(Outside of) 2016 Reading Challenge

So, it’s the second half of January and I still haven’t written what my challenge is about. But, all in due time (sort of!).

                First, a little list of books I read outside of 2016 Challenge and books I started to read, but didn’t complete.

  1. caseyCasey Watson – A Last Kiss for Mummy – Another book of Britain’s most famous foster mom. This time it tells a story of Emma, a fourteen year old foster child with an infant on her lap. Casey and her family form a bond with Roman, Emma’s baby, immediately, but with Emma herself, a process is longer and harder. As Crying for Help, the story is heartbreaking, and Casey seems like an angel wanting to help all those hurt kids. Also as before, the literary value is not that big. But I can forgive, because of the admiration I feel for every good foster family.
  2. el paso de la helice.PNGSantiago Pajares – El paso de la hélice – Not sure if that was translated into English. The Polish title is “Książka, kórej nie ma”, which means “A book that doesn’t exist”. My Spanish is not that great to grasp the meaning of the original title – the best I have is “A step of the spiral.” Yeah, well. A story about the bestselling series of books, and the search for the mysterious author, who fails to provide the last part. A story about a book that touches and changes lots of people’s lives? What more can I want? Some clichés, true, but still – great read.
  3. Maria Czubaszeknienachalna-z-urodyNienachalna z urody –– Maria Czubaszek, recently deceased, was a Polish writer, satirist, journalist and more. A woman of many talents. But, I shamefully admit, that for me she’s “the woman who openly said she had abortions when she was younger.” Don’t get me wrong, though. I absolutely mean it in a good way. We need more women who would openly say they had abortions. That said, the book was just her thoughts on life, marriage, friendship, people. Her own, I mean. Her life, her marriage, and her friendships with people. But, through her book we can see also ourselves; she’s talking about things people think, but not too many say out loud. Enjoyable funny and a surprisingly fast read – surprisingly, for I usually don’t like non-fiction books. But I guess an exception proves the rule and all this crap. Oh, and the title could sort of be translated to Unimposing Beauty.
  4. a-hatred-for-tulipsRichard Lourie – A Hatred for Tulips – a great psychological drama, about war and its effects on people, and especially about one boy with a great desire to make his father proud of him. The only one who deserves a full review, which I will get into later.

Some of those I started, but didn’t manage to finish:

  1. before-i-go-to-sleepJ. Watson – Before I go to Sleep – This had potential. Really did. The trailer also had potential. I actually thought it was going to be phenomenal. So what went wrong? Maybe my expectations were too high. The story is about a woman with a rare disease – every time she falls asleep, she forgets her past when she wakes up. She keeps a diary to help her memory, but the diary tells her not to trust her husband.” She’s trying to figure out what’s going on, but it’s hard when you keep on forgetting everything you’ve learnt every time you go to bed. Okay, so one more time – what went wrong? I didn’t think it was too far-fetched. I just thought it was boring. Every day she would wake up and we would get yet another description of how she can’t remember he previous day and about how she’s surprised at her appearance – that she’s so much older than she remembers. I have a weird feeling that this might turn out to be quite existing if I had patience to wait/read that long.
  2. american gods.PNGNeil Gaiman – American Gods – This was supposed to be my “Book published in America.” What better book to put in the challenge under “published in America” than about American gods? But it turned out to be too mundane, complicated, and after around 150 pages I felt it didn’t make sense. And since it had a few hundreds more pages to go….
  3. spod kołdry.PNGLuke Bradbury – Undercover – An Australian guy comes to London and as a way to make some quick cash, he decided to sleep with women for money. You know, a male prostitute. Initially it was interesting, enough to ignore the style, which was… not so good. But then it became repetitive and quote dull, honestly, so I didn’t waste my time.
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“Crying for Help” – Casey Watson (2016 Reading Challenge – A non-fiction book)

caseyCasey Watson has been a professional foster care giver for some time now, and she describes her foster kids’ stories in series of books. This one talks about her second foster child, a 12-year-old girl named Sophia. Sophia has been sexually molested in the past and now, as many other kids in her situation, she is extremely sexually provocative. She’s also manipulative – and sick. Her sickness can be controlled if she regularly takes her medicine. But, since she’s deeply disturbed – and a teenager, she doesn’t, using her sickness as some kind of bargaining tool to get what she wants.

This book is hard to review. The literary value is pretty low, to be honest. It’s filled with repetitions, it’s very simply written, and characters lack depth. The most annoying thing for me, though, was the ending of almost each chapter. Once or twice could be all right, but every chapter? I wanted to scream if I read phrases like “little did I know how wrong I was”, or “little did I know how much my life would change”, alternatively “little did I know the worst was yet to come” Ever again! I mean, we get it. It was a difficult situation and Sophia was a ticking bomb. No need to remind us all the time.

That said, I feel a little off reviewing this from literary point of view. I mean, my first instinct is to just admire Casey for taking on such a responsibility. And for not giving up on that girl.

On the other hand, I’d like to hear from other, real-life foster parents that read that book. I had a feeling that Casey was a little foolish sometimes. I felt she should have been a little more consistent with discipline for Sophia. On the other hand, I’ve never even had a child on my own, let alone one with problematic behavior.

One way or another I am filled with real respect for her. For that I will refrain of further criticism of the book as such, and will just stop with saying that it’s great she writes these books. They are a proof that foster care can be rewarding and that there are people in this world that are willing to help others selflessly.