The Life of Bon: Bon's Book Club January: These is My Words

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bon's Book Club January: These is My Words

Alright ladies and gents, it's book club time!  Just a real quick reminder how Bon's Book Club works- we all read a book and then on the last Thursday of the month we gather here to talk about it.  There will be some questions that you can answer or not answer- whatever floats your boat.  Each month I will have a co-host helping me move this discussion along.  You can read our thoughts on the book and then add your two cents in the comments or link up your post that you did on your own blog.  

January:  These is my Words by Nancy E. Turner

February: A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
March:  Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
April:  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
May:  Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
June:  Why Not Me?  by Mindy Kaling
July:  Room by Emma Donoghue
August:  The Martian by Andy Weir
September: So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
October:  Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
November: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This month our book was These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner.  A couple of questions for you to answer if you want:

+ What did you like most about Sarah, the main character?
+ In what ways did you see this as a feminist book?
+ Sarah spends much of her time wanting to be a woman like Savannah.  But she is strong in her own way.  What did you see as the differences and similarities in Sarah and Savannah?
+ Sarah experiences so much hardship and difficulty.  What experience did you feel like affected you the most?

Danica is my co-host this month and here are her thoughts:

I hate pioneer stuff, and I know by saying that I'm basically the Mormon version of a burning cross. It's nothing against my heritage - I have deep respect and appreciation for the pioneers. I just am not into reading or talking about it. I had heard of this book, and actually got it at a book exchange for Christmas. Naturally, I wasn't completely thrilled. Yes, as a former history teacher I love historical fiction. But not pioneer/Wild West stuff! Thankfully we settled on this book for January and I was forced to read it, because it was pretty incredible. 

Sarah is just... everything. I was so impressed by her general badassedness. She did everything the boys could do - and she did it better. She saved her friends from a terrible assault. She won a shootout with a bunch of grown men. She shot a rattlesnake inches from her tiny daughter. And the only thing that made all of this even better was that she was so modest, even a little embarrassed about all of these things. She was strong and fierce and skilled and tough and smart and resilient and sensitive and hopeful and scared and vain. 

And Jack. Oh Jack!!!! I loved him as Sarah loved him. He was a real man, flesh and blood, to me. He drove her crazy, and that is love when you really get down to it. Watching her discover her feelings for him made this one of the greatest love stories I've ever encountered. Their relationship was so real and tangible and interdependent. My only real complaint was that eventually I realized I wasn't letting myself enjoy it. Because if there's ANYTHING I'VE LEARNED FROM THIS BOOK/GAME OF THRONES it's that everyone is going to die and it'll probably be ugly. Boo. 

One of my favorite takeaways from the book and our IRL book club meeting this week was the multi-faceted view of feminism. Sarah is tough and skilled like a man, and most of the men in her life treat her much like an equal. Savannah embodies more of your generally "feminine" characteristics with her mild temperament, "genteel" behavior, naturally nurturing inclinations and even dignified submissiveness. I loved both of these women, and I needed both of these women. They were both strong, humble, good people, not to mention excellent mothers. I noted over and over how Sarah wanted to emulate Savannah and the scarlet velvet woman in her mythical missing book, thinking that she was somehow lacking what she needed to be a "real" woman. You don't see it as clearly, coming from Sarah's modest viewpoint, but Savannah looks the same way at Sarah. She admires her strength and resiliency. She loves her so dearly, and she needs her. It's a lesson in feminism I've been learning in my own life too - there's no "right" way to woman. Woman how you wanna woman, women! Sarah is amazing. Savannah is amazing. Even Mama with her mental illness is still pretty amazing. Women are amazing and when you see all they've gone through (which we usually don't have the benefit of knowing) they are even MORE amazing. 

My best friend told me that one of her friends in college had this book and her thing was recommending it to all of her girlfriends, and then having them sign their name in the front cover once they'd read it. Once I finished the book I understood. Yes it's a beautiful and butterfly-inducing love story. Yes it's an epic tall tale of adventure and bravery. But more than that it's an empowering story of a strong, sensitive, incredible woman who made it through hell and back again. Why wouldn't you want to share that with every woman you know? I sure do. Read it. Then text me through the tears. 

I agree with everything Danica said!

A couple of things to add on...

We talked a little in our IRL book discussion on the 26 (If you are local, come the last Tuesday of the month to the IRL book club.  It's so fun!) about Jack and Sarah's relationship and why Jack stayed in the army for so long and always felt compelled "to go."  I really loved this part of our discussion and the book.  Sarah and Jack had such a strong marriage, but it didn't change who either of them were.  They needed each other, but they also still needed to be the people they were before they met each other.  I love that Sarah took care of the ranch and her soap business by herself while Jack did his thing with the army.  I appreciated that Turner didn't play the "once you're in love you are willing to sacrifice every other thing that was once important to you" card.  They were in love but their relationship had its difficulties and trying circumstances.

I first read this book three or four years ago and I remembered 1) that I love it and 2) Jack dies.  When I read it this time I found myself much more affected by the loss of little 2 year old Suzy.  I hadn't even remembered that from the first time I read it.  I guess as an in love newlywed, the most tragic thing was Jack's death.  Now, as a new mom I couldn't hardly read past little Suzy's death.  It is funny how your reaction to books changes depending on the situation you are in.

I absolutely adore Sarah.  I found myself drawing from her strength so many times.  I appreciated her no complaining, no whining, just get up and do what has to be done attitude.  She is so inspiring to me.

AND... a couple of quotes I really loved...

"I don't have any use for a man that isn't stubborn.  Likely a stubborn fellow will stay with you through thick and thin, and a spineless one will take off, or let his heart wander."

"Sometimes I feel like a tree on a hill, at the place where all the wind blows and hail hits the hardest.  All the people I love are down the side aways, sheltered under a great rock, and I am out of the fold, standing alone in the sun and the snow."

We forgot to take a picture until the end of book club so we missed some who came earlier. 
Next time we'll get the pic when everyone is here! 

Share your thoughts below or if you did your own post on your own blog link up!  Danica and I will be responding to all comments to get us a nice little book club doing.  And don't forget to find yourself a copy of A Man Called Ove for Feburary's book club.  We will be meeting IRL on February 23 and the online book discussion will go down on February 25.

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