Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Some things just take my breath away

I've posted before about how the Girl isn't a reader. She has enough learning disabilities to make reading difficult, and she doesn't have very good vision either, something that might have been partially corrected by vision exercises, but not completely, unfortunately. So when she reads, it's a long, drawn out process and she rarely if ever finishes books. It just takes her so long to read each page that she never seems to have the time to finish one before another book needs to be read for school.

This past year she's been reading a bit more, as she's required to read a book a month for independant reading. At the beginning of the school year, I took her to the bookstore nearby and she choose a bunch of what we all call "pink books". She chose the books on the color more than on the content. She heads over to the chick lit section, looks at the covers, and then will select a couple to read. I usually pre-read all the books she chooses, and those books take me maybe 2-3 hours to finish, but take her at least a month.

She just finished her last book, and during vacation she asked me to help her select something different. She was tired of the chic lit genre and wanted to read something 'that will make me cry, you know, a drama that is sad." I told her about a few books we had that I though she might like and were easy enough to read. I suggested Stolen Lives, a book about a family that was banished by their relatives and sent to live in a hovel until they were found and rescued. She wasn't that interested. I suggested a PD James book, Naked Flesh, but she didn't want a mystery. And then I had an idea. I suggested a book, told her about the plot, but told her it wasn't short nor was it an easy read. She would have to learn some history, and she would have to learn some new vocabularly, but I promised she would sob at places in the book because it is just so sad.

My baby girl is sitting on the sofa reading Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah. This is one of the saddest books I've ever read, about a young Chinese child whose mother died right after she was born, and the very wealthy father married a Eurasian woman who is the epitome of the evil stepmother. She abandons Adeline in an orphanage, treats her worse than any servant, encourages the other children in the family to be cruel to her, and pits father against children, and child against child. Yen Mah's mother, died at her birth, and Adeline, considered an ill omen, was treated with crushing severity by a stepmother that made Cinderella's stepmother look like a guardian angel. But Yen Mah was encouraged by the love of an aunt and eventually made her way to the U.S., where she became a doctor, married happily and, ironically, was the one her father and stepmother turned to in their old age.

That my child has attempted to read a book that means so much to me, and that I identify with so closely just makes my heart sing. I hope she can finish this book because I know she's going to love it.
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