Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Turn the Page....Tuesday

It's time once again for Turn the Page...Tuesday, hosted by the incredible Adrienne of Some of a Kind.  Turn the Page Tuesday is a time to share what you have read in the last month and to see what other's having been turning the pages in.  It's a really fun way to start the month!

The old, dusty book that I chose to pull off of my shelves and finally read this month is The Best Known Works of Ibsen, by Henrik Ibsen.  Mr. Ibsen was a playwright from Norway whose work has been turned into several "made for television" plays and is known worldwide.  He is one of Norway's favorite sons.  I was surprised to find that Ibsen's plays, written many years ago and based in Norway, deal with so many issue's that had to be taboo at the time.   His works were known to by quite scandalous, written in an era when family life was portrayed as perfect, Mr. Ibsen instead choose to write about some of the harder realities of life.

In "Hedda Gabler", the main character, Hedda, has married the wrong man though continues to see the "right" man through business dealings of her husbands.  She actually convinces the "right" man to shoot himself and the play ends with Hedda's suicide. 

In Ghosts, Ibsen deals with arson, a child born out of wedlock and sexually transmitted diseases. 

There are nine short plays in this book;  I haven't finished all of them yet, but they all deal with equally hard topics.

Henrik Ibsen - 1828 to 1906

A friend of mine gave me this book and I'm so glad she did. Written from the perspective of Kimberly, a young Chinese girl who along with her Mom has immigrated to America via the help of her mom's older sister, Paula and husband Bob. Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob own a clothing factory in Chinatown where they immediately put Kimberly and her Mom to work to pay off the large debt of bringing them to America. It takes many years to pay off that debt, years where the mother and daughter live in an otherwise empty apartment building that should be condemned, left to the rats and roaches that run rampant. During these years, Kimberly keeps her home life private, exceling at school and earning a scholarship to a private high school that she focuses on as a way out of the life of poverty her and her mom are living.
 I believe this book may be a bit autobiographical as the author immigrated to Brooklyn as a young girl and also worked in a sweatshop. This background made for an excellent telling of the story right down to the translation of words that sometimes got so confusing for Kimberly as she tried to understand the speech of her teachers and classmates. Slang and accent's sometimes made the words quite hard to understand and the author really did a good job of descriping the words that Kimberly thought she heard.

This story was both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. One of the passages that stayed with me the longest was the one in which, not long after Kimberly had started school in America and met her best friend, Annette, she was trying to tell Annette that she worked in a clothing factory with her mom until late in the evening after school every day. A few days later, Annette told Kimberly that she must have been making up excuses to not do anything with her because when Annette had told her dad about Kimberly working in the factory, her dad had told her that things like that didn't happen in America. Amazing how we sometimes bury our heads in the sand when we hear things we don't want to accept.

I highly recommend this book. Pick it up and read it if you get a chance!  It's one of those books, that for me, the characters stayed with me for quite some time after I was finished turning the last page.  I miss Kimberly and wonder what she's doing now!

Pop over to Adrienne's to see what others are reading.  For October, I plan to pull a dusty hardback copy of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe down to read.  It's just a small book with only a few of his stories in it, but quite appropriate for an October read I think!


Paula said...

Sounds wonderful!

Jeni said...

I know I read some of Ibsen's works in college but now, can't recall what the heck they were! (Lovely to have a working memory, isn't it?)
My younger daughter gave me my birthday present a week early so I received a new book over the weekend. The name of this book is "Room" by Emma Donoghue and I've never heard of it but it sounds like it will be an interesting read. Have you heard of this and if so, have you read it. Let me know or if not, once I read it, I'll let you know my thoughts on it then. Peace! And keep reading!

Adrienne said...

Isn't it funny whAt is deemed controversial. I am adding the second book to my list of reads - there you go again recommending a good one! ;-)

Sara said...

I have always been curious about Ibsen. Thanks for the review!

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I'm thinking I read an Ibsen book about a mother and her children drifting away on an ice chunk....Does that sound familiar? Kind of dark!

Jill said...

Thank you for the introduction to Ibsen... I never knew about him until today. His works seem very interesting.

Stacey's Treasures said...

I didn't even get a whole book read this month but every chance I get I slip away to read "The Help"
"Girl in Translation" sounds realy good.
I think the Ibsen book would be hard to read and intresting at the same time.