NEEDTOBREATHE- Darling

 

This one’s dedicated to my darlin’ Clementine, from The Good Shepherd.

With love, Charles Fitzgerald.


Find more NeedtoBreathe!

Buy their Acoustic Live album.


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NEEDTOBREATHE- Darling

 

This one’s dedicated to my darlin’ Clementine, from The Good Shepherd.

With love, Charles Fitzgerald.


Find more NeedtoBreathe!

Pre-order their upcoming Acoustic Live album, which will be released on Nov. 16, 2018.


TGS_hairpin_icon

Get the first volume of my new historical fantasy series, Werewolf Warden… The Good Shepherd today!

NEEDTOBREATHE- Darling

 

This one’s dedicated to my darlin’ Clementine, from The Good Shepherd.

With love, Charles Fitzgerald.


Find more NeedtoBreathe!

Pre-order their upcoming Acoustic Live album, which will be released on Nov. 16, 2018.


TGS_hairpin_icon

Get the first volume of my new historical fantasy series, Werewolf Warden… The Good Shepherd today!

Book Review- A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle

“I didn’t hear the last lines because my mind stopped with A deep but dazzling darkness. And then it picked up the first poem he’d read, with eternity being a great ring of pure and endless light.

Grandfather looked at me.

“He’s great, this Vaughan guy,” I said.

A Ring of Endless Light is the fourth in the series of Austin family books by Madeleine L’Engle.  A full dive into existential inquiry, along with splashes of young love, create an engaging read for those who enjoy both the deep and shallow ends of the young adult literary pool. The author, L’Engle, is never flippant. In this novel, there are waves of childlike faith, angst-ridden doubt, and more above-average intellectual conversation amongst teenagers than I have ever witnessed in real life.

While being light-years more intelligent than most teenagers, whether real or fictionalized, Vicky Austin is a fairly sympathetic protagonist. Every once in a while, the reader may feel she should trade in some of her book smarts for street ones, but since she is facing a mature issue—death—throughout most of the story, she ought to be imperfect and inconsistent. She is a typical teen—stubborn, full of self-doubt, and bound to learn through experience.

The Austin family is unlike any family I’ve ever known. They discuss poetry, the mystery of heaven, and the avoidance of inverse sexism—all after singing folk songs with lyrics from Shakespeare after dinner. They are supportive, understanding, and intelligent, respecting both the scientific and the sacred.

Any scene with Vicky’s grandfather is bound to be profound. The private conversations Vicky has with her grandfather, who is dying from leukemia, are beautiful. She feels the most herself around him and his stalwart faith is a firm sounding board for her fledgling spiritual thoughts. Poetry gets a pedestal to stand on in this novel, both by highlighting quotes from poets (for example: Henry Vaughan, from which the title and theme are borrowed), and by emphasizing Vicky’s own forays into line and verse. Faith is a mystery, as is death. Poetry is a natural vehicle for these metaphysical thoughts.

Madeleine L’Engle’s trademark mixing of both science and faith in all her novels is present here as well. The science in A Ring of Endless Light is introduced through the dolphin research done at the Marine Biology Station, where the communication skills of cetaceans are studied. Vicky finds herself with an uncanny ability to communicate with dolphins—a supernatural ability. The faith comes through with the effect of the Austin’s patriarch’s impending death. Both the science and the faith are presented as gifts from God. This accomplishment is a consistent gift of L’Engle’s.

And last—but not least—the romance. The awkward, emotional teenage variety. Vicky finds herself garnering attention from three very different young men. She is already at turmoil and petty drama is really beneath her. Boys! Fortunately, Vicky is not a silly girl. The boy drama doesn’t hold her underwater for long.

One of my favorite books of all time, A Ring of Endless Light, is special and inspiring for those who desire their brains to accompany their hearts in the exploration of the mysterious, spiritual, and ontological.

“…I remembered last year, when he was on a religious kick and was telling us exactly what God is like, Grandfather had said quietly—not rebukingly, just quietly—“As St. Augustine says: if you think you understand, it isn’t God.”

Buy A Ring of Endless Light on Amazon!

Find Madeleine L’Engle on Goodreads!

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Book Review- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Omaha. Somewhere in middle America. This is the setting for Rainbow Rowell’s 2012 award-winning teen romance novel.  My own love story holds some parallels to this fictional tale- yearning to escape home, falling in love unintentionally, and rediscovering myself both musically and emotionally, byproducts of that unexpected, one-of-a-kind friendship which transformed into love. I married that one-of-a-kind friend, an Omaha native (Go, fightin’ Bunnies!) and we lived in nearby Lincoln, NE. for three years. If you’ve never been to Omaha, you may not realize how vital this landlocked, drab midwest city in the fluorescent ’80’s fits the setting and plot of Eleanor & Park. That’s okay. It’s still a worthy read.

My only criticism, however, is the language. It’s pretty uncouth- for me, at least. Normally I would berate a book for allowing such lazy use of the English language to crowd out alternative forms of expression, but in this case, I will extend some grace. For teenagers, swearing profusely can be a growing pain of the adolescent vernacular in process. Sometimes this vernacular doesn’t mature. Grown-ups in Eleanor & Park add their own zesty language to this coming-of-age tale. But, the author’s use of inappropriate language encompasses parts of the story where the rough tone expresses more than mere words. Foul language is uncomfortable, antagonistic, and demoralizing, and the author uses it as a vehicle to amplify that tone. The language alone, by grating on me and incurring images of isolation and pain, transported me back to hell, I mean, high school. Mission accomplished.

I’d rather discuss the beauty of this book. I’m not exactly a sold-out romantic, and neither are the two main characters, Eleanor and Park.  Their initial unromantic attitudes make their eventual fathomless commitment all the more captivating. And- they feel real. This description of fictional characters is wearing thin, but in the case of Eleanor & Park; it’s true.  I had friends like them. I was like them. It’s a difficult and satisfying feat for an author to create realistic characters readers can invest in. Kudos to Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor is weird, complicated, brilliant, neglected, and lonely. Park has hidden strength, and is shy, creative, rebellious, and deep. These teenagers don’t fit into a box neatly like comic books. Their foray thru high school and family life is an unyielding mountain. As a result, their relationship becomes a means of survival. The romance is of the teenage variety, but not completely saccharine- more nutritional, like honey. There are reasonable circumstances that allow the reader to be comfortable with Eleanor and Park’s heaping servings of syrupy, unfettered devotion. No spoilers- just trust me. As a side note, I appreciated that the writer decided not to take the characters’ physical relationship too far and cheapen their young bond.

The devotion between these two extraordinary, yet ordinary, characters is enough to entice the reader to keep reading; but the additional tension pressing on Eleanor’s home life, an antagonist in its own right, also contributed to the plot movement and overall interest. The sense of urgency, fear, and anger-inducing neglect of Eleanor was palpable and tragic. In addition, Park’s sardonic musical inclinations, his family dynamics, and his emotional transformation were as riveting as the Beatles’ White Album.

Rainbow Rowell’s writing induced sarcastic smiles, wrenched my heart, and caused a few eye rolls; but most often, it rekindled that knot-in-the-throat version of unabashed love in my fond memory. Good stuff.

And- the ending? …ahhh.

 

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
― Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park

 

Buy Eleanor & Park on Amazon.   Check out Rainbow Rowell’s Author Page.   Add the book to your bookshelf at Goodreads.   Fall in love, Eleanor & Park-style.

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