Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Heroines

I struggle with guilt every day. Sometimes it's reasonable (forgot to get out a birthday card), sometimes completely irrational (Mia has JRA, I have RA, must be my fault). I had an epiphany a few weeks ago that I'm not sick on purpose. I wasn't careless with my health and caused this. I didn't do anything that caused me to get rheumatoid arthritis, so I don't have to feel guilty for it, nor do I have to apologize all the time. I hate it when the laundry piles up or Mia's room gets messy and I feel too achy to do anything about it. I feel guilty for my inability to take care of it, then I get testy with my family because I worry that they are angry with me. But then it hit me (again, hello Holy Spirit), I don't have to feel guilty about the things I can't do as long as I do my best to do what I can. Today I'll get some laundry washed and straighten a bit around the house before going to Molly's game tonight. It's more important that I watch Molly cheer than it is for the dishes to be done. Part of RA is acknowledging that I can only do so much in a day. If I have something to do at night, that means less done during the day, with a rest period in the afternoon.

I may have started trouble yesterday: Mia's watching The Wizard of Oz again today. I may end up buying a copy if this is the beginning of a new obsession. Good thing her birthday is coming up!

The Heroines by Eileen Favorite is the story of 13-year-old Penny Entwistle whose mother Anne-Marie runs an unusual bed and breakfast: heroines from classic literature come there to recharge their batteries and rest. The heroines have been a part of Penny's life as long as she can remember, and keeping them a secret is starting to wear on her relationship with her mother. When a heroine named Deirdre shows up with her hero following her, the lies to protect them get Penny in deep trouble. First a warning: this book is NOT the chick-lit the back and cover would lead you to believe. Second, it's a frustrating read. Favorite's premise is fascinating and would have made a terrific book (and possible series) had she focused on the heroines and their interactions with Penny and Anne-Marie. Instead the book takes a very dark turn when Penny is institutionalized, and Anne-Marie does nothing to save her daughter. Anne-Marie is frustratingly passive throughout the story; she seems more like the pothead than her daughter with her inability to deal with situations constructively. Penny, like most confused early adolescent girls, pushes her mother away while craving her attention, and Anne-Marie seems incapable of taking care of anyone but her heroines. The time in the mental institution is an odd interlude and goes nowhere. Several interesting characters are introduced and then dropped. A police officer believing Anne-Marie and then making the trouble all go away seems too convenient and while I can suspend my disbelief about the heroines visiting the inn, the neat resolution is beyond credibility. The secret behind Penny's father is no secret and is told an another oddly placed segue way. The last chapter skips forward fifty years and leaves more questions unanswered than resolved. Penny seems to assume her mother's role of secret passivity. A dissatisfying ending. If Favorite had split up these major issues into separate books: Penny in the asylum, Anne-Marie's romance, etc. I would have read and probably enjoyed this as a series. Instead too much story is packed into a slim volume with frustrating results.

My book contest runs through Thursday night. If you would like to sign up to win a copy of 101 Cups of Water by C.D. Baker, drop me an email at clockstein@centurytel.net. I'll announce the winner when I publish my review on Friday. Good luck!


Tami said...

Thanks for your thoughts about how you feel and feeling guilty about it. I struggle with my health too and have days where the guilt about kills me when I can't do everything my girls want me to or I think I should do for my family. I appreciate knowing I'm not alone with those feelings.