Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Defy the Night

Defy the Night

About the Book:
In the midst of war, one teenager is determined to make a difference. If no one will do anything, she'll have to do it herself. In 1941 France is still "free." But fifteen-year-old Magali is frustrated by the cruel irony of pretending life is normal when food is rationed, new clothes are a rarity, and most of her friends are refugees. And now the government is actually helping the Nazis. Someone has got to do something, but it seems like no one has the guts—until Paquerette arrives. Smuggling refugee children is Paquerette's job. And she asks Magali to help. Working with Paquerette is scary and exhausting, but Magali never doubts that it is the right thing to do. Until her brash actions put those she loves in danger.

My Comments:
I have had a morbid fascination with the Nazi prison camps since I first became aware of their existence.  When this book became available for review I grabbed it, eager to read another novel with a semi-familiar setting.  I figured the refugees discussed above would be Jewish, and since the book is Christian fiction; that at least some would live happily ever after.  Honestly, I don't know if either of those statements is true.  As my regular readers know, I recently lost my father and I'm afraid my desire to read anything but the lightest romance novels has just gone missing.  I hope one day to read this book as it appears fascinating, but now just isn't the time for me, and I apologize to the author and the publisher for that. If you click the Amazon link above, you can download the Kindle version for only $0.99 during this blog tour.  

More Information: 
In preparation for the blog tour, the author, Heather Munn, sent out some additional information I'd like to share with you:
  • When France was conquered by Germany in 1940, it was divided into two halves: the "occupied zone" in the north, where German troops were in charge, and the "free zone" in the south, where there was still a French government.

  • My apologies for the phrase "In 1941 France is still 'free'" in the book description; it's not quite right. This was my fault & due to a miscommunication between me & Kregel; it was the "free zone" that I meant to describe as "still 'free'." France was conquered and the northern half of France was clearly not free.

  • Magali lives in the "free zone," and the camps she travels to are also in the free zone.

  • The French government in charge of the free zone was known as the Vichy government (and the free zone is also known nowadays as Vichy France.) This government collaborated with the Germans and was under pressure from them but it did have some freedom and did some evil things on its own as well--because it was also racist in itself, believing that Jews and other foreigners were bad for France.

  • The internment camps in the free zone were set up and run by the Vichy government; this was their own idea. The Nazis were not in charge of this, though they must have approved. It was also the Vichy government that allowed aid workers into the camps and released children, because in its early stages it wanted to appear humane and/or there may have been some people in that government who still had some heart. 

  • In the summer of 1942 (not long after the book ends) all the internees in the camps who were Jewish were given over to Germany at Hitler's demand and got sent to the death camps in Germany and Poland. The Vichy government also cooperated with the Nazis after that in arresting other Jewish people in France. The camps in France became transit camps, way-stations where people who had been arrested would be locked up for a brief time on their way to concentration camps in Germany and Poland. (There will be more about this in--Lord willing!--the third book in the series.)
She also sent some photos:

Ruins of Rivesaltes today

Children at an internment camp

Girls at Rivesaltes

Internees arriving at Rivesaltes

Children of LeChambon during the War

View of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon (the real Tanieux, the town that rescued Jews.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

Question of the Week: In what parish activities are you involved? (adapted from Faith)

My Answer:  I'm a lector and I serve on the parish school board.  I work several shifts at the parish fair.  Right now, that's it.  I've served as a catechist in the past, but my kids aren't in the program now and it is too much of a commitment at this point in my life.  I've been a Girl Scout leader but I've pulled back to "involved parent" this year to try to encourage my youngest to spread her wings without me.

I didn't write anything this week.  Easter was a mixture of bitter and sweet.  We had four out of town cousins come to my Dad's wake and funeral so Easter dinner and the egg hunt for the kids gave us time to catch up and tell stories.  We kept saying we need to do this some time when no funeral is involved.  The wake was Sunday night and Monday was the funeral, which as funerals go, I guess was nice.  

