Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 Reading, Books 43-45 (or, is a booted woman from the waist down the latest thing in cover design?)

43) Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols.

YA romance about a girl brought up touring the bluegrass festival circuit who turns rebellious after her sister gets a big Nashville recording contract and their family and her recording label want her to give up her own music and lie low to facilitate her sister's solo career. But she finds giving up her fiddle easier said than done, especially after she meets an attractive boy who needs a fiddler for what sounds like a sort of punk rockabilly band. (The name they settle on is "Redneck Death Wish.") It's a well-written book, and I loved how music and musicianship is handled in the story, though I found the heroine's parents' behavior a bit over-the-top in spots.

44) Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther.

Incidentally, I'm kinda fascinated by the similarity in design and look in these two book covers when they're in completely different genres. (This one is a memoir.) I guess they're both about young women struggling to break free of controlling family environments and assert their own identities, but I doubt that explains the similarities in cover and design as much as the fact they're both very recent books (2013 and 2014 respectively). I guess browns and blues/gray-blues and booted women viewed from ~ waist down are trendy...

Anyway, about the book. Elizabeth Esther is one of several ex-fundamentalist bloggers whose work I read because her experience resonates with my own, though her upbringing was FAR more extreme. I was just a garden-variety Southern Baptist who then got involved in a ultra-conservative chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in college, leading me to almost break my brain trying to not believe in evolution, to accept that women were supposed to have a subservient role, only that was actually wonderful because Jesus was a servant, making it actually better and close to God to serve, etc. But in Esther's word all these beliefs and more were enforced in an abusive, cultish environment.

Her memoir mostly covers her childhood and youth, but in the last fifth or so she and her husband gradually step away from the environment and rebuild their lives and faiths in a more mainstream environment.

45) The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti.

I'm having a flareup of my recurring neck and back pain issues, so I can't write about this book in as much detail as I'd like to right now. Suffice it to say that Valenti makes a great case for how terrible it is to treat chastity as not just a virtue but the most important virtue a young woman can have--i.e. a "good girl" isn't one who is compassionate, thoughtful, brave, generous, hard-working, etc. but one who doesn't sleep around. She also shows how purity culture and rape culture are two sides of the same coin. A depressing but nonetheless thought-provoking read.

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