{2:00 AM Book Club} June ’11

by Leighann on June 27, 2011

As if us parents of children with diabetes have the extra time or the energy to actually read a book, I’m giving it my best shot to read (or “read”) 50 books in 2011.

I was going to say that I have not done a lot of reading lately. I haven’t had my usual time to listen to audiobooks, nor have I had the energy to read an actual book! I keep toting the same book to swim lessons every single day, but haven’t cracked it open.

But a camping trips and a long trip across the country actually gave me a little time to read real, physical books. With pages.

Visit my 2:00 AM Book Club page to see all of the books I’ve read in 2011 and those that are on my list.

June ’11

Last Summer Book12. The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares (audiobook)

If you remember, I recently read My Name is Memory, also by Ann Brashares. I love, love, loved that book and can’t wait for the next book in the series. I had high hopes for The Last Summer (of You and Me).

“In the town of Waterby on Fire Island, the rhythms and rituals of summer are sacrosanct: the ceremonial arrivals and departures by ferry; yacht club dinners with terrible food and breathtaking views; the virtual decree against shoes; and the generational parade of sandy, sun-bleached kids, running, swimming, squealing, and coming of age on the beach.

Set against this vivid backdrop, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is the enchanting, heartrending story of a beach-community friendship triangle among three young adults for whom summer and this place have meant everything. Sisters Riley and Alice, now in their twenties, have been returning to their parents modest beach house every summer for their entire lives. Petite, tenacious Riley is a tomboy and a lifeguard, always ready for a midnight swim, a gale-force sail, or a barefoot sprint down the beach. Beautiful Alice is lithe, gentle, a reader and a thinker, and worshipful of her older sister. And every summer growing up, in the big house that overshadowed their humble one, there was Paul, a friend as important to both girls as the place itself, who has now finally returned to the island after three years away. But his return marks a season of tremendous change, and when a simmering attraction, a serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, the three friends are launched into an unfamiliar adult world, a world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.”

The book has received a lot of great reviews, but I have to say I just didn’t like it as much as My Name is Memory. Maybe I had too high of hopes for it.

I didn’t feel like Brashares developed the characters fully or made me want to feel invested in them. It was as if she left out big chunks of background or inner monolog that would have let me know more about each of the three main characters and made me root for them. Perhaps it’s because the story was told in the third person, it’s almost as if she was skimming the surface.

If I had to sum up my reaction to the book, I would say that it left me unaffected.

I’m certainly not giving up on Brashares…yet.

Purchase The Last Summer (of You and Me) from my affiliate Barnes & Noble. It’s also available as a NOOK Book.

When Did I Get Like This13. When did I get like this? : the screamer, the worrier, the dinosaur-chicken-nugget-buyer, and other mothers I swore I’d never be* by Amy Wilson

Over the last seven years of long days with little children, I have had many moments of joy, calm, and peaceful reverie. This book is about the other moments.

I read a good portion of this book on a camping trip and then finished it in an airport during a long day of travel. While camping my husband took the kids down to the concession on a Saturday night to listen to a small town band and eat ice cream. I was more than happy to hang back in our pop-up in the air conditioning and listen to the near silence (the cicadas were pretty darn loud!). I will grab a minute of alone time whenever and wherever I can find it…even if it is in the middle of a state park with, gasp, no cell service and thus no internet access!

As I read this book, I dog-eared at least a dozen pages so that I could come back and quote them to you. Explanations of why men can’t multi-task, why we have to give fifteen step instructions lest the job not get done right (i.e, the way we want it done), why we feel the need to do things to perfection when half-ass is probably good enough. But I think the book is better read for yourself without me giving spoilers.

It’s not that Amy and I share the same path, it’s that I can relate to her journey as she became a mother. Whereas she had a difficult time getting pregnant and an easy time breastfeeding, my path was the complete opposite. But it’s the sarcasm and snark (who, me?!) that helps her deal with the stresses of mothering young children that I appreciate.

I especially nodded in agreement when she went to the Baby and Me class with her third child and had to contain herself when interacting with some first-time moms. As a veteran mom, I come across the same attitudes from some parents in my son’s preschool class who are first timers. (I can feel my eyes rolling just thinking about some of the parents.)

I will give you one quote that perhaps is applicable to my fellow d-moms and myself, even if it’s for a completely different reason. Amy says towards the end of the book after departing a flight with a child who threw up on her a dozen times and received no assistance from the flight attendants:

Again and again, motherhood will throw at me things for which I will feel, and may indeed be, completely unprepared. What will decide whether or not I am a good mother is not whether I am ready for such times, but how I move through the door. (p. 243)

I kind of feel that way about being handed a diabetes diagnosis in my young child. Of course none of us were prepared for our children to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, we weren’t prepared for the sheer mental and physical exhaustion of their care, we weren’t prepared to become doctors, nurses, dietitians, short-order cooks and waitresses (okay, maybe we were already short-order cooks and waitresses for our families). But so many of us have taken the diagnosis and walked through that door to a world of support and advocacy, whether it’s support and advocacy for others or just our own children. We rise to the occasion out of necessity of keeping our children alive, but end up going beyond what is expected of us to just get the job done.

It’s often so easy to feel like a failure when we’re handed an A1c that’s higher than we would have liked or expected. But we have to remember that we aren’t being graded. We are doing the best we can given the circumstances and knowledge we have at that time.

So while most of my “review” has everything to do with diabetes and nothing to do with the topics in her book, I think you will appreciate hearing another parenting story because you will see that other moms who might seem on the surface to have it all together, actually have their own struggles.

And some moms, like Amy, can actually sit back and laugh about it.

Learn more about Amy Wilson on her website.

Purchase When Did I Get Like This? from my affiliate Barnes & Noble. It’s also available as a NOOK Book.

Book descriptions are from Barnes & Noble. Links to bookstores are affiliate links and are provided so that you can find the books easily. I personally utilize the public library quite a bit, especially for audiobooks and fiction. I received titles marked with an asterisk (*) free of charge for review consideration. Please read the disclosure statement regarding affiliate links.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy June 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Hi Leighann! Thanks so much for this lovely review. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book. Your post gives me an idea for a blog post of my own– I’ll let you know when I get my act together and post! Best, Amy Wilson

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2 Leighann July 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

Amy- I look forward to reading your post. I enjoyed the book and have already passed it along!

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