I've had a cold and with being out so much from work in the last few weeks, I've been snowed under there.  I is just going to take time to come up for air, and I"m trying to do that today.  Our parish fair is this weekend so there is no rest for the weary, but I did tell them I wouldn't be there today.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

Question of the Week: Does your family have any Easter traditions?

My Answer:  I do Easter baskets for the kids (and keep some candy for the grownups too).  Some years we get together with extended family; other years folks have other things to do.  Of course, we go to Mass as a family.

I'd like to thank all of you for your prayers this last week.  The peaceful death for which we were praying happened about 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.  I wrote about it here.  For some reason blogging hasn't been on the top of my list this week.  The wake is going to be tomorrow night and the funeral on Monday.  I have several cousins I haven't seen since we were kids who are going to come in for it, so for all the sorrow, it should be fun in its own way, if that makes any sense.  Because of Holy Week we were not able to bury him last week, so we all went home and back to "real life".  We are all meeting for lunch on Easter and will be together until all is done.  As I've told people here, considering the circumstances, things went as well as could have been expected, and we were fearing a whole lot worse.  God was good to us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Answered Prayers and Messages from God

My dad passed away peacefully at home Tuesday afternoon.  I've been reflecting today on the ways God has spoken to me and answered my prayers these last few week.  I'll admit that for all the time I spend in church and involved with church, at times I question my own faith and wonder if this is all real.  These last few weeks have been an experience of God touching my life.

About three weeks ago as I was leaving the office my brother called and said that Dad was in ICU and that the doctor said it was time to gather the family.  I headed to Mississippi in rush hour traffic.  That night in the hospital Dad wasn't terribly responsive and I wondered if he'd still be there in the morning.  I spent the night at his house and my brother and sister from Georgia came in too.  Friday he seemed somewhat better and since we had plans Saturday, I headed home.  Saturday morning I got a call; Dad had opted for hospice care at home.  Sunday I returned to Mississippi.  Dad was barely eating or drinking and told the doctor that he'd made his peace with God and didn't want rehab or to stay in the hospital.  I sat with him and prayed the Rosary with him since that has always been a favorite prayer for him.  Monday was the day he was to be discharged.   Based on the way he was talking and acting in the hospital,  I thought his goal in life at that point was to lay in that bed and die.  However, once the ambulance was ordered to take him home, he started issuing orders.  He wanted PT, he wanted a bath he wanted to go to Mass on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, he didn't get any of those things.  He got a bed bath the next day but he was just too weak to take to Mass and they had problems with the PT so she didn't show for over a week--not that I think it would have made much difference at that point.  However, he was home where he wanted to be and the hospice nurse said that she thought this could drag out for quite a while.  Since we had 24/7 help, my sister and I returned home.

For the last year and a half, I've been taking my Dad to Saturday evening Mass most weeks.  When I showed up at his house that Saturday, he asked if we were going.  The aide said she was willing to try if I was.  He had been asleep all day but we got him up and dressed and put him in the wheelchair to see if he could sit in it.  Then it started to rain, which was probably a good thing because it gave me a way out of a situation I could see giving me more problems than I could handle.  By that time he was exhausted so he went to sleep.  I decided to go to Mass anyway.  Because it was a last minute decision, I was late and walked into church as Father was reading the Gospel.  As I entered the church I heard "I am the Resurrection and the Life..."  Someone was reminding me of something I needed to hear.  Sunday at home, I was the reader for the first reading, which I could barely get through without tears.

We had one problem at this point.  My dad had an implanted defibrillator.  If his heart started with an abnormal rhythm, it would zap him, just like the paddles you see on TV, and it would keep zapping him until the battery ran out.  That's a problem because when you start actively dying, abnormal heart rhythms are part of the process.  Generally speaking, when people go into hospice care, the defibrillator is turned off.  My dad refused to do so.  He said he wasn't ready to die yet.   When I met with the hospice nurse when they first brought him home, she had all the paperwork.  He had also refused to sign a medical POA. She wasn't sure what was in his chest, but obviously wanted any defibrillator turned off.  She said they left pacemakers on but that the defibrillator was not doing anything for him but could potentially really hurt him.  This confused me because my dad said that he had felt so much better once they got that defibrillator working right.  Because of my dad's desires and because the nurse didn't think this was going to happen quickly, I suggested pushing the decision down the road a couple of weeks.  I figured that by that time, he would either be on an upswing (and glad he hadn't turned it off) or he'd be tired of being bedridden and wouldn't care any more.  

