Thursday, February 15, 2018

I Deserve a T-Shirt or Something

One of the popular types of t-shirts people like to wear are the ones that announce, "I Survived (fill in the blank)." Well, I ought to get a t-shirt that says, "I Survived Absalom, Absalom."

Ok, I'm joking. I will admit, there were a lot of times when I thought I'd taken on more than I wanted to chew. Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness style makes for difficult reading at the end of a long day at school. I also wished that there wasn't so much "telling"; the entire book consisted of conversations that recounted (inconsistently) the history of the Sutpen family. The story unfolds in disjunct narratives rather than in a chronological flow, and practical me got a little impatient at times with that style (and ok, I cheated on the third night and read the timeline summary at the end of the book so I would know what was going on). I get that an important aspect of the story was the perspectives of the different narrators, but sometimes I just wished for a simple, straightforward drama that put us on the scene to "live" the events instead of having someone tell us what happened.

But I also get that Faulkner wasn't just telling a simple sequence of events but instead has presented us with a multi-layered allegory exploring what it means to be a Southerner, with all the baggage that entails. I can't help but compare Henry's attitude in this novel to the attitude of some voters in the Alabama Senate race a couple of months ago - they could stomach supporting a candidate accused of being a pedophile, just as Henry could reconcile himself to letting his sister enter an incestuous relationship. But let that relationship be with someone who was part black, and Henry had to take drastic measures to end it, just as current voters grasped at whatever they could to keep a "libtard" Democrat from being elected. I'm frustrated sometimes with being a Southerner (and I guess I count as one - I'm not from the Deep South, but my state was one that seceded from the union), but like Quentin Compson, I would say, "I don't hate it. I don't hate it."

In my research to prep for this post, I discovered that Absalom, Absalom holds the world record for the "longest sentence in literature," at 1,288 words. Maybe I do deserve that t-shirt.....


Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 - The Year I Guess I Did Drop Out

I'm a little ashamed of myself. If you don't count my own books, I read only three books this year. Yes - three. Two of them were novels - A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich and In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. At the time, I had thoughts about each one that I planned to turn into blog posts, but these thoughts came at an inconvenient time (like while I was driving to work) and nothing was ever written. The last book was a nonfiction one about the California Gold Rush, called Days of Gold by Malcolm Rohrbough. I'm going to blame my failure to read more on that book, because it took me FOREVER to read it. (In all fairness, the main reason it took so long was that I was taking copious notes as research for my next novel, and it had tons of good information about the miners' daily lives.)

So I flopped as a reader this year. However, Hemingway once said, "In order to write about life first you must live it." As I think back on this year, I've done some interesting thing. I've decided to make my end-of-year review about my own experiences rather than about vicarious experiences from books.

Best Discovery - My husband, daughter, and I went on a vacation trip this summer that made a giant loop through Green Bay, Wisconsin (where my husband's family came from originally), to Banff National Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and back home through Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and Teton National Park. Of course all those mountain parks were awesomely beautiful, but I think one of my favorite spots on the trip was Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We stayed at the north unit, which had much less traffic, and it was beautiful in sort of a desolate way. I felt the same way about Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. I don't think I would want to live in that kind of environment, but I do find the landscape beautiful and haunting.

Biggest Accomplishment - One of the things I did on the trip this summer was hike with my husband up to Garnet Canyon and the Meadow below the Lower Saddle in Grand Teton National Park. My husband wanted me to see part of the trip he made a couple of years ago when he summitted the Grand Teton. It was a challenging hike, both because of the length (about 9 miles round trip) and because of the terrain. There was a boulder field that led to the Meadows, and the weather was drizzly, meaning the rocks were a bit slippery. Being a rather clumsy person, I had to take it VERY slowly. Once we got past the boulders, there was still some snow on the trail, and I fell down a time or two - which was a little scary because it was on a slope above a steep drop-off. And when we got to the Meadows, it wasn't what I expected from a "meadow" was all rocks! Where were the wildflowers? By the time we got back to the cabin where we were staying, my knees were reminding me of how old I am, but it was a great experience to share with my sweetheart.

