(Review) Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

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Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins, 2015.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 278.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very Good.

Amazon

Links of interest on Harper Lee. Her given name was Nelle Harper Lee (1926-2016).
Biography
Britannica
Harper Lee

Readers have remarked, Go Set A Watchman, was published without Harper Lee’s consent. According to what I’ve read online this is untrue. The story was written prior to the story, To Kill A Mockingbird, but was not accepted for publication. The publishers asked her to write a story centering on Scout as a child, and she began work on To Kill A Mockingbird. Go Set A Watchman rested in a safe-deposit box for years. The manuscript was found by her attorney and given to HarperCollins with Lee’s consent. The book was published in 2015.
I enjoyed reading the above links. A few questions were answered about her life. I love it that she didn’t care for fashion and the conventions of the culture of her era. She did not marry. She was close to her sister. She was educated, and lived in both New York City and Alabama. Despite how Truman Capote treated her, she forgave him and went on with life. She was an avid reader.
Go Set A Watchman set off strong reactions of angst and anger. I’ve heard some people say it is its own book, a stand alone story. I’ve heard some people remark they hate it, because of the dramatic difference in Atticus.
Go Set A Watchman is strongly related and it is the after story of To Kill A Mockingbird. I believe people reconcile by stating the two books are not a book 1 and 2. However, both books hold the same characters. Go Set A Watchman refers to the other story. They are apart of each other. However, they are different facets of the characters. And they show a different perspective. To Kill A Mockingbird is told through the eyes of a child. Go Set A Watchman is told through the eyes of a young woman.
As I have grown older, I have learned that life is messy and complicated. The reason is this is real life and not a fictional story. Another reason is people are messy and complicated. Further, we see in people what they choose to reveal and what our own maturity sees. I have been married 35 years. I do not know everything about my husband. I know what he has told me and what I have seen. People do not know another person’s heart unless they share through their voice or it is displayed in their life. I’ve known some people, usually older, who reveal a hidden secret. No other person knew of this secret, they’d held on to this secret deep in their heart. I say all this to state my point: Scout, who is known in Go Set A Watchman as Jean Louise, finds out things about her father, childhood friend, and town that is NOT what she’d remembered as a child. What she thought she knew about them is not true or incomplete. She feels betrayed and angry. She has been stripped of innocence. Another way of looking at this is she has finally grown up.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a magical story. Not a fantasy fiction magic story. It is a story that speaks to any age or generation of people. It is a nostalgic story. It’s a classic. And it used to be required reading in high school!
Go Set A Watchman does not hold the same feelings and thoughts as the more beloved book. It is a book that causes discussion. It is a great book for a book club. It is a book that can be dissected and read for its own merit.
Both books were written in the 1950s. This was a pivotal point in Civil Rights. People’s views began to change. It was a long labor intensive fight. It reminds me of a woman who is in labor. The labor is necessary to bring about birth.
My parents were born in the 1920s. Their perspective was radically different from mine. My dad came around quickly to believing in Civil Rights. My mother never did. I still loved my mother, I just disagreed with her.
I’m glad I read Go Set A Watchman. I’m glad to read it through the lens and maturity of my age, 54.

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(Review) Song Of Praise for a Flower: One Woman’s Journey through China’s Tumultuous 20th Century by Fengxian Chu, contributor Charlene Chu

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Publisher and Publication Date: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. November 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, autobiography.
Pages: 488.
Source: Complementary paperback copy from Charlene Chu and Author Marketing Expert. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

At this time, the book is free through Amazon Kindle Unlimited: Song of Praise for a Flower. 

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Co-author Charlene Chu, Fengxian’s first cousin, grew up in the United States and wrote the English rendering of Song of Praise for a Flower. A financial analyst well-known for her work on China’s economy and financial sector, she is quoted widely in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Business Insider and other media outlets. She holds an MBA and MA in International Relations from Yale University. “Song of Praise for a Flower” is her first book. Charlene splits her time between Washington, DC and Hong Kong.

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Back cover shares the summary of book.

