Book Review: The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

Book Review: The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante 5 Stars ***** (Book 2 of The Neapolitan Novel Series)

An excellent source book for women’s studies and sociological patterns.

Intelligent. Insightful. Thought Provoking.
Elena Ferrante will be remembered as one of the greatest novelists of all time.

Reviewing a book without giving away too much is always a challenge. Set in the outskirts of Naples, Italy in the 1960s—a place beset by poverty, domestic violence, and male domination— Lenu, our narrator, and Lila, her best friend,  are now sixteen and seventeen years old. Their conflicted but dependent relationship continues—supportive/competitive, admiring/contemptuous.

The girls’ lives have taken a more divergent path. Lenu earns her college degree on a full scholarship, is greatly admired and respected, and has published her first book. She has a number of unsatisfactory but convenient relationships with men but continues to pine for Nino. Lenu is still secretive about her sexuality and still has not learned to share her true feelings. Lila is the mother of a small boy. Her marriage is in a shambles with her shrewish, destructive, self-centered, combative, blatantly sexual nature, i.e., sexual with everyone except her husband. With a ruined reputation, still, there are no shortage of men to pick up Lila’s pieces.

Lenu is once more forced to question Lila’s motives when Lila’s decisions put her at odds with Lenu’s deepest, but still carefully hidden, desires.

Some thought-provoking images:

Lina refers to her wedding ring, ” …what is this gold circle, this glittering zero I’ve stuck my finger …”

Lenu is complimented by Armando, Professor Galiani’s son and the rare center of attention when she attends a party with Lila at the professor’s  home, ” He was absolutely the first person to show me in a practical sense how comfortable it is to arrive in a strange, potentially hostile environment, and discover that you have been preceded by your reputation, that you don’t have to do anything to be accepted, that your name is known, that everyone knows about you, and it’s the others, the strangers, who must strive to win your favor and not you theirs.”

After the party, Armando shows a romantic interest in Lenu, but her confidence has eroded, “I was pleased because he obviously liked me, and I was polite, but not available. Lila’s words had indeed done damage. My clothes were wrong, my hair was wrong, my tone of voice was false, I was ignorant…”

After Lenu has broken Antonio’s heart, his sister, Ada, captures the truth as she tells Lenu, “You have no feelings, just look how you treated my brother.” I reminded her with an angry snap that it was her brother who had left me, and she replied, “Yes, anyone who believes that is lucky: there are people who leave and people who know how to be left.”

An amazing character study, we witness the push and pull of everyday life, some more obvious than others, as characters attempt to jockey into position to realize their desired end result, some successful, some always behind the eight ball. Why? Because there’s always another bigger, badder character without scruples or loyalty, who will stop at nothing to attain what they want, and to keep everyone else from getting theirs. One- upmanship always at work.

Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym for an author who wishes to remain invisible. As a matter of fact, writing is not her full-time job. She writes these wonderful books in her spare time—when she’s not at her day job. Is she even really a woman? No one knows. In any event, her Neapolitan Novels series contains four books: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name7, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.  My Brilliant Friend has already aired on HBO. The Story of a New Name is now airing on HBO. Although I do not know the time frame, book three is scheduled to be made into mini-series to give us closure on Lenu and Lila’s story. Hopefully, the fourth book will be added to this list.

Ciao bella!

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019, 2020

Book Review: The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz (YA) (MG)

Book Review: The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz (2016) (Young Adult) (Middle Grade) 4 Stars ****

This book is a take-off on The Canterbury Tales. Set in France in 1242, we are told the story of three amazing children and a dog by a variety of characters, each of whom adds a section to the story. The book is compelling, with many messages on many different levels. The sometimes bawdy humor and double entendres with the intense story line may be more appropriate for a Young Adult reader. Any fan of medieval history will be enthralled by this story. Many events and characters are based on historical facts and people who actually lived, but the author does take liberties with combining story elements for dramatic effect.