Once is Enough (Experiences I will probably never seek out again) - While at Banff National Park, we hit the typical tourist destinations, including the Athabasca Glacier, and we hiked up to the "toe" and did a selfie (like the hundreds of other people who were there). What made this visit unique was that a thunderstorm had come up, and as we were hiking to the glacier, there was occasional lightning. It made me a bit uncomfortable, to say the least, to be hiking on the top of a mountain (!) with lightning around. Also, since this was the top of a mountain in Canada, it was COLD! There was actually sleet. I honestly can't even say if I really looked at the glacier, ha ha. It was a case of "get this picture so we can hurry and get out of here."

Something I Thought Would Be Amazing But Was Only So-So - I knew the solar eclipse was not going to be a total eclipse here (only 90%), but I thought "90% is close to 100%, right?" I came home from work (we hadn't yet started classes, so I was able to do that), thinking I would watch the chickens to see if they went to the roost. Well...they didn't. It didn't really even get dark here. The light did change, however, in a noticeable way. My husband set up a little viewer that allowed us to see the eclipse in miniature (about a half-inch in diameter), which was kind of neat.

Experiences I Thought Wouldn’t Be Much But Were Actually Good - I ate crawfish for the first time this year. I wasn't too excited about the prospect because I really just don't like getting my fingers that dirty while I eat, but the meat tasted better than I had expected. I had planned to eat maybe one or two but ended up with several. It was worth the greasy fingers.

Favorite Historical Lesson - The U.S. is huge. You don't really realize just how huge until you are driving across North Dakota trying to get to a spot to camp before it gets dark. That means every stop costs valuable time. However, we took time to go a little out of our way to visit the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, North Dakota. We didn't really have time to go through every exhibit, but the visit to the replica of the stockade along the Missouri River was worthwhile. I always relish any experience that gives me a chance to step back in time and see what physical places and artifacts people would have used in the past. And I even laid down on a rope bed to see what it would feel like, as research for my novels - don't tell anyone! (Actually, the guide said we could sit on the beds or whatever, but I didn't want the other people in the tour group to see me lie down on the bed. They might think I was weird.....)

Biggest Failure - I had a major blow-up with one of my department colleagues just before the end of the spring semester. She and I have very different philosophies on a lot of things about how to teach, but generally I try to take a "live and let live" approach. Who's to say I'm right about everything, anyway? However, this particular issue hit a little too close to home, and I'm sad to say, I don't think I handled it all that well. I apologized quickly, but the relationship has been more strained since then than it ever was before. I'm trying to not let the stains of that disagreement reach into the new school year, but it's not easy.

Something Neat I Learned - I took an online class this summer offered by the Adobe Education Exchange to learn to edit video using Premiere Pro, and I made a couple of little video projects. It's not as intimidating as I thought it would be.

Favorite Classic/Favorite Re-Read - The trip this summer marked the third time I've been to the Grand Tetons. It's my husband's favorite destination, and I can definitely see the appeal. It's really beautiful.

Favorite Love Story - My son became engaged this year. He and his fiance have an interesting story. They met in a Waffle House when they were both on out-of-town trips. He said he thought she was cute so he spoke to her, they exchanged social media info, and though they lived in different states, they kept in touch for two years through social media and texting. She came to visit for spring break this year, he proposed, and she accepted. We're not sure of a wedding date (they want to be settled with better jobs first), but I am glad to be getting her for a daughter-in-law (even if that means I become a mother-in-law, ha ha!).

So those are only a few of the experiences of this year. In 2017, both of my children also graduated (the son from college, the daughter from high school) and my husband retired after nearly 30 years as a high school band director. He began the shift of career from teaching to full-time farming, and we built a large aquaponics greenhouse that took much longer than we expected. At first, we planned to have lettuce to harvest in March, then July, then September, and now here it is December and we still haven't harvested anything. But the system is up and going, and it's so relaxing to go into the greenhouse with the sound of trickling water and little green plants everywhere. 

I hope to be a more frequent visitor to the blog in the coming year. I already have a plan in mind for reading - I'm going to go through some of the books on the shelves here at home. But I'm also already lining up some more of those experiences that I hope will make life interesting in 2018!

