Saturday 2 November 2013

THE MEANING OF CHILDREN: Amazon review roundup...

A few of the superlative reviews from THE MEANING OF CHILDREN'S review page
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't stop thinking about this book May 2, 2012

It's been over a week since I read this collection of short stories and the characters are still with me.
These are stories about real people, real children, teenagers, adults, in real times. I went through a whole range of emotions when I read them, some good, some not so good. When the child was sitting on the stairs listening to her parents, I was right there with her. When the adult was sitting by the lake contemplating what happened years before and looking at her present day life, I was sitting across from her, doing the same thing. I can't remember a book, let alone a collection of short stories, where I could identify so heavily with the emotions and feelings of the characters.

As far as I'm concerned, this is what good writing, and a good book, should do for you. Yes, it entertained for sure, but it made me think and remember.

If you enjoy quality writing and a book that will make you think about where you've been and where you're going read The Meaning Of Children.
Highly recommended.
 8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-altering read is so rare for a writer ... May 25, 2012
I reviewed this title on my Blog a while back and as you will read it has altered my own thoughts on childhood recollections. Thrilled to not only own a personally signed copy but to now have an iPad version to re-read these haunting stories. Not only for people with children, but for anyone who was ever a child.

Some excerpts from my blog review pasted here (to read more visit my web site and blog):

"... A life-altering read is so rare for me, and I imagine for many writers, with a critical eye often hard to keep closed while hoping to get caught up and swept away while reading fiction for pleasure ... This collection of short stories is her debut into the fiction book world after a solid career in molecular genetics research. Her stories are as diverse as her changing career path and yet string together a theme as connected as a genetic chain.

Very few times in my life resonate so strongly to a past and a childhood that has me always facing forward and rarely wanting to look back. As I read Akerman's book instantly I am that child on the first page, in the first sentence, whose parents "When the arguing started would get louder and louder, till they broke into my dreams." As the stories moved along I, like her character, realized how much I learned from eavesdropping during the arguments, and sadly like the child I too knew "... where the patched holes were in the walls" and that "... it would be smarter to keep my opinions to myself." In the next few tales the loneliness hit home of a child walking along to school wishing for her own puppy and that she could write a book and feeling very misunderstood by grown-ups.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Akerman takes you back April 18, 2012
By twalker

Akerman takes you back to the time you were a child. No matter you did not grow up in Montreal or Jewish, the situations, conflicts, joys and fears are universal. Akerman grounds emotions with rich descriptions and a strong sense of place.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Children January 16, 2013

My first impression of the book was, "Wow, this woman can write." The author's descriptions of settings are so vivid that I felt as if I was standing in the scenes of her stories.

In The Meaning of Children Ms. Akerman uses a series of short vignettes to explore innocence, violence and the human condition. For most of us certain scenes from childhood stand out as vivid memories. This book is a series of such memories--each of pivotal points in the life of a child.

This is not light reading as the stories deal with issues of self-image and sexuality by dramatizing how one seemingly small incident can shape a woman's image of herself and her interpretation of reality. However, I recommend The Meaning of Children to anyone who is a student of human nature.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound Vignettes of, about, or because of Children July 29, 2012
At times chance enters our lives and we encounter moments created by a wordsmith that, like it or not, raise memories and experiences that we have either experienced, watched, heard about, or dreamed and the stories in Beverly Akerman's book of short stories THE MEANING OF CHILDREN do just that. They slowly creep into our psyches, clutch a holding place, and stay with us permanently. This collection of the whispers and screams, longings and needs of being a child and the responses of those closest to that child are the works of a magician, a writer of such substance that she is obviously headed to the top echelon of writers of our time.

Some critics are saying that this book is about the underappreciated world of women and perhaps that stance is valid: there certainly are enough tales of anorgasmia, to abortion, to preparing to say the final goodbye to a dying child to the vagaries of holding a household together despite the external (an internal) flaws that creep into crack marriages. But I don't see men being put into negative places just to serve the purpose of making a collection of stories hang together with a theme. No, these stories are all about the influence of bringing a child into the world and the benefits and consequences of the way life changes because of that. And overriding everything else is the panoply of forms of love that transcend all else.

I like the way the author (or agent or some caring one who seeks to gain our attention to this book) states it: `...a girl discovers a fear of heights as her parents' marriage unravels; a thirty-something venture fund manager frets over his daughter's paternity; an orphan whose hands kill whatever they touch is accused of homophobia; a mother of two can only bear to consider abortion in the second person; the wife of a retirement-aged professor finds him unconscious near his computer...The Meaning Of Children speaks to all who--though aware the world can be a very dark place--can't help but long for redemption.' I like this because in the end words fail in attempting to share the variety of emotions this book induces. Beverly Akerman simply knows how to write. She understands contemporary vernacular and uses it to embroider her stories, not to be `with it' like so many authors who seem to need to fill the quota of expletives. She also knows when to leave a story alone, to just let it lift itself and slip out the window, carrying the impact of our emotional changes with it.

Enough said. This is a book of rare sensitivity and masterful creative writing and must surely be shared with as many friends and fellow readers as possible. Grady Harp, July 12