“Etched in Sand” –A Book Review

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“When you’re a kid with no one to protect you, everything comes with a price.”

Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra is an eye-opening memoir. This story tells of the impoverishment Regina and her four siblings had to endure throughout their childhood in Long Island.

Each child has a different father (none of which are in the picture), and their alcoholic mother is both verbally and physically abusive. Leaving the kids on their own for weeks, even months, at a time (to spend time with a new boyfriend or drink herself senseless at a bar), “Cookie’s” kids have never known stability. Regina is tasked with keeping her two younger siblings safe, fed, and sheltered. Sadly, this task is much easier when their mother, Cookie, is away.

“To me, feeling secure means the opposite of what it means to most kids. Children are supposed to find their greatest safety and comfort in the arms of their mothers. Instead, Cookie’s homecoming is our darkest danger, like the worst storm anyone can imagine.”

One night, after Cookie stumbles home from wherever she’s been holed up for the past several months, she decides to take out her aggression on Regina. But this time, the damage is too extensive to hide, and school authorities report it to social services. With the promise of keeping her two younger siblings safe and away from their mother’s grasp, Regina is “tricked” into telling her social worker everything. However, she soon learns that kids like her are often thrown under the bus by the system put in place to keep them safe.

“We’re poor. We have no connections and even fewer resources, and we’ve learned not to trust anyone who says You can trust me. We’ve had to put our faith in the people who treat us coldly, who attempt to prey on our vulnerabilities and take advantage of us; but in the end, no one can really save us from our own hard reality. Every single one of us has had to climb out of our childhood and help ourselves.”

“When you live on the fringes of society with no resources, you have no voice, and your complaints are easily ignored.”

Ripped apart from her younger siblings, Regina must learn how to navigate the world on her own (while still struggling to keep her family together). Somehow, through more hardships than most of us can even begin to imagine, she manages to pick herself up and create a good life.

“Maybe my impossible upbringing sets me apart from the rest. I’ve cultivated a strong work ethic and faith in my capacity to take care of myself.”

 “The older I get, the more I’m convinced: I’ve suffered for a reason. It’s a reason I don’t know yet, but it’s been circling me—a forecast of something mighty.”

This spell bounding account will have you thanking the heavens for everything you have and help to remind you that there is always someone out there worse off than you. I give this heartfelt piece four out of five stars.

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“The Casual Vacancy”—A Book Rant

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Just like millions of Harry Potter fans out there, I could not WAIT for J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy. And let me tell you, I was totally not prepared for the complete and total letdown of this novel. Holy Balls, it was HORRIBLE!!!

 Absolutely NOTHING HAPPENS in this book! I swear there was no plot. It was merely 503 pages of boringness. And I did finish it, I swear…I kept hoping it would have a killer ending that would redeem the rest of the story, but NO, it didn’t. The ending was just as anticlimactic and lackluster as the rest of the tome.

Also, I feel like J.K. Rowling was on a mission to prove that she could do something other than “squeaky clean,” and went out of her way to use profanity and shocking sexual imagery. Some of the narrative descriptions in this volume had me crossing my legs…it was that crass and revolting. I get it J.K, you can use the “F Bomb.” Congratulations. But next time, let’s trying using it in a meaningful way to accentuate the plot and help the story to progress. Not just dropping it wherever, just because you can. (And this is coming from someone who cusses like a sailor.)

The supposed “plot” of this novel:

In the small English town of Pagford, Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly, leaving a seat open on the town’s council. This happens at the very start of the tale. The rest of the book is about several different people and families in this small town and how this open seat on the council (and the town in general) affects their lives. This story literally follows about twenty different around and basically eavesdrops on their mundane lives. That’s it. The whole story.

Besides the fact that there are way too many characters to keep up with, everyone’s life is completely dull and uneventful. Not to mention the fact that pretty much every character was an utterly horrible person. I get it; I know that most people are not inherently “good,” and everyone has skeletons in their closet, but the way this story was written, I didn’t even remotely feel anything for these characters. They were all selfish and ignorant and I wanted to punch every single one of them in the face. And I’m not a violent person. I wanted to like this book, I really did, but WOW, such an epic fail.

In an interview with BBC, 26 September 2012, News Entertainment & Arts, Rowling says, “I don’t mean this in an arrogant way but I did not sit down to write this novel thinking “got to prove”. I had nothing to prove.”

To me, this basically translates to, I’m super rich and I can write whatever the f*ck I want, because I’m J.K. F*cking Rowling and people will buy my books. Period.

 

My advice…DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! I give it one out of five stars. And that’s being generous.

 

People

“A vivid read with great, memorable characters and a truly emotional payoff….Rowling captures the humanity in everyone.”

^ All I have to say about this review is, “False.”