My husband and I went camping last week for three nights. It wasn’t easy, because this is the first time he’s needed to be on oxygen. It was a forest service campground without electricity. We camp with a tiny teardrop trailer which is one step above a tent. Despite the extra prep, I ended up glad we went.
The weather was also cooler than we prefer. Since I couldn’t spend much time in the water and turned lazy on my plans to hike, I got a lot of reading done. I finished a read-through edit of my WIP, finished reading a novel I started months ago (When Elephants Fly), and then quickly read the “spare” I’d thrown in, a tiny little book that had lingered unread on my shelves for who knows how long (The Lilies of the Field).
I promised myself I’d write at least short reviews for each, though now almost a week has passed.
When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer caught my attention because the main character has a history of mental illness in her family (her mother) and she has a “life plan” to do things to avoid triggers. I was disappointed that this turned out to be less of the theme than the adventure involving saving a baby elephant. I also think there was enough substance to the book that we could have done without the side romance, but since it’s a YA book, I suppose the pressure was there to have romance. I’d give it 3 or 4 stars, but I didn’t love it. The writing sort of bugged me, and I generally won’t read anything written in first person present tense, but I make a few exceptions. For me it’s a very annoying verb tense to read at length. (I know it’s popular, so let’s hope that changes soon.) I’m sure it would have helped if I’d read the book straight through in a few days rather than being one of those that gets set down for too long in between.
The spare book I threw in “just in case” was terrific! The Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett is an older book, and only seven chapters long. The movie starring Sidney Poitier is probably more well-known. I’ve most likely seen the movie, but if I have, I didn’t remember, so nothing was spoiled.
It’s a well-told, well-written tale about a man recently out of the Army traveling across the West, taking on handyman jobs as he goes. He ends up helping some nuns. I don’t really want to say any more about the plot. Homer (the man) is a Black man and the nuns are German who don’t speak English. They have fled communist Germany. They live in an area of mostly Mexican immigrants. In my opinion, Barrett does a good job of subtly speaking to the issues of the different backgrounds and the inequities they’ve all faced. The story is also about faith, as alluded to in the title, taken from a Bible verse about faith:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.
I really liked it! And such a quick read. Five stars.
All in all, it was a good trip. The campground was busy, but it was the kind of campground where you have your own space. I didn’t see a mask or hear a news story for four days and that was worth it. When I set my chair up in front of the river and just watched it and listened to it, I knew that even if it was too cold to swim, it was enough just to be there in front of the water.