Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Anxiety

I'm tired of this virus. Aren't you?

It's been several weeks since I posted about it; my original intent in even writing about Covid in this space was to keep a sort of record for my own later recollection about this very strange time in which we are living.

My productivity has improved; I've made some progress on my next book project and have finally moved into the actual writing part. I'm still doing some research as it arises, but I'm at least working. For the first several weeks of this pandemic I was mired in inertia and could do nothing productive except devour the internet for news on the pandemic.

So, there's that.

I am out of sorts today because I am at this moment missing my grandson's eighth birthday party because of the pandemic. Both Louisiana, where I am, and Texas, where he is, are citing spiking case numbers. So, err on the side of caution.  We really have been trying to be careful.

And we usually travel to Iowa about this time every year to visit family, but again, not worth the risk. My husband's mother is definitely in the high risk group because of age.

All of this, yet we are talking about returning to school in what....five weeks?

I have so many questions and concerns about that. Right now, our numbers are spiking.

I know that leaders and administrators are doing their best to make good decisions. And people tell me, "The kids need to be in school! We have to go back!"

But I have concerns.

And I don't have those answers yet.

So, I worry.

Like, if I get exposed, do I have to use my sick leave to self-quarantine for fourteen days? How many times will this happen?

What about new teachers with no accumulated sick leave; is pay docked when you can't work because of Covid?

What about teachers that live with high-risk family members? Are we supposed to abandon that caution simply because the kids need to go back to school?

Do I have to sanitize my desks between each class? Where in the world will all of that sanitizer come from? I haven't seen Lysol wipes in the store since March.

Do I have to teach both in-person and virtually for those who opt for a virtual classroom?

If our school is on an A/B block, and one cohort comes on Monday and another on Tuesday, what is going to keep the Monday kids from infecting the Tuesday kids when the teacher sees them all and gets the virus and exposes them all?

How many students will actually be in my classroom and am I going to be able to space them out far enough?

How in the world am I actually going to be able to teach through a mask?

There are so many questions. I've talked to colleagues who tell me to chill out; it's no worse than the flu and we get through flu season every year. But COVID-19 is not the flu, and in many cases has serious after effect and long recovery times. According to The New York Times:

Patients may leave the hospital with scarring, damage or inflammation that still needs to heal in the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver or other organs. This can cause a range of problems, including urinary and metabolism issues.

As I said, I live with a person who meets most of the high-risk criteria, and age-wise, while we aren't 65, we aren't far off, either.

So yeah, I have a lot, a whole lot, of anxiety about returning to school.

In all likelihood, I'll be just fine, and once I get back to work and into my routine, it will have been much ado about nothing. But, I'm a worrier.

So, I'm recording those worries here, so hopefully come August, or September, when I look back at this I will laugh and chastise myself for being such a ninny.

I hope.

Additional Reading:
How the Hell Are We Going to do This? (Politico 7/4/20)
Strong Start 2020: Louisiana's Plan
Teachers Worry About Return to Classroom Amid Surges in Covid-19 (ABC News)




Previously:
Recording Covid-19 (March 17)
Surreal Times (March 18)
The Corona Chronicles: Day 3 (March 19)
The Corona Chronicles: Spring Cleaning (March 21)
The Corona Chronicles: Rising Numbers (March 26)
The Corona Chronicles: Unfocused (March 29)
The Corona Chronicles: Be Kind (April 3)
The Corona Chronicles: Stir Crazy (April 13)
The Corona Chronicles: Classroom Cleanout (May 15)










Monday, June 22, 2020

Summer Reading 2020

Read anything good lately?

I have been reading like a mad woman during the COVID-quarantine, so I'm going to share some of my favorites with you.

Coming out this week is Megan Miranda's The Girl from Widow Hills (June 23).  I loved her book,The Last House Guest, which was the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick for August 2019.

The Girl from Widow Hills is even better.

It is difficult to review this book without spoilers. The story centers on a woman named Arden who at age six went missing during a storm and was dramatically rescued on live television. The story captivated the nation and the publicity nearly destroyed Arden and her mother. As a young woman, Arden leaves Widow Hills, changes her name to Olivia, and begins a new life. When Arden/Olivia finds a dead body behind her house, she's not certain if she is the murderer or if someone else is.

I can't give away more, but the characters include Arden's addict mother, a policewoman who wants to solve the murder case, and a neighbor named Rick. Throw in a mysterious box of her mother's effects, and you have all the ingredients for a great psychological thriller and an ending that will surprise you.