Jeanne, Jacob, William, and Jeanne’s reincarnated greyhound Gwenforte travel as a group to Mont Saint-Michel to eventually stop a book burning of some 20,000 Jewish books, including Torahs, as ordered by King Louis IX and the Queen Mother. Initially running for their lives, the children meet up, finding comfort in one another. They encounter problems and people in trouble along the way. Each child uses a special power to save the day: Catholic Jeanne—visions of the future and a steadfast heart; Jewish Jacob—the healing power of prayer and herbs; part-Muslim, part Christian William—his super strength and unusually large size; reincarnated Gwenforte— the ability to protect Jeanne. As the populace becomes aware of the powers of this group, some believe them to be saints and others, especially the king’s forces, believe them to be agents of the devil. Separated from their parents by violence, each child must rely on strength of character, cunning, cooperation, good luck, and the help of the other children and a powerful adult.

In the end, returning to their families is not an option. Jeanne, Jacob, and William go their separate ways to live out their lives and fulfill their destinies.

The story is compelling and well told. I’m not sure about the attention span o middle grade readers on this on. Probably, twelve and up would be a more suitable age even though the book is labeled as middle grade. It was somestimes difficult to know which character was telling the tale at a specific time. I often had the feeling that the author was giving hints as to a secret identity since there was often a lot of evasiveness in answering questions of validity of knowledge.

This book encourages God, religion, cooperation and acceptance among the different faiths, and the concept that a few bad people in a religion or government should not condemn the whole group. I do recommend it, especially in our world of intolerance for those who do not believe as we do.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

Book Review: Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (Middle Grade)

Book Review: Merci Suarez Changes Gears (2019) by Meg Medina (Middle Grade)
3 Stars ***

So, here we have a 2019 Newberry Medal winner that is, at best, a mediocre story with mediocre plot advancement, little character development, poor transitions, choppy writing, lack of focus, too many characters and situations with way too much telling and not enough showing, and too many details in all the wrong places. I found myself reading and re-reading paragraphs many times. What was the author talking about? I didn’t figure out the point of the story until I was 3/4 through when she finally wrote a few sentences in a row that followed a thread that continued until the ending. Finally! This book did not win the medal for its literary excellence. This book came at the right time in history, when what you’re writing about, rather than how you write it, wins awards.

Lots of Spanish words and phrases make this book particularly relatable and more easily comprehended by English language learners.

We start out with our main character, Mercedes Suarez (Merci), a sixth-grader at the elite Florida Seaward Pines Academy located in what the author hints to be Palm Beach County. Merci’s family is working class Cuban American. Her family is tightly knit and always in each other’s business, while offering unwavering support and help without hesitation. This multi-generational family live on the same block in three casitas, one after the other. Marci lives with her hardworking, responsible parents and seventeen year old brother, Roli. Loving grandparents Abuela and Lolo are next, with the third house occupied by bakery owner, overworked Tia Ines and her twin five year old out-of-control sons. Merci and her brother are required to help with responsibilities in all three households—babysitting the twin terrors, accompanying Abuela and Lolo when they leave the house, working in Tia Ines’ bakery on weekends, and various other obligations.

Merci is in her second year of Seaward Pines Academy, an elite school frequented by wealthy, serious, well-behaved students. Merci ‘s family cannot pay tuition, so she must perform community service for the privilege. Merci’s father tells her, “Do a good job, so they know we’re serious people.” Sixth-graders are required to mentor new students by showing them the ropes. Merci is assigned as a Sunshine Buddy to the very white, very nice, very handsome, very popular Michael. Yuck He’s a boy! Not everyone shares these feelings. This pairing causes passive-aggressive revenge tactics from wealthy, assertive, in-your-face Edna, who torments everyone but now leaves extra room to undermine Merci every chance she gets.

