Second Glance

Hi everyone! I’m baaaaack!! We’ve finally gotten settled in at my Dad’s, I got a wireless card so I could have internet access, I prop my phone on the kitchen window sill because that is the only place I can get reception, and I take trips to Wal-Mart for kicks because that is the only place close to go for entertainment. The farmer is calling this experience my warm-up for really living in the boondocks. My dad’s house is only 40 minutes from the city. Add another 40 to that and we’re at the distance it is from our farm to the city.

Needless to say, I. Am. Restless. I find myself, like a loyal dog, getting excited when I see headlights pulling into the drive. Mandy goes out to feed bales every night after work and Peanut and I tag along. Peanut loves to go feed the cows “hay bulls.” I see it as something better to do than pace the floors. My high-strung, constantly have-to-be-doing-something disposition is having a hard time acclimating to the slower pace. Maybe it’s just me projecting, but I think Peanut gets to feeling like a caged animal, too. It doesn’t help that neither one of us can go outside. Winter has finally settled upon the Ozarks.

However, I have been reading. My latest book was by Jodi Picoult. I love this author. In my opinion, she has a beautiful way with words and can convey emotions in a way in which I can only dream of possessing. Her writing is thought-provoking and vocabularilly (I’m pretty sure I just created a word) challenging. It caused me to have many discussions with my husband and Mandy about the hot-button issue at the center of this book.

This is the inside cover:

An intricate tale of love, haunting memories, and renewal, Second Glance begins in current-day Vermont, where an old man puts a piece of land up for sale and unintentionally raises protest from the local Abenaki Indian tribe, who insist it’s a burial ground. When odd, supernatural events plague the town of Comtosook, a ghost hunter is hired by the developer to help convince the residents that there’s nothing spiritual about the property.

Enter Ross Wakeman, a suicidal drifter, who has put himself in mortal danger time and again. Yet despite his best efforts, life clings to him and pulls him ever deeper into the empty existence he cannot bear since his fiancée’s death in a car crash eight years ago. Ross now lives only for the moment he might once again encounter the woman he loves. But in Comtosook, the only discovery Ross can lay claim to is that of Lia Beaumont, a skittish, mysterious woman, who, like Ross, is on a search for something beyond the boundary separating life and death.

Second Glance, Jodi Picoult’s eeriest and most engrossing work yet, delves into a virtually unknown chapter of American history — Vermont’s eugenics project of the 1920’s and 30’s — to provide a compelling study of the things that come back to haunt us –literally and figuratively. Do we love across time, or in spite of it?

Not only was this book hard to put down, it was extremely interesting. Jodi Picoult always writes about controversial topics at the center of the story with characters that really draw you in as well. Eugenics is the study of improving the qualities of the human species or human population by discouraging the reproduction of people with presumably inherited undesirable physical or emotional traits  and encouraging the reproduction of people with inherited desirable traits. Discouragement of reproduction was done by “voluntary” sterilization. Yet, just how voluntary it was is questionable.  I never even knew this was a small part of American history and was shocked to find out that it was. And that it didn’t happen too long ago.

The present day part of the book has to do with the question of whether or not you believe this is still happening. Cloning, gene replacement therapy, and mapping the human genome coincide with a lot of the same issues that eugenics scientists were raising back then. Whether you agree or not, it’s definitely something to think about. One excerpt Jodi Picoult used was  from a 1931 article in the Burlington Free Press from a lady that wrote in saying, “We are so careful in breeding our cattle to get good breeds, yet we give this human procreation no thought.” Or when Henry Perkins (a real person) wrote to the leader of a 4-H club this: “Dear Miss Leighton, I think I shall choose “Registered Human Stock” as the topic for discussion with the 4-H older boys the last of the month.” As a farmer’s wife, having genetically chosen humans like we genetically choose our cattle really resonated with me. I had to feed Peanut formula because I just never did make enough milk. The farmer jokingly referred to me as “a cull cow.” Never in my life was I so glad I was not a dairy cow. That I could be easily disposed of if I was not holding up my end of the bargain is a very scary thought.

This book provides for endless discussion and I could go and on, but I’ve rambled long enough. If you have something else for my tireless brain to toss around, shoot me a comment. I’ll let ya know what I think!

 

Much love,

The Dairymaid

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