Fengxian Chu is now 92 years old. She was born in the 1920’s and this is the start of the book. She began to write out the story of her life in 1989 and completed it in 1992. The manuscript waited for a reading audience until Charlene Chu, a cousin from America, came to visit Fengxian in hopes of finding historical information about her family. Charlene contributed to the book, making historical corrections or filling in the blank on certain events. The book is equal parts written by Fengxian and Charlene. Fengxian is the voice and topic of the story.

Several reasons led me to give Song of Praise for a Flower an excellent rating.

•A detailed life account of the narrator, in both the logistics of living in China during the 20th century, and her thoughts and feelings.

•A brief history of the Hunan Province, including the geography of the landscape. Later, Guangdong Province is less remarked on by way of a history or geography lesson; instead, it is shown in the daily life of the narrator.

•The society and culture in China is a huge overarching theme in the book. There is a lengthy list of various topics under the heading of society and culture but these are a few: foot binding with women, prejudice between the different provinces in China, communism, family saga, relationships between husbands and wives, relationships between parents and children, family history, education, poverty, gender equality versus feudal, and opium addiction.

•An intriguing aspect of the story is communism. Fengxian Chu has (I think this is the right word) “adapted” to communism. She believes in the Communist Party despite the horrors and abuse of the early years. She feels communism has been good for women. Charlene Chu addresses this issue in brief in the “Afterword” section.

•Over a period of years various reforms took impact in China. The Communist Party pushed agricultural reforms, anti-religious reforms, education reforms, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. All of these are explored in the book.

•Another interesting aspect of the story is the beliefs of luck, good fate or bad fate, good is rewarded and evil is punished.

Song of Praise for a Flower shows the remarkable life of Fengxian Chu. She represents Chinese women during this period who survived (and also died) during the horrors of the Japanese threat of 1930s and World War IIthe war between nationalists and communistscommunism, a changing society and culture, and extreme poverty.

“Now, in the final season of my life, I see that each of us is given only one chance at life. We must take advantage of every opportunity that life presents. For when we do not truly live, life loses its meaning.” Fengxian Chu.

pearl river

Pearl River in China

(Review) She’s Got The Wrong Guy: Why Smart Women Settle by Deepak Reju

 

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Publisher and Publication Date: New Growth Press. October 16, 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction, dating, relationships.
Pages: 192.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from New Growth Press and Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Good.

Landing page for the book tour: She’s Got The Wrong Guy.

Amazon

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Author Info:
Deepak Reju, MDiv, PhD, serves as the pastor of biblical counseling and families at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) in Washington, DC, as well as president for the board of directors of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is the author of several books and articles, including “Great Kings of the Bible: How Jesus Is Greater than Saul, David and Solomon,” “The Pastor and Counseling,” and “On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church.” Deepak and his wife Sarah have been married since 2001 and have five children.

Summary (courtesy of Litfuse Publicity Group):
The control freak. The angry man. The lazy guy. The unteachable guy. The promiscuous man. The unbeliever. The lone ranger. The unchurched guy. The new convert. The commitment-phobe.
For any woman who has struggled with failed relationships, this may seem like a familiar list. These are the men your friends and family have in mind when they think, “she’s with the wrong guy.” And while the reasons women choose these types of men are complicated and varied, ultimately, they will all let you down.
In She’s Got the Wrong Guy, Deepak Reju offers a different kind of dating book, discussing the types of guys women should not marry and offering biblical reasons why they aren’t suitable spouses. Writing from his years of experience as a pastor and counselor, Reju shares with women his perspective on how to assess a relationship’s strengths from the beginning, how to identify possible pitfalls, and how to have the courage to wait for a relationship that will be a blessing for both of you. Using stories that single women can relate to and highlighting contemporary issues in the modern world of dating, Reju gives readers clear, biblical direction on how to have positive, life-giving relationships with members of the opposite sex.
With a strong, Christ-centered focus, women will better understand why they “settle” for less than what God intends for their romantic relationships and learn to put their hopes and find their happiness in Jesus, not marriage

My Thoughts:
I have many thoughts!
I am 53, and have been married almost 35 years. I married the wrong guy but have stayed in the marriage despite the hardship. I was 18 when I married. Many things came to “light” in the first year of marriage, but by then a baby had arrived, and then another baby two years later. We’ve had some good times but have had some awful times. At age 18, I was not mature enough to make a decision regarding serious relationships, much less marriage. Plus, I married a young man who was hiding his “other life.” This “other life” came out after we were married in what I will call confessions. (I could write a book about my own life.)