Thanks for your readership!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - The Year I Nearly Dropped Out

This year marks a real low in the number of times I've posted something to this blog. Sometimes I think I should just give it up altogether since there are such long intervals between posts. One of the key pieces of advice about blogging successfully is consistency, and I've really failed in that aspect this year. And it's not like I'm contributing a lot to the world of thought when I do write something. Plus, the world is in such a contentious mood, and sometimes it seems safer to just not say anything.

But I feel sort of invested in what I've written--if not this year, at least the posts from the past. Even more than that, I like the idea of having a place to muse about my readings, even if that doesn't happen very often and even if I'm not "successfully building an audience." I would really miss the Musing Reader if it went away.

At the beginning of the year, I joined the reading challenge on Goodreads, and I set the modest (or so I thought) goal for myself of reading 20 books. I didn't make that goal, either; I read 15 books, which at least is a "C" for the year (teacher, ha ha). I tell myself I would have done better and might have even finished the challenge if I hadn't bogged down in the late summer while I was doing the final edits for my third novel, which came out in September. I didn't count it as one of my 15 books, although I read it (with an eye peeled for inconsistencies and typos) at least twice during late August. I still haven't read it as a finished product, so I think it's going to be one of the first on my list for 2017. I also bogged down in reading a very dry historical book that is research for the next novel percolating in my mind.

In addition to the numerical challenge on Goodreads, I used the "Read Harder" challenge from Book Riot and the "Dare to Live Fully" challenge from to give some structure to my reading for the year. Because of those challenges, I read a book published last year, a book published in the 19th century, and a book published in the decade I was born; I read a dystopian book and a horror book, two genres that normally would not be on my list; I read another of Shakespeare's plays; I read a book that had strong political themes and a book that featured religious differences. I read a steampunk novel, a samurai mystery, and a couple of self-published books by local authors. It was an interesting year, although I didn't find myself really engrossed or invested in anything I read.

In keeping with my end-of-year tradition, here are my nominees for my regular categories:

Best Discovery - The book I enjoyed most this year was Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Maybe it's because I read it shortly after the presidential election, but I was so relieved to read something in which the characters were kind to each other.

Saddest Disappointment - I was bitterly disappointed by Johnny Osage, both because I have really enjoyed other books by Janice Holt Giles and because it is set in the same time and place as my first novel. I was looking forward to it for those two reasons and actually had been putting off reading it because I didn't want to be influenced in writing my own work; unfortunately, I found it to be both boring and disturbing (if those two things can co-exist).

Biggest Accomplishment - In 1995, I started reading George Orwell's 1984. It was the worst possible time for me to read that book because I was a brand-new mother undergoing the shock of that significant life change, and it was just too depressing, so I quit. This summer, my daughter was reading it as a pre-assignment for her senior English class, and I decided to try it again. It was still a depressing and miserable book (and I'm glad I finished it during the summer rather than closer to the election), but I finished it this time. Good for me.

Once is Enough (Books I will probably never read again) - This probably applies to just about everything on my list this year.

Books I Thought Would Be Amazing But Were Only So-So - I thought Dearly Beloved by Anne Morrow Lindbergh would be better than it was. This book would have been much better, in my opinion, as a short story than stretched and padded as it was to create a full novel.

Favorite Re-Read - There was only one book I read this year that I'd read before, and I'm a little sheepish about admitting it since it's a picture book. But not really - it's a very touching book with a good message, so Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig is a book I'll probably read again and again.

Favorite Historical Fiction - I read two historical novels that I enjoyed pretty well this year. The first was The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (one of the few books I blogged about this year). The other was one of the books my son left in his bedroom when he moved away to college - The Sword that Cut the Burning Grass by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. I'll admit I read it just because I needed a "book set in Asia" for one of my reading challenges, but I learned quite a bit about Japanese culture, religion, and mythology - and it was a quick, fun read.

Biggest Reading Failure - I guess my biggest reading failure of the year was that I started off so well, reading three books in January. But then I hit a snag between February and June and read only three books in those four months. I don't know why.

Favorite Classic - I read three works this year that could be considered "classics": 1984 by George Orwell, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (another read from my daughter's senior English class), and The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. The Taming of the Shrew had quite a few faults, but it wins my vote as "Favorite Classic" simply because I really, really didn't like either of the other two (I described them both as "miserable" to my family).

