Four books read in February! Mama’s got her groove back, y’all!
Here’s the skinny. First, we have one that I read with my girls one chapter at a time at bedtime. Second, there’s a story based on the very real, very disturbing Tennessee Children’s Home Society in the 1930s. Next comes a book that takes a spiritual look at body positivity. And last but not least, I got to read a book that hasn’t even been released yet!!
That means that the tally stands at one juvenile fiction, one kinda-sorta historical fiction, one personal development, and one memoir. Let’s dive in!
I know this may come as a shock to you. It may mean I lose my “good modern Catholic card.”
But, until now, I have never read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Thanks to the Abiding Together Podcast and their recent book study, though, my girls and I decided to read it together at bedtime. It amazed me how these girls picked up on the symbolism and the themes of love and sin and sacrifice. I had told them it was an allegory about Christ (and then explained what an allegory is), and once they knew that, they really ran with it.
For example, after Edmund was rescued from the Witch, he and Aslan (the Lion and the allegorical Jesus) removed themselves from the group to talk. When they came back with Edmund seeking forgiveness from his family, my 2nd grader made the link to her own First Reconciliation. Then we came to the part where Aslan has to meet the White Witch at the stone table. As the story went on, I watched my 11 year-old’s eyes get bigger and bigger as she tried not to cry. When we closed the book, she said, “Mom! That was like Jesus in the garden and when he was taken to be crucified.”
And then my heart exploded into a hundred pieces.
It was a beautiful experience that I don’t think any of us will forget. If you haven’t read it, maybe give it a try! As for me, I need to get the next book in the series from the library.
Holy Moses, this was one heck of a book. I hadn’t heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society before reading this. I didn’t know anything at all about the “river gypsy” people that lived along the Mississippi River during the Great Depression. And I certainly couldn’t have guessed the scandal surrounding what ultimately became the normalization of adoption in the United States.
Thanks to hints from a friend, I knew there would be heavy and difficult material covered and, for sure, there were! But it was also a beautiful generational story of love and loss, trauma and redemption set in the southern states of Tennessee and South Carolina.
If you liked Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, I think you’d like this, too.
It is not an exaggeration to say that my soul needed this book.
A few months ago, I heard Christy & Haley of the Fountains of Carrots podcast interview the author. I enjoyed their conversation immensely and, as this was before the book had actually been released, I’m pretty sure I preordered it off of Amazon before the episode was over.
I’ve talked about it enough on this blog that it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have a love/hate relationship with my body. I’ve read other books on the subject of body positivity before; I follow several Instagram accounts based on the subject. But never before this book have I felt like I was reading what would truly help my soul.
The amount of orange pen underlines and margin notes are innumerable and I couldn’t share all of my favorite quotes with you if I tried. But here are just a couple to tempt you to order it for yourself or someone you love:
In our culture, when we use the word “perfect” to describe something, we usually mean “flawless”…Flawlessness, however, is a false notion of perfection. The world that is translated as “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 — teleios — doesn’t mean “flawless.” It means “brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness, perfect; full grown…Jesus is calling us to be complete, to fulfill our purpose the way God the Father is complete and fulfills his purpose. (pg. 43)
Our culture has formed us in a liturgy of bodies that does not reflect the teachings of our faith, and it is our duty to question that liturgy. We have to let the teachings of Jesus and his Church confront the lies that thinness, health, and beauty are the markers of goodness or greatness. (pg. 75)
Accepting that my body is lovely and good is a fight that requires perseverance. It is not done in a day, a month, or even a year. It’s a pilgrimage to get to the place where my perception of my body equals God’s perception of my body. (pg. 104)
I’m going to wager that if you are a Catholic who uses Instagram, you’ve heard of Mary Lenaburg (you can learn more about her here). In fact, that’s where I “met” this lovely lady over a year and a half ago, myself! We’ve chatted through messages, laughed and prayed together, and were even able to meet in person at the Blessed is She retreat in DC last November.
Mary reached out to me and sent me an advanced (PDF) copy of her book early last month and I couldn’t believe it! Naturally, I was honored, but I was also humbled, too. See, Mary and her family have quite a story to tell. This book covers everything from pornography addiction and eating disorders to the life and death of her severely handicapped daughter, Courtney. With wit, humor, and grace, Mary shares their story of doubt, difficulty, trust, and the goodness of God. It’s a tearjerker that will make you laugh out loud — how awesome is that?!
Run, don’t walk, to pre-order your own copy from Amazon now! (As with all pre-orders, once it ships on May 11, Amazon will charge you the lowest advertised price between now and then.)