Thursday, June 29, 2006

Two More Reviews: Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Lorna wondered on my last post which review # I was on in my 52-books-this-year resolution. I, like my big brother, had figured I was never going to make 52, so I stopped posting which number I was on. But I didn't figure anyone else was paying attention. So, here are (short)reviews #12 and #13.

You might remember me reviewing the movie In Her Shoes, which was first a novel by Jennifer Weiner. I eventually listened to the book on tape, enjoyed that even more, and so looked up one of her other novels - Little Earthquakes. This book follows three women who are pregnant and one who lost her son at 10 weeks old. The story follows the three women through a year - the month or two before delivery, and the first months of motherhood (all three are first time mothers) and how the fourth mother becomes part of their lives in her grieving for her son. Weiner does a great job of creating three different expecting mothers, who have different expectations about what motherhood should and will bring. For all of them, of course, their struggles are put into perspective as they build a relationship with the mother whose infant has died. Weiner has succeeded in two books now in bringing me to tears and having me laugh out loud. Recommended for light but fun and quality reading.

Another quick read: Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Looking for some good fiction to read, I found this on my brother's shelf. I read The DaVinci Code last year, and enjoyed it, without having to swallow shady (or outright wrong) presentations of history. The same holds true for Angels and Demons, which was actually written first and also features Robert Langdon as symbologist-detective. This book centers around the election of a new pope, and though I'm not sure how much of the process described is factual, anything even close to the details given is certainly interesting. But the heart of the book is the intersection between faith and science. Compatible or not? For me personally, it is a no-brainer - of course faith and science can and should be complementary. Learning about how the world works has always strengthened my faith, even when challenging my assumptions. But I know this isn't the case for everyone, and apparently not for Brown, or at least for his intended audience.

Most intriguing, though, is how the carmelengo tries to restore hope in the Church. He certainly is right in seeing how people return (if briefly) to faith and church and community after a time of devastation and destruction - look, of course, at post-September 11 church attendance. His "Hope and Horror" theory seems quite contemporary and plausible. Actually, too often, the church uses a "scare people to faith" mentality to win souls. In the end, such faith doesn't have a very solid foundation.
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