Monday, June 11, 2007

Family Tree

Yesterday Jesse, Doogie and I drove up north to look at the destruction from the tornado. The only word I can think of is devastation. It looked as though someone with a large blunt chainsaw went on a rampage for miles. All of the trees have been struck down, and if they were too stubborn to crack and fall down, they were torn out of the ground by their roots. The few trees standing above the line of destruction look like telephone poles, they have been stripped of every branch and leaf. What used to be a forest on both sides of the road is now lumber with a forest about a mile away in the distance. It's frightening to see the power of God in even such small way. We only had some strong winds, but even that did damage. The picture today is a chipping sparrow nest. Chipping sparrows build their nests on low branches in bushes or on the ground. Doogie found this nest after the storm, and it was probably blown down from our grape arbor. It's made almost entirely out of horsehair. The storm took the homes of people, birds and animals alike.

Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky is perfect for both the beach and your book club. Dana and Hugh Clarke are living a perfect life. They live in a lovely house, have jobs they love and are expecting their first child. But their world starts to fall apart after the birth of Elizabeth. Their daughter is perfectly healthy with all ten fingers and toes, but her skin is dark and her hair black and curly. Hugh's family is upper-crust country club well documented back to their roots on the Mayflower, but Dana was conceived after a one night stand, and her mother struggled to raise her alone before her early death. Dana was raised by her loving grandmother who now has secrets she feels the need to hide with Elizabeth's birth. Accusations about Dana's fidelity fly, and the Clarke's relationship with their black neighbor suffers as even he feels the weight of the gossip. As Dana starts to trace her ancestry, questions are raised about what it means to be black and "to pass" as well as how we can be subconsciously racist. Delinsky's writing is fluid and makes for a hard to put down book as she deftly blends tense family drama with heavy political issues. The ending may or may not surprise, but it brought a satisfied smile to my face as many characters were forced to face their hidden racism. Eaton Clarke's turn around was a bit forced, and the happy ending just a little too tidy for the real world.

Molly and Mia spent much of the afternoon in the kiddie pool. It's another lovely day. The whole summer can be like this as far as I'm concerned. A little wind, a lot of sun makes for a perfect day.