Saturday, December 4, 2010

War in the Margins

This novel, by Libby Cone, more than The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, described what day to day life was like for the residents of the Channel Islands during the German Occupation in World War II. Especially for the Jersey Jews. I found it fascinating how the Germans passed laws culminating in complete control of the Jewish population one by one, first requiring registration then slowly taking all of their rights until there were none. I've heard about this in the past but reading this & feeling as if I were a part in this novel really brought it home & made it more for me.

I thought this seemed to start a little slowly, but once it took my attention it had it & drew me into this world, using excerpts from official German documents to tell the story, not merely supporting the story. Without these documents the story would have been untold. This made it so much more real to me. It's one thing to read how some change is enacted and yet another to read the actual documents that made this happen.

The stories of starvation, of the loss of trees for building for the Germans and firewood for warmth is something I have no concept of. I live in the United States & have never lived through a War that has affected my life on a day to day basis. I struggled to wrap my head around a world where there was no food, where I would have to live in hiding in my home land.

The author tied the characters together quite nicely, not necessarily pleasantly yet leaving a very realistic taste in my mouth. The ending is sweet but a bit of bitterness is there, too, most characters have some action to account for in themselves. Some bit of oversight or action caused by fear. The author created an opportunity for forgiveness and redemption between a group of people with little in common before the war but with so much in common after the war.

Please read this one, it is wonderfully written and will give a much more personal spin on life in the Channel Islands during World War II.

James and the Giant Peach

I have wanted to reread this book for quite a while, since I was a child. After reading it this time I believe I didn't finish it then. There are parts that I don't recall and I think there were parts that scared me then.

As a adult with a small child I was charmed by James and his story. I could see this novel being formed as a bedtime story and dreamed that one day, I, too, could create something so wonderful for my son.

I love how Roald Dahl creates a positive attachment to the bugs for a child. Giving them personalities and showing their otherwise negative characteristics as positive. This teaches the child that they gladly serve a purpose in our complex world and that they are kind and gentle in their own right, something to be treasured, not feared.

I especially loved the imagery of the cloud men, creating hail as we create snowballs, lightening and rainbows with paint pails. As they are to be treasured, too, for while they create weather that can harm, they also create the rainbows.

And who would have thought that dirty little seagulls could be given such a positive turn?