Monday, August 30, 2021

August Books

I read two books this month and started another one but had to put it down.  

First up is Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

(incidentally I read the large print version)

This book is about a boy who was the sole survivor of a plane crash.  The book goes back and forth between the flight itself from the point of view of different passengers, and then Edward's life after the crash. He obviously has a few issues to deal with post physical and emotional and it goes on for several years.  At first I felt like this was a story I read before, a book called Before the Fall that also featured a sole survivor from a plane crash.  But this book, Dear Edward, does go a bit farther and it was a moving read in the second half.  

As someone who gets nervous flying, I really should stay away from these books.  I trust the pilots immensely and I know they are well trained and good at what they do, but in these books where weather and pilot error are the cause, I am reminded that anything can happen at anytime.  I need to put this out of my mind the next time I fly (next month). 

The second book was my 2021 Reading List.  From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle.

This book is about an Indigenous (Metis) man who grows up in Toronto, becomes a drug addict and homeless, and (spoiler, but evidenced by the fact he is an author) turns his life around and gets clean.  I actually thought it was going to be about residential schools, but that wasn't part of it at all.  And to be honest his Indigenous status isn't the main focus of the story, and I don't mean that in a negative way, but rather it is a tragic story that just happens to be told by an Indigenous man.  Certainly racism played a part in how he was treated, how he grew up, and contributed to the troubles he faced but the story is also a universal one.  

This book details how he lived on the streets, couch surfing, and surviving despite the variety of drugs he put into his body.  He never could seem to get ahead, even though he did have love in his life from his family, tough love at times too.  It reminded me a bit of Educated and The Sound of Gravel where the writers eventually climbed out of devastating circumstances and ultimately survived, but I liked this one more because it took place in the Greater Toronto Area mostly.  I see the homeless people on our streets and anyone of them could be someone like Jesse was.  I already have empathy for homeless and impoverished people in our city, but this book (along with When the Moon is Low and Scarborough) do more to enlighten me on what life is like for many people and how they are just scraping by.  I hope others read this and instead of sneering at someone looking for change, see that individual as a whole person with a set of circumstances that led them to that place.  

The last book I was reading was A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

This is on my reading list as well, and I will get through it, but I had to put it down for now.  It is over 700 pages (and this is Volume 1 of 2!) and I could only get to page 161 and decided to return it to the library.  The book is good and I want to read it, but it's a little dry.  It basically just tells the story of Obama's campaign and then presidency and it's occasionally written like a speech where he gives examples about the single mother from South Side Chicago, or the second generation farmer in Iowa, and the public school teacher in California, you know what I mean?  He tries to relate everything back to the people of America (you can probably hear his voice saying these things).  So yeah, it's good, and will probably get more interesting after he becomes president (he's only just won the Democratic nomination by page 161) but it's not exactly a page turner, no offense Mr. President.


  1. I actually couldn't finish Dear Edward because a story about a 12 year old boy, flying with his family, and being the only one to survive the plane crash -- yeah, it hit a little too close to home -- so I stopped reading it.

    I will check out From The Ashes next time I get to the library -- it sounds really good.