Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Reading

Ah...summer reading. Thinking of light hearted paperback reads? Ha. Well, apparently I have missed the memo entirely on what is appropriate summer reading. I will just blame it on grad school. I put off reading things I have wanted to read because of grad school, so the summer is when I do my "for myself reading." Don't judge, but these are two books I would recommend, though I must emphasize, not for any fun, or escape value. If you are looking for something to get your mind off anything of a serious nature, these books are most certainly NOT recommended.

I started my summer off with The Kite Runner. I really felt like The Kite Runner had an amazing story of confronting the awful things we do, trying to reconcile and sometimes hide from them, and finally reaching redemption and confronting the costs of our decisions. The hope of love, amidst the most awful of circumstances, was illustrated vividly in this well written story. Most people I have talked to really have liked the book, but be warned, it deals with some hard story lines and some intense violence. It is set in Afghanistan beginning with the Soviet take over. It follows the story of a wealthy boy, and his boyhood friend through a moment that alters their lives and friendship. I was riveted and could not put it down. I felt the book was beautifully and simply written.

I just finished Massacre At Mountain Meadows, and lets just say, this book makes The Kite Runner seem almost cheery. I mean no disrespect to the awful events in The Kite Runner, but at least there is a sense of hope in the power of love and redemption at the end of The Kite Runner. Massacre At Mountain Meadows just made me wonder exactly how much evil lies in each human heart. I am sure most are aware of the basic events of the horrific story of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I, however, somehow have never taken the time to learn the details of what happened and was horrified at the atrocity that occurred. The book is wonderfully researched and written and tells a very clear and gripping story. I was riveted by this book. I haven't read anything else on the Mountain Meadows Massacre to compare it to, but I felt the book was fair and balanced and painted a clear picture of what was happening in Utah at the time of the event. The authors really tried to explain the actions of the leaders in Southern Utah, and how the massacre was eventually carried out. It is very informative. However, despite the explanations of what was happening with the Utah War, society, mindsets of the time, etc., etc., I was left with the most sickening feeling in my soul about what evil must rest in each individual heart if allowed to be manifest. The authors really tried to explain how such mass violence occurs, and tried to explain the context, but at the end of the day, a group of men methodically masterminded the deception of emigrant men, women, and children and massacred them with their own hands, and the hands of ill-fated Native Americans. I was, and am more than ever, unsettled at how this happened. The book did not answer that question, and I am afraid no book ever can. But it was VERY informative, well written, and--I felt--balanced in the treatment of something so horrific I can't even comprehend it.

So, hopefully your summer reading is much more cheery, but I do recommend both of my summer reads thus far!


Tender Mercies said...

What a contrast! I loved Kiterunner, even though it's so sad. I want to read the next one.

And we all used to have nightmares when we worked on the MM book. My friend Barbara, the editor, even had to have therapy--like PTS. Horrible. The second volume will talk more about the coverup and all--may answer more questions.

Kellie said...

Oh, wow Jenette. I always love book recommendations, and while these will go in my file of books to read, I may have to wait and read them when I am certain to have the emotional energy and time to think about them and to grapple with the challenges they are sure to present me.

Right now, I am reading Shannon Hale. Much lighter stuff!

Tams Family said...

I enjoyed the Kite Runner for all the same reasons you did. I loved the writing and thought it painted a very beatiful picture of friendship, repentance, and redemption. I will have to add the other to my list of books to read. Thanks for the insight!

Amy said...

Well written post. I just read Massacre at Mountain Meadows and was deeply moved. Up until this point I did not have that many details of the massacre itself only knew the number of people murdered and the number of children spared. It is hard to reconcile that an ancestor of mine was involved in that terrible crime.