This Saturday morning my sister called.  She had spoken to my dad, who was refusing to eat or take his medicine.  I headed over there early and the aide said she was glad to see me; that he still was refusing to eat or take his meds and that he'd been sleeping all day.  I went in to see him and told him that if he was tired of fighting, we understood and it was ok to quit, but that we had to turn the defibrillator off first.  I asked if we could do that and he said "no".  I had spoken to his pastor earlier in the week and he agreed with me, that as long as we thought Dad was capable of making decisions, we had to honor his decision, even if we thought it was wrong.  That night I started having questions about whether he was capable of making decisions.  We had gotten him up and gotten a little reaction from him, and he did eat and take his meds for me but I decided to spend the night since it seemed that he was more responsive in the mornings and I wanted to talk to him.  I also started looking into my ability to make that decision for him.

Sunday morning we couldn't rouse him.  He was still alive but he wasn't speaking, wasn't waking up.  An old friend from work came by and he didn't rouse.  Then a couple from church came with communion.  He roused but was unable to drink, so they wouldn't give him communion.  We prayed for him and I told them the problem we had.  We then asked again if he wanted us to turn off the defibrillator.  He said "please".  I called hospice and they said they'd try to get someone there Monday (they had earlier told me that it could take up to two days to get someone there to turn it off).  The priest came by and he acknowledged Fr's presence.  Needless to say, but this time I was very worried.  I spent the night at his bedside.  I prayed the Rosary and when I finished the aide came in and said she could have sworn she heard two voices praying and wondered if I had someone on the phone.  I said maybe my Mom was praying with me, since they always prayed it together.  I had asked a lot of people to pray that he had a peaceful passing and I was pleading with God not to take him before we got that thing turned off.

Monday my sister came in and he acknowledged her presence.  He also roused when they brought Communion and was able to receive a speck of the host.  When Father came by, he recognized him.  He seemed somewhat aware of what was happening when the guy turned off the defibrillator.  Father came by again after the defibrillator was turned off.  That afternoon I was at peace; he could die in peace.  God had answered my prayers.  He did not acknowledge the priests when they stopped by that evening.   Again, I spent the night at his bedside.

Tuesday he was obviously weaker but he still responded when Father came.  At that point we were praying that it would be over sooner rather than later.  At 3:30, he made a loud noise and stopped breathing.  He died peacefully as I had prayed.

This morning I want to Mass in my parish.  In his homily Father talked about Henri Matisse, the artist.  He said that Matisse had severe arthritis in his hands and even used clothes to help him hold the brushes despite the pain.  When someone asked Matisse why he did that , Matisse said that the pain would pass but the beauty remained.  What a message to hear this morning!

Throughout this ordeal I have felt supported by the prayers of many people and have really felt the Divine Presence.  As sad as this time in my life is, it has reminded me that God is there and He does care.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each ot.her. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

Question of the Week: What is your favorite part of Holy Week?  
My Answer:  Adoration on Holy Thursday.  

I wrote about the Way of the Cross and compared it to the walk I've been on this Lent, particularly these last few weeks.  I also reviewed a novel that looked at secrets in marriage.  

I'm at my Dad's and I'm asking for your prayers.  I'm praying for a peaceful death, and something has to happen first, or his death will not likely be peaceful.  Pray that it does.  

Monday, April 07, 2014

Book Review: Test of Faith

Test of Faith

About the Book:
Elle Butler has managed to hold on to her politically-driven husband and her secrets until the unexpected happens. When one phone call rips her world apart, Elle will have to decide if the truth is worth the consequences. Especially when it threatens to destroy the world she's so carefully built around her life and her marriage.

