Friday, November 21, 2014

Part 1 of the Book Review Series by April Sullivan!

I love art and working with artists. But my second love is books. I spend a lot of my spare time reading. When I was a kid, my dad called me Little Miss Librarian. I even volunteered in the school library in the 5th grade. When I was in college I worked at a college library and later a bookstore. For several years I did volunteer book reviews for a website called Reader Views.

Me in a favorite reading spot!

So, I thought I would review two of the books currently on sale at our Holiday Art and Gift Show. Both books I read are by Edie Bakker of Kaufman, TX. Edie is a poet, journalist, and author. Her books are called Rendezvous with a Rainforest and Crocodile Set Free. Both are memoirs about a certain time in her life. Edie has lived a very interesting life and grew up in the rainforest in Papua New Guinea as a child of missionary parents.

Rendezvous with a Rainforest tells about the expedition trips she took to the Hunstein Mountain Rainforest with National Geographic. Her job was to chronicle the fate of the Wagu people as their rainforest is scheduled to be logged. Her book is well written and a great way to learn about a culture that most of us will not have the chance to see in person. She sets up the book with Chapter 1 – A Memory From Age Thirteen, with a vivid telling of her colorful life running barefoot through the jungle and playing in the lake. From there, the book is about her return to this beloved childhood village as an adult. Each chapter begins with a memory from her youth that cements her as a character who has a vested stake in this culture, but also as an outsider coming to learn and report. She must struggle with her dedication to her childhood village family and her responsibilities to National Geographic. I recommend this adventurous book!

Edie’s second book, Crocodile Set Free tells a different side of Edie’s life. Multiple sides in fact, as Edie is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. She does a great job of sorting out her illness into chapters, even though as she explains, it is not in chronological order, but in order as she remembers it. This organization style could be hard to follow, but Edie is a skilled writer who brings us into her confusion and pain enough to make it understandable for someone who has not lived through such a thing, while also challenging the reader’s comfort zone.  I think with subject matter that includes religious distortions, fragmentation anxiety, and childhood trauma, it makes sense to not be an easy, palatable read. I find it very valuable to have writers in this world who are not afraid to share in this way, so that we all get a chance to try to understand another person’s world view.

I look forward to reading more books by Edie Bakker and hope that she continues to write them. We at VSA Texas are honored to have her work for sale in our Holiday Art and Gift show going on now. Come by and buy a book or two for the readers in your family. And keep reading our blog as I plan to review more books!

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