Crewel by Gennifer Albin

In the world of Arras some women are able to literally weave the world out of elements. They are the Spinsters. Every girl dreams of being chosen when she is 16 and living a life of prosperity away from their predetermined roles as secretaries or teachers. But when Adelice starts showing extraordinary ability as a child her parents start training her to fail the test. Her talent is recognized anyway and she is taken away to a tower with everything she ever wanted can be given to her except her freedom.

This is an unique world. The Spinsters weave the fabric of time and space around the world. But, like all dystopian novels the seemingly perfect society hides evil at the core. I had a few problems with this book. First of all it is YA and it seems almost required that the teenage girl has two gorgeous guys falling all over her for no apparent reason. The book tries to address several issues about the treatment of women but seems to slight them a bit. I’m not usually a proponent of having an author spell everything out for the reader but this book seemed to need it. Women in this world are kept segregated because they have power and the men are afraid of it. I read that in some of the reviews. I don’t know that I would have picked that up that succinctly from the book itself. It may be a sad commentary on my mind that I read the subservient position of women in this book to be typical of most dystopian novels and not a statement.

If you are interested in trying this book, here’s a link to download the first five chapters.

Crewel: Chapters 1-5

The Horse Boy: A Memoir of Healing by Rupert Isaccson

The author’s son Rowan was diagnosed with autism when he was three. By the age of 5 he was throwing hours-long temper tantrums and wasn’t potty trained. The one thing that could calm him was animals. He was most content when riding horses. He also responded positively to some shamans that the family knew. They decided to combine the love of horses with potential healing from shamans in a trip to Mongolia.

I only read this book because I need Mongolia for my Around the World in 80 Books group on goodreads. I was pleasantly surprised by it though. The father has a background in horses and in shamanism. With his son’s disabilities ripping their lives apart he convinces his wife to try a crazy trip. The book chronicles the trip and the making of the documentary about the trip and the strange things that occur there.

After I read this I was interested to see what turned up on film. The documentary by the same name is available on Netflix streaming. It wasn’t nearly as good as the book but it was nice to be able to put faces to characters.

Rashi’s Daughters, Book II: Miriam: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France by Maggie Anton

Miriam is an apprentice midwife in 11th century France. She also starts to train as the village mohel, the person who does circumcisions despite the outrage of some in the community.

I’m still loving this series. You really do need to read them in order to know who is who. Each of the sisters profiled in the books have very different life experiences that give you a glimpse of life for Jewish women in this time period.