Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Sunrise was at 6:12, Sunrise will be at 8:06. Old post finally up.

I love looking back at the sunrise/sunset times in past posts, how much earlier the sun comes up between one post and the next. I heard birds chirping at around 5 am and the sky is light then.

Exposed, by Kimberly Marcus, is a book written in poetry. There's something powerful about books written in poetry, there are fewer words so what gets said has to get right to the point, there's no chance to hide ugly things inside a pad of words. They are like winter, bare branches, exposed hillsides, flat skies where everything is available to view.

Exposed is the story of a friendship ruined when one friend charges the other friend's brother with rape. It's a book filled with grief and guilt. Liz is a photographer, happy and good at what she does. Kate is a dancer, light and joyful, and has decided to study history instead of dance. They have been best friends all their lives, sharing their love of their art and each other, until Liz questions Kate about her decisions about her future. A huge fight ensues, Liz goes upstairs to bed, Kate stays on the couch.

In the morning, Liz goes to apologize for what she's said and Kate is gone. When Liz goes to her house, her mom says she sick and in bed. From that moment on, Kate avoids her, she won't talk to her, won't meet her eyes. Time passes and rumors start to fly about what happened between Kate and Liz' brother the night they fought.

What do you do when everything you though you knew about the people close to you twists and begins to change? Who do you believe? How do you deal with the people you still love that now have these shades surrounding them? If it's your best friend's words against your brother's?

There are many books out now about date rape, Mockingbirds, Speak, You Against Me, and it's interesting to note how even the girls, think "Did she really mean no?" It's even more interesting that girls are often too embarrassed or scared to yell out to stop, that they want this to just go away, not realizing that it won't.

It's good that books like these are written; it's good that if a girl gets raped that she knows she's not alone. As women, we need to make sure this topic isn't taboo. It happens to more of us than anyone knows and most of us wonder, "How did that happen to me?"

When do we give a girl the magic words that give her the power to be as tough and strong as the person holding her down? When do we teach them to be rude? When do we show them how to fight back or to know when to just walk away from a situation? Why don't we train girls to believe that they are as important as the person they are with, that their bodies and feelings are theirs alone, and that they can walk away from bad situations. We need to give them the tools to feel good about walking away and being strong enough to do it before we get to the point where we get to tell them what happened wasn't their fault.

In Lovely Bones, if that little girl had not been polite or felt she was going to hurt that man's feelings by going with him, she'd still be alive today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blood Red Road, Moira Young

Sunrise was at 6:27, sunset will be at 7:55.

Muddy sunlight as the sun rises between the Cascades and Rainier. Pac Med glows in peach and the skyscrapers' south sides are the color of sunlight in smog.

Blood Red Road, by Moira Young, is a fabulous book for anyone interested in what the future on our world holds. Saba lives in not so much a dystopian world as an a-topian world, a post-apocalyptic world without government or much of a future for its folks. She and her twin brother, Lugh, were born 18 years ago when there was still plenty of water and small excesses of crops, enough to share if needed. They live on a small holding with a tiny pond with their father and younger sister, Emmi.

When the story starts, Lugh is beginning to chafe against the future he sees for himself and his father seems to be going mad, reading their futures in the mud and sand of the holding. Saba only wants Lugh to stop wanting to leave her and the homestead.

A massive sandstorm moves through on Lugh and Saba's 18th birthdays hiding a violent posse of men on horseback, there to kidnap Lugh, killing their father and leaving Emmi and Saba alone in an uninhabited, unfriendly landscape. Saba can't imagine a life without her twin and decides to leave Emmi with the only other person they know of, a woman living in a hidden valley, the woman who helped deliver the twins but arrived too late to save their mother when Emmi came early. Saba has blamed Emmi for their mother's death ever since, hating her and treating her badly- this is the perfect way to leave her behind and get on with things by herself. However, Emmi loves her brother, too, and there is no way she's going to be left in the valley alone.

The ensuing search for Lugh is one of the most exciting adventure stories I've read in years! Saba and Emmi eventually learn to work together, sharing their skills, as they are arrested, kidnapped, beaten, become part of an underground movement to free an entire town, and fall in love.

Blood Red Road is filled with great characters, humor, and adventure. The world Ms. Young has invented is realistic and scary, like a denuded, dry New Zealand, and Saba is a flawed and sometimes unlikable hero. But, she is strong, dependable, loyal, and has a one track mind, to get to Lugh. The people she meets along the way, especially the women in the prison where she fights other people to the death, join her in her quest to get to Lugh because he has been taken by the man who has kept them imprisoned and impoverished for so long.

I love how the characters grow in the book, they become fully fleshed and learn from all their mistakes as they go. I love how the relationship between Emmi and Saba changes. I'd like to know more about Emmi, all those years of knowing Saba hates her, living without a sister, losing her brother, knowing she's the reason her mother died, raised by a not-so-lucid father, never knowing a world with water or excess, pretty much raising herself and teaching herself warrior skills and the virtues she needs to get along in the world. She's an interesting one. And then there's the crow, Nero. Saba saved Nero as a baby and they have forged a language of their own, Nero able to understand commands and words, and is a force of his own.

Definitely a book for 11 and up, just because of all the gore. I am really hoping there will be more by Moira Young. And I would love to know more about this world. (Simon and Schuster. $17.99. Available in June, 2011.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

short night, it's gonna be a long, long day

sunrise will be at 6:40, sunset will be at 7:45.

it's quiet at 4 in the morning. few cars out there on i-90, no one walking their dogs, and you wonder what's going on in the houses with lit windows. the radio holds the dulcet tones of BBC reporters. their voices are strange, the news is strange.

i can't sleep and i'm really tired. i woke up hot and sweaty, worried about work, worried about money, worried about everything so i just got up. figured i might as well get a couple of hours of reading in before the day breaks and it all starts over.

i finished nic sheff's we all fall down last night which has left me feeling a little creeped out and weird. it's hard to believe that people can ingest such vast quantities of alcohol and drugs and still be able to function. i get to that third beer on a weekend night and that's it for me; i'm pretty thankful i can read my personal warning signals.

he's coming by the store to do a "drop-by", an on-the-run stock signing. he's not speaking at our store so this gives us a chance to meet him, get some books signed, and offer local educators and counselors a moment with him. he's got some powerful things to say, he's got experiences that most of us will never have, stuff that could change lives in ways we will never know.

drug use is such a private thing that when someone steps up and says, i do it, i did it, you do, too, what do i know that will help you, giving you the chance to tell your story, to share such a moment is life-changing. knowing you aren't the only one is a powerful thing.

as hard as his books are to read, as wickedly brutal and train-wreck-like as they are, they are important to have available to the people who need them, when they need them. they are, of course, full of drug use, full of sex, full of lies; reading along, you can see how he lies to himself, justifying what he does. As much talk of sex as there is, it isn't pretty or prurient - it's ugly and torturous, it's sex, not love, even though the word love is used to describe it. all part of the lie.

fascinating, horrible, icky, anyone who has ever known anyone living a life like this will find themselves more empathetic, more forgiving, after the reading than before. definitely a book for older teens, unless you are a user or know a user. if you are or do, you need to know what that life is like. (Little Brown. $17.99. available now.)