Surviving the Island of Grace & more {book reviews}

God has graced us with multiple opportunities to read about His people and the places where they live.  Here are just a few.  Perhaps you would like to add them to your reading list, if you have not already read them.

Surviving the Island of Grace: Life on the Wild Edge of AmericaSurviving the Island of Grace: Life on the Wild Edge of America by Leslie Leyland Fields

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an excellent book! Borrowed from the public library. Heard about Leslie Leyland Fields when her latest book was released, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. Caught my eye because she lives on/near Kodiak Island. I lived there once long ago for a short while. Thus, the subject held a special interest to me.

It is written in memoir style, which is one of the author’s specialties. She has an MFA and is an experienced writing teacher on the college level, as well as being an experienced writer. I have no criticism(s) of the book. It took me two weeks to read. It’s not a quick read, but it will get you right out there on the Pacific Ocean with the salmon set netters and their way of life. If you are unfamiliar with fishing and island living, this book may seem surreal to you, but I assure you it is very real. It took me back to my days of listening to the marine forecast, because there was nothing else on the air, and tales of search and rescue, not to mention eating fresh caught salmon. All wonderful, all obtained through difficult circumstances, all of grace.

Thank you, Leslie Leyland Fields for writing this book.

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Wings of a DreamWings of a Dream by Anne Mateer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ‘met’ the author on Twitter a few months ago and decided I should read one of her books, just to see if she was any good (smile), you know? Some day, I hope, you will be able to say the same of me.

I was a little nervous, although this is the second author to go through this process under my scrutiny (another smile). I’m pretty sure God knows what He is doing when He sets these meetings up (smile).

I loved the book! and I choose not to go into detail about the story. You can read the synopsis, you can read the book, and I promise you will not be disappointed. If it looks straightforward, it is not. If it looks simple, it is not. If it looks like a million other stories, it is not. The characters, the story, the spiritual aspect of the story, the descriptions, were all good. I was there in another time and place, experiencing what the pov character went through. When I started reading and saw it was in the first person I thought I might not like it, but the author does a thorough job of sticking to the main character’s point of view, which more than made up for it.

I highly recommend this book and author. It’s squeaky clean, some history, some romance, and lots of faith.

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Power to the People: An American State at WorkPower to the People: An American State at Work by Tommy G. Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well. This is my copy, which I picked up secondhand a couple of years ago. Since I live in WI I thought it would be interesting to read a book by the former governor, Tommy Thompson. Not just because he is a former governor, but because I’ve heard good things about him, conservative things. I didn’t really know what the book would be about, but I liked the title, which it turns out is apropos to the book.

The parts of the book which interested me most were about welfare reform and school choice. To be honest, the rest of the book was predictable.

Since I was living in MA at the time, and on welfare, I was interested in hearing how this welfare reform worked. Wisconsin was the first state to initiate welfare reform, with Massachusetts right behind. The process which Thompson undertook to put this into effect was monumental, especially considering the red tape which the federal government contributed. It is to his credit that he even tried, much less succeeded, with all the hoops required by the federal government (or stumbling blocks thrown into his path at every turn).

The same thing with school choice, only this issue was more within the state, attempting to get the Democrats on board, and the educators. Sad to see how divided people can be when it comes to change which is intended to improve the quality of children’s’ education.

Two or three comments, questions, or observations about the content. One, Tommy Thompson is a man of integrity (at least that is how he presents himself), true grit, determination, and solid logical thinking. He knows how to get the job done. He follows through on his word. He listens to what people have to say.

Two. I wonder how much of what he accomplished during his three terms as governor is still standing today? I wonder how welfare to work and school choice stood the test of time? I know the issue of creating jobs is still an ongoing one, and that is not necessarily a reflection on the one in the governor’s office. I wonder if any of Thompson’s progress was reversed under the governorship following him, which was a Democrat?

Three. I learned that Wisconsin is a progressive state. I had not heard that explained before. I can see that it is primarily a manufacturing economy. I knew little about it before moving here. Thompson’s book gave a clear picture of the state as a whole, at least to someone who is new to it and to progressive thinking of this sort.

I also learned about government, and I think this is the best value of his writing. I would like to read more of his thoughts on big government and why it does not work.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Thompson himself, Wisconsin government, or the workings of state government as relates to federal control, which is continuing to spiral out of control. Oh, and anyone who wants to learn how to operate within the guidelines of a budget, without overspending 🙂

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