My Comments:
When asked about the qualities necessary for a happy and healthy marriage, communication ranks up at the top of the lists of most experts.  Couples need to be able share important facets of themselves with each other without fear that the knowledge will be used against them.  Elle has a secret she's been keeping from her husband and while she would tell you that she had put this secret in her past, of course it had more of an effect on her than she was willing to admit.  Yes, you'll probably guess the secret long before it is revealed but the real tension in the book comes from the characters' reactions when the secret is revealed.  

The story is set in south Louisiana, in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and I enjoyed hearing about familiar places.  Elle's husband is a politician but he was far too honest to be a real Louisiana politician.  
I enjoyed reading a story about a marriage that underwent tremendous strain during a very stressful time and came through the fire purified rather than burned.  While perhaps a bit unrealistic about how well everything resolved, Test of Faith is a heartwarming read that I am pleased to recommend.  Grade:  B+.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to write any review, much less a positive one.

The Way of the Cross

This year the image that crosses my mind most often is the Way of the Cross, the walk to Calvary.  It is a walk to where Jesus didn't want to go (in the Garden of Gethsemane he specifically asked NOT to do it), a walk filled with pain of its own and a walk that would end in death.  My Dad is on that walk; whether he finishes it before Easter remains to be seen but the reality is that the main thing I've given up for Lent has been the father I knew.  His body has been slowly failing for years, this last step down has been a doozey and barring a miracle he is now bedridden.  His mind is also going.  He is 85 and has congestive heart failure.  He is on hospice care.  I know he has gotten more good years than many people get.  I know that lots of people have a lot more pain than he does.  I know lots of people are forced into nursing homes or other care arrangements they don't want because of lack of funds or lack of family support.  I know we are lucky that we aren't facing that.  Still, it hurts.  Since the day he came home from the hospital my Dad has wanted to go to Mass.  I went over Saturday willing to give it a try but he was weaker than I expected and it just wasn't safe.  I couldn't give him what he wanted most and that hurt.  His parish and pastor are wonderful and are taking good care of him but it isn't what he wants.

All of the sudden I feel old.  When I was at my Dad's two weeks ago I passed the church and saw a funeral.  The lady who brought Dad Communion told him whose funeral it was--my eighth grade English teacher.  At Mass Saturday night his pastor announced that the priest who had been pastor when I was in high school passed away.  This morning in my parish I learned that the deacon who baptized my older daughter died this week.  I saw a couple in the Communion line who have been parishioners "forever" and noticed how old they looked.  I realize I am in my fifties.  I'm not the same age as the other moms at school.  Most of my friends are close to being empty nesters if they haven't gotten there yet.  One couple in our crowd are grandparents.

We all know Calvary was horrible.  We all also believe that wasn't the end of the story.  After I realized I was't going to be able to get my Dad to Mass, he went back to bed (we'd had him up in the wheelchair to see how that would work, but when it started to rain we aborted the operation, which was a good thing because he was up about 30 minutes and then dozed off again).  Since he was sleeping I decided to go to Mass and pray for him.  I was late and walked in during the middle of the Gospel.  As I opened the door I heard Father reading "I am the Resurrection and the life..." and of course the tears flowed.  I believe he is going someplace better but I'm sure going to miss him.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly gathering where book bloggers share the new books that entered their homes that week.  I got two unsolicited packages this week.  One contained a pack of children's books by Carole P. Roman who writes about Captain No Beard.  The stories each focus on a moral teaching while telling of an exciting adventure on the high seas.  I hope the kids at my daughter's school enjoy them.

I Want To Do Yoga Too

The other package was from Michael Phillip Cash who writes horror and science fiction.  Not my thing but if you are interested in reviewing his books, his website is here; I'll bet if you are a blogger and ask nicely he'll send you review copies too.  

Finally, I got a book I requested for review, which will be on tour soon:
Candle Bible Handbook  -     By: Terry Jean Day

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each ot.her. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

Question of the Week:  What do you think about women wearing mantillas or other headcoverings to church? (adapted from Faith). My answer:  What other people wear in church is not really a big concern of mine.  I don't wear headcoverings in church but if you want to, go ahead.  If it makes you feel more connected to God, more power to you.  It would just make me feel weird.

