Families First Families First AprilMay2017 : Page 25

A Colorful Family History The Marriage of Opposites Simon & Schuster By Alice Hoffman READING MATH By Emily Glover B eing a mother is a lot more complicated and difficult than I had ever imagined. It is full of joy, trepidation, worry, self-doubt, guilt, happiness, laughter, crying, and one million other feelings. As a child, as a teenager, and in a lot of our adulthood, we look at our mothers as just that: Mothers. Although we love them and love a lot about them, we don’t want to be exactly like them and often feel that they have failed in some way. It is that failure to realize that our moth-ers are imperfect women with individual histories, interests, hurts, and joys, and those millions of other feelings that cause tension and misunderstanding, and cause us not to ask questions that would allow us to under-stand their decisions and their behaviors we may vow to never repeat. In the novel, The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, that multi-generational dishonesty and lack of communication between mothers and their children will make the reader pause and recon-sider what they know about their own mother. The story of the life of Rachel Pissarro and her son, painter Camille Pissarro, addresses the complex relationship between parents and their children. The reader sees the lack of relationship between Rachel and her mother as a source of conflict and misery for them both due to Rachel’s mother’s strict rules of decorum and propriety and Rachel’s rebel-lious spirit that comes from not fitting in with society’s expectations of her. When Rachel grows up and has a son who is much like her, without realizing, she puts the same pressures on her son to fit in. What the reader sees is that Rachel’s parent-ing choices are made out of fear and with a lot of love. It makes the reader think about Rachel’s mother, and whether her actions and words towards Rachel, though harsh and unloving, were acted out upon a similar desire or need. In the novel you learn that Rachel’s adored father was unfaithful, and though not forwardly unkind, was not a devoted husband towards her mother. Rachel’s father adored his daugh-ter and she was very much like him. Rachel’s mother’s anger and jealousy toward her, while unfair, shows her to be not just a Mother but a human being with a lot of pain; and because of the time period and social restraints, especially in their strict Jewish community, she was forced to be silent and deal with her husband’s betrayal alone. Although Rachel never comes to a true understanding of her mother, the reader is able to see that her mother’s strict propriety and desire to always be presentable and well-regard-ed in the community is her way of coping and having some control over her disappointing life. Her attempt to restrain and control her daughter is a way of protecting her from the stigma of going against society, while trying to make sure she did not become unfaithful and irreligious like her father. & GRASP Summer Program Grades K–8 Help your child maintain critical skills in language arts and/or math this summer with easy-to-use at-home lessons. Register by May 10 for best price! nmc.edu/kids (231) 995-1700 Book Beat This multi-generational circle of lack of communication and self-awareness really struck me. How much do I misunderstand my own parents? How much will my children misunderstand my actions toward them? Have I spent enough time reflecting on my past, my parent’s and my own individual wishes and issues, to not project them onto my children? Will I push them to do something, be some-thing, because my own dreams did not come true, or because their way of seeing things is even more radical than my parents think mine are? If Rachel had been more aware and understanding of her mother’s issues and unhappiness, would she have been kinder to her, been less inclined to act to further make her unhappy? Would she be able to recog-nize that the continued pressure on her son Camille, though coming from a place of love, is wanting to, like her mother, have her child lead a life of least resistance to the norms of their society? Rachel was a strong-willed woman with a tremendous passion for her children and her husband. In the novel, you are able to see that willful, fanciful child before adulthood claimed her and she transferred her dreams onto her children. The reader is able to see that the same woman, with those same desires and spirit, despite the contradictory behavior she exhibits, continues to be unchanged. That is what I love about the book—it made me realize I want my children to see me and know me and know that a mother, though imper-fect, holds them in perfect love. Emily Glover, a native of Northern Michigan, resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband and sons. Emily has always had a passion for literature and is thrilled to share that passion with our readers! Summer's Coming… just wanna have fun Families… CALL NOW IRUVXPPHUSODFHPHQWLQRXU ‡-XQH-XO\,VVXH ‡$XJXVW6HSWHPEHU,VVXH Families First Monthly 231-499-1454 IDPLOLHVÀUVWPRQWKO\FRP April/May 2017 • Families First Monthly • 25

Book Beat

Emily Glover

A Colorful Family History

Being a mother is a lot more complicated and difficult than I had ever imagined. It is full of joy, trepidation, worry, self-doubt, guilt, happiness, laughter, crying, and one million other feelings. As a child, as a teenager, and in a lot of our adulthood, we look at our mothers as just that: Mothers. Although we love them and love a lot about them, we don’t want to be exactly like them and often feel that they have failed in some way. It is that failure to realize that our mothers are imperfect women with individual histories, interests, hurts, and joys, and those millions of other feelings that cause tension and misunderstanding, and cause us not to ask questions that would allow us to understand their decisions and their behaviors we may vow to never repeat. In the novel, The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, that multi-generational dishonesty and lack of communication between mothers and their children will make the reader pause and reconsider what they know about their own mother.

The story of the life of Rachel Pissarro and her son, painter Camille Pissarro, addresses the complex relationship between parents and their children. The reader sees the lack of relationship between Rachel and her mother as a source of conflict and misery for them both due to Rachel’s mother’s strict rules of decorum and propriety and Rachel’s rebellious spirit that comes from not fitting in with society’s expectations of her. When Rachel grows up and has a son who is much like her, without realizing, she puts the same pressures on her son to fit in.

What the reader sees is that Rachel’s parenting choices are made out of fear and with a lot of love. It makes the reader think about Rachel’s mother, and whether her actions and words towards Rachel, though harsh and unloving, were acted out upon a similar desire or need. In the novel you learn that Rachel’s adored father was unfaithful, and though not forwardly unkind, was not a devoted husband towards her mother. Rachel’s father adored his daughter and she was very much like him. Rachel’s mother’s anger and jealousy toward her, while unfair, shows her to be not just a Mother but a human being with a lot of pain; and because of the time period and social restraints, especially in their strict Jewish community, she was forced to be silent and deal with her husband’s betrayal alone. Although Rachel never comes to a true understanding of her mother, the reader is able to see that her mother’s strict propriety and desire to always be presentable and well-regarded in the community is her way of coping and having some control over her disappointing life. Her attempt to restrain and control her daughter is a way of protecting her from the stigma of going against society, while trying to make sure she did not become unfaithful and irreligious like her father.

This multi-generational circle of lack of communication and self-awareness really struck me. How much do I misunderstand my own parents? How much will my children misunderstand my actions toward them? Have I spent enough time reflecting on my past, my parent’s and my own individual wishes and issues, to not project them onto my children? Will I push them to do something, be something, because my own dreams did not come true, or because their way of seeing things is even more radical than my parents think mine are? If Rachel had been more aware and understanding of her mother’s issues and unhappiness, would she have been kinder to her, been less inclined to act to further make her unhappy? Would she be able to recognize that the continued pressure on her son Camille, though coming from a place of love, is wanting to, like her mother, have her child lead a life of least resistance to the norms of their society?

Rachel was a strong-willed woman with a tremendous passion for her children and her husband. In the novel, you are able to see that willful, fanciful child before adulthood claimed her and she transferred her dreams onto her children. The reader is able to see that the same woman, with those same desires and spirit, despite the contradictory behavior she exhibits, continues to be unchanged. That is what I love about the book—it made me realize I want my children to see me and know me and know that a mother, though imperfect, holds them in perfect love.

Emily Glover, a native of Northern Michigan, resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband and sons. Emily has always had a passion for literature and is thrilled to share that passion with our readers!

Read the full article at http://digital.zoompubs.com/article/Book+Beat/2756754/398403/article.html.

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