Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Club: Before the Fall

This past month, our book club read Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. It's a novel about a mysterious plane crash and lives of those who were on the plane. The timeline is a little tricky to follow as there is the present (day of the crash) and then the past, but then the novel continues with the story of the two survivors and the investigation of how the plane crashed. I loved the beginning of the book. The author shares some details of one survivor's childhood and one event that I just loved -- watching Jack LaLanne swim from Alcatraz to the shore of San Francisco pulling a boat behind him while handcuffed--and how watching one man do something to impossible made him realize he could do anything if he really went for it. This idea became a theme of sorts in the book and I really liked how it was told.

Hawley works a lot in the TV/film industry and this book read like a movie (which will be a movie some day I'm told). As you read the book, each chapter focuses on one person's story although you soon find out that they are all intertwined someone and it soon gets a little muddy whose story you are actually reading.

One of the characters is a news anchor who comes off as a "bad guy" of sorts --a newsman who creates news from nothing really; creates leads from innocent comments, makes a lot of little things seem like really big things and everything is urgent and important (and stressful). I could see parallels to our current news industry and wondered if this was a core part of the book?

All in all, it was an entertaining read and fairly fast paced. The characters seemed "normal" and nothing seemed too out of the ordinary -- just a really horrific event, what led up to it and how people moved on.

Middle School Advice

I was at a school tour this evening (in San Francisco, every family tours 7-20 schools before their child turns 5 . . . ). At the end of the tour, they had a panel of teachers, parents and the principal available to answer questions. A question arose about the transition from elementary school to middle school (when you have to start touring schools again . . .) and one of the teacher's responses is something I thought was genius and just so wonderful I wanted to write it down in hopes I won't forget it when William is 11.

I'm paraphrasing of course, but she said:
Middle school is hard. The kids are at the age where they don't want to talk to their parents, their slamming doors and then a second later they are crying and telling you everything. You'll need to find a school that fits well with the interests of your own child (her son played the sax and really wanted to be in a jazz band so they found a school that had one). But the most important thing to your child at that age is her/his friends. The best thing you can do get to know the parents of those friends and aim to get them into the same school together. Your kids will start to hold back in what they share with you, so you'll want to be on talking-terms with their friend's parents. 
I had never really considered that before. I mean, community is totally one of my top priorities for my own life but I hadn't really thought about it for my boys as they get older. And if we do stay in the city where the population ebbs and flows but mostly goes up and up, having a core group of friends to walk through life with (walk through the valley of the shadows of death middle school with) should also be a value I have for my children.

So, note to self, build up some quality parent-parent and kid-kid relationships in these next 6 years so that we want to go to the same school and then pray we both get in (because it's a lottery).

Unrelated to middle school, I ran into a mom on this tour who was in my birthing class! I haven't seen her since our babies were itty-bitty and now they are getting ready for transitional kindergarten! So crazy.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Big Little Lies

I picked up Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty last week and read it in 3-4 days. I enjoyed it a lot and didn't want to put it down (it is common for me to ignore all house work and lists while reading a book). I had enjoyed "What Alice Forgot" by the same author years ago and enjoyed this novel just as much.

Its a murder mystery at its core but the drama that unfolds seems to have little to do with the actual murder. The characters, mostly mothers of school aged children, have worries of their own and in the end . . . well you have to read it. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the mom-drama that comes with school, although I hope most of it is just fiction! It takes place in Australia so there are a few differences you might notice.

There are some heavy topics involved, just so you are aware -- domestic violence, divorce, and murder.

HBO did a mini series based on the book but it takes place in Silicon Valley so that gets a little closer to home. I watched a few episodes but enjoyed the book so much better.

Happy reading!