S is For Staffie Extraordinaire

That would be Sweetpea, my Staffordshire Bull Terrier who died on this very date three years ago.  Now, I can’t go on too long about this because it’s still a very tender spot. So I’ll just leave you with an excerpt from my memoir Loveyoubye.  This was not long after my husband left me and a couple of months before dear Sweetpea died. I still have Jake and now Fergie, both of them Staffies.

“Sometimes, Sweetpea sat opposite me in the other chair (of my new bistro set), butt sideways, constantly having to shift her paws to stay put on the small round metal seat. She and Jake had worked it out; he never once tried to sit there even if she wasn’t around. Every now and then she did her little throat-clearing thing and stared off into whatever direction she happened to be facing at the time. Whenever I spoke to her she would turn, ears fully pricked, white-rimmed eyes boring into mine. I’d say something like, I love you, or You’re so beautiful, and her ears would relax, and if she were human I could go ahead and tell you that her face would soften, her eyes would crinkle at the edges, and she would give me a look as intimate as any I’ve ever shared with anyone.”

Book Review–Every Last One

My first book review!  Yaaaay.  Anna Quindlen’s “Every Last One.”

By the time I got to this book, one in a massive stack of must-reads threatening to crash to the floor beside my bed, I’d forgotten what attracted me to it in the first place (well, other than I loved Ms. Quindlen’s Black and Blue, and One True Thing).  I didn’t read the blurb on the back, I just launched right into it.

I’ll dispense with the storyline.  Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about it:

“In her latest novel, Quindlen once again plumbs the searing emotions of ordinary people caught in tragic circumstances. Mary Beth Latham is a happily married woman entirely devoted to her three teenaged children. When her talented daughter Ruby casually announces she’s breaking up with her boyfriend Kiernan, a former neighbor who’s become like family, Mary Beth is slightly alarmed, but soon distracted by her son Max, who’s feeling overshadowed by his extroverted, athletic twin brother Alex. Quindlen’s novel moves briskly, propelled by the small dramas of summer camp, proms, soccer games and neighbors, until the rejected Kirenan blindsides the Lathams, and the reader, with an incredible act of violence. Left with almost nothing, Mary Beth struggles to cope with loss and guilt, protect what she has left, and regain a sense of meaning. Quindlen is in classic form, with strong characters and precisely cadenced prose that builds in intensity.”

What I loved about the story is how Anna Quindlen hits those side notes of family life in a way that is both realistic and intimate.  Her ability to express the essence of a personality in just a single line of dialog or a physical mannerism is impressive–I felt as if I truly knew these people.  Not only that but she gives us insights into the way women bond and think.

I highly recommend this book.