Saturday, May 16, 2015

No Parking At The End Times

No Parking At The End Times

YA novel
Abigail, her twin brother, Aaron, and their parents are barely
surviving in their van in San Francisco. They not so long ago had
been a regular family living in a house in North Carolina. Then a
charasmatic preacher, Brother John, had convinced her father that the
end times were at hand and his family was among the chosen who would
rise on up to heaven while the rest of humanity was left behind to
face earthly torment and eternal perdition. They sold their house and
possessions and drove several thousand miles to be at the right place
at the right time.
Well you know how it is with all the rapture predictions to
date. No shows.
The annointed time has passed. Instead of leaving Brother John,
however, the parents are sticking around, sure that God will come for
them if they keep on believing. In the meantime they're all living in
the van, barely surviving on what they receive from churches and soup
kitchens. No matter how needy they are, though, when they get any
money they hand it over to their self proclaimed prophet.
Aaron has given up on their mother and father. In his mind they
have become grossly negligent in the parenting department. He tries
to convince Abigail they're never going to change. It's up to the two
siblings to save themselves. He's going to find a way to get back to
normal life. There's no way he is going to leave his sister with
people he thinks have lost their minds.
For Abigail sleeping in a van and surviving on the slim pickings
of charity have gotten old fast. She dreams of taking a shower. She
has become quite disillusioned with Brother John and his preaching.
But what if it's the only way to keep her family from breaking
apart?
On a personal note, the daffodils in my front yard are magnificent.
Each evening I take an outdoor chair from a shed and read where I can
see them dancing in the breeze. The same breeze coaxes beautiful
music from my wind chimes. Life for those precious times feels
enchanted and magical.
A great big shout out goes out to the many kids and teens who suffer
from less than responsible decisions on the part of their parents and
those who try to help them.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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The End Of Sex

The End Of Sex

Adult nonfiction
"The great irony of hookup culture-whether pre-, during, or post-
college-is that it's ultimately a culture of repression. If the
Victorian era represents the repression of sexual desire, then the era
of the hookup is about the repression of romantic feeling, love, and
sexual desire, too, in favor of greater access to sex-sex for the sake
of sex. Women and men both learn to shove their desires deep down
into a dark place, to be revealed to no one. They learn to be ashamed
if they long for love, and embarassed if they fail to uphold the
social contract and do not happen to enjoy no-strings-attached sex
that much."
Even though I don't officially work at the University, I find
that a lot of students talk to me about very personal matters:
relationships with families and significant others, faith, peer
pressure... Recently some have expressed discomfort with peer
pressure to hook up. This is something I was not really up on. Not
only did I attend college in the 20th century, but I graduated from a
Christian school where dancing was taboo. Additionally I do not watch
television which might keep me more up on trends. I was very glad
when Orono Public Library's new book shipment included Donna Freitas'
The End Of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy,
Sexually Unfilfilled, and Confused About Intimacy, in which I found
the above quote.
Freitas, herself, was unaware of the hookup culture until she
was teaching an undergraduate class. A student expressed
dissatisfaction with it and her fellow students agreed. They wanted
meaningfulness in sex and relationships and felt cheated by what they
saw as the social norm. They began to explore the issue with their
peers, even creating a newspaper for this purpose. Freitas wondered
if students at other universities shared these feelings.
Hooking up, according to Freitas has three componants. Sexual
intimacy happens. The act is brief time wise. It's meant to be
strictly physical, lacking in communication and attachment. The act
itself is not new. In my day some people had what we called one night
stands. What has changed is how it seems to have become acceptable to
the point where students who don't want to engage can be seen as
strange.
Fortunately Freitas does not speak from a moral majority
abstinence only perspective. She wants students to enjoy a wide range
of sexuality options and engage in ones that will help them find
fulfillment and feel good about themselves. For some busy students
not wanting to add commitment to the pressures of college life hookups
can work. But for many others the act itself and the pressure to act
like they're fine with it when they aren't can lead to isolation and
alienation. She uncovers some of the factors that contribute to
this. In two particularly revealing chapters she shows how the
stereotypes that accompany hookup culture don't do college women or
men any favors.
I would recommend this comprehensive yet highly readable book
to college students, parents, and all who are involved with student
campus life: deans, faculty, and residence life folks. The final
chapter includes some concrete steps that educational institutions can
take.
On a personal note, Saturday, May 9, was a very special day for the
Hathaway family. Our Katie graduated from UMaine summa cum laude and
Amber's fiancée was awarded his masters. The ceremony was lovely. We
then had an extended family graduation party.
A great big shout out goes out to Katie and Brian. WAY TO GO!!!
We're all so proud of you!
Julia Emily Hathaway


