Friday I finished one of the best books I have ever read -- Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. It's the book for my March book club meeting and when we chose it I wasn't excited about reading it at all. I thought it was going to be just another horrifically depressing holocaust story. I know I sound jaded and that it's an important topic, but I have just read and watched so much on this topic, and I also feel the need to protect myself from too much horror as I feel these things a lot when I read them. Anyway, this book turned out to be different than I expected. Yes, there were horrific scenes in it, but somehow it was okay because the story was so powerful and also a mystery that unfolded. The chapters also went back and forth from the 1990s to the 1940s so the reader had a bit of a break, and even some humor thrown in. I am not a very articulate book critic and I never read books thinking about style or literary technique -- unless the writing is so bad it gets in the way of the story. I am in it for the read, for the story, for what it makes me think about and how it makes me feel. This was one of those books that I am still thinking about a couple of days later and will be thinking about for awhile -- apparently I am even moved to write about it which doesn't happen that often. I just can't stop wondering what choices I would have made if I were in the Anna's (she is not Jewish) position -- alone, single, in Germany with a baby girl to protect in 1940. Maybe it moved me more because I have a daughter who is my only living child, and I know that I would protect her with ferocity, and that I would sacrifice my needs for hers. I can't write too much about the book because I want everyone to read it and don't want to give it away. Suffice to say it is definitely a different approach and a different story of WWII in Germany than I have read before -- it explores what people will do to survive -- without apologizing for or trying to justify the choices made.
So, the other thoughts occupying my mind lately have been about being older. I still feel about 33, but am about to turn 45 and am reminded of that sometimes. Of course when my ankles and knees crack and creak, but also when I am watching old movies or TV. The shows seem like they were on just a few years ago and in reality it was the 80s which surprisingly was 20 some years ago. Then I start to look closely and remember that in the mid 80s we didn't have a lot of the technology we take for granted right now. For example, this laptop with a wireless connection to the Internet that I am typing on, iPods, cell phones, wireless home phones, GPS locator's, even answering machines. It's a shock to see those old phones -- you know the big ones with wires attaching them to the wall -- they look very old fashioned to me and yet I remember them well -- I was 23 before I had an answering machine or a CD player after all. It's fun telling Emma about how we didn't have all these things and how that made our life different. I'm also realizing why I felt so out of style in the 80s -- it really was the big hair, frilly clothes, pastel flower prints decade -- just watch some "Full House" or "Major Dad" reruns! I have never had big hair and am not much into frills and pastels either.
So, this brings me to Hulu.com. For those of you not in the know -- this is a website where you can watch all sorts of current and old TV shows and some movies for free on your computer. This world was recently opened up to me now that I have this great laptop and wireless Internet. Actually it also a pretty new site. You do have to watch some commercials and you can't fast forward or rewind -- only pause -- but there are less commercials than on TV. So, that's why I have been indulging in watching old TV shows. That and the fact that I can never start a new book until a few days after I have finished reading a particularly good book -- I need the time to decompress, recover, muse, savor the book I have just finished first before jumping right into another fictional world.