The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow

This is an enjoyable story of 11 girls, friends from childhood, who grew up in Ames, Iowa. The author spotlights each girl so you really get to know their personalities and who they are the closest to within the group. This is a super quick read but is written intelligently. There were a couple of times I disagreed with the actions or ideals of some of the girls but then realized this is biographical – in other words, I got over it. This is good because in essence I really got into their lives whilst reading. The old adage applies here – I laughed, I cried; but that’s how life is and the point is their friendships have survived many different ordeals. The old Midwestern values come through pretty strongly too. You truly feel as if you know these girls and at times are there sitting in the circle with them at one of their reunions. On a personal note I have to say that my friendships with other women are such a blessing to me but none of them are from childhood and I felt a little envious of these ladies. The author points out how much we really need each other, in the good and bad and these ladies are a great example to us all of enduring love.

Father Dowling Mysteries by Ralph McIrney

For fun and light reading, McIrney is great.  Not too schmaltzy.  Likeable characters in familiar surroundings.  These are great reads for holidays whether you’re on a beach or taking a break over Thanksgiving weekend.  They are quick reads with mostly satisfactory endings.  I have to admit my first exposure to these tales was on the telly.  The friendly priest chasing around in the snow and ice to help his flock was extremely endearing. Sewing up an entire story in less than an hour, bringing people back to church and solving mysteries to boot. What more can you ask?

Midwives By Chris Bohjalian

Don’t know how many of you are into Oprah, but this is one from her book club. I have read quite a few from this list and have enjoyed many of them. Midwives, as the title suggests, is about midwifery. Not necessarily a book I would have picked up but it came from a new friend who suggested I may enjoy it after we had spoken about several other titles. It does get a little graphic sometimes but not for shock effect; just as an emotional as well as instructional standpoint. It is written from the perspective of a daughter of a midwife, who was 13 at the time of the story but is now grown. The story itself definitely holds water. The addition of the hormonally charged teens just adds to the reality of feelings expressed throughout. Your opinion of ‘at home birth’ may even change. I have to say for me personally one of the main characters who describes herself as a hippie and my personal view of that genre has been completely blown up with her passionate description of what it means to her and how she has lived her life. Maybe just a little thing but really made her character come alive and made me think even more how I wish we could all just ‘get along’. Understanding how we are all different is great but really honouring it can be completely different too. On a completely different note as I was laughing about a section in the book my 13 year old daughter asked me what I was reading that was so funny so I explained briefly what a midwife was and the paragraph was something akin to pushing a pickle through a straw when she asked why anyone would want to do that, completely horrified. Good question. Perspective is everything.