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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Walking through time

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment


June 20, 2020

Have you ever walked in the footsteps of history? Good writers use their words with skilled precision. They draw the reader deep, immersing them so completely they feel the emotions as if they had lived the events themselves. Feel them, taste them, hear them, touch them. Readers can experience history like a memory. It’s good to remember history … the lessons, how humanity moved through it and came out of the hardest parts. Acknowledging history helps us hold the good parts close, keeping them alive and replicating them. It also gives us a living script so we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. Yet, humans tend to do that. Below are some great and also heartbreaking memories. Walk through time with me…

“The Gardener,” written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small, is portrayed in a series of letters and art, documenting moments in time during the Great Depression. Lydia Grace Finch is sent by her mama, papa and grandparents to live with her Uncle Jim in the city. The city, dark, uninviting and drab, is where her uncle works as a very busy baker. Lydia arrives with a suitcase full of seeds, enough stationary to write many letters home and a passion for gardening. Even in one of the darkest and most difficult historical times, Lydia brings hope and smiles and an ability to transform a depression era neighborhood into blooming.

The Depression was accompanied by war, so a walk with Death seems appropriate. As explained in “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, Death comes for all of us eventually. But what do we really know about Death? In this book, Death is our narrator. You get to know him, not so much for being scary, but seeing him through a kaleidoscope of his feelings and the colors he sees as he goes about his job. He has an understanding of human souls with an ever growing curiosity about their spirits. Death is exceptionally drawn to a little girl he meets in passing multiple times before it is time to take her. He first sees her at the death of her baby brother, then later, sees her become a book thief when she snatches an illegal book from the fire of a book burning in the town square.

Hitler is in charge of Germany and Nazis stroll their neighborhoods. Books are forbidden and burned, people are beaten and taken. Liesel fascinates Death with her strength, moral conviction and her love of words which bring her comfort. Death and Liesel share this in common. Then there is her resilience. Her resilience is remarkable through such deep and extensive duress. Death and Liesel travel a lifetime together.

On June 12, 1942 Anne Frank received a diary for her thirteenth birthday. She was a real girl, vibrantly full of hopes and dreams. It is good to re-read Anne’s words in “The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank” from time to time, to remember and live with her the days and months that led to two years hidden in secret because they were Jewish. Her fears and losses were intense. After current self isolation through a pandemic, it puts into perspective her sacrifice compared to ours. And how important it is to make sure our world never again lets a dictator steal away life and true liberty from any people.

Now, jump with me to the year 2038 in “The Scrapbook Lecture” by Gary B. Haley. It’s been 124 years since a mysterious lonely woman with a beautiful garden and a penchant for baking started a scrapbook of news clippings about the Kennedy family. In 2038, an elderly professor uses the scrapbook of newspaper articles to relate the series of historical events to his students and takes us, the reader, along.

It isn’t an easy journey and the author does not claim it to be anything more than a novel with historically fact based information. It does put into perspective where the pieces fit and highlights the many characters involved. And how many people hated John F. Kennedy. It does not answer the question of who shot JFK but it does pretty much answer why we don’t know. This part of our history is mired with webs of deceit and lies. Without the truth, how are we able to learn from it? And perhaps that is a warning. If we don’t learn from our past, how can we avoid the same mistakes in our future? Perhaps we should be going back and researching all the varied aspects, from enemies to politicians to journalists, and how each used one another. Perhaps we can find patterns and warnings to heed, as we continue our real life walk through time.

Good books.

Good reading.

*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.


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