Congratulations to the US Women's Rowing team which took gold in the coxed eight rowing event. I never realized what a grueling sport rowing was until I read The Boys in the Boat. Now, PBS is airing a special about the 1936 Olympic team featured in the book. You can watch ithere.
Below is what I wrote about this New York Times bestseller when I first read it:
I finally finished reading The Boys in the Boat. It took me so long that I felt like I was in the boat with them!
Honestly, I wasn't crazy about this book to begin with, but who wants to quit on a book about perseverance? So, I stuck with it and in the end, I'm glad. It is truly amazing that these boys with the odds stacked so far against them could achieve greatness, or to paraphrase the book, touch the divine. It also gave me a whole new appreciation for the sport of rowing. Even though I have a niece and a nephew who row crew, and even though a regatta is truly a thing of beauty, I just never knew all of the pain that went into making something so difficult look so graceful and effortless. I also loved the references to other sports figures of the time, like Joe Louis and Seabiscuit.
If you are interested in sports history, or just a classic tale of humility, teamwork and determination you might give this book a try.
Elin Hilderbrand's latest book, Here's to Us, is a quick, easy beach read that will not only make you want to visit Nantucket, it will make you hungry. Her descriptions of the idyllic beach community are matched only by her descriptions of the smells, tastes, and textures of the food. Fortunately, the book contains recipes for the dishes that held the most significance in this story of three woman gathered to spread the ashes of the man they all once married. If you like the movie, The Other Woman, you will like this story of the unlikeliest of friends.
Let me start by saying how I am going to end, or rather, how I am not going to end. I am not going to end with my predictable closing, "Happy Reading." That is because, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers, by Nancy Jo Sales is anything but happy reading. It is, at times, disturbing.
A close friend who is a wonderful mom and a social worker with a Master's degree from Columbia University, gave me the book and warned me about its contents. After reading it, I told her it was the scariest parenting book I've ever read. How did we go from parenting books about toilet training and bed time routines to this? Scariest of all, is the thought that although this book was published this year, given the speed with which social media evolves, there are definitely new ways that young people are being exploited, cyberbullied, and in extreme cases, endangered, that parents don't even know about.
The book covers the teen years 13-19, but also addresses issues 'tweens face. It even cites a 2014 study at UCLA in which sixth-graders who went just five days without looking at a smart phone were significantly better at interpreting emotions and body language in face-to-face communication than sixth-graders in the same school who continued to use smart phones. (pp 135-136) While the studies cited in this book are interesting, the really gripping part of the book is the stories shared by teens from all over the country. Remarkably, they are almost always stories of the same experience across geographic regions and socioeconomic differences. A young girl in the south Bronx who feared leaving her grandma's apartment because people were passed out in the hallway with needles in their arms, describes nearly the same online experiences as girls in Boca Raton, FL and The Hamptons, New York.
This is an eye-opening read for any parent or any professional who works with young people.