december 2019 books

With the extra days off this month, I did find some time to devote to reading in December (albeit not enough to reach my goal of 30 books for the year…). I never intentionally choose books with a theme, but yet again this month’s selections ended up being somewhat related in their descriptions of the great lengths we go to as parents to make a better life for our children. Read on to see what I mean…

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

I’ve forgotten who recommended this book to me, but I did have to wait a while for my turn at the library, so my sense is that this is a popular read. As you might expect from the title, the book centers around a suburban community in Colorado that is all shook up when plans for a highly competitive magnet school in the area are announced. Four mothers, including an academic named Rose, all make plans to apply for their respective children, and the drama that ensues is a fascinating study of human nature, and more precisely, parenthood. Having attended what might be considered “competitive” private schools for much of my life, the behavior of the well-meaning (but often selfish…) parents in this book is quite familiar. I found the characters in this book to be quite engaging, and of course, there’s quite a juicy secret toward the end that I did not see coming. As a researcher, I live in a world where academic achievement is currency, so I found this book to be a useful reminder to value the whole child and their unique abilities beyond standardized test scores.

5 /5 stars.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I think what originally drew me to this book is its relation to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT, “aitch BOT”), a treatment that is gaining increasing popularity in many fields of medicine these days. Obviously, as this is fiction, the book centers around people and relationships rather than the science behind HBOT, but nonetheless, I found it to be an intriguing basis for the story. Not to divulge too much, but a terrible “accident” occurs in an HBOT chamber, which ultimately prompts an investigation into whether the incident was an intentional means of harming those inside. Because HBOT is a treatment method that may benefit a variety of conditions, ranging from autism to infertility, the inhabitants of the chamber are a motley crew, but most of the patients are children whose parents hold out hope that HBOT could be the cure that could provide a “normal” life. This is the aspect of the book that I found most compelling. OK, the whole “murder mystery” element was also pretty captivating too–I kept changing my mind with each chapter as to who was the guilty party!

5/5 stars.

What did you read in December?

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