Two good books

In the past two weeks I’ve read two good books.  Good enough to document that I’ve read them on the blog…which means they are good.  But they come with caveats.

The first was Somewhere Inside:  One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home by Lisa Ling and Laura Ling.  This was actually the book I read while waiting for another book on North Korea which I now have in my hot little hands.  All this North Korea (NK) stuff was recommended by a friend and honestly the main stream media hasn’t made NK look dull much lately either.  My impression before I started reading Somewhere Inside was “yada yada, a journalist was somewhere she shouldn’t be and her famous sister helped her get her out”.  It IS a story about that…don’t get me wrong…but the trials of getting her out and what she went through while waiting to get out was fascinating.  North Korea is just that…fascinating…with a hefty side of scary.  The most memorable tale was when one of the sister’s (I think it was Lisa) went to NK for a medical mission with a doctor who was removing cataracts from children and adults.  When one of the adult patients was finished with her surgery she ran up to thank the pictures of Dear Leader hanging on the wall…expounding how grateful she was that the Dear Leaders gave her sight.  Um…yeah…news flash…thank the doctor why don’t you?   It was a great quick engrossing read.  It was light on politics, but gave you enough to understand the insanity that is  N. Korea and our relations with them and the six party talks.

The second was a book that I picked up on our library’s “fast mover/popular book” shelf.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I saw “Paris” and “WWII” and thought to myself “I like both those topics” so I stuffed it in my bag and off I went.  Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is a book I will not be forgetting in my lifetime.  It’s a beautifully written account of the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested and held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver outside the city.  At times when reading I had to stop and calm down.  The painful separation of family, and trying to grasp how Sarah lived knowing what she did to her brother, but realizing the good in the family that saved her.  It’s awful.  It’s the saddest story I’ve read in ages.  So don’t go about it lightly if you chose to read it…it will haunt you.  I almost wish I would have read it before I had children because I think that is what made it so hard to read…imagining my own child in that situation.  Ack.  Horrible.  You are probably wondering why I’m even recommending it?  Well because I think it’s important that we don’t repeat history so we need to face the painful past.  I was never educated about this event (the Vélodrome d’Hiver round-up did occur and countless French Jewish children died) in school, so this semi-fictional account is all I’m going to get and Tatiana de Rosnay does it beautifully.

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