Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Sy Montgomery is a popular naturalist who in this book explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus. The octopus is an astonishingly complex, spirited creature, with venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot, and ink like an old fashioned pen. It can weigh as much as a man and stretch as long as a car, yet it can pour its baggy, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. It can change color and shape. It can taste with its skin. Most fascinating of all, they are really quite smart. They represent the great mystery of the Other. They seem completely alien, yet their world--the ocean--comprises far more of the Earth (70 percent of its surface area; more than 90 percent of its habitable space) than does land. Montgomery practices true immersion journalism in pursuit of these wild, solitary animals and chronicles her growing appreciation of this animal by telling us this love story. The book is funny, entertaining, and touching. A captivating book on a quite different intelligence.
Friday, November 18, 2016
I am normally a pretty big Jodi Picoult fan, because her books usually take controversial newsworthy issues and examine them through the eyes of ordinary people. She tries to present both sides of an issue and allows readers to feel sympathetic towards characters on opposing sides of a conflict. However, I must admit this time out, I had a bit of reluctance towards reading her latest effort because it is about race and prejudice, and to be honest I feel about that topic a bit like Morgan Freeman does in the clip below:
But because it is written by Ms. Picoult, I decide to read it anyway, because I was sure it would be well written despite my trepidation. And it is, even though I found some of the motivations and actions of a couple of her main characters a little too trite and stereotypical.
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
Despite my earlier qualms about a couple of characters that were almost caricatures, and a mindset that leans a bit towards victimization and playing the blame game, I found it to be an interesting read.