Favorite Love Story - I didn't read anything that could be considered strictly a romance this year, so my favorite story about love was Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. One thing I really enjoyed about the book was that the father was a loving, gentle man rather than a stereotypical harsh, distant father. Love wins in just about every situation when Opal is dealing with others, like the girl who seems snobby and the brothers who seem to be bullies. It just seemed that the characters approached the world the way a dog does - with acceptance and love. Very refreshing.

Besides the books mentioned above, I also read Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson; A Lasting Bond by Angie Richardson; Snakebite by Beryl Wealand; Arkansas in the Gold Rush by Priscilla McArthur; Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession by Erma Bombeck; and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

I'm setting my goal for 2017 at 20 books once again. Here's hoping I make it - and that I'll find time to muse.

Monday, June 20, 2016

In Appreciation of Good, Old-Fashioned Anticipation

Sometimes, I just have to laugh at myself.

My favorite band, the Avett Brothers, have a new album coming out at the end of this week, June 24. I've known this since March, when Seth Avett wrote a long, lovely letter announcing the new album and the place it marks in the brothers' lives and careers. From March to June seemed like such a long time to wait, but I know how to wait. After all, Christmas comes but once a year, right? And there is something kind of cool about waiting for the release of new material (or for a Christmas present), and that something is the thrill of anticipation. There's the wondering what it will be like, and the hoping it will be something you really like, and the looking for hints about what it's going to be like. That thrill becomes almost unbearable the closer the release day (or Christmas) comes, but the day finally arrives, and there you sit with the present or the new album in your hands, ready to tear into it and savor the fruition of all your waiting.

Except....that's not how the Brothers are doing it this time. About a month after the original news about the album release, there was a Facebook post offering pre-orders of the album along with an instant download of one of the songs on the album, "Ain't No Man." Now, I know there's no need to pre-order digital music (I mean, it's not like they are going to run out of copies), but hey, I was going to buy it anyway - might as well get an early little taste of the album at the same time, right? So I hit the "pre-order" button, downloaded the single, and listened to it right away. It was sort of like getting permission to peel up a corner of the wrapping paper and take a little peek at the box holding the present. It makes the waiting a little easier, I guess.

But then two weeks later, I got an email that my order of another single from the album had been processed. And two weeks later, there was another email with yet another single. Apparently the Brothers (or someone on their management team) decided to lead up to the release date by releasing the album a little at a time. There are 12 tracks on the album, and four of them have already been officially released. Also, there have been videos on YouTube of at least two more of the songs, not including the footage from concert performances. About a week or so ago, the Brothers released a YouTube video by their official videographer of yet another song on the album, meaning more than half the songs on the album are already out there for listening.

I'm a little torn about this. On the one hand, I'm glad to have the music to listen to (and I really like a couple of the songs). On the other hand, I feel a little cheated out of that thrill of anticipation and the moment when I could finally sit down with the album and listen to it, start to finish, for the first time. I guess I'll still get that moment to hear the whole album together (and I do think the album as a whole is not just an assembly of singles - I believe the Brothers not only tell stories with the individual songs, but that they are mindful about how those songs come together on the album to create or enhance a larger story). But it's not going to be the same, because I am already very familiar with at least four of the songs. Through force of will, ha ha, I have resisted listening to the YouTube videos of the other songs (more than once, anyway) because I thought that was a way to reserve some of the thrill.

This morning, though, there was another post on Facebook, announcing the new album is featured on NPR's First Listen. In other words, I could hear the entire album now, instead of waiting four more days. And here's what makes me laugh at myself. For all my blathering about the "thrill of anticipation" and the purity of that first listening experience, I still went to the NPR site to "preview" each song - only to preview, mind you, not to listen to the whole thing.

But the joke is on me - our internet service is SOOOOO bad out here in the country that I could only hear a couple of seconds of the song at a time before the computer had to stop and buffer. After a couple of efforts, I gave it up. Not because of the frustration of waiting for buffering, oh, no; I've decided (once again!) to wait, so I can have that moment when I can download the remaining songs, find a quiet spot, and listen mindfully to see how all these pieces fit together into the theme or story I am certain is there on the album as a whole.

Just in case I made you curious, here's a little peek inside the wrapping paper....(I couldn't resist....)