I really enjoyed this book and was thrilled to receive an advance copy through Simon & Schuster and NetGalley.

Coming out next week is the graphic novel version of The Great Gatsby.

I had an opportunity to read this book thanks to Scribner and NetGalley, and as a high school teacher,
I can tell you that I am grateful to have this book for my very visual students who resist picking up a classic novel because "It's too many words!"

I've pulled more than a few students into To Kill a Mockingbird through the graphic novel version of that great novel, so I anticipate that teachers and librarians across the country will be glad to pick up this interpretation of Gatsby.

The story is still there; F. Scott Fitzgerald's words are still there, now supported by terrific graphic illustrations.

Check it out!

Coming up in August: everyone's favorite -- Fredrick Backman -- has Anxious People coming out. For anyone who loved A Man Called Ove, or Beartown, or any of Backman's other charming stories, you will not be disappointed in this one. I'll post a full review soon, but trust me, I loved this book almost as much as Ove.

What are you reading?!

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Classroom Cleanout

I went to the school this morning to get a few things and clean out a little bit. It was much harder than I anticipated.

On a Friday morning at 10:30, second block should have been winding to a close and kids should have been anxiously waiting for the lunch bell at 10:40. The mid-day announcements would be coming over the intercom.

By the time I left, about 11:00, there should have been kids in the halls, duty teachers monitoring those kids, microwaves across campus warming up teacher lunches. The office should have been bustling, Mrs. Kiper laughing and lobbing wise cracks with kids and administrators. The library should have been filled with kids using the computers or playing board games at the tables. The courtyard should have been filled with kids burning off a little energy before third block. Teachers should have been making that last dash to the restroom before the long afternoon classes start.

I didn't see any of that today.

The halls were dark.



The parking lot was empty.

There were ZERO students on campus.  My room was quiet as a tomb.

My room would have normally had a couple of kids in there eating lunch about that time of the day.

Instead, I found empty desks, library books abandoned in the baskets underneath.



I sighed, looked around, and went to get my things that I needed to work from home.

I missed the sound of kids, and the notes they'd leave for me if they came by while I was out.


Every single kid was important to me, is important to me, and it just feels like we didn't get to finish what we started. It feels tragic and sad...unfinished.

Their journals were still on my desk, graded, ready to return.



We left school on the Friday before Spring Break: March 6. My assignments from that day are still written on the board.

We all expected to come back to school when we left that day. Kids took library books home, textbooks, projects to finish, uniforms to wash, schedules to fill out for next year, and plans. They had plans for their graduation, prom, ring ceremonies, sporting events, and yes, academics. None of that happened.

So yes, all of that literally hangs in the air when you walk in the halls now. It's a tangible thing.

I cleaned out the snacks I kept in my desk for kids that needed something to eat; that won't keep until August. I took home my coffee cup, emptied the water in the Keurig. I looked through projects that weren't finished, some that were, and I scored a bottle of GermX from my supply closet. I erased my board, bagged up things I needed to take home, and I turned out the light.



I hope we NEVER have to go through this again.


Monday, April 13, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Sitr Crazy


Some quarantine reflections:

Yoga pants are very comfy. Can I wear these all the time?

BlueBell Cookie Dough Overload is really, really good.

I've seen more people walking in my neighborhood than I've ever seen before.Where have these people been?

When the apocalypse comes, I want to own stock in WalMart, grocery stores, and garden centers. Their parking lots are full.

I have gained five pounds.

I have now seen every single episode of Law and Order and Gunsmoke ever made.

Online shopping? I see how people get addicted to this. You can buy anything online. Except toilet paper. Can't buy that.

Who ever thought we would live in a day and age where people post pictures of their toilet tissue scores on social media. "Twenty four pack!  Score!"

Jigsaw puzzles are coveted items. Simpler times, no?

I really miss baseball.

I'm very grateful for my Kindle and the Libby app; I've just finishing reading Michael Henry's Luffing to Cuba: Sailing with Asbo, which was great fun. Before that, I read Tana French's The Trespasser, which means now I've read all of her novels. Before that, I read A Private Cathedral by James Lee Burke. I can go on...

I will meet my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for this year. Not a problem.

I have not watched Tiger King.

Banana Nut Bread is delicious.

If we replaced Ice Cream Trucks with Margarita Trucks, or beer trucks, things might get interesting. Someone do this, please.

I need more yoga pants.

