Book Review–A Land More Kind Than Home

Let me just preface my review by telling you that the only reason I read A Land More Kind Than Home, was because it was chosen by the book club I just joined. Crazy, I know considering the stack of unread books by my bedside, those on my Kindle and the mile-long list I keep adding to. I joined because I thought it would be a great opportunity to read books I ordinarily wouldn’t read. A Land More Kind Than Home definitely qualifies in that regard. Anything to do with religious fanaticism drives me absolutely crazy. Two pages in I almost bailed. But I had to know what came next. The writing is compelling, strong, and lyrical, though sometimes the descriptions are a little too long-winded.

This is a story of the power of faith, community responsibility, family secrets, marriage and infidelity, told in three voices: Jess, a sweet innocent ten year old, who wants to protect his mute brother, Stump; Adelaide, the town midwife who tries to protect the children from Pastor Chambliss, a man who cares for nothing but his own pleasures, who uses the ignorance of his flock to get what he wants, and Clem, the town sheriff who has his own burdens to bear. Despite the efforts of Jess and the old lady to protect Stump and the love of his father and mother, things go awry for the boy.

Following The Muse

About two weeks ago, I came upon the Circle Painting project on Facebook. It was the colors that drew me in, but then I became entranced by how beautiful and vibrant these works of art were, a little bit of Joan Miro, some Frederick Karl, perhaps some Picasso? This, despite the fact that the creators are a random group of people coming together to make art.  Even little kids!

The project is the brainchild of Hiep Nguyen, an artist and teacher who believes in making art accessible to all. Since 2007, he and his group of fellow artists have traveled to 10 countries and engaged over 100,000 participants. Here’s a blurb from his website that explains the process:

Inclusiveness: Circle Painting embraces everyone into its circle of playful and easy-to-follow activities. Together we paint away stress, isolation, and creative block. Our motto: Art for All, All for Art.

Collaboration: You have an idea, I make it happen. I start a line, you complete a shape.We accept each other’s sizes and shapes, colors and values. We make everything big, bold, and fun.

Imagination: Expect the unexpected! See the world in a drop of paint and heaven in a piece of cloth. When we interact with each other’s lines and shapes, colors and forms, new images emerge at every turn, stirring our imagination.

This makes my heart swell, brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. This is what I need right now. This is what it’s all about. So this Sunday, I’m off to spend three hours at The Great Park in Irvine, with a bunch of strangers to paint circles, squiggles, dots, sun rays, zigzags, starfish, jelly beans, moons, vortexes and . . . and whatever my heart desires.