Don’t get the idea that Merci is a victim or a shrinking violet. Not true. In all fairness, Merci’s quick temper and lack of critical thinking skills are the culprits that land her in the principal’s office. For example, Merci accidentally hits a fast ball into Michael’s mouth, sending him to the hospital. Then, oblivious to the consequences, Merci cuts Edna out of the plastered mummy costume which encases Edna’s head, not realizing she cut off Edna’s eyebrows in the process. Not intentionally, of course, but she’s generally unmindful of consequences.

Merci has a special bond with her grandparents. When Lolo shows signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, Merci is furious with her family for not telling her about her grandfather’s condition. This is where the story was headed! In this coming of age story, the title takes on a special significance as Merci is given a beautiful, grown-up bike while gaining perception and appreciation of her family, their flaws, strengths, and natural life cycles. Merci demonstrates this by making a family photo album for her grandfather, capturing family members in every day activities, hair uncombed, crumbs on their chins, in the middle of doing chores and caring for their family. Until now, not thought of as special, but Merci now understands the gift of love they all share.

Merci realizes, “But there are other things I wished for even harder than this bike, and I know I won’t get them, no matter what. Important things, like wishing that Lolo wasn’t sick and that everything could stay the same.

“Then again, staying the same means that Tia Ines might not have the chance to love Simon. It means Roli wouldn’t go to college and get even smarter. It means that I wouldn’t grow up at all. Staying the same could be just as sad as Lolo changing.

“I don’t know what is going to happen next year, no one does. But that’s OK.

“I can handle it, I decide. It’s just a harder gear, and I am ready. All I have to do is take a deep breath and ride.”

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

Book Review: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Book Review: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (2016)  (MG) 4 Stars ****( Middle Grade Book)

We meet our main character, ten year-old Raymie Clark, on June 5, 1975, as she attempts to take baton twirling lessons from eccentric Ms. Ida Nee. Louisiana and Beverly, also in Raymie’s group, meet each other for the first time as they all decide to make baton twirling their talent so each one can enter and win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest. Events conspire to prevent any actual baton twirling from taking place. Unforgiving Ms. Nee looks at any delay as an excuse to refuse to teach the girls. No one learns baton twirling, but the trio establish a much-needed supportive friendship which quite literally saves lives.

Initial impressions are dispelled as the girls slowly reveal the truth about their situations. Sunny Raymie, living with her kind, responsible mother, is heartbroken since her insurance agency owner father ran away on June 3 with the town dental hygienist without saying good-bye. Fragile Louisiana, prone to fainting spells, is being raised by her eccentric grandmother since the supposed death of her flying trapeze act parents in a drowning accident. Feisty Beverly lives with an alcoholic, physically abusive mother since her father left Florida to become a cop in New York City. The girls are desperate for loving attention, answers, and support. They give it to each other as they also receive it from responsive adults in the community.

At first, competitors for the crown, the girls judge Louisiana to be the most needy and deserving of the $1,975 prize money and encourage her to use her beautiful singing voice as her talent. The Three Rancheros, as Louisiana names the group, support Raymie through the death of a beloved neighbor, save a pitiful howling dog from the dog shelter, and help Raymie retrieve her book about Florence Nightingale from the senior nursing home. Beverly, always the independent, unconventional voice of reason, picks locks to illegally enter premises to achieve what they set out to do.

In the end, Raymie literally saves Louisiana from certain death by drowning and is eternally grateful to her swimming instructor who taught her how to save Louisiana before he went away, and also remembered to say good-bye before he left. Raymie is now known as Raymie Nightingale. “It was the easiest thing in the world to save somebody. For the first time, she understood Florence Nightingale and her lantern and the bright and shining path. She understood why Edward Option, the librarian, had given her the book. For just a minute, she understood everything in the whole world … She was Ramie Nightingale, coming to the rescue.”

This is a simple, charming book, low key but increasingly powerful near the end. To be honest, I found it boring and uneventful in the beginning and almost stopped reading. The pace picked up and the events and characters became more complex. Reading this book is like spending a lazy day where nothing seems to happen but suddenly it does. I’m happy I continued with this sweet, emotionally satisfying story.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

Book Review: Inheritance-A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, And Love by Dani Shapiro

Book Review: Inheritance —A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (2019)
5 Stars *****

What if the results of your Ancestry.com DNA test reveal you were a test tube baby? Your social father is not your biological father. Your religion is not pure. Some of your relatives are really not. Your half-sister apparently isn’t. You have a first cousin you never heard of. Your mother has made vague, off-hand comments throughout your life. To boot, you don’t look anything like anyone in your family, which has invited comment and wonder.

In this memoir, the author shares her journey of discovery: testing for fun, disbelief at the results, phone calls and social media for contact, archived newspaper articles and Google for research, emails for reaching out. Leaving the author bewildered, grateful, and open to the people who began to contact her—relatives she never knew she had— she still hopes for word from a half-brother or half-sister, maybe out there searching and/or unaware of the secret Dani Shapiro uncovered.

At fifty-four years of age, living in Connecticut, Dani and her husband lightheartedly spit into a vial to mail to Ancestry.com for DNA testing. Two months later, the test results revealed that Dani was not the pure bred Orthodox Ashkenazi Jew she believed herself to be. After disbelief, shock, and anger, Dani and her very supportive husband, Michael, accepted the fact that Ancestry.com does not make mistakes.

Dani, being a writer and educator, and Michael, being a journalist, were both adept at research. They tracked down the (now closed) Farris Institute for Parenthood on the campus of Penn State University in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. Further research and interviews led them to the truth: Many doctors and medical students at this facility donated their own sperm which was mixed with the sperm of husbands with  low sperm counts, and therefore, fathered countless children, of whose existence they were unaware. Knowledge of this practice was kept from the fathers to protect their feelings and acceptance of their wives’ pregnancy results. The donors were promised anonymity and privacy. It is most likely that the mothers knew of this deception. If it were not for scientific advances in DNA testing, the likelihood of discovery was slim.

“One article I came across was a widely circulated 1958 wire service story that appeared in newspapers such as The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and The Tampa Tribune:(excerpt)

Test-Tube Baby Practice Grows; Now 30,000 in U.S.

Some 40,000 American children owe their start in life to test tube science.

     Dr. Edmond Farris, director of the Institute for Parenthood in Philadelphia, said in an interview that  even his estimate of ‘30,000 to 40,000 test tube tots’ may be low. No one really knows exactly how many test tube children there are in the U.S. because there is no law requiring doctors to report on this practice.”

Both parents are now deceased. The real heartache for the author is that her beloved father, her social father, is not her bio-father after all. It was his love and encouragement that sustained her throughout her life. Her mother, aloof and critical, was not the one who made Dani feel loved and accepted. It is being fragmented from him, that hurts the most.

The cover nags at me.  An empty dress, so sad, like seeing lost, empty shoes. A girl without substance? Without identity? Without her heart-felt father? Beautifully written, the author’s soul is gently revealed.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

 

Book Review: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

Book Review: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (2015) 5 Stars *****(Book 4 of The Neapolitan Novels)

An excellent source book for women’s studies and sociological patterns.

Intelligent. Insightful. Thought Provoking.
Elena Ferrante will be remembered as one of the greatest novelists of all time.

Lenu, our narrator, and her closest friend, Lila, are in their forties through sixties in this book. Their relationship still has its ups and down: interdependence/ abandonment, admiration/resentment, tenderness/anger, understanding/frustration. Lenu reinvents herself as a speaker realizing, “I had a natural ability to transform small private events into public reflection” as she becomes more and more honest and open about her herself and family and friends. Lila keeps her successes hidden from Lenu, leaving Lenu to discover Lila’s accomplishments almost by accident and as incidental comments from mutual friends.

