Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Girl Power

January was definitely a month of girl power when it came to reading.  I read two outstanding books with strong, inspirational female protagonists. Both books hooked me within the first few pages and by the end of each I had fallen in love with both ladies, one fictional and one who is very real.

The Boston Girl is a full-length review because it was not only an exceptional book, my library system owns it, so therefore I wrote a longer piece for their website.  Something I should probably point out is that I haven't read an outstanding piece of fiction since July, 2015.  I've read some good fiction, don't get me wrong, but nothing that had me talking for days about it.  

I also read Hope in a Ballet shoe and am currently watching First Position, which is a documentary about six different kids competing in the Youth America Grand Prix​.  Michaela is one of the ballerinas featured in the documentary so I'm very jazzed up about it.

The Boston Girl is told by 85-year-old Addie, who revisits her long life of memories during an interview given by one of her grandchildren.  It’s an incredibly intimate one-side conversation that completely ensnares the reader.  This storytelling style made me feel as if Addie was my grandmother.  Like other special books with superb storytelling, The Boston Girl envelopes the reader inside a bubble.  While reading it, you feel like you are living the story and your real life is just an inconvenience that exists outside of the bubble.  

Addie Baum is both fiercely independent and endearingly reliant on the love and support of her friends and family.  She’s never entirely sure what she wants out life, and for most of the book, she could be any teenaged or twenty-something trying to figure out who she is.  She is just as surprised as the reader is by each of her revelations.  Because she has a couple rotten experiences with men, she becomes leery and standoffish with them.  I found it refreshing that she stays level headed and doesn’t succumb to her emotions.  Her relationships with her friends and family are complex and meaningful.  Hands down, my favorite aspect of The Boston Girl is the colorful array of characters. Each person in this book stands on their own and is just as complex as Addie.  My only disappointment was how little time was spent on her years of motherhood in comparison to her years prior to marriage.  Because of how well the characters are portrayed I wish I could have known more about Addie's husband and children.  

The first time I saw this book, I was immediately drawn to the cover, as I’m sure any reader would be.  Though she is sitting on an uncomfortable pier with waves crashing around her, Addie is completely immersed in the book she is reading. This is a testament to the kind of life she lived - giving her undivided attention to her friends, family and personal growth.  When you read The Boston Girl, you too, will give Addie's memories your undivided attention.  The entire world will disappear, leaving only Addie’s story of growing up in Boston and her journey to find her place in the world. 

Though Hope in a Ballet Shoe isn't the most well-written book you'll ever read, and the portrayal of the Sierra Leone civil war will give you nightmares, I highly recommend it. Michaela DePrince's story of going from a starving, neglected orphan to ballerina extraordinaire is inspiring, beautiful, and heartwarming. 

After seeing a picture of a ballerina during her horrific time at an orphanage, Michaela decides she wants to become a ballerina. She escapes Sierra Leone thanks to two extraordinary people who adopt both Michaela and her best friend, Mia. After years of hard work, Michaela becomes a globally renowned ballerina. This is the stuff of fairy tales, but unlike fairy tales, it's a true story. 

I was blown away by the love portrayed in this book and how it overpowers the atrocities of Michaela's early life. Though the book doesn't hide the sacrifices made by Michaela and her parents, their selflessness, passion for life, and love for each other make those sacrifices look so small in comparison.

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