Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lousy Labels

This program on CBC made me think of There's Lead In Your Lipstick.

The Boy in the Moon

According to the cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome website, CCF (as it is more commonly called) can be diagnosed by some of the following symptoms:

·         • a distinctive facial appearance;
·         • unusually sparse, brittle, curly hair;
·          • skin abnormalities;
·          • heart malformations present at birth (congenital heart defects)
·          • growth delays

As a reader of The Boy in the Moon, I offer you some more information about CCF:

There is no cure for CCF.

It is a genetic condition that a child is born with.

It will be seen as a disability for the child’s entire life, and will cause society to view the child 
(and the eventual adult) differently.

It is extremely rare, and the severity of it can differ from child-to-child.

It impacts lives.

It is CCF that has made Walker Brown who he is, and it is Walker Brown who is the raison d’etre for The Boy in the Moon.

The Boy in the Moon is a memoir, by Ian Brown (Walker’s father). Brown is a reporter for Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Brown had frequently written articles about his son prior to writing this book, and had thus familiarized Canadians with his family’s challenges.

The book examines the relationship that Walker has with his father, his family, and the world at large. This book is Brown’s search for the meaning of Walkers life in our society that has distinct and opinionated views on disabled individuals.

CCF has shaped the Brown family in many ways. The parents, Ian and Joanna Schneller, have been forced to abandon dreams for a “normal life” for both their son and daughter. The parents are permanently attached to their son - in a way that parents of “normal” children will never be – and sometimes suffer guilt for abandoning their son (when placed in a group home) or perhaps even causing his condition. It is CCF that has forced the Brown family to seek solace and support of other advocates for the disabled, and has allowed them to create valuable bonds with other CCF parents. And yet, it is CCF that allows Walker to see the world as it truly is: simple in its joys and mysteries.

It is Walker’s view on the world which Brown desperately grasps at with this book. He wants to insight into his son and his sons actions. Their communication is limited to smiles, grunts, and hits; however, they are still able to understand one another at an almost primordial level. It is Walker that brings about Brown’s search for enlightenment, and who is Brown’s passion for life.

I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers Program, and I voraciously read it. Brown’s writing is hauntingly eloquent, and this book will be, I suspect, read and re-read. The journey of the Walker and his family is one that will not easily be forgotten.

Book information:

The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary 
St. Martin's Press (2011), Hardcover, 304 pages

Saturday, March 19, 2011

There's Lead in Your Lipstick

I recently read "There's Lead in Your Lipstick", a non-fiction book by Gillian Deacon. 

I had won this book from a contest by Penguin Canada, and had to admit that I knew zero about said book when I received it in the mail. To be truthful, I had only entered the contest because I love winning books, and am always looking for ways to add to my own library. Anyway, after receiving the book, I skimmed the front cover, and decided to read it soon. It looked like it would be an easy read to quickly whip through.

I read the book the same week I received it.

Now, this book was an easy read. It is fast to get through, and as a reader, I was entertained by the information. Deacon's writing style was engaging yet informative, and she offered a plethora of statistics to support her assertions. So yes, this book took me less than two days to finish; however, this book was also eye-opening and incredibly startling. To be frank, I  never knew how much shit I'd been putting on my skin while thinking it was "natural" or "organic". I also never knew about the lack of regulation in the cosmetic industry, and how so many products are linked to cancers, reproductive problems, skin allergies (this I found especially interesting - given my own rash problems), et cetera. So let me rephrase my topic sentence: this book was an easy read but it was also alarming, eye-opening, startling, and frightening.

Thankfully, Deacon is a pragmatist and not a complete pessimist. While telling the reader about the disgusting chemicals in soaps, shampoos, face creams, hair dye, cetera, she also offers alternatives so that the reader no longer has to rely on such toxins. Deacon has included lists, for each chapter, of truly organic products (complete with company information, and websites for the savvy internet shopper), and has also included a myriad of homemade natural beauty remedies that the reader can try at home. The brand information is incredibly helpful for someone like me, a in internet shopper, who often doesn't have the time (or even know where to begin) researching these brands. And the recipes, I know that I can't wait to try some as they are simple and can be done with little fuss.

This book is a wonderfully handy thing to have around your house. I recommend that others purchase it as quickly as possible, and become aware about the "lead in their lipstick". I know that I will continue to refer to this book for years to come.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Passage

The most recent book read was a novel, The Passage, by Justin Cronin. As I'm on my way out to Saskatoon, I'll post a longer review later; however, I will state that I did like this book. I wasn't super into it always (oh god, I sound one of my teenage students) as I read it; yet, upon finishing said novel, I've gone back to re-read certain passages and chapters. These characters stuck with me. I'm excited for the sequel.