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The Week in Review: 02.14.2020

February 14, 2020


Between the Covers

Finished last week:

TIGHTROPE: AMERICANS REACHING FOR HOPE by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn is the story of working class Americans.  Americans who work hard yet can barely pay their bills, struggle to find health care, don’t have access to a good education, and whose families have been ravaged by drug abuse.  They’re people who the political system ignore so they feel powerless.  This book focuses on those living in rural areas and acknowledges that many people in inner cities face the same plight.

Kristof and Wudunn make the issues come alive by telling the stories of individuals and their families.  These are people with the same hopes and dreams as everyone else – hopes and dreams that are almost impossible to realize given their circumstances.  I was aware of most of the issues before I read the book and appreciated the respectful way Kristof and Wudunn told these people’s stories.

The authors take things one step farther, though, by presenting solutions to the problems we face.  They have researched solutions that have worked in other places, like decriminalizing drug use in Portugal – and explain how they could work here as well.  They also name steps we as individuals can take.  The audio version is narrated by Jennifer Garner and she does a terrific job.  I thought this book was extremely well done and highly recommend it to everyone interested in social issues.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)


I had high hopes for HIDDEN AMERICA: FROM COAL MINERS TO COWBOYS, AN EXTRAORDINARY EXPLORATION OF THE UNSEEN PEOPLE WHO MAKE THIS COUNTRY WORK by Jeanne Marie Laskas and the book started out pretty strong for me with the chapters on coal miners and migrant farm workers.  I scratched my head at the inclusion of the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders and felt like later chapters were more about the author’s experience with them than about the workers themselves.  So, while I liked the idea of this book very much, I thought it was poorly executed.  If anyone knows of something along these lines that’s well written, I’d love to know about it.  (Review copy provided by Putnam.)


WE LOVE BABIES! by Jill Esbaum is a sweet picture book for the preschool set.  It features gorgeous full-color photos of lots of babies animals with rhyming text about them.  The animals are big and small, alone and in groups, and always adorable!  Several times throughout the book, cartoon animals proclaim, “We love babies! Yes we do! We love babies! How about you?”  There are two pages in the back of the book that identify all of the animals and the special names of the babies, if there is one.  Early readers will delight in the photos and the fun text and ask for this book over and over again.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson was one of my favorite reads of 2018 so I was a little bit nervous about seeing the movie.   But I worried for nothing.  Rather than tell all the stories included in the book, the movie focuses on the case of Walter McMillian a man sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit.  It shows the hard work Stevenson and his colleagues put in and the frustrations they faced while working on McMillian’s case.  I thought the movie did a good job of capturing the spirit of the book and hope seeing it will encourage more people to read it.  I was disappointed that there were only four people in the theater but I have a feeling this movie will be shown in schools for years to come.  Bring tissues with you when you watch this important movie and be sure to watch the credits to see pictures and updates of those portrayed in the movie.

Off the blog

  • It snowed for several hours on Saturday but the little bit that stuck to the grass melted quickly.  One family in our neighborhood managed to put together a small snowman.  I hope we’re done with snow for the winter.  By Tuesday, our temperatures were back in the 70s.
  • I walked at least three miles every day and averaged just over 17,600 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

32 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2020 5:37 am

    Interesting about the cheerleaders, LOL

  2. February 14, 2020 6:31 am

    You must have gotten some remnants of our 4 inches of snow. 🙂

    Looks like a good week for you.

  3. February 14, 2020 7:06 am

    I’m glad some solutions were highlighted in Tightrope. Sounds like a good read.
    You wouldn’t like to live in my area – today’s high will be in the mid teens and ten inches of snow fell this wee (so far…). I’m ready for spring 🙂

  4. Beth F permalink
    February 14, 2020 7:10 am

    Thanks for the review of Hidden America — I’ll take it off my list. Tightrope sounds really good, though. Ha, ha on the little snowman.

  5. February 14, 2020 8:03 am

    Tightrope is high on my nonfiction list… glad to know you liked it. I’m looking forward to the Just Mercy movie, too! What a cute little snowman. We’re back to record heat again in SWFL. 🙂

  6. Jeane permalink
    February 14, 2020 8:36 am

    Hidden America- like the tv show Dirty Jobs? too bad sounds like the book wasn’t well

  7. February 14, 2020 8:37 am

    Oh, that snowman, lol! So cute 🙂 I’ve been on the fence about Just Mercy and you’re the first person I know who has seen it so I guess I’ll have to see it now.

  8. Rhonda permalink
    February 14, 2020 9:00 am

    Tightropes in my pile looking forward to reading it .thanks for your review,

  9. Lloyd Russell permalink
    February 14, 2020 9:28 am

    Totally agree with you about Just Mercy. It is a very good movie. I didn’t read the book, but I sure did get caught up in the story.

