Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Three Book Reviews

"Electric Brae" by Andrew Greig
4 out of 5 stars

A friend gave me this book to read and for the first 40 pages I was dubious, but it didn't take long to fall in love with it.  The author has a way with words, and I kept finding myself pausing to mark passages I particularly liked.

It's hard to describe this book.  It's billed as a romance, but it's from the point of view of a man who works on an offshore oil rig.  The love of his life is a younger artist who struggles with a dark past and staying out of mental institutions.  And a lot of rock climbing.

The book is also about the love between friends (male and female) as well as the relationship of fathers with their kids.

Written by a Scottish author, a few of the Scottish words can through you at first, but it most definitely didn't detract from the book.


"Doctors From Hell" by Vivien Spitz
Four out of Five Stars

This book was written by one of the court reporters during the medical portion of the Nuremberg trials.  It includes fewer photos than I expected, but far more substance.  I've been interested in the Nuremberg Trials but had yet to find a book about it, so this was a lucky find.

DEFINITELY not for the squeamish, as explicit testimonials from survivors are included.  The book also includes Spitz's thoughts on life in bombed-out Germany (no hot water or heat even after 18 months since the end of the war) and observations that offered me new insight.

Recommended for the WWII memoir enthusiast.

"Silent Tears"
by Kay Bratt

Four out of Five Stars

My husband and I considered adoption from a Korean or Chinese orphanage and had heard a lot about the neglect that was prevalent there.  I accidentally ran across this memoir by Kay Bratt and learned a lot.

Kay followed her husband to China with her young daughter and while her husband worked at setting up a new facility for his work in China, Kay threw herself into working to bring about change in a Chinese orphanage. 

One thing Kay emphasized -- don't go into a Chinese orphanage going gangbusters and expect things to work.  They'll bar you from coming back.  Rather, volunteer, keep quiet, and let the nannies get to know you. 

I also realized that a lot of the neglect has to do with not enough nannies per baby.  There never seemed to be enough time in the day between rapid feedings, quick cold rinse-offs, changing diapers, and dressing the children.  Imagine two people trying to deal with 22 babies -- that gives you some idea.

Eventually, Bratt was able to start a fund-raising campaign in the US to help severely hurt children get operations (for cleft lip/palette and heart problems, predominantly).  The book showed the massive amounts of red tape involved in what we as Americans would consider a no-brainer.

I came out of this book with not only an appreciation for all the expat volunteers, but for the Chinese nannies as well.  The majority of them want to help -- they just can't.

A quick read, and worthwhile.

Read my other reviews at GoodReads.com, and don't forget to friend me there!


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.

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