Book Review: As Is: Confessions of a True Fatty

confessionsofafattyFour starsThe author sells herself short in that she assumes all her readers face the same challenges with weight that she describes. In fact, her message is appropriate for anyone who hasn’t yet discovered his or her authentic self. Wagner’s challenge is her addiction to food which she uses to compensate when she feels unappreciated. But she doesn’t stop battling. She also doesn’t blame others. In this, her book is a pattern for what others who use substances or activities to screen out discomfort can do to take responsibility for their lives.

In addition, she tells the story of a Palestinian Christian family, led by her immigrant father, a story of successful businesses, a story most Americans haven’t heard, but should. It presents another facet of the complicated image of Arabs, one at odds with the predominant, one-dimensional narrative so many Americans are satisfied to accept.

Book Review: The Black Velvet Coat

theblackvelvetcoatFive StarsTwo for one! The two tales interwoven in this debut novel are connected through a black velvet coat, something that was ordinary in the life of Sylvia, the central character of one of the tales, and extraordinary in the life of Anne, the central character in the other tale. No matter how different their circumstances, both women share the experience of facing challenge and each needs lessons on how to stand on their own, to make their ways in the world as independent and fulfilled women.

This book inspired and intrigued me in several ways. The stories take place largely in San Francisco, my favorite city, one I had hoped to return to, but haven’t yet. One of the characters speaks a version of British English sharedthe doll by my husband. How else can I explain her use of the term gobsmacked, one I hear often from my husband? I also made a black velvet coat for the doll I plan to give my granddaughter for Christmas. After meeting the author, I added a sparkly snowflake pin to the finished coat.

I loved this book.