I wanted to read, She’s Got The Wrong Guy, because I enjoy reading subjects from a variety of genres.

I want to clarify:
The reading audience is for women.
The main message is for women who are dating.
The book does not disclose help for women already married.
The book is not intended for women who are not looking for a Christian husband.

In part one, Reju reminds us of the culture of our era. Dating has changed dramatically from previous generations. The current generation utilizes social media to find a dating partner. But, Reju made a valid point in stating people, “hide behind a screen.” This is a point that people know but need reminding of. People always put forward their best, and behind a screen they can project whatever they wish.
In part two (chapters 5-14), Reju begins listing several different types of wrong guys. Some examples of wrong guys: “The Control Freak”, The Angry Man”, “The Lone Ranger”, and “The Passive Man.”
In part three, a chapter on breaking up with the bad guy, being patient for the right guy, and the final chapter on grace for the current situation.

I feel this is a good book for a single woman. Read it cover to cover or as a reference book. It is a good book to read and discuss with other female friends.
However, there are a few things I did not like. Chapter 11 is “The Lone Ranger.” In this chapter, a couple is introduced where she is the outgoing type and he is the reserved type. She doesn’t understand why he is not “more” friendly with people at church. She wants him to have a strong interest in involvement at church beyond just attending. He is not interested in staying after church for longer than a few minutes. She is put off and wants to have a conversation about his priorities.

Jonathan is a loner. He doesn’t see the need for others, and because of that, he doesn’t do the hard work of developing deep, meaningful Christian relationships. When he gets together with friends, they talk about work, sports, and weather, but no one asks any deeper questions. Real Christian love is not comfortable, but is willing to be engaged with one another and take risks. Genuine Christian love is not convenient, but is willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of Christ…Jonathan does not see the need for discipling or accountability.  Page 96.

Reju states, “Jonathan doesn’t value Christian relationships.” Page 97.
There may be other problems with this situation than, “Jonathan doesn’t value relationships.” For example: he may not be interested period in staying after church, he wants to go home. What might help is one Christian male friend who will hang out with Jonathan, like play golf together or watch sports. Jonathan may be the type of personality that is never going to be interested in the small group (several people in a group considered to be small-12 or less.) He is more one on one. Another problem is Jonathan may have intimacy issues. He is holding back in revealing any deeper part of him. He may hold back on intimacy with all people. Another problem is Jonathan is probably an introvert. He is not comfortable in a large group for long periods of time. He needs time afterwards to recharge quietly. And my last observation, just because people hang out at church afterwards or even attend small groups, this does not mean they are spiritually deep. Those who are apart of hanging out like to talk. What they talk about may or may not be spiritual in nature. Reju explains it is important to have accountability. When people are in relationships with other Christians there is encouragement for growth which includes accountability. In theory I believe this. But this is not always the case. Real accountability comes from reading and studying God’s Word.

Reju makes a strong point: the emphasis of our lives is not to get married but to worship God. The relationship we have with God is the most important relationship we will have. Getting married is secondary.

Final Thoughts:
I have observed married couples and found a few things that I believe are important.
1. The couple see each other at eye level. I do not mean physically at eye level. But both have a mutual respect and admiration for one another. When a person respects another, they are not going to overspend money or betray.
2. Compatibility. This encompasses several things. For example, is one a neat freak and the other messy? One will eventually blow-up or rebel. However, other factors are important: political and religious beliefs, money matters, career (some careers require long work hours), and children (how to raise the children).
3. Sex and affection. For some men sex is affection. And an important factor, will one partner have a stronger interest in sex more than the other?
4. Common interests. Does the couple have at least one thing they like to do together. For example, playing sports or watching sports.