Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And we're back!!!!

Yeah, it's been a while since I last posted an entry. What can I say--life happened. I didn't think anyone actually read this blog, but then I saw one comment in my last post and got encouraged. Of course, that post was almost a year ago, but still, any little bit of encouragement means a whole lot to me.

Anyhoo, lots of things have occurred in the life of the Bookkitten. One of the most recent things is that I have recently joined a book club. The book club is quite enjoyable; we meet once a month, play catch up for two hours, and then talk about the book for ten minutes. It makes for a fun evening.

Tomorrow is our next meeting. This month, we read Girls of Tender Age, a memoir by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. Ms. Tirone Smith is the author of such mysteries as The Book of Phoebe, She's Not There, and Love Her Madly. I have not read any of her other books, and do not plan to; if you look at my profile, you will see that the Bookkitten does not like mysteries. (Yet she is the daughter of a mystery novel-loving couple. My parents' house is filled with James Patterson and Lisa Scottoline trade paperbacks. But I digress; that is another story for another blog).

One of the reasons we chose this book is that Ms. Tirone Smith is from our home state of Connecticut. She grew up in the old Charter Oak Terrace, and her descriptions of her childhood home are so detailed, so vivid, that I considered driving to Hartford one day to check out her old haunts. Alas, time was not on my side, and this is a trip I will not take unless gas dips back down, if it ever does.

Ms. Tirone Smith is a skilled writer. What initially starts out as a loving memoir of a 1950s childhood turns painful as she describes the horror of the murder of a classmate at the hands of a sexual predator. She skillfully weaves her own story and that of this sex offender so well that one remains intrigued throughout the whole story. She thoughtfully describes the horror that she felt for years afterward, and chronicles her struggle through her adolescence and adulthood to bring closure to this tragic memory.

This is not the only plot element worth attention, though. Ms. Tirone Smith also chronicles the story of her brother Tyler, who was "autistic before anyone knew what that meant." She writes, in great detail, of Tyler's immense collection of military history books, his inability to tolerate noise of any kind, his need to have three of everything on his dinner plate (three eggs, three slices of ham, and three servings of vegetables, for instance), and his obsession with polka music. Tyler's family struggles with his behaviors; his mother lives in denial about his condition, whereas his father sacrifices so much to care for his son.

As with most books I enjoy, I finished Girls of Tender Age in less than 24 hours. I could relate to it not just from the hometown locations that were described, but because of the story itself: one of an intense love of family, and the intense grief for an old friend.

I am currently reading another memoir of 1950s childhood: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson. I hope to have a full report sometime within the next year, if not sooner. :)

No comments: