Neshama’s Choices for March 21st

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No One Is Talking About This

A mysterious book that at first eluded me but then wove a dystopian spell and wouldn’t let me go. The nameless protagonist posts regularly on the internet, which she refers to as the "portal". Her observations get darker and darker, reflecting the current mess of the world.  Her sister gives birth to a baby with a dreadful prognosis who manages to live longer than expected. So tragedy all around on a personal and global scale, conveyed in trenchant paragraphs. What surprised me were references to the child’s condition in Acknowledgements which tipped me off that this book includes real-life material. 

The Forest of Enchantments

The classic Indian epic, the Ramayana, tells the story of the hero Ram. Here Divakaruni brings us Sita’s perspective. She’s his consort and it’s a tale of passion, renunciation, betrayal, and struggle. The couple spends 14 years of exile in the forest, which she comes to like. Then she’s snatched by Ravan, a demon, and when finally freed, Ram sends her away again. Rumors of what might have transpired between her and Ravan interfere with his reputation and kingly duties. Many reflections on the complexities of love and loyalty from a woman’s point of view. I know the epic pretty well and really appreciated the author’s insights. A Sitayana, as it were.  

The Rabbit Listened 

I never know what’s going to grab my attention while I check in books.  This time it was a kid’s picture book and I found it so amazing that I’m reading it to everyone who crosses my path. Taylor builds a magnificent block tower. It falls down.  Many well-meaning animals offer advice. He wants none of it. Finally said rabbit just sits quietly next to him and that’s exactly what Taylor needs. I hope to become more of a listening rabbit in my own life and this book offers a brilliant template.  

The Mama Sutra

Subtitled A Story of Love, Loss, and the Path of Motherhood.  That path was rocky indeed for this yoga teacher and Buddhist practitioner. Her first child was born dead, no apparent cause. Her next child, a son, was so hypersensitive that she barely got any sleep for two years.  Her marriage crumbled. Then he gets a new partner, her son comes into his own, and there’s a delightful stepdaughter—family at last. So many lessons along the way about expectations, humility, acceptance; basically, the tenets of the practice she’d been pursuing all along. Cushman writes like a dream, lives in Fairfax, and teaches at Spirit Rock right up the road.  What a jewel in our local lotus! 


What a setup: a hike into the Grand Canyon with sisters who have Issues and their childhood friend.  Beck is a therapist who hopes sister Imogen will face her buried trauma on the journey. Tilda is a city girl.  What could go wrong? Gale, that’s who, a fugitive who’s holed up down the trail and sees the women as his way out. Very scary, very atmospheric—yes!