Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I just finished two books, both about parents.  Well... about parents, but the books are very different.  Bettyville is a memoir written by George Hodgman, who leaves New York City to return to his hometown, Paris, Missouri, to take care of his aging mother.  Hodgman, a gay man, has never felt like he belonged in Paris (Missouri) and his relationship with his mother is at times awkward, funny, and glorious.  Bettyville is about growing up, about how our parents raise us, and how they can be as imperfect as we are.  You will fall in love with Betty.  And her son, too.  It’s a beautiful book.  If you’re on Facebook, check out George Hodgman’s author page. 

Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan is also about a parent... if your parent happens to be Joseph Stalin.  Look at the cover of the book, do you feel a chill?  What would it be like to grow up with Stalin as your father?  Svetlana Alliluyeva's life wasn’t easy (not exactly a shock), she had several marriages, she defected and came to the United States, then went back to Russia – yes, extraordinary and tumultuous.  And Stalin as a parent?  Controlling, remote, abusive, although you realize that there were moments where he did love his daughter.  As Svetlana Alliluyeva grows up, she becomes more and more aware of who her father is and it's a horrible realization.  But in spite of everything, she survived.