Book Review: How to Be Married by Jo Piazza

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Title: How to Be Married- What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage

Author: Jo Piazza

Genre: Non-fiction

Publisher: Harmony Books

Pages: 276

REVIEW

In my humble opinion, Jo Piazza’s book, “How to Be Married” is a good read but not the type of book that’s hard to put down.  The book is well-written, funny, informative and honest but I had to read the book a couple chapters at a time.  Off and on, I was tempted to find another book to read. It could be that this is really the kind of book that would better keep my attention if I was listening to it on Audible while I was cooking or cleaning the house.  It may not be the same for you.

I really liked her journalistic approach to warming up to the idea of marriage, learning strategies to deal with disagreements and also finding solutions to working together as a team. She really put a lot of heart into learning how to have a successful marriage which was really endearing. My favorite advice was from a Chilean couple who were approaching their fortieth year of marriage. When she asked what made their marriage so successful, the wife replied, “We dance together every week. We’ve been dancing for forty years. When we dance, we become one. He sees me and I see him.  Everything I know about him, I learned while dancing.” (pg. 19) I instantly thought this was great advice.  Doing something together once a week that both people enjoy, which forces you to really see the other person and have fun is so important.  There are plenty of examples such as this to store away for future use.

What lost me was all the history and culture relayed about each country she traveled to. It just felt like too much and it would end up losing my attention.  In some cases, a little explanation of the customs which helped make their marriages successful was needed but in other instances, I would have preferred fewer details. When Piazza shared her private thoughts about which advice she should try to apply to her marriage and to what degree, showing that at times she was conflicted about how the women chose to live, I felt this was easier to relate to as I could see myself also feeling conflicted. I also liked her openness to changing her perspectives and being flexible to compromise as well as letting go of some of her pride in order to show love to her husband in the ways that were important to him. In conclusion, I feel that the book would have flowed better with less on an anthropology lesson.

Though this isn’t the type of book I would read more than once, I do plan on keeping it to refer to.

I give this book a 3.5/5.

I received this book from bloggingforbooks.com.

Book Review: The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

TheSilverStarTitle:  The Silver Star

Author: Jeannette Walls

Genre:  Fiction/Biographical, Fiction/General, Fictional/Literary

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Pages: 288

SYNOPSIS

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls’ gripping new novel that “transports us with her powerful storytelling…She contemplates the extraordinary bravery needed to confront real-life demons in a world where the hardest thing to do may be to not run away” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Money is tight, and the sisters start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town, who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Liz is whip-smart—an inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz in the car with Maddox.

Jeannette Walls has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices.

REVIEW

The very first two sentences of this book read, “My sister saved my life when I was just a baby. Here’s what happened.” After just reading two sentences, I knew I would be spending a long, wonderful day on the couch reading because I wanted to know what life was like for these two sisters.  When an author has the ability to grab your attention immediately, you know you are in for an intriguing story.

The book The Silver Star is a story about two sisters who grow up bouncing from place to place on the whims of their artistic, impulsive mother who’s in the habit of running from her problems.  By the young ages of 12 and 15, the girls have never experienced staying in one place for very long.  Their mother goes from being so happy she has stars in her eyes to so hopeless she needs to go off on her own to find herself while the girls are left to fend for themselves.  Liz and Jean, also known as Bean by her older sister, have very astute survival skills and have mostly taken on the role of the adult.  They know that they can’t depend on their mother to take care of them so they learn to take care of each other. The sisters truly find amazing ways to thrive after injustices have come their way. In the end, it’s a story of triumph and justice as bad people in their lives reap what they sow and an unreliable parent learns to stop running and be there for her children even when it’s painful to stay.

The Silver Star is the first book I’ve read by Jeannette Walls and it was a great read.  I won’t forget this story or the same theme that is portrayed in all of her books according to the previews I’ve read for Half Broke Horses and The Glass Castle: A Memoir.  The reoccurring theme comes from Jeannette Walls upbringing where she and her siblings had to essentially depend on each other instead of the adults in their lives.  They were forced to be the adults because of traumas that happened to their parents in which they never healed from.  It moves me how strong and wise her characters grow to be after so much adversity just as Jeannette Walls and her siblings learned to do.

She begins this book with the perfect quote by Oscar Wilde, “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

I rate this book 5/5.