Four books I read on vacation

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. Call me cold-hearted, but I didn’t cry. I did end up enjoying it . . . I had gotten to the point where I didn’t believe that they would ever see how dangerous it was to put so much of their lives into each other, but then C.S. Lewis said exactly what I was thinking about those things, and said it much better than I could have. In the end, I liked it, but not as much as I was hoping. I think that people who love fairy-tale romance more than I do would like it more than I did.

With this Ring, I’m Confused by Kristin Billerbeck. I have never loved this series as much as Alisa, but I wanted to finish out the story. I had the usual objections about being able to relate to Ashley’s shopping habits and money management. In this one, my main problem was that I couldn’t believe that she didn’t feel like she could tell her fiance about the problems she was having with his family. One line in particular made me groan out loud to the point that Mike asked me what was wrong – it said something about whether or not she was ready to move across the country wtih a man she barely knew. And that sentence crystallized my objection to the book: I felt as if Ashley was marrying someone she barely knew, someone she fell in love with because she liked the image he projected and not because she knew what made him tick. Now, I will be the first to say that, no matter how well you know someone (or you think you know someone) before you are married, that there will be huge things to discover. But the theme of the book was Ashley not communicating with her fiance, which seemed pretty shaky grounds on which to build a marriage. I liked seeing some of the secondary characters again, especially Kay, and would love to hear more about her story. Her scenes with Ashley were my favorite.

Swimming with Scapulars by Michael Lickona. I had high hopes for this one, but it ended up being kind of “meh” overall. It’s just some thoughts on being a devout 30-something Catholic in this country, and to me it seemed disjointed. If nothing else, I got some good reading recommendations, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone whose hackles are raised by all things Catholic, as Mr. Lickona is very serious about his faith and his church.

The J.A.P. Chronicles by Isabel Rose. See what I did? Two light books and two more serious ones. This one was a big thumbs down. A review I read in this morning summed up how I felt:

The J.A.P. Chronicles is uncomfortable for several reasons. First, the portrayal of Jewish women is less than positive, although it can, of course, be argued that she is describing these characters only and not making sweeping statements or generalizations. Second, the subtext of the novel — of abuse and retribution, trauma and its consequences — is not fully explored.

In other words, I should have listened to my coworker who said it wasn’t very good.

So, that’s it. One week, four books, and not one that I loved. Right now I’m reading The Kite Runner and it’s very good so far. I’m about halfway through, and I have no idea where the story is headed.

Have you read anything good lately to recommend?

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