Today I thought I'd share some of the books I've read/movies I've seen in 2007. (If you're anything like me, you're always looking for good ideas of what to read or watch.) This list doesn't include others I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog. Just to get really official, I'll rate them out of 5 stars.
* * * * * Deafening by Frances Itani. I just finished this novel and it is definitely the best book I've read in a long time. It is the story of a young woman who is deaf as a result of having scarlet fever at age 5. It is set in Deseronto, ON in the period before and during WWI. It even has a P.E.I. element. It's very moving and beautifully written.
* * * * Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb. It is about a young white Muslim woman named Lily; it tells of her life in Ethiopia and later in London where she works as a nurse. I learned a lot about Islam and Ethiopia's history, but also really enjoyed the depiction of Lily's own journey, as she falls in love with a young doctor and is separated from him during a political uprising in Ethiopia.
* * * The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. This novel has a complicated plot and is not easy to describe, but it's very well written. It tells the story of a book called The History of Love and how it affects an interconnected group of people in New York, Chile, and Poland over many years.
* * * The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve. It begins with a woman receiving the news that her husband, a pilot, has died in an plane crash. As she unravels the mystery of what really happened, she discovers that her husband has led a double life.
* * Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. (see below in Movies)
* Water by Bapsi Sidhwa. This novel is based on the movie Water by Deepa Mehta. It is about a young girl in India, married at age 8 and widowed soon after, who is forced to go live in a home for widows. It tells of what she and the other women experience there, especially one young widow who has a forbidden romance with one of Gandhi's followers. Because this is a novel based on a movie it's not really great literature, but it tells an interesting story.
Compared to the number of books I read, I watch very few movies, but here are a few standouts.
* * * * * Amazing Grace. This is about William Wilberforce's fight to get the British Parliament to abolish the slave trade. Very inspirational.
* * * * Something the Lord Made. This movie is about the relationship between a white heart surgeon and the young black man who helps him perform groundbreaking heart surgery on babies. The dignity with which the young man does his work in the face of racism is really inspiring.
* * * * Bee Season. This movie is based on the novel by Myla Goldberg, which I also read (see above)--but I liked the movie much better. It's about a little girl who is a spelling-bee champion; her father is a teacher of Jewish mysticism and tries to see if his daughter can reach God through the process she uses to spell words. The relationships between the parents, daughter, and son are very interesting. The teenage son, a spiritual seeker himself, is a particularly beautiful character.
* * * * Junebug. This intriguing, quirky movie is about an art gallery owner who travels to South Carolina with her new husband to track down an artist and to visit her husband's family for the first time. It's interesting to see how she fits into the family, particularly how she is showered with affection from her new, very pregnant sister-in-law.