Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

I wanted to hate this book. When it arrived, I read the acknowledgements first and the author thanked her agent for having the patience and belief in her to wait six years for the book to be completed. As a writer myself, this is the kind of thing that drives me wild with jealousy. But I'm here to tell you: her agent was right. This book is fantastic.

In Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng follows the Lee family as they deal with the repercussions of their eldest daughter's mysterious death. It's the 1970s and the Lees are the only mixed race family in their community. When high school junior Lydia is found dead, it's unclear how much the isolation of being the only "Oriental" played a part. What does become clear is that her family didn't know her as well as they thought. With an omniscient narrator, the author is able to explore the thoughts and memories of each character so the reader understands everything they knew and everything they never told each other.

Ng's debut is a beautiful exploration of family dynamics and the struggle to know and be known in spite of miscommunication, secrets and silence.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

That time of year again

I do my best to avoid sweat shops. I don't buy clothing very often and when I do, I either spend more money for something made in America or I hit a thrift shop. My favorite new find is ThredUp.com. I recently spent around $50 for ten brand name items in good condition - including a pair of American made jeans.

Holiday shopping can be incredibly difficult. I've stumbled across a few gift guides, but their suggestions are often very specific and pricey. ABC News says that if  each of us spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs. I think that's a challenge worth taking and this is my fourth year of doing my part.

I've always had good luck with the American made section of FatBrainToys, which has reasonably priced, educational toys and games.

When I'm looking for US made kids clothes, I usually go straight to etsy.com, but I have also found deals at CDWKids.

When you buy this LifeStraw water filter, a year of clean drinking water is provided to a child in a developing country.

For several years now, my family has decided to donate to charity in lieu of gifts to each other. We have given to UnicefHeiferCharityWater, and OxFam to name a few. Helping someone on the other side of the world to become self-reliant feels better to me than receiving a bunch of things I really don't need. (And it saves on standing in the exchange line on December 26th.) It's much more consistent with the Christmas spirit.

Before selecting a charity, I always check them out at Charitynavigator.org to find out how much of donations go to services and how much they pay the CEO. (I can't stand charity CEOs who make millions.) I recommend checking out your charity here before donating. You can even look at their list of top-rated charities if you need ideas.

I'm always looking for new shopping sources. Please share your favorites in the comments section.