Jen moved here from Salt Lake City and marvels at reaching her dreams of choosing a graduate program (and getting in), working in a charming bookstore, and living in the Northwest. She leads the feminist book group, helps with author and community events, and delights in making inaudible sound effects.
Favorite genres: Historical fiction and young adult sprinkled with social justice themes
Favorite authors include Zora Neale Hurston, Bryce Courtenay, and Annie Dillard.
I can't stop sharing this book with friends, big and small, to see them smile at the way Originally published in 1977, The Big Orange Splot shows the wonder of expressing who you really are. Even though all the neighbors like each house on the street to be orderly and neat, Mr. Plumbeam rallies to turn an accidental big orange splot on his roof into a masterpiece of a home. As neighbors visit Mr. Plumbean to convince him to restore order to the street, he says, "My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams." Suddenly each one allows his or her dreams to take shape until the street becomes an amazing array of ships and castles and balloons and other fantastic places. The phrases the neighbors use to describe Mr. Plumbeam crack me up. "He's got bees in his bonnet, bats in his belfry, and knots in his noodle." A bright celebration of individuality!
The first aspect that drew me into this book was the language. I savored words I had never heard before, and reread sentences that filled me with delight. Christophanous, pluvial, salvific, lustrous, pecuniary, and others continue to dance around in my mind. No grand events take place in the book, but the protagonist shares simple frustrations, sorrows, and pleasures in a way that makes ordinary experiences worth pondering. Without experience of either, this book made me want to watch recreational cricket and stroll through post-9/11 Manhattan.
Irene Vilar speaks bluntly about the sorrows of her life and her family in a way that made me ache and marvel at a family so full of suffering. She breaks free by finding her voice, which offers readers the meaning and context to the maddening repetition of trauma. Despite the extreme circumstances of Vilar's story, Impossible Motherhood inspires me to claim life with greater vigor and responsibility.