Friday, April 15, 2016

So Long, Hag

Merle Haggard, 1937-2016
Usually I'm pretty good with being able to come up with the words I need to explain what I mean. Merle Haggard's voice, however, has always been one thing for which I can't find the words to explain why I find it so appealing. Oh, I've tried. I even tried to get my musician husband to help me. "Is it the timbre of his voice?" I asked, hoping the DH would explain to me exactly what "timbre" is in music, and that somewhere in his explanation would be the idea that would make me say, "YES! That's what it is!" (Didn't work...DH just said, "Probably," or something like that.)

After hearing yesterday (April 6, actually) that Merle Haggard had died, and having the opportunity this evening (April 7, actually) to drive somewhere by myself, I decided to do some intense listening to try once again to explain to myself what it is about this particular voice that I like so much.

What I found is that it's hard to separate the voice from the words. Actually, that may be one of the things that appeals to me - that there was such a good match between Merle Haggard's voice and the lyrics. It was not a one-dimensional match-up, either. He could be raucous and edgy on a song like I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink,  but tender and smooth on one like I'm Always on a Mountain When I Fall. His voice was just so..."evocative" is the word that keeps coming to mind. I'm quite a sucker for sad songs sang well, and something like Hungry Eyes always moves me (at least when Merle Haggard sings it....).

Oh, man...the way he holds out "wanted" and "needed"....and the poignancy of "It wasn't 'cause my daddy didn't try."

(a week later....)

I lost my train of thought - my family got home while I was writing that post, and all the liveliness they brought with them made it even harder to think of what I was trying to say. But I do want to pay a tribute to a voice that always seemed so honest and genuine in the world of commercial music that too often is contrived and manipulated.

So long, Hag.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I Shouldn't Have Worried....

This book has been on my bookshelf for a long, long time. I picked it up at some second-hand store, I think. Since I absolutely loved Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles, I figured I would also love Johnny Osage. The book also had going for it that it is set in an area very close to my home and deals with history that happened just before the history in the novels I've written. That's the reason I had never read the book, though; because the time period and setting were so close to my own work, I was afraid I might subconsciously plagiarize something. Now that my books are all finished, I thought it was probably safe to finally read Johnny Osage.

Well, I shouldn't have worried about plagiarism, because - not to be hurtful or anything - but I didn't like this book well enough to copy anything from it.

I wasn't a big fan of the plot of the book, because it follows the same "revenge" plot that bothered me in this review of another novel. Johnny Fowler is a trader who has a special relationship with the Osage Indians living in what is now northeast Oklahoma but at the time was the brand-new Arkansas Territory. In fact, Johnny had married into the family of one of the top chiefs, the Wolf. But the Osage have an enemy in the Cherokees who have moved into the territory, specifically a man nicknamed the Blade for his murderous ways. We eventually find out the Blade had killed and mutilated Johnny's pregnant young wife. When the Blade strikes again near the end of the novel, Johnny takes it on himself to deal out long-overdue vengeance. As with A Reasonable Doubt, there is no soul-searching about Johnny's decision to search out and kill the Blade; in fact, he's disgusted with himself that he had waited so long that another young girl died at the Blade's hand. Granted, the Blade is a horrible person, but I would have felt better about Johnny as a character if he had seemed to have even a single moment of remorse over what he did.

But he didn't. And actually, Giles made things even worse, in my view, by how she handled the end of the book. Johnny has fallen in love with and plans to marry Judith, a missionary at the Presbyterian mission to the Osage. When Judith figures out that Johnny is going to go after the Blade, she tells him she can't marry a murderer, and their romance appears to be over, since Johnny walks out on Judith to go find the Blade for a fight to the death. However, once Johnny has dealt out his revenge and is recuperating from his wounds in the Osage village, Judith comes back to him and puts aside her own opinions so she can have Johnny.
"She would have had him innocent and molded in her own instincts, but that not being possible she would have him on his own terms...In the event, she examined her love and found it whole enough to withstand the partition of herself."
I don't know why that bothered me so much. I mean, I've read other stories in which a character has to give up something of him/herself for love. I understand that love usually means a person is going to have to change in some ways, perhaps important ways. I guess the issue here was that what Judith gave up was a really fundamental part of herself. And it also bothered me that the "giving up" was all one-way - coming from Judith. Not only does Judith have to compromise her ethics to accept that her future husband committed a murder of vengeance, she also had to leave the mission to go live in the relatively immoral trading village because that's where Johnny lived, and Johnny wasn't going to move. Johnny doesn't seem to have to give up anything, and that annoyed me. In fact, I can't really identify any significant way in which Johnny changed and grew as a character except that he is finally free of his angsty "guilt" once he's killed the Blade.

