Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sister: A Book Review

Even though Rosamund Lupton's debut novel Sister worried me as it began with the salutation of a letter addressed to her sister [that type of narrative can be tedious], she surprises with a fresh and unusual approach to a story of familial relationships and the grief of loss.

When Bee's mother calls her in New York City to tell her that her younger sister Tess is missing in London, career centered Bee hops a plane, leaves fiancĂ© and job behind, and sets herself up in her sister's flat to seek answers to her disappearance.
When Tess is found dead and the coroner and police rule it a suicide, everyone abandons the investigation. Bee knows her sister too well to believe this conclusion as she would not take her own life and “subject those she loves to such grief.”

Thus, Bee begins her own inquiry into what really happened to her sister, and along the way, as Lupton drags us into the single-focused mind of Bee, she provides some well-done twists and turns. The bonus of the book comes in the thriller like atmosphere of Bee's search.

In addition, Lupton's just good at writing as her strength lies in her understanding of the bonds of family, especially in a family familiar with death and loss; her descriptions of the pit of grief seem to be ones that only some one with a first-hand knowledge could provide.

Bee fully shares her anguish. She captures Bee's brokenness, one that seems representative of a person who loses the hope that a loved one will be found and slides, screaming and flailing, into the reality of the finality of a tragic and violent death for that person.

Her prose led me to pause with its raw honesty as well as insightful observance of modern life.
Chillingly done.

One of the passages that really resonated with me, so much so that I marked it to make note of here, describes Bee's thoughts at the location of her sister's death, which she visits after the closed investigation:

I tried not to think of your being there for five nights, all alone. I tried to cling to my Chagall image of your leaving your body, but I couldn't be sure of the time frame. Did you leave your body, as I so fervently hoped, the moment you died? Or maybe it was later, when you were found, when your body was seen by someone other than your murderer. Or was it in the morgue when the police sergeant pulled back the blanket and I identified you – did grief release you?

The bouquets[laid at the death scene] made sense to me now. Decent people were trying to fight evil with flowers, the good fighting under the pennants of bouquets. I had not understood before why anyone would think a family whose child had been shot would want a teddy. But now I did; against the sound of gunshots, a thousand compassionate soft toys muffled a little their reverberating horror. “Mankind is not like this,” the offerings say, “we are not like this. The world isn't only this way.”

See what I mean?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Another Family Celebration: Lukas's Baptism

 Lukas bundles up for Georgia cold the Friday before his celebration.

A month ago the family gathered at the sweetest church, Hickory Flat Methodist [my brother's church: I  loved its charm, its congregation, its preacher -- its small town feel] for the baptism of the grand 'phew. 

The family, those who were geographically compatible, surrounded Lukas as he was baptized, and he cooperated fully as the minister carried him down the center aisle and around the back of the church for the congregation to see him and vow to his Christian upbringing.
What a sweet moment.


Amy, Lukas, and David
Being Palm Sunday, the minister preached on Jesus's confidence as he rode into Jerusalem fully aware of what awaited him. The choir sang "The Old Rugged Cross," and those words of that hymn are deeply moving and beautiful.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown

At the end of the service, the children of the church weaved around the sanctuary waving the fronds, and the members of the congregation held theirs aloft as we all sang, "Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest."

 Andrew, another phew, not a grand one, but a first cousin once removed from Lukas, and I pose with our piece of greenery.

 Grand uncles and aunts, grandma and grandpa, aunt, and a prospective aunt, uncles, first cousins once removed, and the proud parents stood at the front of the church for a picture.

After the baptism,
we headed back to the grandparents' house where we feasted in grand [no pun intended] style with chili [German chili, according to the chef and proud papa, made with secret ingredients], green as well as fruit salads, fabulous corn bread, and dessert.
The dessert needs to be mentioned --- Cuarto Leches cake and Bailey's Irish Coffee cheese cake.


I had a piece of each -- cause I could.

 Aunt Angie and Lukas

Kayla, resplendent in high heels, cracked me up as she held Lukas.
Celebrity mom, anyone?

By the way, Lukas and his parents currently reside in Karlsrule, Germany.