My Appreciation For the Name Noah in Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok

“If he tells you stories, will you tell them to me?”

Full disclosure: I love the name Noah.

I like saying it, I like hearing it, and I like seeing it written on the page. The first story in Old Men at Midnight was like a love letter for the name Noah for the amount it was featured from page to page. I picked this book up at the library, upon turning around to face the library shelf it was on and randomly reaching out because I was familiar with the author’s name and wanted to read his words for the longest time, only to flip to the first page and have the very first word jump out at me: Noah.

All following details were a bonus, like the fact that he’s a sixteen-year-old survivor all on his own, living with his aunt and uncle in Brooklyn, under the tutelage of eighteen-year-old, Davita.

Old Men at Midnight is a trilogy of related novellas about a woman whose life touches three very different men—stories that encompass some of the profoundest themes of the twentieth century.

Ilana Davita Dinn is the listener to whom three men relate their lives.

Old Men at Midnight varies stylistically from what I usually reach for in my books, featuring writing style with minimal dialogue. But I was willing to take the plunge for Noah Stremin.

“Noah is the only one who survived.”
“The only one in his family? I am sorry.”
“ The only Jew in the town.”
I felt cold to the bone.
“Four thousand Jews, and he is the only survivor. My husband and I, we say to ourselves God saved him for a reason.”

I felt instant compassion and connection to Noah. His story captures so much of the loss survivors never regain. “You have pictures. I have nothing.”

I realized about halfway through the story that though I was here for Noah, his character would only be present for “The Ark Builder,” and I had two more men to get through. And following someone betraying his people to serve in the KGB in “The War Doctor,” or reading vulgar descriptions of women in “The Trope Teacher” didn’t seem ideal. Like this:

“Close up, a woman small and dainty in stature, jeans tight, without the revealing curve of panties, he couldn’t help noticing; sandals and thin ankles and bare toes; he felt the beat and drum of his blood.”

I’m perplexed as to why he seems to think this adds anything valuable to the book… And unfortunately this isn’t the worst to come:

“She must have sensed his approach, for she straightened and turned. He noticed immediately the bony shoulders and small, firm breasts and the nipples beneath the blue jersey. She was not wearing a brassiere.”

This only made me think back to this post:

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I got what I wanted from my Noah story, and it’s best to leave it at that. I’m still on a mission to find as many books with characters named Noah (so far my list includes: TRC by Maggie Stiefvater, the Mara Dyer Series, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, and Turtles All the Way Down). If by chance you have any additional recommendations please let me know in the comments below.

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Review: My Beautiful Despair by Kim Kierkegaardashian

I have majorly fallen off my workout-eating plan! AND it’s summer. But to despair over sin is to sink deeper into it.

Before finding My Beautiful DespairI had no clue behind the concept of Kierkegaardashian (‘The love child of Søren Kierkegaard and Kim Kardashian’), so I was in for a treat when it came to this revelation of a book.

A mash-up of Kim’s tweets and observations with Kierkegaard’s philosophy, Kim Kierkegaardashian shares their musings on fashion, beauty, brunch, and the relentless waves of existential dread that wash over us day after day.

Now in a humorous, illustrated gift book, perfectly suited for our existential times, Kierkegaardashian’s philosophical insights are juxtaposed for the first time with Dash Shaw’s brilliant black-and-white illustrations. A sample of the revelations included in My Beautiful Despair include:

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This quick read, conveying the depth of despair through triviality, got a hearty laugh out of me. Though for the most part, I felt more confused with the art choice for certain pieces, more than the actual nonsensical writing included in the book.

Plus, I’m not that big of a Kardashian fan (not even a fan, really) to care enough.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: July 31st, 2018

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying My Beautiful Despairjust click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo

This book arrived just as I had completed reading the previous collection with my little sister during the weekend; Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls did just what it promised… meaning that she was put to sleep right away. I think the historical aspect wasn’t quite there yet for my nine-year-old sister.

Still, I was ecstatic to hear the news of this follow-up book to come out. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 boasts a brand new graphic design, a glossary and 100 incredible new portraits created by the best female artists of our time.

I liked, in particular, the inclusion of new, contemporary women in this edition, since I had just finished my reading of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and here we have her familiar face featured!Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 1-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 2-- bookspoils

But my main issue with Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 stems from the fact that these summaries skip one too many significant details and it results in an inconsistent, half-hearted historical biography of these accomplished women.

I also feel like the book reduces the women’s accomplishment a tad by making their hard work sound like a breeze. Like, with Lilian Bland building her own plane, they make it sound like she snapped her fingers and boom there’s a plane: “Lilian read everything she could find by the Wright brothers and other famous aviators about how to build a plane. She succeeded in building a flyable biplane—an aircraft with two pairs of wings—then went on to build a full-scale glider, just like the one her boyfriend hadn’t let her fly.”Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 9-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 10-- bookspoils

Putting my hindrances aside, I’d still like to share some of my favorite stories of these extraordinary women:

  • JOHANNA NORDBLAD
    ICE DIVER

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This mentioned a film “made about one of her incredible dives,” and I was utterly hypnotized watching it. I had to replay the video over and over simply to wrap my mind around the scope and expansiveness of Nordblad’s chilling actions.

“It shows a solitary figure dragging a sled to the middle of a frozen lake, leaving a trail of footprints behind her in the snow. She cuts a triangle into the ice with a saw and sits on the edge. Taking a deep breath, she slips into the black water. A different universe unfolds around her: silver and deep blue-black, silent and beautiful. She swims along like a mermaid, at peace with the world.”

  • J.K. ROWLING
    WRITER

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  • BRENDA MILNER
    NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST

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  • VIVIAN MAIER
    PHOTOGRAPHER

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 11-- bookspoilsI can’t stop staring at this utterly haunting painting.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 12-- bookspoils

  • SKY BROWN
    SKATEBOARDER

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 13-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 14-- bookspoilsThis nine-year-old skater is an inspiration.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55I am, however, eternally perplexed at their notion of including a Nazi-born girl in this collection, because we should, of course, applaud a fish for swimming, instead of shining light on the many brave Jewish women to survive and oppose the terrors of the Holocaust…

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!