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Friday, May 15, 2015

The Mistletoe Promise

The Mistletoe Promise

Adult fiction
Normally I am not a fan of romance novels with their predictable
formulas and gratuitous sex. So when I saw The Mistletoe Promise with
a cover picture of a couple walking hand in hand through a snowscape
in the Orono Public Library new books section the only thing that
enticed me to pick it up was the author's name. Richard Paul Evans'
characters, I was confident, would not engage in bodice ripping or the
modern day equivalent, hooking up.
Sometimes even a woman like me who spends much of her time
learning and enlightening folks about the evils of stuff like
standardized test based education and big ag and pharma just wants a
sweet light read. I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did.
Elise is watching the food court at the place where she works
being transformed from Halloween black and orange to Christmas red and
green. It's a transformation she has come to dread. Suddenly a
handsome stranger (think Prince Charming in high end designer suit and
silk tie minus the studly stallion) comes over and asks to join her.
He has an unusual offer drawn up in the form of a contract. He is,
after all, a lawyer. For the following eight weeks they play the part
of a couple. He will escort her to events, eat meals with her, and
send her gifts. She, in return, will practice discretion, be good
company, and create no drama.
You know she'll take him up on it. If she doesn't the book will
be over in one chapter.
Nick takes Elise into worlds she never before had access to and
showers her with lavish gifts. Even more importantly, he's kind. Not
surprisingly she begins to fall for him. Part of her hopes their
relationship will go beyond contractual agreement and part of her is
terrified that he'll get too close. She's never forgiven herself for
a mistake she made in her past. She's sure no one else will be able
to see past it.
This summer you'll probably be in situations where a book is a
good companion: traveling, lying out on beach (do remember the
sunscreen), waiting for an available table at a restaurant. The
Mistletoe Promise is quite the nice selection.
On a personal note, I had quite a happy mothers day. My husband and I
went to visit his mom and then for a drive. I bought some lovely wind
chimes. My daughters and future son-in-law visited. It was a
perfect day.
A great big shout out goes out to all the other mothers with whom a
shared the festivities.
Julia Emily Hathaway




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Just A Drop Of Water

Just A Drop Of Water

YA novel
I'm sure you remember where you were September 11, 2001. You'll
probably remember the rest of your life. Like Pearl Harbor or
Kennedy's assassination, it's one of the most pivotal days in the past
century in America's history.
It was hard enough for many adult Americans to wrap our minds
around. Why were we targeted? What would happen next? Was this only
the beginning? Was life as we knew it to be relegated to memories of
an innocent past? How would we, as a nation, react? Would we go to
war? Color coded alarms, anthrax letters, the patriot act...
Where even those who had been around awhile were stunned, can we
imagine what these events were like for youngsters? Jake, protagonist
of Kerry O'Malley Cerra's Just A Drop Of Water, gives us a vivid
picture of a young man whose whole world seems to fall apart leaving
him nothing solid to stand on. He's most of his life planned to go
into the military. When he learns about the destruction of the Twin
Towers he's sure that we shouldn't let the perpetraters get away with
such an evil act. Too bad he isn't old enough to enlist. But when
schoolmates bully his muslim best friend, Sam, and Sam's father is
taken into custody by the FBI that doesn't seem right either. Even
his parents' actions are hard for him to understand. And what can he
do if any one person's actions are no larger than a drop of water in a
huge ocean?
Just A Drop of Water gives a poignant portrayal of a young man
coming of age under very confusing and challenging circumstances.
On a personal note, life always seems strange when a play ends.
Jungle Book, I am happy to report, was a total hit. We played to sold
out audiences who loved us.
A great big shout out goes out to the fellow cast members and crew who
became my Jungle Book family.
Julia Emily Hathaway



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The Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Juvenile nonfiction
"Before I began working on this book, I never gave much thought
to where my food came from. I didn't spend much time worrying about
what I should and shouldn't eat. Food came from the supermarket and
as long as it tasted good, I ate it." Michael Pollen, author of The
Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (I chose the
young readers edition; there is also an adult version) was in for a
rude awakening. Trips to a potato growing place using a pesticide so
toxic the spuds must be stored six months before they are edible and a
feedlot of cows standing in their own manure gave him the revelation
that the burger and fries happy meal might not be so happy. Studying
about food made him face what he calls the omnivore's dilemma. Unlike
obligatory carnivores like Joey cat, humans are omnivores. What
should we eat? In today's world where most of us are quite far from
the origins of our food and much "food" is created by very unnatural
methods this can be a perplexing question.
Pollen investigates four food chains: Industrial, Industrial
Organic, Local Sustainable, and Hunter-Gatherer. Since each path ends
with a meal, he works each path of investigation around a typical
meal. There is a lot of information packed into this volume.
Pictures, charts, and other visuals are very well integrated. This is
why, even though this book is designed for kids, I feel comfortable
recommending it to chemistry challenged adults like myself. It would
make a really awesome family read together.
If you really want to know just what lurks on the shelves of the
supermarket either the adult or the juvenile version of The Omnivore's
Dilemma is a great way to start learning.
On a personal note, Orono Community Garden is now starting up. YOWZA!
A great big shout out goes out to John and Shelley Jemison and garden
dog Mika who will once again run the show and the motley crew
(including yours truly) through which they will work miracles.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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Courage For Beginners

