Eileen HartIf you meet Eileen, you’ll notice two things first.  She is really tall, and she is really gorgeous!  She won’t intimidate you for long, though!  You can tell very quickly that Eileen is a young woman who truly enjoys getting to know people.  She’s a family nurse practitioner who loves art, fashion, horses, friends, books, peanut butter, her cute husband Chris, and their black lab Sadie (not in that order).  Sadie wakes them up at the crack of dawn dawn daily, with hopes and dreams of going on a car ride, swimming, or chasing turkeys.

Eileen’s perfect day would include sleeping until 7, walking Sadie, making coffee in a French press and drinking it outside on her porch, riding her horse, going for a hike or a swim, enjoying a mani-pedi, and having lunch with her Mom.  Oh, it would also include shopping around town and hosting a dinner party at her house for friends that night.  I think she has more energy than I do!

Eileen chooses her next book by reading reviews in the New York Times Book Review, at Goodreads, and in magazines like Vanity Fair and sometimes People. (Just a few days ago I was browsing through People at a doctor’s office and thought about renewing my subscription!  I think their book choices are solid.)  She also admits to choosing a book by its cover when browsing.  “Though the old adage ‘never judge a book by its cover’ applies to all areas of life and should be remembered,” she says, “I can’t remember the last great book I read that had a bad cover.”  Same here, Eileen!

9780804138789_p0_v1_s114x166Today, Eileen shares her thoughts on a book she recently enjoyed – Prayers for the Stolen, by Jennifer Clement.

From Eileen:  Like many other twenty-somethings, I read fun, tongue-in-cheek romances in the summer written by smart writers who have a sense of humor and style.  I like to read the popular fiction, the beach reads, the chick lit.  My book choices tend to match my mood – light, sunny and social.  Unfailingly, however, at some point in the summer I start to crave a heavier, more thought-provoking tome to add weight to the nights of calm porch sitting.  In years past, I have attempted reading various classics, have reread book assignments from high school that were long since forgotten, and have tried the book club selections chosen by sources like the New York Times.  I like to think of it as my “adult summer reading,” and I try to choose something slightly out of my comfort zone.  This summer, the heavier, seemingly more important and more thought-provoking read has been Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement.

For the record, I picked this book up a few weeks ago based on a recommendation from a stranger.  This is not my usual style for book selections to say the least.  After establishing that we share many of the same favorite books, and hearing her talk about how profound she found the novel to be, I decided to give it a try.  I was hooked from the first few heartbreaking sentences.

Prayers for the Stolen is a short, poignant tale of young Mexican girls living in the corrupt state of Guerrero in the shadow of the drug wars.  The book tells their story of love, loss, and friendship while growing up in a place where “only boys were born, and some of them turned into girls around the age of eleven.  Then these boys had to turn into ugly girls…”.  Their mothers try to protect them from being stolen and sold by blackening their teeth, giving them boys’ haircuts and instructing them to hide in deep holes dug in the rough Mexican terrain.  They grow up learning about the world through snippets of History Channel programming, Oprah reruns and occasionally a teacher in their school house.  Though the girls witness their mothers struggling to survive the hardships of life and waiting in vain for the return of their husbands who have escaped to America and left them behind, the girls dream of love and believe in the possibility of it.

This book has visceral, emotionally heavy subject matter but it is told with fairly simple language at a fast pace and is divided nicely into small easy-to-chew chapters.  The author manages to say just enough without spelling out the hard-to-read details.  The combination of these factors provides a great balance for those who seek challenging reading material and those who’d rather not be too deeply disturbed by what they read.  The imagery is humorous, and for those of you out there who like a redeeming ending, I can promise that this one ties up nicely with a bow.  The story is ultimately about dreams for a better future and the resilience of women.  I read the novel start to finish in about 5 hours, but I have been thinking about it for days.

My “adult summer reading” plan for the rest of July is to let this novel resonate.

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