How much longer are we doing this?



Friday, April 3, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Be Kind

Quarantine is so much more of a challenge when the forecast is seven or eight days of rain.  More of a rain/sunshine balance is optimal for me. Less rain. More sun.

The nagging guilt to be creative and work on my book has been alleviated a little bit in recent days. Ella Dawson wrote a blog post that really resonated with me as she articulated exactly what I've been feeling these past few weeks:

We still get to live with all the bullshit we dealt with before, only now there are more layoffs, fewer healthcare benefits, more push notifications, less safety for our loved ones. Rent still needs to be paid. Debt payments still need to be paid. Groceries still need to be bought. We live with more uncertainty, more danger, more grief. This is not a #coronacation, it’s a psychological onslaught. 
Just get through the day.  
As our minds struggle to process this new normal, our muscles tense up and brace for the unknown. Our bodies throb with stress hormones as we live in a state of constant hyperarousal. All of that stress builds up in our bodies until we release it through exercise, which is easier said than done when we’re trapped inside our homes. If you’ve broken down in sudden caustic sobs, that’s your body searching for an outlet for all that cortisol. We are not going to be as productive as we were before. Anyone who urges you to keep striving has a product they’re trying to sell. Our energy is pulled in too many directions: watching the kids, worrying about our parents, flinching at the thought of our bank balances. Our bodies are operating with less. This is not weakness; it’s biology.

There's more at the link; I encourage you to read her post if you've felt as disoriented as I have lately.

I finally managed to clean out my closet this week and filled a huge black plastic bag with clothes, purses, and belts that I will never wear again. I donated them in a local drop box where I had no contact whatsoever with another human. It's the little things now that give a sense of accomplishment.

A somewhat new development in this new normal: I have discovered that I need to strictly limit my time on Facebook. So many people there are snarky and just mean. Part of this is in the obvious fact that tone does not come across well in online posts. I'm finding Instagram is a much nicer place these days.

On my own Facebook feed, the wide majority of my posts are things I've shared that I find interesting or informative, sometimes funny. The problem comes when commenting on someone's post, specifically these neighborhood pages.

In two specific cases in the past couple of days, I've left an innocent (I thought) comment and people jump on it like sharks in the water. Example: there's been much discussion on one of these local threads about limiting the number of family members in a grocery store at one time. I made a comment about having run in and out of WalMart yesterday for one necessary item. I saw a family of five with the kids engaged in picking up items, putting them back, handling everything in sight, clogging the aisle, not observing six-feet distance, etc.

Sharks in the water. "Wow. You're criticizing people being in the store when YOU were in the store."

Several other similar comments with increasing hostility popped up and then I just deleted my comment.

And I know better. I really do.

Just be nice, people.  Be kind.

Go back to the Ella Dawson article: we are all dealing with a lot of stress right now from a lot of directions. There is no need to add to it by being ugly to anyone.

And you know, that's kind of the way it should be all of the time anyway.

Do what you have to do right now to take care of yourself. If that means distancing yourself from social media for a while, do that. If it means avoiding certain pages on social media, do that. If it makes you feel better to achieve those baby step goals, like cleaning out a closet, go for it. Bake some cupcakes, cookies, a fancy dinner.  Reading takes too much concentration right now? Do a jigsaw puzzle.

Just be nice, people. Seriously.

Nobody is going to win a prize for being the biggest jerk.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Unfocused

Three weeks into this stay at home business and things are beginning to be routine now.

I find that I can't write. This is a golden opportunity to work on my book project. There are some low cognitive things I can be doing on that, even. Things not too complex. But I can't find the attention span.

I'm having trouble reading, too. I find myself able to concentrate on a few pages at a time, but then I lose focus and turn to Facebook or Twitter, scrolling, scrolling.

That being said, there are some things that are becoming routine. I check the COVID numbers every day at noon. I check in on my students in Google classroom and leave feedback and assignments, even though I'm not to give grades at this time. I find that I am perfectly capable of mindlessly pulling weeds out of flowerbeds, cleaning out the refrigerator, and doing the laundry, but cleaning out the file cabinet is too much. Or my closet. Not happening.

I'm not sure why this is; nobody I know personally is sick or exposed (that I know of). I think it's just a general worry and anxiety that has my focus out of whack.

I am increasingly irritated at people who do not take this pandemic seriously.  These people who say that the flu is so much more deadly. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not, but we have vaccines and treatment for flu and we do not for COVID-19. This new virus incubates so much longer than flu and can infect so many more people because of that.