    Lloyd (408) 348-4849

    On Fri, Feb 14, 2020 at 1:01 AM Bermudaonion’s Weblog wrote:

    > BermudaOnion posted: ” Between the Covers Finished last week: TIGHTROPE: > AMERICANS REACHING FOR HOPE by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn is the > story of working class Americans. Americans who work hard yet can barely > pay their bills, struggle to find health care, do” >

  10. February 14, 2020 12:03 pm

    70s? Oh, that would be nice, especially today with our wind chills below zero. But it is in the 60s here in the house, so I’ve got that going for me. 🙂

  11. February 14, 2020 12:09 pm

    I was going to read Hidden America but now I’m going to pass. I would love We Love Babies! I have Just Mercy in my Prime Video watch list. Cute snowman!

  12. February 14, 2020 12:59 pm

    Tightrope looks good…and so does the movie Just Mercy. Thanks for sharing, and have a great weekend.

  13. February 14, 2020 3:01 pm

    The little snowman is too cute. We had a large snowfall last weekend over 17 inches. Interesting books, and Just Mercy is new to me.

  14. February 14, 2020 3:08 pm

    I’m very interested in seeing Just Mercy. We Love Babies! looks super cute. I’m glad that you’ve had a good week, and that your weather’s been warm lately. Enjoy your weekend, Kathy!

  15. February 14, 2020 3:33 pm

    What a shame that Hidden America wasn’t a winner. I’ve read and enjoyed two of her previous books (*Fifty Acres and a Poodle* and *The Exact Same Moon*), but I’ll take a pass on this one. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  16. February 14, 2020 3:47 pm

    Glad to hear that you think Just Mercy translates well to the screen.

  17. February 14, 2020 6:12 pm

    I’d like to see Just Mercy but my husband is most definitely not a fan of Jamie Foxx and therefore will not go to see it on principle! Maybe I’ll find someone to go with.

  18. February 14, 2020 9:22 pm

    Even though Cincinnati is often assumed to be very cold (which it is in winter), we don’t get much snow. But still, this year’s total so far is probably a record low. I’m ready for Spring and yet, every year I worry about the climate.

    I wondered about Just Mercy and am glad that you recommend the movie highly.

  19. Literary Feline permalink
    February 14, 2020 10:59 pm

    I really want to see Just Mercy. It sounds like a worthwhile movie. I love the snowman. 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend, Kathy.

  20. Helen Murdoch permalink
    February 15, 2020 12:56 am

    I am so glad to hear the Just Mercy movie is good. I worried about seeing it for the same reason you did. Also, Kristoff is one of my favorite NYTimes writers so I am glad to heart Tightrope is so well done. Adding it to my TBR list.

  21. Diane permalink
    February 15, 2020 7:47 am

    Tightrope sounds good KAthy; I like when the stories seem personal. We love babies looks cute as well. I read Just Mercy, talk about injustice, hope to catch the movie as well. Enjoy the weekend.

  22. February 15, 2020 8:40 am

    I just got notice yesterday that Tightrope came in for me at the library. Now I can’t wait to pick it up and start reading. I’m especially glad to hear that the authors propose solutions in addition to focusing on the problems. Wouldn’t it be lovely if those in positions of authority in our country would read this book and discuss it with others? I wish I were librarian for our country’s leaders. This would be a book I’d suggest.

    It was cold and wet in Paris, but I was surprised to find there was no snow. It’s actually cold for us here along the Gulf Coast of Texas, in the low 50’s, but my azaleas are budding and it looks like spring will arrive in a few days.

    Thanks for the heads up on Just Mercy. I will look for it.

    Have a lovely week.

  23. February 15, 2020 9:30 am

    I had similar feelings as you to Hidden America. The cheerleaders chapter was very weird, some parts were really enlightening and others just curious. I’d like to read more on the subject too, so keep me updated if you do come across anything better!

  24. February 15, 2020 1:10 pm

    I’m so glad to hear Just Mercy was good! I keep meaning to go see it, but I don’t got to movies much so it keeps slipping off my radar.

  25. February 16, 2020 3:10 am

    Lol, lovely little snowman 😀

  26. February 16, 2020 8:30 am

    Tightrope sounds interesting, I look forward to seeing what you think of The Splendid and the Vile when you have finished.

    Wishing you a great reading week

  27. February 16, 2020 9:05 pm

    Tightrope sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing.
    Here (Chicagoland) is too much cold and snow…, but I think it might finally get warmer after this week.

  28. Sarah Sammis permalink
    February 16, 2020 11:05 pm

    No snow here (there rarely is) and not enough rain (we need more). My weekly update

  29. Carol Evans permalink
    February 17, 2020 1:44 pm

    Tightrope sounds really interesting.
    We haven’t had much snow this year, but it’s been chilly.

  30. February 17, 2020 3:58 pm

    Tightrope sounds like a book that is very relevant. I hope that you had a great weekend and good week.

  31. February 19, 2020 1:56 pm

    I picked Just Mercy for my book club’s April meeting. I picked it over a year ago, before I even knew about the movie. Someone on a podcast I was listening to raved about it, so I made a point to add it to my list. I am looking forward to it.

  32. March 7, 2020 8:06 am

    I really want to read Tightrope. I read an excerpt in the Times and it really caught my attention.

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