The Jew Store Book Review

Stella Stuberman has a very interesting story to tell.

In the 1920’s, her immigrant parents left the world they knew in New York City to run a dry goods store in a small town Tennessee.

Her family’s life during that period is fictionalized in her 2001 novel, The Jew Store.

Aaron Bronson did not start life out on a high note. Disease killed most of his family when he was still an infant.  The constant presence of the cossacks in his young life convinced him to leave Russia for America.  Marrying a fellow Russian Jewish immigrant, Aaron moved to Nashville. He ultimately settles his family in Concordia, Tennessee, opening Bronson’s Low-Priced Store. The Bronsons are the only Jews in town and face a variety of reactions from the locals.

Ms. Stuberman is an excellent story teller. Using humor, warmth and a sense of historical reality that bring pre World War II rural America to life, she tells her family’s story in a way that is extremely enjoyable.

I recommend this book.



Malala Yousafzai- The Future Of Feminism

This past week, Malala Yousafzai, a 17 year old school girl from Pakistan, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Her cause is promoting equality and education for all girls.

Most people in her shoes would have given up or submitted to the Taliban. But she has not given up and continues to publicly fight for what she believes in.

While women in first world countries have reaped the benefits of feminism, many women in second and third world countries have not had the opportunities many of us take for granted.

At 17, Miss Yousafzai is wise beyond her years. She speaks for all women. We have won many battles, but the war has not ended and will not end until we have full equality with the men in our lives.

If this young lady represents the future of feminism, I have no doubt that things will only get better.

Hello American Lady Creature Book Review

If one was to believe the picture that the media was painting about what it is like to be a female living in the Middle East, one might believe that these women are forced to live as if it was still the 12th century instead of the 21st century.

In the early 2000’s, Lisa Kirchner took a job in Qatar. Her job was to help establish the overseas wing of a prominent university. She details her life there in her new memoir, Hello American Lady Creature.  Lisa was then in her late 30’s and married only a few years.  Trying to balance her work life, her home life and adjusting to her new surroundings, Lisa’s emotional journey is a very interesting one.

Did I like this book? I don’t know. There was just something about the book that didn’t click with me. Do I recommend it? Not particularly.


What Message Does Beauty And The Beast Really Send?

In July, a very interesting interview appeared on youtube that has very recently brought up a question that I think needs to be answered.

At the San Diego Comic Con,  a reporter asked Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestilskin in Once Upon A Time) about the impending hallmarks of domestic abuse that appeared to her in Skin Deep, the episode that introduced Belle to the Once Upon A Time Universe and launched the onscreen couple moniker that is Rumbelle.

Some might argue that the story of Beauty and The Beast has not only the signs of an abusive relationship, but also of Stockholm syndrome.

Stockholm syndrome is defined as:  a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with them.

I can see where the argument is valid. However, if one was to examine the fairy tale genre, they would discover that the messages that these stories are sending to girls are the same. They are just packaged differently, depending on the story.

Let’s examine a few of them:

  • Snow White is the victim of her stepmother’s jealousy.  She is being taken care of, first by the dwarves and then by her prince, who whisks her away to a life of luxury and royalty.
  • Sleeping Beauty is the victim of Maleficent. It is, again, the prince who kills the sorceress and wakes her up from her sleep. It is then that her life is complete.
  • Cinderella is the victim of her stepmother’s jealousy (Am I sensing a pattern here?).  After she runs from the ball, she does not go the palace and announce that she is the young woman that the prince is seeking. She has to wait for him to find her.

What I like about Beauty and The Beast is that these characters seem the most human of the leading romantic characters in the genre. The Beast’s emotional wounds and extreme external appearance could be considered as an allegory for the emotional scars we have and the mistakes we wish we could undo. Beauty is the most active of the fairy tales heroines.  She is no one’s victim, and certainly not waiting for some prince to rescue her.  She takes her life into her own hands and makes her own decisions.

The overall problem is that fairy tales are part of our culture. Feminism has certainly helped to alter the way that girls see themselves and their futures. But change does not happen overnight.

To answer the question, what message does Beauty and The Beast send? I would say that, if told properly, proves that we can change and move on from what was holding us back.




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