Monday, April 7, 2008

Jewel by Bret Lott

Jewel by Bret Lott
finished: April 6, 2008
358 pages

Jewel Hilburn had a difficult childhood. From watching her father walk away from her and her mother, to finding her place in the world as an orphan, she is always trying to overcome the hardships life keeps throwing at her. However, she marries a good man and has five healthy children. Though she and her family live in the backwoods of Mississippi, World War II is a blessing in disguise as there is abundant work for the war effort, and therefore, plenty of money. Jewel is content with her life.
When she gives birth close to the age of 40 to a baby girl, her life changes drastically. Her daughter, Brenda Kay has Down's Syndrome and is not expected to live past the age of 2.With the war over, there is no work and no money. Instead of wallowing in despair, Jewel finds a way to have food on the table and money for the shots the doctors say Brenda Kay needs.
Jewel spends the majority of her life struggling to rise above the many difficulties she is faced with. She maintains an optimistic attitude and faith in God, and has unconditional love for all her children and her husband. Though she is not perfect, she devotes her life to her family, and mainly to Brenda Kay. When she is old, she realizes, "My life would never end...because of those eyes turned to me and asking what to do...the looking of a you for what wisdom you can give away before you left for whatever reckoning you had with the God who'd given you that wisdom in the first place" (352). This is what she lived for--giving all she had to her children.

I never really know what to expect when reading an Oprah's book club book. Though Jewel wasn't a fluffy, warm fuzzy story, I did enjoy reading it. Though some of the non-PC terminology could probably make some readers cringe, the diction Lott chooses really brings the characters from Mississippi to life. Though I do not know anyone who has experienced the same specific circumstances that Jewel Hilburn faces, reading the book brought to mind several women I know who have kept the same optimism throughout extreme difficulties. It really makes me thankful for the comforts I had as a child and the loving mother I am blessed with!


Trish said...

Uh--like Love in the Time of Cholera! :) Oprah's books are hit and miss with me as well--especially in the past. Hopefully you'll like Pillars of the Earth, though.

Literary Feline said...

I am not familiar with this book, but it does sound interesting and like something I would like to try. I admit that I don't stay on top of the Oprah past picks though and so it's rare that I know one was a selection of hers until I pick up the book to read it.

Great review, by the way!

Also, you are the lucky winner of Tending Roses in my giveaway! Please e-mail me your mailing address and I'll get that in the mail for you. Congratulations!


Trish said...

Ahhhh!!! Isn't this the best feeling ever? Congrats on the new [FREE] book! :)

Maw Books said...

I've had this one sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now. I finally committed to reading it by putting it on one of my challenges. I've heard mixed reviews about this one.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read Jewel by Bret Lott. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.