The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowdrop by H.M. Bouwman

At the moment, this is the book I’m reading.  I’m writing about it here because I think the book has a lot to say about colonialism and race and because the writer currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

Genre:  Fantasy, Adventure

 

Target Audience:  Ages 10-14 although anyone can enjoy the story. 

 

Plot Summary:  Two 12 year old girls try to save their island from conniving, evil politicians.  Each girl comes from a different background.  Lucy is one of the Colay, the original inhabitants of the island group.  Snowdrop is the daughter of the leaders of newcomers (prisoners from England destined to 7 years of indentured servitude in Virginia until they get shipwrecked on the islands).  Snowdrop’s parents die through mysterious circumstances.  Snowdrop flees to avoid being kidnapped by the politicians.  Lucy flees her island to save her brother from the fate of all the other native men, being turned to stone. 

 

Lucy and Snowdrop start as grudging friends, but eventually learn to trust each other.

 

Best Parts of the Book:  Humor.  Phillip the Tutor with his grandiose ideas and cowardliness is the funniest character.  In him and his writings you can see how explorers and their recorders made sense of and tried to rewrite their experiences. 

 

Phillip the Tutor, Lucy, and Snowdrop all grew and transformed in realistic ways throughout the book.  This gave the book a realistic and hopeful mood even though the book contained some fantastic elements.

 

Colonialism: 

  • English renamed cities on the islands. For example, Lucy’s hometown is Sunset, but the English renamed it Dover.

 

  • The Colays are used as a scapegoat by conniving politicians. They blame the crimes they committed themselves to increase their political power on the Colay.

 

  • The Colays are punished when they try to profit by trading their own resources. For example, Lucy’s father wants to trade in the native rock, lifestone. The English conniver asks him where the lifestone is so that the English can control the trade. Lucy’s father refuses to tell and the Colays are punished.

 

  •  The Colay are seen as inferior. The connivers see Snowdrop with Lucy. They try to divide the girls by mocking Snowdrop for spending time with Lucy.

Recommended?  Yes!  Short, entertaining read with some great truths in it.

“A Good Indian Wife” by Anne Cherian

Yesterday, I checked out from the library “A Good Indian Wife” by Anne Cherian.  At the moment, I’ve only read a few pages, but it is very readable.

Neel (real name Suneel) went to medical school in the U.S. and became an anesthesiologist in California.  He has a girlfriend of three years, a blonde secretary named Caroline.  Neel’s feelings for her seem to be straight out of the modern dating classic, He’s just not that into you.  For example, he forgets their 3rd anniversary.  Neel is 35 and his family is growing tired of him remaining unmarried.  His family gets him to return to India to visit his grandfather-Neel is told he is very sick and near death.  His mother and aunt, however, plan to get him to India to marry him off.

I admit I don’t like his character much at the moment, but hopefully that will change.

Leila seems more likable.  She is 30 years old, teaches literature, and loves to write stories.  She has two younger sisters, Kila who is 8 years old, and Indy who is in her mid-20s.  Leila has seen many suitors come and go.  She had one indiscretion around age 20, but gets passed over because her family cannot offer a dowry.  

The book does touch a lot on the theme of family.  Early on, Cherian writes from Neel’s perspective, “In India it was always family above self, with no one considering his difficulties”. 

On the trip back to India, Neel sits near a mixed couple.  The husband is Indian and the wife is Italian, although at first Neel thinks the wife is also Indian.  He overhears the husband saying, “It is difficult to be neither fish nor fowl in America, and I told Lisa our daughter would be more accepted back home.  I mean, when the British came, our kings greeted them with open arms.  America is not such a welcoming country.” Mr. Rolex agreed, but Neel thought the man was a simpleton.” 

I’m curious to find out what happens once Neel and Leila meet.  What are their first impressions?  How will Caroline deal with it all?  What kind of marriage do Neel and Leila create for themselves? 

Article by Dinesh Ramde  about the book.  Ramde rates the book a B+.

Book “Mixed Matches”

Sunday Satya and I began reading “Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships” by Joel Crohn, PhD. 

We just read the first chapter which basically said:

           -Sometimes conflicts arise from differences in culture, not just in personality and temperment.

           -It is better to try to discuss things as clearly and as in much detail as possible beforehand.  One example from the book is a Catholic/Lutheran couple who vaguely discussed religion in terms of, “I want our children to be good Christians” instead of discussing exactly what being “a good Christian” is.  Turns out, the wife’s family convinced her to baptize the child without consulting the husband.  Big mistake. 

  So far the book hasn’t led to any great insights, but it is early yet.  Next weekend we will tackle another chapter. 

  We have discussed a bit how we would raise any possible children.  We would introduce the stories of both religions.  For my Catholic faith, this would mean Bible stories, prayers, and stories of the saints.  Satya remembers really enjoying some Buddhist stories so he’d like to introduce our future kids to those stories, especially since Buddhism and Hinduism are so closely related. 

  I know my family would really like for our future kids to be baptized and to attend Catholic Mass with the rest of the family on key occassions. 

  One difficulty will be differences in how our families passed down religion.  My family believed that it was the duty of the family to introduce the kids to religion and keep them on the right track (requiring kids to attend Mass with rest of the family each Sunday, requiring attendance at religion class, etc.)  His family believes religion is more of a personal matter and that the choice of what to believe and how to practice should be left up to the child.