Sunday Subway Reflections: SilverBirch 2015, Adult Book reading, and getting ready for the Oscars


This week, I finished book 7 on my list of SilverBirch Fiction books.  The Hidden Agenda of Sigrid Sugden was at the top of my list to finish.  I read most of it on the subway.  This was one of those books that whisks you away to another place, so there were times on the subway when I had to look up to make sure I didn’t miss my stop.

The Hidden Agenda of Sigrid Sugden

The Hidden Agenda of Sigrid Sugden (Jill MacLean)

When we first received this book in the library, I said the author had written two other books, in this series, that were nominated in the past.  I have to admit I didn’t read the other books, which are part of the story even though I had been encouraged to read them, as I would like them.  When I was in the middle school library, I tended to focus on Red Maple books, so I didn’t read them.

When I went to Jill MacLean’s website, I realized I’ve read one of her Red Maple nominated books in the past: Home Truths.  Yep, she’s a heartbreaker when it comes to writing.  She puts a lot of truth into her stories.  (*Just reading her post about where the idea of Home Truthscame from and realize she wrote it with the intention of writing it from Hud’s point of view (one of the bullies in Sigrid’s story.  I can totally see Hud in that story!) And the cover of this book that I have used in the post is the cover of the book I read. The cover has changed and take time to go to Jill MacLean’s website to read about the change: Jill MacLean explains the story behind the book and cover.

Home Truths

Home Truths (Jill MacLean)

After reading this third book by Jill MacLean, I wish I had.  She creates a realistic world of kids in Eastern Canada, Newfoundland to be exact, who face the challenges of making new friends, bullying and the relationships between kids and adults. At one point, I was talking to my coworker, who read the book as well, and talked about Jill MacLean’s ability to make the relationships believable and not sugarcoat the issue of developing relationships between a former bully and other kids.

This story focuses on Sigrid Sugden and her choice to leave the Shrikes after the near-death of a fellow classmate, that she could have caused based on chasing her out onto the water on a stormy afternoon.  The Shrikes aren’t happy with Sigrid’s choice and turn their bullying ways on her.  Sigrid hides these moments from her stepfather and tries to find her own way through the mess she’s created in the community for the past two years.  It’s not easy to fix one’s mistakes, and she learns that money doesn’t solve everything.  Jill MacLean shows that it takes time to heal wounds and it takes time for Sigrid to recognize she has her own wounds to heal, as well.

Based on this experience, I will go back and read the other two books, which are based on Travis Keating’s move to the community and the Prinny Murphy’s experience with Sigrid and her group, the Shrikes.  Again, be careful when reading Jill MacLean’s stories in public. At times, my heart hurt for Sigrid as she deals with intense moments.

This weekend was the weekend I promised myself that I would finish Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.

Natchez Burning

Natchez Burning (Greg Iles)

And I did it.  Almost 800 pages, I wasn’t able to lug this tome around with me onto the subway. I chose to read it only at home and I took the time on Saturday to sit down and finally finish the last one hundred pages.  One of my friends recommended this book to me with a short email last summer.  All the email said was: “Read Natchez Burning.” And now I can say I did.  And I know why he recommended it.

It’s the epic story, set in Natchez, Mississippi, where a journalist has methodically collected stories of the horrors inflicted on the black community.  Stories of the KKK and the Double Eagles and their backward ways are interwoven into the story of Dr. Tom Cage, his son, the mayor Penn Cage, and a local journalist who needs to get these stories out for the world to see.  There’s no way that I can write about all the stories that happen in the story but the story races forward and gives details about a history that has been fictionalized but has components of real history that take the reader on a gut-wrenching and horrifying journey into the underbelly of hate based on race and power.

I don’t read many adult books but this one was definitely worth my time and I look forward to reading the second book in the trilogy.  I just hope it doesn’t take too long.

Finally, I spent Saturday night watching two Oscar nominated movies (after spending Friday night at the movies watching the Kingsman: The Secret Service).   Kingsman was lots of fun on a Friday night.  The violence was over the top but it has been a while since a James Bond movie came out and I needed a secret spy movie this cold February.   

Anyway, I watched Birdman

(which for me was great- especially since I am a live theatre junkie) and The Theory of Everything.

Eddie Redmayne’s transformation was incredible to watch as he played the role of Stephen Hawking.  Watching the two movies back to back, I have to say that I am rooting for Michael Keaton to win the role but totally understand if Eddie Redmayne wins.

The Red Pencil

The Red Pencil (Andrea Davis Pinkney)

I no longer have cable so I’ll be reading tweets as they come in on Twitter and hopefully will finish The Red Pencilso I can write about that soon.

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