Monday, July 21, 2014


Author: Cynthia Lord
Pages: 200
Rating: G

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"---in order to head off David's embarrassing behaviors.
But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

My Thoughts: This is a great book for the elementary level to help kids learn about and understand kids who may be different from them because of an illness or disability. Catherine loves her brother and she understands that he's not like other kids, but she struggles with the face that David demands more attention from her parents. She also really struggles with the way other kids treat David. She doesn't like it when he is made fun of or treated like he is stupid. At the same time, she wishes she could fit in with other kids and not have them pity her because of her brother. The book is not very long, and it's not very complicated plot wise, which really makes it a perfect book for elementary school kids.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

Authour: Jennifer Senior
Pages: 265
Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. In All Joy and No Fun, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior now asks: what are the effects of children on their parents?

In All Joy and No Fun, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior tries to tackle this question, isolating and analyzing the many ways in which children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear.

Recruiting from a wide variety of sources—in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology—she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. The result is an unforgettable series of family portraits, starting with parents of young children and progressing to parents of teens. Through lively and accessible storytelling, Senior follows these mothers and fathers as they wrestle with some of parenthood's deepest vexations—and luxuriate in some of its finest rewards.

Meticulously researched yet imbued with emotional intelligence, All Joy and No Fun makes us reconsider some of our culture's most basic beliefs about parenthood, all while illuminating the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to our lives. By focusing on parenthood, rather than parenting, the book is original and essential reading for mothers and fathers of today—and tomorrow.

My Thoughts:  I thought this book was fascinating, but that may be just because I am really interested in the ways our behavior is shaped and changed based on our home environment. I thought it was a  really neat viewpoint to take - how do children effect their parents? There isn't exactly any parenting advice in this book, more just information. And information always helps me to understand actions. There's more of an explanation of why parents are often frustrated with their teenagers and what this can mean for parental relationships as well as other relationships in the family.

Senior also explores the development of the modern childhood. Childhood as we know it is relatively new on the scene. It didn't start to emerge until the 1940's. Up until then, children were primarily workers and people had them out of  a sense of duty, but also to add more helping hands to the family. Now that we are able to control when we have children and how many we have, they have become more of a coveted commodity when they finally do arrive. Combine that with child labor laws, and children really don't have much of a purpose besides learning about the world around them. Parents are having to adjust their parenting techniques to an ever changing world, as technology evolves faster than we can keep up with it. Reading this book and seeing how the different families struggled with how to raise their children made me grateful for the gospel and how it gives us a framework for how families should be run and what moral values to teach our children. That's never going to go out of style.

If parenting and child development are your thing, I would definitely recommend this book to you. I thought it was just fascinating to read.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green
Pages: 313
Rating: PG - there is one sex scene, but it's very non-descriptive.
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Thoughts: I thought this book was good, but I ended up wondering what exactly caused it to immediately become wildly popular and made into a movie barely two years after it was published. It was a good book, don't get me wrong, but I've read LOTS of books about kids with cancer, and I didn't feel like this one was leaps and bounds better.

The one thing I did like was that both kids had cancer, and it was just kind of a "dealing with illness" type of book. You really get sucked into their world, and start to understand what it might be like to be in that kind of situation. There were a lot of funny lines and good quotes, and the characters were very likable. Augustus is pretty hilarious, and the type of kid you wish you could have had as a best friend.

I don't know, maybe I"m just not in the right period of life to have fallen completely in love with this book. Maybe it helps if you're a teenager when you read it. It has been growing on me though. I do recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet read it (if there's anyone left...). And maybe I'll like it better when I see the movie. I don't know, I just felt like it was a book for teens and I just couldn't fully resonate with it. But I still liked it. I read it really fast, so that means it was good!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Infinite Atonement

Author: Tad R. Callister
Pages: 335
Rating: I'm not giving this a rating, per se, because it's just not that kind of book. But, I will say, this is a book for young adults to adults, just because the subject matter would go way over the heads of anyone too young. It might be ok for a very mature teenager.

Summary:The Infinite Atonement is rapidly becoming a classic, as it offers what may be the most comprehensive treatment of the Atonement in our day. With clarity, testimony, and understanding, Tad R. Callister teaches us rich and wonderful truths about this “doctrine of doctrines,” and elevates our spirits as we contemplate the perfect love of Him who gave us all that we might receive all.

My Thoughts: I thought this book was phenomenal. If you have ever wished you had a deeper appreciation for the Atonement, go out and get this book right away. Elder Callister just breaks it down, starting with why exactly the Atonement is so important, and what the purpose of it is. That was really enlightening, because I think we all know on a basic level why we have the Atonement (without it, we would not be able to return to God's presence) but to know that exact same thing on a deeper level is really what this book helped me to do. Then, we go into the nature of the Atonement: what happened, how it happened, what the results were. It's amazing. Again, if you feel you need to have more appreciation for the Savior, read this book. My thoughts during the Sacrament the Sunday after I read the chapters detailing everything that happened in Gethsemane were much more sober and focused on the Savior. There were numerous quotes from General Authorities, scriptures, etc that just brought everything to the surface, trying to describe as accurately as possible all the transpired there in the garden. It's humbling, really. I definitely recommend this book. I think I will probably read it again and again.