i got so far behind in my reading this summer. june's book was The Zookeeper's Wife, and though i liked it a lot, its heavy world war two theme did not make for light reading. i paid late fees on it at the library THREE separate times, but i didn't want to give up, because the story itself was fascinating. it was just hard to finish, mostly because of the time of year i was reading, and because finishing non-fiction is not my forte anyway.
the book tells the true story of a young polish family who used their warsaw zoo to hide and rescue jews during the nazi occupation. most of their animals were either stolen or brutally "hunted" by the nazis, but that freed space to hide hundreds of jews right under the noses of the nazis in the middle of the occupied city.
the story is based on journals, photographs, and other historical accounts, and it provides an intimate look not only of one family's remarkable heroism but also of the creative scope of the resistance.
P.S. I Love You was an awful movie and a not much better book. the best thing i can say about it is it's a not entirely terrible beach read, which is where i read it. the story follows a young widow grieving the loss of her husband to cancer, but somehow she manages to not be a very likable or even sympathetic heroine. also, even though it's about grief, it lacks gravity and remains pretty fluffy. this was partly explained in the "book group question" section, which introduces a question like this: "keeping in mind that the author was only 22 when she wrote this, her first book..."
Letter to My Daughter is actually the first book i've ever read of maya angelou's. somehow, i expected it to be more poignant and memorable, but i still enjoyed it. ms. angelou has packed a great deal of experience into her seven decades, and she writes with warmth and humility.
here's an excerpt from a short section i enjoyed entitled "Keep the Faith," about angelou's grandmother during the Depression:
Whenever she confronted a challenge, Mamma...would tell her family in particular, and the world in general, "I don't know how to find the things we need, but I will step out on the word of God. I am trying to be a Christian and I will just step out on the word of God." Immediately, I could see her flung into space, moons at her feet and stars at her at her head, comets swirling around her shoulders. Naturally, since she was over six feet tall, and stood out on the word of God, she was a giant in heaven. It wasn't difficult for me to see Mamma as powerful, because she had the word of God beneath her feet.
Thinking of my grandmother years later, I wrote a gospel song...
"You said to lean on your arm
And I am leaning
You said to trust in your love
And I am trusting
You said to call on your name
And I am calling
I'm stepping out on your word."
Whenever I began to question whether God exists, I looked up to the sky and surely there, right there, between the sun and the moon, stands my grandmother, singing a long meter hymn, a song somewhere between a moan and a lullaby and I know faith is the evidence of things unseen.
And all I have to do is continue trying to be a Christian.
i've still not read september's offering (let alone october's), but maybe once i start breastfeeding a newborn for unending hours i'll get caught back up. maybe?