The Week in Books 2008, No. 51

At long last I got my turn to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – I had been number 100 and something on the wait list! The book is popular for good reason. Using an unusual format of letters to and from an author and residents of the island of Guernsey in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the book features compelling characters, a good story, and a lot of information about how the war affected the Channel Islands. I particularly enjoyed the letter format, because it seems to be a format that is dying out in real life. People express themselves differently in a written letter than they do in an email or a Facebook comment, and I wish more people still communicated that way. The main character of the book learns so much about the residents of the island by the way they correspond, and I think the device is a particularly effective means of telling the story, though it may take you a while to get used to the lack of straight narrative.

Things We Wish We’d Known: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling is a collection of short essays by veteran homeschoolers about…wait for it…things they wish they had known when they started homeschooling. Unfortunately, the brevity of the essays keeps most of them from being very helpful. The gist of about 90% of the essays is “you don’t have to do public school at home when you’re homeschooling.” It was mildly interesting to read about the obstacles people faced in the early years of homeschooling, mostly because I remember some of those issues from the 4 years my brother and I were homeschooled in the early 1990s. I think there are probably many much more useful books about homeschooling, that would likely be more applicable to the challenges homeschoolers deal with now. The book is not terrible, I’m just not convinced it’s worth a read if you really want to dig into this topic.

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