Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub

The Year of No Sugar was an informative book about a family who gives up "sugar" for a year. However, the title is deceiving because the family does not completely give up sugar but mostly fructose, some artificial sweeteners, and isolated fruit sugar. Schaub spends most of the year obsessing about sugar (when to eat? how to eat it?) and finding technical ways to consume sugar and all its many alternative forms. For instance, she sets up certain cheat rules or accepted wild cards for her and her family which I could understand when it comes to children. However, the cheating exceptions/rules kept sugar in the family's diet which, I believe, made the whole sugar craving a constant annoyance.

Additionally, the family incorporated a monthly cheat day where they selected and shared a sugary treat. I like the idea of people, especially families, coming together to share a meal. This is a very bonding and social experience and I believe was key to helping the family maintain the project. 

However, where Schaub's experiment fell apart for me was in her relentless quest to locate chemical sugar sweeteners such as dextrose to support her and the family's sugar addiction. Call me crazy, but with a title like The Year of No Sugar, I expected to read about people struggling to eliminate ALL sugar both regular and artificial.  If the goal was to eliminate sugar, and especially fructose, because of its toxic and damaging effects on the body and our health, why replace it with something unnatural that is also dangerous and toxic? Because it is the lesser of two evils? That’s like giving up crack cocaine for cigarettes. Okay, I am exaggerating but you get my point.

My Thoughts: 
Don't get me wrong, I respect any attempt to give up toxic foods from the human diet. Heck, I am a life-long pursuer of clean and healthy eating. I give Schaub tons of kudos for the fact that she dared to include her children in the experiment, brave undertaking. However, I just did not like the exchange of one poison for another. I would have liked it if Schaub found healthy alternatives, like using whole natural ripened sweet fruit and vegetables in her cooking and baking instead of chemical sugar alternatives. Natural foods would have helped the family re-train their taste buds and possibly teach the importance of eating real food.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler

The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler is about two friends Zebby and Amr who decide to create an online school website that is informative and honest. However, when they proclaim that anybody can post to the website without censorship, things begin to get out of hand. Soon cyberbullies begin to write anonymous mean and vicious comments and posts about Lilly, a popular girl at school. 

The book examines the fine line between censorship and freedom of speech and honesty, responsibility and integrity within journalism. It also asks the question who are we really? The person online, who assumes an anonymous identity and thus says anything they choose? or, the person who we pretend to be in our everyday interactions. The book is a timely quick middle school read with thought provoking themes.

My Thoughts:  
I read this book in one day.  The idea of middle schoolers, or anyone for that matter, unleashed online without boundaries, censors, and supervision is not only timely, but terrifying. Just think how cruel some people can be in person; now give them an anonymous online persona. Middle school bullying and teasing was bad enough when I was growing up and we didn't even have the internet. This is a good book for middle schoolers to read and discuss with their peers.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

First off, I want to say that I adore Lauren Graham. She is a talented actor who appears to be genuine in a manner unlike may other actors in Hollywood today. Her debut novel Someday, Someday, Maybe is a fast paced, light and humorous read that many Chick Lit fans will enjoy. The novel's protagonist, Franny Banks, is a likable character who is on a quest to create a life for herself as a theater actress in New York. Our heroine is brave, smart, witty, reflective, and just plain good. 

However, like many heroes she loses sight of her prize and veers off course and into the land of dating the wrong guy and making decisions that pull her away from her true path. As with any quest, Franny has her helpers and guides, Jan and Dan, her two roommates who support her as she navigates the rough waters of life. What stands out most is that Franny never loses that inner voice of reason, she outright ignores it and thus must suffer the consequences. Fans of Graham who enjoy her witty, fast-talking characters in Parenthood and Gilmore Girls will find plenty of character similarities and quirks and enjoy lots of laughs with Franny.

My Thoughts: 
I listened to the audio version of this book which was perfect because the book is read by Graham. I love how well she carries out the fast-talking and witty Franny. I also enjoyed listening to Franny's head ramblings: "should I do this, or that, or maybe, even that. Oh, no, maybe I should have done this." Graham just does neurotic characters so well. 

The book is a typical Chick Lit novel: there is a bad boy, good boy, dreams of true love, a goal in mind, decisions to be made that go terribly and humorously wrong and thus must be corrected, the heroine learns something about life or herself and rises anew.  Graham follows the formula beautifully. I found myself rooting for Franny and wanting for her to succeed.  If you are looking for a lite and entertaining read, especially during the busy holiday seasons coming up, this is a good choice.  Read-a-likes: Bridget Jones series.