Xochitl’s Book Thoughts: All We Knew But Couldn’t Say

All We Knew But Couldn’t Say by Joanne Vannicola

First line of the book: I never know what condition she’ll be in when I arrive at the hospital – if she’ll lucid, rambling, awake, sleeping, in an altered state, or gone.

Summary and Thoughts:

Joanne Vannicola went through a life of trauma and pain before reaching stardom. All of her childhood resurfaces once her abusive mother is on her deathbed. Vannicola’s life was a tale of eating disorders enabled by her mother, abuse from both of her parents, and sibling bonds torn apart from everything going on. Vannicola also delves into her sexuality, especially when she is entering young adulthood, from small crushes to the people she dated. She doesn’t leave out any part of her life so one can see the bad choices she makes in her life and how her upbringing influenced her growth. Vannicola goes back and forth between the past and present. The little things that her mother says or does currently sourly reminds Vannicola of her troubled family life.

I found myself to be easily lost in her world as Vannicola goes into deep detail of her setting and her strong emotions at the time. Anyone who has had a difficult upbringing will relate to the several ways that Joanne Vannicola tried to forget her living situation, especially during her younger years. My favorite one was the children’s obsession with music and always listening to it together in secret since I like to lose myself in music. I also did find some parts difficult and uncomfortable to read as I am a sensitive person. I believe this read is necessary for that reason; when I felt uncomfortable, I realized the points she was trying to make. If I felt horrible or angry then no doubt Vannicola felt it tenfold and would explain her problematic behavior, which I often got frustrated with. Overall, this book brought me a perspective that I usually find hard to think about.

FYI:

I caution others that there are strong themes of abuse (self or to others), prostitution, sexual references, underage-drinking, and drugs. The author doesn’t hold back detail when it comes to these things.

*This book can be found via Hoopla or through Interlibrary Loan.*

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings

I have a miniature dachshund named Winston.  He HATES fireworks.  In the last few years, I have learned some tricks to help him deal with the holiday.  One of my favorite traditions now is a movie marathon with lots of action to drown out the booms.  This year we watched The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogies.  Watching these movies took me back to childhood.

One of my earliest memories is being read to every night by my dad.  One of the books that stands out the most is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I remember him checking out an illustrated copy from our local library.  It felt so special having him read when we knew he was tired.  He worked in Wichita and had an hour commute every day to and from work with a 4 a.m. alarm.  I loved the story of Bilbo Baggins and the company of Thorin Oakenshield.  My favorite scene is and always will be the chapter, Riddles in the Dark, where Bilbo meets and outwits Gollum.  I was always a little worried for Bilbo.  Answer the riddle or be eaten?!  How scary.  Followed by giant spiders in the forest of Mirkwood.  (Why is there always giant spiders?)  Then when they reach the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo has to face the dragon, Smaug.  This book gets better and better.  But I still remember being saddened at the end with the death of Thorin.  I still am sad about it actually.

When I was in high school, my dad and I went to see the first of the Lord of the Rings movies.  I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of this movie.  It was visually stunning with an amazing cast and a great story.  I had never read the LOTR books but I did remember the story, The Hobbit.  I immediately had to buy the trilogy and start reading.  I LOVED them.  The detail that Tolkien puts in his books is beautiful and complex.  The following years, I went to see The Two Towers and The Return of the King and was so happy to see that Peter Jackson followed the source material so well.

Then several years later Jackson announced they were adapting The Hobbit!  I was stoked.  They were bringing back some of the original cast and adding new talent.  Going to the theater to see the first movie was like being a kid again.  Once again, the casting was amazing.  Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin were both exactly what I wanted.  Even though the movies veered off the story line, I felt that Jackson still gave us the feel of Tolkien.

When I happened upon an exact copy of The Hobbit that my dad read to us in a used bookstore I snatched it up immediately.  I placed it in a spot of honor next to my illustrated copies of Harry Potter!  There is nothing like a special book that makes us feel young again.  What is your favorite book from childhood?  We’d love to hear your comments!