I might have been able to accept the plot as the author's choice (as I did with A Reasonable Doubt) if the writing had been better. But there were some serious info-dumps in the book, especially early on. It just wasn't much fun to read. Johnny Osage was as successful in killing my interest in this book as he was in exacting his revenge on the Blade.

Friday, February 12, 2016

On Second Thought.....

When I first finished reading The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, my reaction was disappointment. I thought the book just didn't meet the high standard Schlitz had set in her other book I'd read a couple of years ago, A Drowned Maiden's Hair. My biggest disappointment was that there didn't seem to be much of a plot - the story sort of plodded along through Joan's (she's the hired girl of the title) diary entries. Every so often there would be some dramatic event for an entry, but much of the book was domestic detail that didn't seem to be going anywhere.

Well, I kept thinking about the book, and now I think I've hit on the plot I missed as I was reading - (SPOILER ALERT!) - This book is about Joan's search for love, particularly a father's love.

The first couple of chapters in the book were gripping to me, when Joan was trapped on the family farm and engaged in a battle of will with her father, who was harsh and unloving and who blames Joan for the death of his wife (Joan's mother). He can't understand Joan's love of learning, and he doesn't value all the work she does around the house. Piece by piece, he strips away everything that gives Joan an escape from the drudgery of her life, until finally, in retaliation for her defiance, he burns her precious books. He's a despicable character, and like Joan, we hate him. We celebrate when she carries out her clever plan to run away.

(MORE SPOILERS!) The story then has Joan going through a series of crushes on the men in the family that hires her on. First, there was Mr. Solomon, the family's oldest son, who finds Joan on the street when she first gets to Baltimore, takes her home, and convinces his mother to hire her. Solomon is a gentle, kind, scholarly man, and we can understand why Joan would have a crush on him. There's also the father of the family, who is kind to Joan and lets her use his library after her day's work is finished, as long as she doesn't stay up so late that she oversleeps the next morning when she's supposed to help with breakfast. Joan herself doesn't write about Mr. Rosenbach in a romantic way, but she overhears Mrs. Rosenbach telling the bridge ladies about Joan's "crush" on her husband. Finally, there is the younger son, David, who takes Joan to an opera and buys her some art supplies and kisses her one night in the dark kitchen. Joan is completely enamored with David, and builds all kinds of dream futures with him in her mind. When she finds out he's leaving for Europe to study art, she recklessly begs him to take her with him, only to find that what she interpreted as love was just David's normal flirtatious manner.

Honestly, at the time I was reading it, I thought the story was trying to make a point about social class and romance, and maybe it was. But I like this newer explanation better. Joan never had love from her father or her brothers (no one had truly loved her since her mother died), so she is desperately trying to find a substitute for that lack. One article discussing research about parental influence concluded "children who feel unloved tend to become anxious and insecure, and this can make them needy." That description would certainly fit Joan through the whole novel.

The saddest part is, she still hasn't found it at the end of the novel. This is where the social class issue intersects with the psychological need issue. The Rosenbachs are kind to Joan, even to the point of providing her a scholarship to attend the new school Mr. Rosenbach has built, but there is a clear distinction between her and them. They are kind, but they don't love her.  Pity or charity is not the same as love.

Or maybe Joan did find love, in the form of the grumpy old housekeeper, Malka.
She got up and came around the table and locked her arms around me. "You take that education," she said against the top of my head. "When life offers you something good, you take it, you hear me? You go to a good school, learn everything you can, and grow up to be a woman. That's what you'll do," she finished, and she held me so close I felt her old heart beating.
So I gave in. I even took a crumb of comfort, because she loves me. It wasn't what I would have chosen. I wanted David to love me, not Malka. But I guess I'm a beggar and can't be a chooser. Being proud belongs in novels.