Lenu and Lila continue separately to assert their independence from traditional domestic life, leaving human debris in their wake: hurt, accusations, insults, guilt, broken familial relationships, neglect. ‘Round and around and around they go as people from the past keep popping up, causing them to reflect on the effect of their neighborhood upbringing on their fabric as a person. Lenu tells us we never can truly shed who and where we come from. Our childhood shapes us for a lifetime and we either become trapped by it, or struggle to leave it behind.

Both women need love but often feel trapped by its obligations. Lenu demonstrates her strength as she continuously sets goals and works step by step to achieve them, still enjoying positive relationships with all those from her past. Lila, on the other hand, suffers from emotional and mental problems as she goes through life full of anger and thoughts of revenge, as she vacillates from being a tower of strength and kindness to becoming unglued, neglectful, and distracted. Negativity is her constant companion. Not only does it follow her, but she creates it and magnifies it.

I do not want to spoil the story by telling you specifically about the lost child. This terrible event remains a mystery. Blame and culpability cannot be assigned. Maybe an innocent photograph led to what happened, maybe not. Interactions by Lenu and Lila conspired to create the outcome—ironic shades of childhood—collateral damage? if you will. Still heartbreaking no matter how you slice it.

I love this series and did not want it to end.

Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym for an author who wishes to remain invisible. As a matter of fact, writing is not her full-time job. She writes these wonderful books in her spare time—when she’s not at her day job. Is she even really a woman? No one knows. In any event, her Neapolitan Novels series contains four books: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.  My Brilliant Friend has already aired on HBO. Although I do not know the time frame, books two and three are scheduled to be made into mini-series to give us closure on Lenu and Lila’s story. Hopefully, the fourth book will be added to this HBO series.

The review for Frantumaglia-A Writer’s Journey, also by Elena Ferrante, will be published on January 19, 2019.

Ciao bella!

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

 

Book Review: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

Book Review: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (2013) 5 Stars ***** (Book 3 of The Neapolitan Novels) 

An excellent source book for women’s studies and sociological patterns.

Intelligent. Insightful. Thought Provoking.
Elena Ferrante will be remembered as one of the greatest novelists of all time.

Lenu, the narrator, and her closest friend, Lila, are now in their twenties and thirties. Their relationship is still characterized by push and pull—to all appearances polar opposites who really are not so different after all. Both are strong, determined, ambitious, sexual in different ways, feminists, victims of unwanted sexual advances, social activists, politically aware, searching risk takers, reluctant mothers who act independently with decisions that further their personal goals at the expense of family obligations. They both upset the peace as they turn their backs on traditional expectations and seek out situations to place themselves at the top of their games. Which one do you think is more generous to family and friends with time and money? You might be surprised, but then again, maybe not!

This book and the whole series are set against the backdrop of the eternal political battles in Italy among Christian Democrats, Socialists, and Communists. Political views interfere with relationships. When violence erupts, it is their family, friends, and neighbors who are at the center. Mistrust abounds but the characters do their best to pretend they don’t see or don’t suspect, not wanting to believe the worst or contribute to information leading to capture by the police.

Lenu now lives in Florence with her good, but boring and aloof husband and two daughters, at first enjoying fame from her critically acclaimed book and public lectures on feminism and the plight of women. Lenu then hits a low point in her creativity as her popularity declines and she temporarily devotes herself to household responsibilities. Needing a catalyst to jump-start her life, Lenu rekindles a relationship with an old flame which destroys the tranquility of her family life.

Lila has remained in Naples now working at the sausage factory, and having left her husband, is living in near poverty with her son and an old friend, Enzo, who accepts the lack of reciprocal love and happily offers a modicum of financial support and protection. Lila becomes an advocate for the workers at the sausage factory and her outspoken, demanding ways result in a restructuring of her place of employment. The relationship with Enzo gradually grows as they study together to learn new skills to improve their plight. While Enzo initially is thought to be the superior one, Lila quickly overtakes him as new opportunities and demand for her services pull Lila out of her financial slump.

