I am reading The Secret Garden by F H Burnett to the children. They really love it. Heleyna isn’t so interested but the other two have really taken to it. (Ages 8 and 6). It’s free and so far there have been no glitches with it.
I am also reading Saint Edith Stein by Mary Lea Hill FSP. They are enjoying this too It has short chapters and good illustrations. My only minor quibble is that we are already on Chapter 6 and there is still no mention that this is a Jewish family. I’m not sure why this is. It seems more strange when you consider that the primary reason Edith and her sister were shipped off by the Nazi’s was their Jewishness. I’ll try and remember to review this book when we’ve finished it.
Avila (age 4 gr 1 yr 2) is reading Tomie DePaola’s On My Way. She loves these stories, as Roni did when he read them.
I have just read Michael O’Brien’s The Island of the World. I think reviews by people who can word-weave more neatly and beautifully than me should review this astonishingly stunning book. I saw one reviewer describe O’Brien as the “Dostoyevsky of the West,” and I think that is an accurate view.
I must confess that although I have read lots and lots of O’Brien, I got so bogged in Sophia House I decided to give up on him. I don’t know what made me decide to read Island of the World, but whatever it was, I am grateful.
This book takes the tired old cliché of life journey’s and sets it free. The story of Josip Lasta (I came to the conclusion that Lasta means Bird; does anyone know if it does mean that?) Josip begins life in a little village in Croatia called “Fields of Heaven”. He is loved and safe, at a time when WWII is ending and the great scourge is being released over East Europe. There isn’t a lot of politics in the book, as the story is about Josip and how he finds forgiveness, peace and redemption. Through the intense suffering of this man we see a kind of death and resurrection from the outpouring of blood.
The book is woven on a light frame of the Odyssey and the Iliad, as Josip is pulled from the fields of heaven and plunged into hell, and as the storm abates he finds a way out of the madness thanks to the kindness and love that others give him. I think the moment that I remember most is the old lady with a goat who offers milk and bread to the starving escaped prisoner.
Oranges come up again and again as a motif, bitter and sweet and bright as the sun they are a way-food that helps Josip move on and on as he walks the world. Swallows and dolphins are the main motifs but for me the oranges seemed more important in some way.
What can I say? Read this book. It is one of the very few books I have read that really matters. It’s a book that will wake you up.