But whatever. I'm not going to argue the point with anyone.

I'm irritated with people who don't respect that six foot distance in the store. I try to avoid going to the grocery store unless it's a necessity. You still can't buy toilet tissue unless you are there at the crack of dawn and run around to multiple stores to check, and I'm not doing that. No Clorox wipes or anything like that in my grocery store, either. I had to make a store run this morning and was checking a carton of eggs to be sure none in the carton were broken before picking up the box, and a man walked up, leaned right in front of me, and grabbed a carton. WAY closer than six feet. No. Just stop that. Be patient and wait a minute!

Maybe I'm over reacting.

I've been obsessively following the story of Michael Bane, a fellow in Chicago who posted his COVID story on Facebook. His story is poignant and he chronicles his illness from exposure, the development and worsening of symptoms, then one scary night and near death experience, and now he is out of ICU and hopefully on the mend. I've been engrossed, and checking on his progress has become part of my routine.

I hope that this lack of focus passes and my ability to concentrate, focus, and do something productive returns soon.  I try to give myself tasks every day and I do feel some progress as I check them off my mental list, so that helps. I get outside in the sun as often as I can, and that helps, too.

How are your days going? Is this just me?


Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Rising Numbers

Glorious sunshine!  It is such a mood-lifter after days and days of rain and gray skies!

I wish the news was as bright. The daily COVID-19 numbers just came out. In Louisiana, we took a large jump in numbers; we are now at 2305 positive cases and 83 deaths. There are 115 cases in Caddo Parish and 32 in Bossier.

Stay home, people!

We are under a "stay at home" order but if you look at the list of what is "essential," nothing much has changed. Traffic out there looks pretty normal to me. I realize some people still have to work: the termite inspection guy was here yesterday. A plumber was working across the street. The electric company is working down the block right now. Lawn services are working. The grocery store is open. So is the liquor store. I mean, there are a lot of people still working and moving around.

Meanwhile, our numbers climb.

And what I'm seeing -- man, a lot of people are not respecting that six feet social distancing thing. Grocery stores? Not six feet. I had to make a quick run today, and people seem to think that social distancing does not apply in the store. They'll walk right up next to you.  I'm astounded.

I've also personally heard reports that two people in someone's office is confirmed positives yet nobody else that works in the building is quarantined or has been notified that they need to quarantine due to being in close contact with the person. And because of HIPPA their identity is not revealed, so how do you know if you've been exposed?

Meanwhile, exposure spreads.

I tried to do the online curbside pickup thing at my grocery store. I have never done it before; I put five or six things on my list as a test run. My order was going to take four days. Seriously. No. Just no. I cancelled it.

I am constantly sanitizing my house. Wiping door knobs down, handles, light switches, computers, phones, lawn furniture. I might be getting a little excessive.

I'm washing my hands all.day.long. All day.

The sun helps my mood. Plus, Dave Matthews is doing a concert live from his living room tonight. That will help a whole lot.  :)

Wash yo' hands, y'all.  And stay home.




Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Corona Chronicles: Spring Cleaning

I'm not sure I'm doing this right.  This whole self-quarantine thing.

This seems like the golden opportunity that I've been longing for -- the chance to clean out all those closets, deep clean my house, declutter, write brilliant blog posts, make progress on my next book, do some fantastic yard work.... Yeah, none of that has happened so far.

I've done some (very) minor cleaning. I cleaned out a makeup drawer, tossing ten-year old eye shadows and dried out mascaras. I cleaned out under my bathroom sink: I discovered we have five -- FIVE -- bottles of baby powder. Why?!

Then I pulled a muscle in my leg while doing some minor yard work and it started raining so I just kind of stopped. I spent a couple of days scrolling Facebook, reading newspapers, surfing Twitter. Totally non-productive.

My attention span is short right now, for some reason. I haven't had any interest in binge watching anything on television. My reading has been sporadic and forced.

I need to get back on track. I need to do something productive.

To my credit, I have been busy on Google Classroom, assigning work and giving feedback to kids. Most are checking in there and doing the assignments but I'm troubled by those who haven't even joined Classroom. We've used Chromebooks in class a lot, almost daily, so there's no reason why every kid on my roster should not have joined the class, but they haven't. This bothers me.

I feel like this is all going to go on for a long time. Longer than a lot of people are anticipating. It seems to have the quality of something new, quirky, a challenge. The funny memes on social media, for example. I feel like as the monotony settles in people are going to become more and more frustrated and short-tempered. I hope I am wrong.