What a week.  A week ago today the decision was made to bring my dad home on hospice care.  His main problem is congestive heart failure and they wanted to get some more fluid off of him to keep him comfortable as long as possible so he stayed in the hospital through Monday.  If you had asked me Sunday afternoon or Monday morning what his goal was, I would have said that he wanted to come home, lay in bed and die in peace.  His life, his choice.  He was't eating, he talked about making peace with God, he was Anointed etc.  Once that ambulance was on the way to take him home, he started issuing orders:  He wanted a bath, he wanted a physical therapist to come walk him and he wanted to go to Mass in the morning.  I told this to the hospice nurse who came than night and she started working on a PT referral.  She thought it was appropriate to try to get him able to ride in a wheelchair and go to church.  Well, no PT has shown up yet; it seems that hospice doesn't provide services to improve your lot, only to make you comfortable and even though we have plenty of money (thank God) we are having trouble finding a PT who will come to the house on a private pay basis.  Also, Dad has a defibrillator implanted.  The hospice nurse wants it turned off, she said they can be gruesome as they shock dying people.  Dad doesn't want to turn it off.  Yesterday the hospice supervisor suggested we consider whether hospice is what Dad really wants now, or whether home health could be more appropriate for his goals.  

I'm going over this afternoon and will hopefully take him to Mass.  He wants to go and he was up in his chair for several hours yesterday.  My brother's mother-in-law is a nurse and she was with him yesterday.  She said she thought he'd be fine to go to Mass today so I'll give it whirl.  We all know he is not long for this world; we just want him to be able to do what he wants when he wants as long as possible.  

For some reason I haven't had much time to blog this week.  However, I did have two prescheduled posts that went up:  The Last Forever is a coming of age novel.  Critical Condition is Christian medical suspense. Overcoming Obstacles in Cooking is a cookbook for new cooks who happen to have a handicap.  

Review: Overcoming Obstacles in Cooking

Overcoming Obstacles in Cooking

About the Book:
Think you cannot cook because you have never cooked before or are disabled? Think again! Some recipes included are: chocolate butterscotch pudding, cake lady finger surprise, brown sugar buttered pork chops, and more. "Matthew definitely embodies a person with determination. He has overcome many obstacles in life, including getting his master's degree despite having cerebral palsy" -Jeremy Stewart "Matthew learned a one-handed keyboarding method. He was willing to practice the technique correctly. This resulted in him often typing faster than students using both hands. Keyboarding afforded him the opportunity to learn a lifelong skill for written communication and expression" -Mrs. Diann M. Snellings, school librarian, A.G. Richardson Elementary School.

My Comments:
Since I have a son with autism, this book caught my eye.  While my son can and does cook, I know there are a lot of people with disabilities far more life-limiting than his.  

The recipes in this cookbook are simple and as you'll note if you click here:   Overcoming Obstacles in Cooking they are laid out one per page with a box around the ingredients, making it clear what part of the recipe is ingredients and what part is directions.  Not only is that good for people with disabilities but for anyone just learning to cook.  One recipe is Brown Sugar Pork Chops.  It calls for one package of boneless center-cut pork chops, salt and pepper for taste, one stick butter and 1 cup brown sugar.  The directions say:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a shallow glass baking dish, place the pork chops flat.  Cut the butter into small pats and la them on top of each pork chop.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and cover each chop with generous amounts of brown sugar.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.  Flip the pork chops over and salt and pepper to taste and add another generous amount of brown sugar to each pork chop.  Replace in the overn and orast for another 10 minutes and check that the internal temperature is 140 degrees with a meat thermometer.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and serve.
I used a 13X9 metal pan since I don't own a glass baking dish of appropriate size.  I covered the bottom with pork chops and ended up using a little more than one package (ours were thinly sliced).  Here is what they looked like before they went in the oven:

I finished the recipe as directed and here is the "after" picture:

The family loved them; they were nice and sweet and tender.  Since there was so much sweet butter sauce left when dinner was over (the four of us downed all those chops) I took the uncooked chops that were left and put them in the oven in the leftover sauce.  They were good too!

