Short reviews or comments on books I have finished this week. It has been an unusual week: everything I've read has been in Finnish, and only one of titles exists in English. Feels a bit funny to summarize them in English, but here goes...
Kuinka kasvattaa bébé: vanhemmuus Pariisin malliin
(Bringing up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting)
by Pamela Druckerman
Another reading suggestion found on theDeliberate Reader. Thanks, Sheila! Because I had just read Sheila's review, this book caught my eye at the local library, where the Finnish translation was on display on the Bestseller shelf (one-week loans). I seized the opportunity to check this out.
As Sheila commented, the book is mostly based on personal experience. Druckerman researches the topic of parenting the way a journalist does: observation, interviews, background reading. I liked getting this view on French and American ways of thinking (though it's really impossible to generalize 'American' parenting). I find myself somewhere in the middle, maybe.
by Pauliina Rauhala
This novel has sparked a lot of talk and a bit of controversy in Finland's literary scene this year - mostly because of its subject matter. It's a story of a young mother and father who belong to a Christian subgroup, Laestadians. One of the teachings specific to this group is to reject all kinds of birth control - even NFP is frowned upon. For this family, though, having had five pregnancies in six years and now expecting again, life is getting rather overwhelming.
With these topics, the novel could so easily have portrayed everything Christian in a negative light. It doesn't. Some issues and particular interpretations make God seem like a strict, uncaring tyrant to the woman, especially in the middle of her depression and extreme fatigue. Yet, the main characters do not reject faith altogether even though they question certain doctrines of their movement, and many of the believers around them are sympathetic. The core issues of the faith come out in positive light: relying on Jesus for salvation, the forgiveness of sins, the hope of eternity with God. And the relationship between the husband and wife is lovely. There's beauty in commitment and mutual forgiveness, as well as in humble everyday work. There is a lot of love in this family.
I've not been a member of this movement myself, so I can't say how accurate this is. It is very believeable, though, especially since there is so much positive to balance the negative aspects, and no bitter aftertaste. Real life is not all black, or all white. And the writing is beautiful. I'm glad I read this.
875 grammaa: Pirpanan tarina
by Tomi Takamaa
A couple expecting their first baby ends up at the hospital, their baby born prematurely because of pre-eclampsia. During the first days, the father puts up a Facebook page to tell friends and family about new developments, and he names the page '875 grammaa' for the baby's birth weight. (875 grams is a bit under 2 lbs, for those not used to the metric system.)
Within a week, the page becomes an unprecedented hit, as the number of followers and likes soar into thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. Parents of preemies come to the page and tell their stories, encouraging the family and each other. The page becomes an open online community, and from there, it develops into a fundraising effort for children's hospitals.
I don't use Facebook, so I had missed the original 875 grams phenomenon apart from seeing a couple of interviews in online news services. The book was interesting: the father gives his perspective of both the personal side (what it's like to be a parent of a preemie in intensive care) and the media attention fairly candidly. Yet, he's protecting what is left of his family's privacy. Mostly, it's a look into how things go viral in social media and how that can be used for a good cause.
Vuosisadan ihme jatkuu
By Hannu Haukka ja Markku Vuorinen
The story of Hannu and Laura Haukka is amazing. They have worked faithfully for decades in Christian media ministry. First, they were making radio programmes mainly targeted to the Soviet Union, then later the work expanded to TV and other mediain many other countries as well. Even their marriage is a miracle - just imagine the paperwork needed for a Finnish-Canadian man and a Finnish-speaking Christian woman from Soviet Union to marry each other in the 1970's...
This book is actually a compilation of two books published before this, with some new material thrown in. As I had read the previous books, this was a quick read for me, yet very fascinating.