I keep encouraging my students to write about these days; I don't know if any of them actually are doing it.

Okay, so today I will clean out a closet, a kitchen cabinet, something. I will get on NetGalley and request a few books. I will write the reviews for the books I've finished there. Then I will cook something for dinner tonight. That should be good for one day, right?

I need sunshine. I need the clouds to go away and for the temperatures to warm back up. That will help.

Won't it?


Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Corona Chronicles Day 3

The conspiracy theories abound.

The more conspiracy theories I hear, the more willing I am to self-quarantine!

I've heard everything today from the martial law rumor, to all stores being closed down, to -- and this is my favorite -- the virus is a conspiracy propagated by the grocery store industry to boost their lagging sales.

I love that one.

Another: the National Guard is going to take all the sick people out to camps at Lake Bistineau and leave them to die.

Oh and this one is good, too: "the Coronavirus can be cured by intravenous vitamin C, but big pharma doesn't want you to know that."

Where do people come up with these?!

Seriously, I'm a little worried about people right now. Things are surreal enough without all this rumor mongering.

Stop it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Surreal Times

These are surreal times, aren't they?

I just went through my planner marking off one event after another due to COVID-19. I need to order a new planner...mine is a teacher planner and ends in June. But what will I fill it with? Right now, when the immediate future consists of moving from the living room couch to the porch swing to the occasional stroll around the block with the dog, it's getting difficult to imagine when things will go back to normal and what those days will consist of.

As a writer, I believe it's important to write about these days and to record what is happening. I don't anticipate that it will be great reading material for anyone later, but things are changing at such a fast pace, day by day, hour by hour, it seems important to nail it down by writing about it.

Our school year is still up in the air -- suspended -- but I feel fairly certain that soon we will hear that it is simply ended. I've never been a fan of the word "closure" as it seems so vague, but I do feel like there has been no closure to this school year, should that be what officials decide. My students were working hard toward specific goals. What now? It seems strange.

The COVID-19 news across Louisiana, and the nation, is obviously scary. The number of cases jumps exponentially, more so as tests become more accessible. As of right now, March 18, 2019, Louisiana has 257 positive cases, with 634 tested. Seven deaths. That number changes really quickly.

We are only a few days, less than a week, into this shutdown, but it seems like longer!

How are you spending your days?



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Recording COVID-19

What a difference a day makes. One minute I'm on an airboat in the Atchafalaya Basin enjoying spring break and the next day I'm trying to figure out how to get all my students to sign into Google Classroom so we can do virtual schooling.

I teach ninth and tenth graders ELA. One of the things I told my students is that it's important that they write about what is happening right now. Just as Pearl Harbor was a watershed moment for my parents, and 9/11 was for a much later generation, my students will remember this moment for the rest of their lives.

One of the first things I posted on Classroom was a sort of check-in assignment. I did a Google form and posted four questions, mostly just to be sure they were checking Classroom and also to see what their concerns are. The responses began to come in quickly; these kids have a lot of anxiety about what is happening.

Many are worried about End of Course tests and AP Exams. Others are afraid they will be overwhelmed with online work. Some have anxiety about computer and wi-fi access. There were questions about graduation, prom, and other events. And yes, there are a few that see this school closure as a vacation and are pretty stoked, but those are by far the minority.

At this time, our district has told us to only assign supplemental and review materials. Since reading and writing are things we do every single day, that's the kind of assignments I'm posting.

We all have so many worries and concerns right now; I'm worried about friends and neighbors who have lost income and in some cases, their jobs. There is a lot of stress right now about making ends meet and just surviving. I am hopeful that everyone will come together and be mindful as we try to find ways to support each other and to help where we can. The long term economic repercussions of this is something I can't begin to wrap my head around.

Meanwhile, we stay busy. We are VERY early into this social distancing business, this stay at home because there's nowhere to go business, so finding ways to stay busy and engaged will be a huge challenge for some people.

For me, I have flower beds to weed, yard work to do, a garage to clean out, closets to clean out, and stacks of books to read. Oh and another book to write. So, I will be fine. Other people are already stir crazy. We are all going to have to adapt because I think this is all going to drag on longer than we may think.

One way I want to stay engaged is to revive this blog and get back in touch with people that way.

