Reviews: Fall into Fall

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By Gini Rainey

“The Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown

A New York Times best-seller, “The Weird Sisters” is an interesting novel about three sisters whose brainiac father’s main method of communication is by using quotes from William Shakespeare. In fact, he is so enamored by the Bard that the girls are named after three of his characters: Rose (Rosalind, “As You Like It”), Bean (Bianca, “Taming of the Shrew”) and Cordy (Cordelia, “King Lear”). However, their mother is still stuck somewhere in the peace-loving 60’s and has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Wonderfully written, this is a book you’ll have trouble putting down. Although not new to the market (published in 2011), the interwoven lives of the three sisters gives a fresh look at the relationships in a family filled with people who don’t know how to live their own lives, nor how to communicate with one another.

This tale of relationships between siblings is not a new concept, but Brown’s take on the three sisters, their ethereal parents, and life in a college town was unique. Each one of the girls returned home, trying to escape a life that was in shambles, and consequently, are attempting to get their collective acts together while getting help and encouragement from one another. What they found was a mother facing a serious illness who, although wouldn’t admit it, needed their love and support to continue through her own healing process.

This compelling, coming-to-adulthood story follows the different paths that each of the sisters has chosen and aren’t necessarily happy with. Through the process of their discovering that they pretty much define themselves by the relationships and characteristics of the other sisters, the reader is able to pretty much take a bird’s eye view as the process unfolds. “Sisters,” told in an unusual, but fitting, collective first person “we” voice, makes for some interesting Escher-like shifts in perspective as the story seamlessly moves among the different sisters lives as they comment on their entanglements and deliver sisterly judgements and reactions to each other.

Although the book got off to a slow start, and I had to give some extra thought to the Shakespeare lines for better clarification. When it was all said and done, this turned out to be a great read that I found hard to put down.

Copyright 2011 – Berkley

Rating: 4 out of 5

“Cary Grant: Dark Angel” by Geoffrey Wansell

Geoffrey Wansell, an acclaimed biographer and former reporter and feature writer for “London Times,” columnist for the “Observer” and the “Sunday Telegraph,” takes on the awesome task of writing a biography about one of the most iconic leading men that has come out of Hollywood. From his humble beginnings as Archibald Leach in England, to the star-studded glamour of the big screen, Cary Grant’s life is laid out for the reader in straight-forward language, with very few punches pulled.

Cary Grant had a fairly unusual, challenging life, and was blessed, yet riddled, with different issues from his childhood. Even though, as an adult, he kept much of his private life to himself, and had many emotional insecurities, Grant was able to create a cool, suave, meticulous character that he shared with the public who adored and revered him.

Unfortunately for me, I read this book on my Kindle and just now discovered that originally it was published in a coffee table book format and was filled with, apparently, wonderful photographs that gave a visual backdrop to Grant’s life story. Somehow I can’t help but think the visual would have greatly enhanced the reading experience of this book.

Although Wansell gave some insight into the complexity of Grant, I had a lot of trouble staying with this book. In my opinion, this book, with all of the interesting stories about Grant’s life, is really more of a chronological account of the life and times of Cary Grant, and although all the speculation in the world can be made about what might have been going through his mind and motivating him, Grant is the only one who knows for sure where that truth lay.

Copyright 2011 – Arcade Publishing

Rating: 3 out of 5

“Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir” by Kambri Crews

In this critically acclaimed and “New York Times” best-seller, Kambri Crews tells the story of her life growing up with two Deaf parents in a voice that is fresh, fearless, and singular. This is another one of those books that I found difficult to put down. With Crews telling the story about her family’s struggle to repair their broken relationship by moving the family into the woods deep in rural Texas, you had to question the wisdom of such a move. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out the way they had planned and had to abandon the woods to move into Ft. Worth and a more advantageous job market.

Through Kambri’s brilliant use of descriptions and character development, she had me laughing, crying, becoming angry, and feeling intense sorrow, as I was pulled into the riveting story about her family’s attempt to find a semblance of normalcy in spite of several set-backs.

The major unsettling undercurrent in the Crew’s family was Kambri’s father’s inability to escape the demons that seemed to plague him, and that ultimately succeeded in pulling him in directions that landed him in jail and serving a 20 year sentence.

If nothing else, “Burn Down the Ground” illustrates the infuriating complexities of life. There are so many sides to every story, and as much as we would like to have them fit neatly into a box, they just can’t and won’t. Kambri learned through living how to survive, and through that survival she has become an incredible writer who isn’t afraid to tell it like it was.

By leading us through the challenges she faced, Crew helps us to become much more wise and compassionate to ourselves and others when life gets messy and doesn’t go ‘according to plan.’ The honesty and rawness of this book makes it a must-read if you’re wanting to gain the perspective of the life of someone who has dealt with things most of us will never know, and survived to tell about it, in an completely honest and mature way.

Copyright 2012 – Villard

Rating: 5 of 5

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