely caught up in the character's life.
While this one takes the easier tension-creating path of an orphaned main character, family life is still the star of the show. Emily lives with her 80-something grandfather, a veteran of the Civil War, and while she struggles with disappointment at missing out on the fun college experience that her high school classmates take for granted, she doesn't hesitate to choose the simple life of daily meal preparation, housekeeping, and listening to her grandfather's stories over and over--because he needs her, and family members take care of each other. That kind of selflessness and maturity isn't even believed if it crops up in contemporary YA manuscripts. (I'm speaking partly from the experience of a critique partner who had a beautiful manuscript rejected because it ends in a similar selfless decision.)
3. On the picture book side of things:
I had to laugh at certain Goodreads reviews that rate this poorly because "it's too old-fashioned and kids today just won't be interested in that old-timey stuff." Of course, nothing could so highly recommend a book to me. My girls think it's lovely and totally normal, but then they also use phrases like, "Do my ears deceive me?" and "I'm very fond of pumpkins." So maybe I can't judge accurately. (For the record, "pumpkin moonshine" is an old New England term for a jack-o-lantern. It has nothing to do with alcohol made from pumpkins. Sorry to disappoint.)
4. Finally, in the non-fiction corner:
After reading Emily Freeman's A Million Little Ways, I had to read her sister's book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful. Speaking of the beauty of simple family life...
This book provides plenty of good advice on decorating your home, but I'd argue that its deeper purpose is to remind us of what home should be in the first place. Some of us have become so caught up in the idea of a perfect house that we're hesitant to let our homes be the havens and sanctuaries and beacons of joy that they're meant to be. I needed the verbal smack on the cheek to remind me that my home can offer guests comfort and happiness and hospitality even if every floor isn't vacuumed--or maybe, in my case, even if every floor isn't even finished. I am so prideful and I have got to. Get. Over. It.
On that happy, honest note....I'll close. What are you reading this week? What are your favorite literary beacons of simple, joyful family life?