While people admire the accomplishments of those who succeed, there is always the feeling of abandonment. Sure, you’re rich and famous but you turn your back on the rest of us who need you in our lives. What would happen if we all walk away? We helped raise you up, and where are you now?

 

Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym for an author who wishes to remain invisible. As a matter of fact, writing is not her full-time job. She writes these wonderful books in her spare time—when she’s not at her day job. Is she even really a woman? No one knows. In any event, her Neapolitan Novels series contains four books: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.  My Brilliant Friend has already aired on HBO. Although I do not know the time frame, books two and three are scheduled to be made into mini-series to give us closure on Lenu and Lila’s story. Hopefully, the fourth book will be added to this HBO series. I look forward to reading and reviewing the last book in the series.

The review for The Story of the Lost Child will be published on January  16, 2019.

Ciao bella!

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

Book Review: The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

Book Review: The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante 5 Stars ***** (Book 2 of The Neapolitan Novel Series)

An excellent source book for women’s studies and sociological patterns.

Intelligent. Insightful. Thought Provoking.
Elena Ferrante will be remembered as one of the greatest novelists of all time.

Reviewing a book without giving away too much is always a challenge. Set in the outskirts of Naples, Italy in the 1960s—a place beset by poverty, domestic violence, and male domination— Lenu, our narrator, and Lila, her best friend,  are now sixteen and seventeen years old. Their conflicted but dependent relationship continues—supportive/competitive, admiring/contemptuous.

The girls’ lives have taken a more divergent path. Lenu earns her college degree on a full scholarship, is greatly admired and respected, and has published her first book. She has a number of unsatisfactory but convenient relationships with men but continues to pine for Nino. Lenu is still secretive about her sexuality and still has not learned to share her true feelings. Lila is the mother of a small boy. Her marriage is in a shambles with her shrewish, destructive, self-centered, combative, blatantly sexual nature, i.e., sexual with everyone except her husband. With a ruined reputation, still, there are no shortage of men to pick up Lila’s pieces.

Lenu is once more forced to question Lila’s motives when Lila’s decisions put her at odds with Lenu’s deepest, but still carefully hidden, desires.

Some thought-provoking images:

Lina refers to her wedding ring, ” …what is this gold circle, this glittering zero I’ve stuck my finger …”

Lenu is complimented by Armando, Professor Galiani’s son and the rare center of attention when she attends a party with Lila at the professor’s  home, ” He was absolutely the first person to show me in a practical sense how comfortable it is to arrive in a strange, potentially hostile environment, and discover that you have been preceded by your reputation, that you don’t have to do anything to be accepted, that your name is known, that everyone knows about you, and it’s the others, the strangers, who must strive to win your favor and not you theirs.”

After the party, Armando shows a romantic interest in Lenu, but her confidence has eroded, “I was pleased because he obviously liked me, and I was polite, but not available. Lila’s words had indeed done damage. My clothes were wrong, my hair was wrong, my tone of voice was false, I was ignorant…”

After Lenu has broken Antonio’s heart, his sister, Ada, captures the truth as she tells Lenu, “You have no feelings, just look how you treated my brother.” I reminded her with an angry snap that it was her brother who had left me, and she replied, “Yes, anyone who believes that is lucky: there are people who leave and people who know how to be left.”

An amazing character study, we witness the push and pull of everyday life, some more obvious than others, as characters attempt to jockey into position to realize their desired end result, some successful, some always behind the eight ball. Why? Because there’s always another bigger, badder character without scruples or loyalty, who will stop at nothing to attain what they want, and to keep everyone else from getting theirs. One- upmanship always at work.

Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym for an author who wishes to remain invisible. As a matter of fact, writing is not her full-time job. She writes these wonderful books in her spare time—when she’s not at her day job. Is she even really a woman? No one knows. In any event, her Neapolitan Novels series contains four books: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.  My Brilliant Friend has already aired on HBO. Although I do not know the time frame, books two and three are scheduled to be made into mini-series to give us closure on Lenu and Lila’s story.Hopefully, the fourth book will be added to this series. I look forward to reading and reviewing the next two books.