So, if you're here, leave a comment: tell me what you're doing with yourself these days. Maybe we can all help each other.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Currently Reading: The Cactus League

The Cactus League by Emily Nemens
It's baseball season, y'all!  Finally!

In Shreveport, we aren't lucky enough to have a minor league team anymore. We used to have The Shreveport Captains but they moved to Frisco, TX several years ago and are part of the Rough Riders organization now. Their old stadium is now part of our urban decay landscape and has been take over by bats -- and I don't mean baseball bats. It's a source of much contention and local grumbling.

We do have several college baseball options, though, and so only a couple of blocks from my house is the Centenary Gents baseball field. Part of the SCAC, the Gents give us a few months of good, fun baseball every year. LSUS also has a baseball team, so we are not completely without options.

This week I started reading The Cactus League by Emily Nemens.  What fun this book is!  I love it so far. I'm not even halfway yet, but I can tell that this is one I'll want to own; I'm reading it as a library book right now. Apparently the book is told in chapter long vignettes from various characters; I'm still with the first character, a batting coach named Michael who returns home to Arizona for spring training to find his house has been occupied, and wrecked, by squatters. And where does Michael go to relieve the anger and anxiety from this discovery? To the batting cage, of course, at the brand new stadium complex.

I'm drawn into the story already and can't wait to get back to the book. Of course, I started it yesterday while at the Gents ballpark; I was reading before the game and during the doubleheader intermission. Totally set the mood!

This is a debut novel from Emily Nemens, but she's been involved with books and literature for some time as editor of The Paris Review and former co-editor of The Southern Review. Bonus: she graduated from LSU with a MFA degree in fiction.  I can't wait to follow her new path as novelist.





Monday, February 10, 2020

What are you Reading?


I’m an avid reader and am often reading at least two, sometimes three, books at one time. We do independent choice reading in my secondary ELA classroom, and so I am often reading along with my students; that’s usually some kind of YA novel that I might be reading so I can discuss it with my students, or recommend it to someone. At home I usually have two books going: one on the Kindle which I read right before bed, and often another physical book that I might read when sitting outside, or when I’m ignoring the Law and Order reruns on television.

I recently joined NetGalley which is one source of my reading fodder. In return for a fair and honest review I can get advance reading copies of books. This is right up my alley! I joined NetGalley because I discovered a new author that I enjoyed a great deal: Kelly Harms. It’s “chick lit” primarily, but she’s always got some kind of twist that I wasn’t expecting and her characters are usually engaging; I dislike a lot of chick lit characters because they are often insipid and silly, but with this author I don’t really see that. At any rate, I was so anxious of her next novel that I turned to NetGalley for the sole purpose of getting my hands on an advance copy.

Harms is the author of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, which is a fun read. After I finished that book I went back and read her previous novels, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The new book, coming out in May, is called The Bright Side of Going Dark and explores the world of social media influencers from both in front of and behind the lens. It gets a little vapid at times, I mean, we spend a lot of time focusing on a woman who makes her living as an Influencer, staging perfect pictures of her perfect life, and of course most of it is not real. But, overall, it was a fun, light read.

I’ve just finished reading Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown, which came out in January. This book disturbs me a little bit, in part because I see missed opportunities with the story. It was a good book and the initial premise is engaging.  Alice and Nate leave New York and purchase a 1950s era home in the suburbs The house is sold “as is” and includes the previous occupants belongings, old
floral wallpaper, Formica kitchen table, and overgrown garden.  Then we meet the previous owner in a dual storyline: Nellie and Richard lived in the home in a stereotypical 1950s marriage with Nellie in pearls and June Cleaver skirts preparing dinner before the successful Richard gets home from work. Nellie spends her days gardening, baking, and attending Tupperware parties.

When Alice discovers a box in the basement containing Nellie’s favorite cookbook, complete with annotated margins, and boxes of 1950s Ladies Home Journal magazines, she begins to learn a great deal about the life Nellie and Ricard led, which of course was not necessarily as perfect as it seemed.

I found myself much more engaged in the Nellie and Richard storyline and wanted to throat-punch Alice most of the time. She made many self-destructive and irrational decisions which often made no sense. The ending of the book left me with the impression that it was rushed and just needed to end. Alice needed one more chapter, for example.

I’m glad I read the book, and I ended up giving it four stars in my review, only because I couldn’t give it 3.5

I’m enjoying my NetGalley experience so far, as I think it will expose me to new authors and force me into some genres I may not normally explore. And hey, I’m always open to recommendations so if you’ve got one, drop it in the comments!