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    Thursday, August 19, 2010


    I recently read Lisa T. Bergren’s novel, Claim. I’ve never read one of her books before, for which I should be flogged. But really, having missed out on her excellent fiction is punishment enough, don’t you think? Now I’m wiser and will be stocking up on Bergren novels like I’m anticipating nuclear winter.

    I was a little concerned about reading the third book in The Homeward Bound Trilogy before reading the first two, but I had no problem diving into the lives of siblings Dominic, Moira, and Odessa St. Clair.

    Claim is primarily Dominic’s journey to love, home, and his place in the world, and right from the start I felt like I knew the guy and understood where he was coming from. Bergren is fantastic at conveying the little pieces that add up to make an authentic character. Her pacing is flawless as well. She kept me wondering what was going to happen next but never frustrated me by jumping too soon to another character’s point of view.

    Moira, Dominic’s sister, also has a journey to take in Claim. The bulk of her story is told in the second novel, Breathe, and I look forward to reading it. But I liked the way Bergren showed that even if you think you’ve found where you belong, you still need to deal with your past in order to heal. The twist at the end of Moira’s journey surprised me and added an unexpected level of tension.

    I took Claim with me on a camping trip, and the surroundings were perfect for reading a story set in the Colorado mountains. That is, when I managed to block out the sounds of the horde of wild children roaming the campsite.

    Kory took this picture and said it was me in my natural habitat. He’s wrong. This is the equivalent of a goldfish in a water-filled baggie. I’m far from where I belong—a comfy chair INDOORS—but I still have what I need for survival. A good book.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    School Supplies Make Me Cry

    The Dragon and the Turtle releases today! Look for it in your local Christian bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon—anywhere but my garage.

    To celebrate the release of our children’s book, I went shopping for school supplies today. Yeah, that was a joke.

    Just once I’d like to go back-to-school shopping and not end up blubbering in the junk food aisle. Seriously, those school supply lists make me question the goodness of God.

    I have a theory. I think teachers make these lists with the intent to torture parents one last time before the kids return to school. Most of the time, I like teachers. Several of my close personal friends teach, and my boys have been blessed with some really dedicated educators in their short school careers. But as I squeeze through the school supply aisle at Wal-Mart, I lose touch with reality a little bit.

    I mean, come on. How can I not go bonkers when instructed to purchase three packages of Crayola Washable Markers, 10 Count. You can buy REGULAR Crayola Markers, 10 Count. And you can buy Crayola Washable Markers, 8 Count. But you CANNOT buy Crayola Washable Markers, 10 Count. Apparently, they don’t make them.

    Then there are the index cards. I’m supposed to buy pastel index cards. Pastel! Guess what my choices are in office supplies. White and NEON! I smell Conspiracy to Drive Parents Insane, don’t you?

    And then there are items like this:

    1 package colored copy paper (NOT multi-color) Huh??

    2 red felt tip pens (fine tip, NOT permanent) Um, this is in addition to the three packages of Crayola Washable Markers 10 Count?

    Chunky is supposed to have 24 No. 2 Standard Yellow Pencils (Papermate Brand) and Monkey is supposed to have 48 (forty-freakin’-eight?!) No. 2 Standard Yellow Pencils (Papermate Brand.) I could not even find ONE Papermate Brand pencil, let alone SEVENTY-TWO!

    Now I know someone is going to say I’m over-thinking this. People are always telling me I’m over-thinking things. My mom says it. My husband says it. My counselor says it. The guy who gave me a tissue next to the Little Debbie display said it. But what can I say? I’m just trying to follow directions and keep either of my boys from being known as “that weird kid who only has 8 markers instead of 10.” Or worse, “that freak with the neon index cards.”

    I know if I can survive this crisis, my kids will go back to school next week, and I will have eight blissful hours of quiet time every weekday until sometime next June. But for now, I have to count crayons, organize folders by color and type (pockets or brads?), and make sure the box of Kleenex I bought has a minimum of 175 tissues in it.

    Please go buy The Dragon and the Turtle. My mental health bill is going to be high.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Lucky Baby

    Meredith Efken’s Lucky Baby could not have come at a better time for me. Feelings of inadequacy in the mom department all but smothered me this summer. And although my boys are adopted from another planet, not from China, I had plenty to relate to in this fantastic book about a woman's journey to become a mother in all the real and good senses of the word.

    Meg Lindsay, the heroine of Lucky Baby, seeks to repair her wounded heart by stitching together a family of her own. She and her husband, Lewis, set out to adopt an orphan, Zhen An, from China, but their journey exposes more than their own hurts.

    Wen Ming, a slightly older blind girl, is Zhen An’s only friend in the Chinese Orphanage. Her side of the story is one not often heard in the typical adoption account. Wen Ming—with her strength, tenacity, and fierce love—serves as a counterpart to Meg Lindsay’s desperate but at times tentative affection for her daughter.

    The two struggle to forge the true bonds of family and move beyond the losses they've suffered.

    The author weaves Meg and Wen Ming’s tales together with exquisite prose. I loved her use of magical realism. Each of the symbolic elements felt like a feast. I told myself I’d savor the delectable words, and then I gobbled them up anyway. But the best thing about a good book is that you can always read it again.

    Lucky Baby is a fragrant and satisfying story of family and healing and how the two are possible despite the pain of rejection. I highly recommend it for moms and anyone who enjoys rich, evocative, magical tales.

    You can find out more about Meredith Efken and her books at her website.