The review for Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay  will be published on January 12, 2019.

Ciao bella!

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

Study Guide 5- The Ocean’s Way by Elaine Donadio

Chapters 14-18.

Please see my Nov. 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Ocean’s Way at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

This is the last study guide for this book. You might want to purchase Who Do Voodoo? to be ready for our next focus book for January.

Holly and Jasmine have experienced many changes. Holly in particular is deeply affected by what she has learned about dolphins and pilot whales giving her a new understanding of how each person can contribute to the balance of nature and the preservation of the environment.

 

These questions are based on Chapters 14-18.

 

1. List at least five facts you learned about manatees. What has the state of Florida done to insure their safety?

2. List at least five facts you have learned about pilot whales. In what ways are pilot whales like humans? In what ways are they different? What is it about pilot whales that make them so vulnerable? What other creatures can you think of whose behaviors could lead to their own downfall?

3. How are donations used to help rescued sea creatures in Florida? Why do you think the government and people of Florida attach so much importance to maintaining the safety of the wildlife in their state?

4. Design a fundraising campaign in your school and/ or community to help raise money to help in the rescue of stranded sea creatures. Decide how to raise the money. Create a poster. Research marine rescue organizations. Choose one to be the recipient of your monetary gift. You do not actually have to put this plan in practice, but please do the plan either way.

Which creatures need rescuing where you live? What could you do to help?

5. Take a look at Holly’s poem about the ocean on the last two pages of Chapter 18. Explain Holly’s fascination with the ocean. Design a T-shirt to capture Holly’s message using a slogan, images, and words to attract attention.

6. Holly and Jasmine have both changed from the beginning, middle, and end of the book. How has each one changed? What influenced these changes? Do you believe these changes are temporary or permanent? Support your answer.

If you had to choose one thing to change about yourself, what would it be? Make a decision now to accomplish this goal. Research. Analyze. Plan. Do.

 

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious adventurer, then you will discover the world on your own. Support all your answers with facts found in the book or outside resources. Seek and you shall find!

Next: Who Do Voodoo? Study Guide 1. See you on Dec. 30, 2017!

You can email Elaine Donadio at author @elainedonadio.com

All rights reserved 2017.

Study Guide 4- The Ocean’s Way by Elaine Donadio

Chapters 10-13.

Please see my Nov. 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Ocean’s Way at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

Holly and Jasmine visit marine parks and are treated like special guests. They learn a lot about dolphins, alligators, wetlands, ecosystems, the environment, and the balance of nature.

 

These questions are based on Chapters 10-13.

1. Go to the fourth page of Chapter 10. Answer the ten questions about dolphins. Include answers from Chapters 10 and 11, the Internet, and any source books you may have. Check your answers on the sixth page of Chapter 10.

2. Make a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast dolphins and alligators. If you had to live your life as one of these creatures, which one would you choose? Why?

3. What are wetlands? We learn that alligators are apex predators. Describe the food chain among the creatures of the Florida swamps.

4. What would happen if the Florida wetlands were destroyed? Explain the effects on the environment and ecosystems. How would the world be affected if alligators became extinct? How would the world be affected if dolphins and pilot whales became extinct?

5. Choose a creature living in the South Florida swamps. Research facts and list them. Using these facts, create a Tanka poem to tell about your creature. Use the Tanka poem about the swamp in Chapter 13 as a model. See the formula below.

Tanka Poem – 5 lines

Line 1  – 5 syllables
Line 2  – 7 syllables
Line 3  – 5 syllables
Line 4  – 7 syllables
Line 5  –  7 syllables

 

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious adventurer, then you will discover the world on your own. Support all your answers with facts found in the book or your own research. Seek and you shall find!

All rights reserved 2017.

You can email Elaine Donadio at author@elainedonadio.com

Next: The Ocean’s Way Study Guide 5. See you on Dec. 31, 2017!

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