Usually I consider the appendices of books to be parts to skip, but in this case they are an important part of what makes the book uniquely good for its intended purpose.  The are:
  • "Different" and a Tip for Kids.  This is a poem about having disabilities
  • Learning to cook by using crafts and hands on cooking activities.  One thing the author mentions is that peeling bananas helped him strengthen his fine motor skills.  
  • Using Food in the Classroom.  One suggestion was using pies and pizzas to teach fractions.
  • Suggested Cookbooks.  These include cookbooks for acid reflux and for cancer patients as well as cookbooks by academic subject.
  • Alphabet Soup describes all the acronyms that become so common in the special needs world.
  • Putting a School Supply List to Work in Your Kitchen.  This really sings the praises of gallon ziplock bags.
  • Matthew's Tips for Overcoming Obstacles in Cooking.  This mostly deals with cerebral palsy but some of the tips, like allowing a child to leave class a few minutes early so as not to get trampled in the hall could be helpful for many disabilities.
  • Teaching People with Disabilities How to Cook.  Talks about auditory vs visual learning and gives some handy tips like using bigger supplies and work spaces.  
  • Suggested Companies for Overcoming Obstacles in Cooking.  One company listed provides bigger cooking supplies than are normally found in stores.  
  • Shopping List.  I'll admit I wasn't impressed with this list that included teddy grahams and goldfish crackers, though the suggestion to buy poptop cans seemed good.
I'd like to thank the author for providing a review copy via Bostick Communications.  Grade:  B+.  

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Review: The Last Forever

About the Book:
Beginnings and endings overlap in this soaring novel of love and loss from bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti, whose writing SLJ has called “reminiscent of the best of Sarah Dessen.”

Nothing lasts forever, and no one gets that more than Tessa. After her mother died, it’s all she can do to keep her friends, her boyfriend, her happiness from slipping away. And then there’s her dad. He’s stuck in his own daze, and it’s hard to feel like a family when their house no longer seems like a home.

Her father’s solution? An impromptu road trip that lands them in a small coastal town. Despite all the beauty there, Tessa can’t help but feel even more lost. Her most cherished possession—a rare plant of her mother’s—is starting to wither, and with it, Tessa’s heart and her hope.

Enter Henry Lark. He understands the relationships that matter. And more important, he understands her. Though secrets stand between them, each has a chance at healing…if first, Tessa can find the courage to believe in forever.

My Comments:
Losing your  mother is hard, even when you are a mom in your forties yourself.  I can't imagine how awful it must be to lose your mom when you are a teenager.  In Tessa's case, she not only lost her mom, in some ways she lost her dad too.  Instead of parenting her, he chose to spend his time stoned, until one day when he realized that a change of scenery might help and he packed her off to his mother's (who Tessa didn't know) while he found himself.  During her time there Tessa gets to know new people who give her a dream and help make it come true.  

One of the major characters in the book is a plant, yes, that's right, a plant, and no, it's not one that talks or eats people or anything like that.  Pixiebell was planted by Tess' grandfather and kept by her mother.  She has always been told it may be the last of its kind.  When Tess and her father head off on their road trip Pixiebell comes too, and starts to die.  

I've read that all of us have a God-shaped hole in our heart and those who don't know God seek other things to fill that hole, most of them destructive.  I think part of that seeking of God is a seeking for immortality.  Because we are meant to be with God, the idea of ceasing to exist bothers us.  Religion is not mentioned at all in this book and Pixiebell is how Tessa seeks immortality.  

This is a coming of age novel.  Tess moves from her first boyfriend to her first love and then to realizing that love can mean a lot of different things.  She watches her dad grow from a pothead she has to care for to a father who can care for her.  She learns that dreams can come true--and that sometimes they aren't meant to.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via Edelweiss.  Grade:  B+

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