I have actually finished four books this summer! One I actually started before school ended but I am going to count it anyway. Clearly I have more time on my hands since I am taking full advantage of that excellent teacher perk "summers off", and I have actually been staying up past my 10:00 bedtime. It is summer you know.
The first three books were a trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl that Played with Fire, and The Girl that Kicked the Hornet's Nest. They were awesome! The series was written by a Swede named Steig Larson so there are many IKEA and ...gatan references. I found it very helpful to disguise all of the Swedish places with American pseudonyms. It just makes for smoother reading. But there are also places that you will be very familiar with like McDonald's (who knew it was so popular in Sweden), Starbucks (coffee is loved globally), Stockholm, Paris, Australia, and Philadelphia, PA. I highly recommend the books about a kick-ass computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander if you like suspense, murder, governmental corruption, and kinky sex references. (No romance novel slush here!)
It is even being made into a movie. Well actually... it was already produced in Sweden but since I don't often get to their cinemas, it is being made into a new movie. For the life of me though, I can't imagine anyone else playing Lisbeth but Angelina Jolie. And I Hate her...
Last night I finished The Help. It has been a really long time since I finished a book in four days and turned the last page with tears running down my cheeks. The setting is 1960s Mississippi. It chronicles the lives of three families and the African American women they employ as their help. The white attitudes toward their darker peers will anger you. The love the "maids", as they are called, have for the young white babies they raise will melt your heart. The treatment that is shown to some of the characters by their spouses, employers and mothers will turn your stomach. But most importantly the struggle for equality that plays out in each chapter will open your eyes to things we have never experienced here in upstate New York. The Help will have you thinking about why color once made such a difference. And asking yourself if it still does?
It was an amazing tale. Even more amazing is the fact that the story is based loosely on the author's own childhood growing up with an African American maid and never realizing that she should have said thank you and joined her for a meal at the kitchen table. It is powerful, poignant, and I can't wait to see the movie. I just hope that Aibeleen chooses not to walk away from Mae Mobley at the end. Or we will all be crying along with the toddler.