The Shiniest Jewel by Marian Henley

December 7, 2008 at 7:37 am (Book Review) (, , , , , )

This small book is one of a kind.  It combines the memoir with the form of a graphic novel.  The artwork is black and white and simply drawn, and at first I was unimpressed.  I have seen better artwork in a variety of webcomics.

Something about the starkness of the art though, mirrored the stark language in the memoir.  It wasn’t that it was simply written, but that you had the feeling that Marian Henley put all of herself out there to see as a way of talking about what her adoption experience was like.

This memoir is more than just an adoption story though, it is about transitions and the place between things – the transition into motherhood, the transition from confirmed bachlorette to married woman, the transition of her father from life to death…and how she handles each change as it comes.  The story through its wording exudes a sense of taking life as it comes, its ups and downs with dignity.


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July 9, 2008 at 1:47 am (Book Review) (, , , , , , )

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

My initial response to this book was this, pulled from my library thing review:

This book was…incredible. I could not put it down. I bought it at 7:00 this evening and just finished it now at 12:30.

She paints a vivid description of the many joys, fears, successes, and troubles she found on her amazing journey passing back and forth between the States and Afghanistan. She shows the type of courage that would make the world a much better place if more people had her sense of humanitarianism and perseverance.

There are parts of this book that make you laugh and laugh, as you read about her various blunders and faux pas, and then again, there are times I was hard pressed not to burst into tears at some of the more emotional moments. This describes a period of intense ups and downs in the lives of many women.

At the end of it all though, you don’t want the book to be over, you ache for her and Sam’s difficulties, and you long to know how everyone is doing now, even though the afterward updates you through 2007. If you enjoy reading about current events, people’s lives, and stories that aren’t so much about happy endings as they are about gripping reality, this is a book you need to get your hands on.


To that I feel that I need to add something.

I still say that it was a very rewarding book to read.  After a lot of reflection though, I feel that I cannot agree with many of the choices made by the author of these memoirs.  Some of the details she gives about the life of those around her concern me.  They are details that would be a source of incredible difficulty for the people she talks about, and in at least one incident – that of a friend’s wedding and wedding night, something that the people involved can’t help but recognizing as their own story – could have horrible repercussions.  Some things should remain secrets between friends – no matter how juicy the story.

I also observed that for a memoir about charitable work, the person doing the work was extremely self absorbed.  I find that she has a lot of disdain for traditional culture, makes spur of the moment decisions that effect everyone around her with consideration only of herself, and in the end, I feel like the charity work in and of itself was a method of making her feel better more than anything else.

This in no way diminishes my enjoyment of the book, and I really recommend it.  I would love for other people who have read this book to respond with their own opinions.

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