Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sap and Sexism

I finished two books last week. One I liked, one I did not.

Book #1:

Description of book: In the wake of his bestselling Christmas Jars comes a sweetly crafted story from Wright, a Virginia businessman. Jack and Laurel Cooper are two hardworking, loving Christian pillars of the community who die in each other's arms one night in the bed-and-breakfast that they own and operate. The event calls their three grown children home for the funeral, including their youngest son, a fugitive from the law who must face an outstanding warrant for his arrest and confront his one true love, now engaged to another man. As events unfold around the funeral, the three children discover a treasure trove of family history in the form of Wednesday letters-notes that Jack wrote to his wife every single week of their married lives. As they read, the children brush across the fabric of a devoted marriage that survived a devastating event kept secret all these years. It's a lovely story: heartening, wholesome, humorous, suspenseful and redemptive. It resonates with the true meaning of family and the life-healing power of forgiveness all wrapped up in a satisfying ending.

Perhaps I'm not a good judge since I am not easily impressed by fiction, but the fact is that I was not impressed by this book. Everything about it was completely implausible, to the point where I was not feeling any of the emotions I was being expected to feel by the author. It is supposed to be sad but heartwarming, but I just rolled my eyes. The emotions were way too forced and unbelievable. The way the big plot twist was wrapped up made me angry. I'm sorry, but maybe in a perfect world where all of us are completely God-like would we be able to forgive a horrible act done to us in what seems like a moment. I'm not saying forgiveness is impossible; I'm saying forgiveness and then forgetting without much of a struggle is impossible. We're humans, and when we are deeply hurt by something, it takes us awhile to get over it. We are not machines. So I don't find a book that depicts super-humans to be very heartwarming and relatable.
Little bit of a spoiler here: I think one reason I had such a problem with this book is that I get extremely outraged over violence against women. And I'm willing to bet a thousand bucks that if some strange man attacked me, my husband would never want him around me again, no matter how much the guy apologized. He might eventually forgive him, but he would not become best buds with him. =P

Anyway, I am giving it 2 stars even though I hated it because other people probably would like it more than I did.

Book #2:

Description of book: Readers with an eye on European politics will recognize Ali as the Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with controversial director Theo van Gogh (who was himself assassinated). Even before then, her attacks on Islamic culture as "brutal, bigoted, [and] fixated on controlling women" had generated much controversy. In this suspenseful account of her life and her internal struggle with her Muslim faith, she discusses how these views were shaped by her experiences amid the political chaos of Somalia and other African nations, where she was subjected to genital mutilation and later forced into an unwanted marriage.
I first heard about Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the talk radio program I listen to on my way home from work. The talk show host was interviewing her, and I found what she had to say to be fascinating, so I checked out her first book. She is an extremely impressive woman. At first I was a little disappointed in the story she had to tell because I didn't realize she was from a non-Arabic country, so her Muslim experience was a little non-typical of what we usually hear about. For instance, it was her grandmother who was responsible for her genital mutilation--her father wasn't even around for most of her life. She was also exposed to a lot of Western influences that most Muslim children do not get. But towards the end of the book, I realized that this did not invalidate her experience and knowledge of Islam, and that if it hadn't been for those influences, she wouldn't have tried to escape. She is definitely very politically incorrect when it comes to Islam. She believes strongly that the Muslims who are peaceful and do not believe in jihad are following a very light, watered-down interpretation of the Koran, whereas the strict fundamental Muslims are actually following Islam as the Prophet Muhammed desired. It's a very bold statement to make in a world that is dominated by liberal "tolerance." One of the most interesting points that caught my eye was her belief that all people are equal, but all cultures are NOT equal. In her opinion, some cultures, like the Islamic culture, should be discouraged and done away with because of its vile treatment of certain types of people (such as women, Jews, Westerners, homesexuals, etc.) and their utter disregard for some of the most basic human rights. She believes that these cultures should not be pandered to by the governments of other countries, such as the U.S. Again, a very bold statement...but I think she is right. Why do we condone/ignore a culture where women have zero rights?? Her experiences with the horrific treatment of women under Islam is very chilling. Yet where is the outrage from the feminists over it? Are they too afraid to defend these abused women (Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to have constant security protection because of the many threats made against her life by Islamic fundamentalists--that's pretty scary), or do they simply not care?

This book gets 5 stars from me, and I'm very much looking forward to reading more of her writings.


  1. Hmm, the book about Islam sounds very interesting to me! I might have to see if I can get out of my non-reading slump. Thanks for the review!! :)

  2. Just the description of Wednesday Letters is enough to raise red flags. Detest books (and movies) like that.

    Infidel was a NY Times best seller? That's good anyway: people need to see the other side of things. Good for her.