Courage For Beginners

Juvenile fiction
Courage can mean many things. Some people paint it in big bold
colors and envision someone like the person who runs into a burning
building to rescue a baby. Some people define a kind of quiet heroism
such as that displayed by people who speak up when no one else will.
When it comes to kids, sometimes those who find the heart and grace to
cope within their families and communities display every bit as much
courage as the other two types. This is certainly true for Mysti
Murphy, protagonist of Karen Harrington's Courage for Beginners.
Just as seventh grade is about to begin Mysti's only friend,
Anibal, instructs her to pretend she doesn't know him when they're in
school. He's going to revamp his image and try for an uber popular
cheerleader. Socially she'd be a liability.
Then her father falls out of a tree trying to retrieve a towel.
Suddenly he's in the hospital with brain injuries. Even after he has
surgery he's in critical condition.
This is more of a hardship for Mysti's family than it would be
for most. Her mom has a full fledged case of agoraphobia. Even
sitting in a parked car gives her panic attacks. So there's no one to
drive to the hospital, no one to shop for groceries...
...and now it's the first day of school for Mysti and her little
sister.
On a personal note, I loved two quotes on courage that I found in the
book. e. e. cummings said, "It takes courage to grow up and be who
you really are." Sam Houston said, "Do right and risk the
consequences." I learned how relevant the second one was at the May
school committee meeting. We had made all the cuts we could while
still providing an adequate education. The town council was pushing
us to make a lot more cuts. We were in our monthly meeting with an
actual audience including very anxious teachers and people from town
council and budget committee. We talked about the harm the cuts would
do to the school and town. We were edging up to where someone had to
make a motion to either accept or reject the cuts. Talk about a no
win situation. Then I remembered the scene from Jungle Book where
Mowgli is brought to Council Rock. The head wolf wants to protect
Mowgli from Sher Kahn the tiger who wants to devour him. Some being
must speak up. Well at our own Veazie council rock someone would have
to speak up to keep our Mowgli (school) from the teeth of Sher Kahn
(town council). So I chanelled Bagheera the panther and moved that we
stick with our numbers rather than give in. People were initially
shocked but all voted with me.
A great big shout out goes out to all school boards and committees
having to deal with very adverse financial circumstances.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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I Am A Promise

I Am A Promise

Video Documentary
A few weeks ago I watched as many DVDs as I normally watch in
about six months. Joey cat was in vet hospital overnight. The
following morning he was in surgery 4 1/2 hours. I could not eat,
sleep, or concentrate enough to read. So I gave up on books and
decided to watch DVDs Eugene had bought me. Mostly I watched corny
Christmas comedies and other lighthearted stuff. But I did watch one
docudrama that really tugged at my <3.
I Am A Promise covers a year at North Philadelphia's Stanton
Elementary School. It puts very human faces on the correlation quoted
by people like me between family income and schools' standardized test
scores. Most of the beautiful, curious, brimming with life children
(90%) live below the poverty line. They and their parents face
challenges most of us can't imagine. And the push to have them
achieve dauntingly high test scores instead of, say, bringing out
natural talents and abilities, is not doing them any favors.
I've said it before. I'll say it again. Children whose basic
needs are met can not learn. When will we understand? One reason
Finland kicks our butt on every measure of education is that they
provide what vulnerable kids need to succeed. Isn't it time we
learned from them?
I Am A Promise is poignant and heartbreaking. It should be
required watching for everyone--especially those latter day Horatio
Alger fans who think any child can become proficient given the right
standardized test.
On a personal note, Joey Cat came out of surgery very strong and
impatient to go home. Which he did that afternoon. A few days later
he was able to get his catheter out. A week ago it was his stitches.
I am so happy to have my little friend getting back to his happy
healthy self.
A great big shout out to all the vets and others who heal our beloved
non human companions, especially the staff of Veazie Vet, Joey's
medical home.
Julia Emily Hathaway


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