Beyond the Ghetto Gates: A Novel Book Review

A woman’s brain is a fearsome thing to behold. Especially when she is not afraid to use it.

Beyond the Ghetto Gates: A Novel, by Michelle Cameron, was published last spring. The books tell the story of two different women. Though they are separated by religion, they are brought together by fate and the French invasion of their home city of Ancona, Italy.

Mirelle is Jewish and like all Jewish residents of the city, she lives in the ghetto. Though she has a mind for numbers, it is inconceivable that she could join her father in the family business. Her only goal, as she is told over and over again, is marriage. She could agree to say “I do” to the older and wealthy businessman that everyone is telling her to marry. Mirelle could also run away and elope with her French Catholic lover, but the consequences of such a union would be disastrous.

Francesca is Catholic and lives in the Christian part of Ancona with her husband and children. To say that he is not Prince Charming is an understatement. When he gets involved with the wrong crowd and helps to steal a miracle portrait of the Madonna, Francesca has a hard choice to make. She could do her wifely duty and support her husband, even when she knows what he did was wrong. Or, she could speak up and create trouble for herself.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I was drawn in by the premise of the novel, the well drawn characters, and the detailed description of the world late 18th century Italy. I also loved the ending, which is atypical for the genre. But if there is one major flaw in the narrative, is that the romance. It is supposed to be the high point of the story, but it falls flat.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.


Call Your Mother Pilot Review

I’m not a parent, but I can imagine what it feels like to have an empty house when your kids have left the nest.

Call Your Mother premiered last night on ABC. Jean Raines (Kyra Sedgwick) is a middle aged widow from the Midwest. Her kids, Jackie (Rachel Sennott) and Freddie (Joey Bragg) have both moved to Los Angeles. After calling her son four days in a row and not receiving a response, Jean decides that an impromptu trip to the coast is necessary. Trying to insert herself into their now adult lives, Jean is surprised by the reaction she receives and changes in her children’s lives.

The purpose of a pilot is to introduce the audience to the characters and the narrative. The nuances and deeper dives come later. The problem is that this show is predictable with a capital P. While I understand Jean’s motivation, her extreme enthusiasm towards her kids is just too much. She is also culturally and technologically clueless, playing on the stereotype that once you get a certain age, you start to lose touch with the world around you.

Do I recommend it? No.

Call Your Mother airs on ABC on Wednesdays at 9:30 PM.

Throwback Thursday: United Shades of America (2016-Present)

It is easy to make assumptions about a person or a community based on a brief glance or what one sees in the media. It is harder to keep that assumption once you have had the opportunity to get to know that person or community.

United Shades of America has aired on CNN since 2016. Hosted by stand up comic W. Kamau Bell, the series delves into serious issues via the lens of different cultures and people within America.

What I love about the series is that Bell uses humor to diffuse what could be some very dangerous situations. In introducing the viewers to the various sub-groups that exist within the country, he is opening the door to communication, understanding, and perhaps the diverse nation that our founders envisioned more than 200 years ago

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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