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Hey! It's Gloria's Book Club!

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2013-06-20


I confess I was looking forward to having to recover from my surgery. After I got through the terror of waiting, and waiting, and worrying and finally getting it over with (I was doing so well, I was released a day early) it was really nice knowing I had an entire month to get better.

I had grand plans, mind you. I was going to get a ton of writing done. I did get some writing done, but the first two weeks I was home, I felt like a worn out dishrag. Anticipating this, I stopped at the library and loaded up on a bunch of books. For me, getting doctor's orders to take it easy and not lift heavy stuff and just relax is like a junkie getting free heroin. Lots of it. I stayed up until all hours reading, reading, and reading some more. My insomnia came back full force, and there were many late nights that turned into early morning, where I didn't shut off the light until 4 or 5 a.m. Who cared how late it was? I could sleep for however long I wanted. And I did.

I checked some old favorites out of the library, plus some stuff that I hadn't read that I was interested in. Here now, are some books that held my attention.

No Lifeguard on Duty—This is an autobiography of Janice Dickinson, the model from the 1970s who didn't look anything like a model from the 70s. If you knew what she looked like, it seems miraculous that she conquered an industry that worshipped the Aryan look: tall, blond, blue-eyed. Yet Janice studied the fashion magazines in Hollywood, Florida, and lived for the day she could escape. Her horribly abusive father and overly medicated mother added fuel to the fire, but at least her mother told Janice she was prettier than the girls in the magazines, and took her to John Robert Powers. A high school friend whose mother had a large Manhattan apartment decided to sell her Florida home, and Janice was heartbroken. An earlier trip to New York for a modeling competition whetted her appetite, and when the friend's mother asked her what was wrong, Janice was honest and told them how lucky they were to be able to go to New York. The mother's reaction? “So come with us!” And that, says Janice, is how she got to New York. She got there, but it wasn't easy. However, she met people who wanted to give her a chance, and after pounding Manhattan sidewalks and paying her dues in Europe, the half-Polish, too exotic, downright Asian looking flat chested girl with huge lips was on her way. Thank you, Janice, for giving us dark-haired, melanin-blessed girls someone to point to and say, “yes, we brunettes do exist, and by the way blondie, take a hike!” A very interesting, funny read. You start rooting for Janice from page one.

Glamour's Big Book of Do's and Don'ts—Vice Magazine has a do's and don'ts section which is hilarious. However, Glamour shields its subjects with black bars over their eyes. Vice doesn't offer that courtesy, and frankly doesn't care. But it's always fun to see celebrities, who for all their money, look like shit, and ordinary women, who look great. It's also just plain fun to see fashion blunders. Lots of full color photos in this one, and it also offers tips/suggestions for how to look your best.

Katie.com —It's the mid-1990s, and a young girl growing up in Connecticut enters an America Online chatroom, and meets a guy who sounds like a dream come true. Despite growing up in one of the most affluent areas of the country, Katie is just as insecure and lonely as a lower middle class girl out in Iowa. Her mother works a lot, and her stepfather doesn't seem very involved. Add an insecure, lonely girl who would love a boyfriend but thinks she isn't good enough to get one and an online connection, and you have a recipe for trouble. Katie's “dream guy” turns out to be some dude in his forties, as she finds out when he travels to one of her swim meets. She ventures to his room to meet him, and despite his age, it's his weird shoes that really grabs her attention. Mom finds out, and Katie spends the next two years ostracized in her community. Was she a seductress? Or just a lonely girl? As a woman who met someone online about ten years ago and thought he was awesome, but turned out he was playing me like a violin, I sympathize with Katie's experience. It also showed me that successful, always working parents might make for a comfy, materially bountiful childhood, but I was much better off in my lower middle-class world, with parents who worked hard, but also concentrated on a home life with their kids. One wonders if Katie might have avoided her situation if her parents were a little more involved. Still, it's a cautionary tale for the times we live in.

The Age of Miracles—I'd read a review of this, and the premise really grabbed my attention. A middle school aged girl is trying to cope with crushes and bullies at the same time the Earth's rotation is slowing down. Day and night become longer and longer, and the government makes a suggestion that people remain on clock time, no matter if the sun is shining or not. Some neighbors make the choice to stay on “real time” and end up weeding their garden at three a.m. because hey, the sun is up. However, the “real timers” become outcasts. In other developments, birds fall from the sky, the sun can cause burns through clothing, and something's up with the Earth's gravity—baseballs are harder to hit, and kicking a soccer ball requires more effort. A review online wondered why Julia, the book's protagonist, was so obsessed with her crush and the social order at school, but really, at that age, that stuff is extremely important. Sure, the Earth is turning slower and slower, but Julia can't do anything about that. What she can do is see if she can get friendlier with that boy, and try to keep the few friends she has. This could be a young adult book, but I think adults could get something out of this book as well. I cried at the end—Julia eventually becomes an adult, but the world is still off kilter. And chillingly, no answers are found for making the days go back to 23 hours and 56 minutes. At the end of the book, a day on Earth lasts for weeks. Not sure what the moral is here, but I think it might come down to making the best of whatever time period you are born into. You might face war, famine, or economic collapse. You gotta live your life anyway.

I'm on my fourth set of books right now, which includes Fifty Shades Freed (Oh My! Holy Crap!) which is already boring me, and the British colloquialisms (this book does take place in the United States ; one here asks us if we'd like some “refreshment”) are becoming annoying. But I've also read lots of other stuff, which I might review for you in the future. You'll just have to wait and see.

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