Friday, August 08, 2008

The Moon in the Mango Tree

Molly attended cheer camp last weekend. I went on Monday to pick her up and watch the awards ceremony. There were about twelve schools there total, some with teams of close to thirty, and other with teams of just four girls. Each team competed by performing a cheer and then a choreographed dance routine. The dance team was the same for each team until the end where they personalized it with lifts and tosses. These girls worked so hard for four days to get the routine down, and I was completely impressed with Molly's team. They won a few awards. One for a cheer they do after each touchdown: each of the girls drops down and does 10 push-ups. Definitely an incentive for the boys to score some points! They also came in 5th overall for cheering. But the award they can be most proud of was Best All-Around Team. Two trophies for that title were given out, and our girls definitely deserved it!

The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen is a powerful historical novel based on real events in the life of the author's grandmother. Barbara has great aspirations for her life; she's just been invited to attend a prestigious opera school in Chicago when the love of her life Harvey Perkins proposes to her. And Harvey's life for the two of them couldn't be farther away from the opera in Chicago. He has accepted a position as a missionary doctor in Siam. Barbara's parents urge her to sacrifice her dreams for her husband's, and she does so gladly with the idea that one day it will be her turn. In Siam, they aren't stationed in a big city where Barbara can make friends and act like a normal young woman. Instead they are stationed far into the deep country and surrounded by judgmental missionary women. Barbara listens to Buddhist priests and learns about other faiths, bringing even more condemnation and even attack upon her and causing a nervous breakdown. Harvey moves them to a larger city, and Barbara is caught up in a social whirlwind that quickly loses its charm and she is again lost and lonely. Binnings creates a terrific character in Barbara, one who isn't afraid to ask questions and wants more out of her life. She allows Barbara to be selfish without ever being unlikable. Binnings captures the essence of the changing times and describes the landscapes with breath-taking detail. She has done her grandmother's stories proud.

In the two pix I'm posting, Molly is sitting on the far left and then standing in the front.