Movie– I watched this emotional drama during my “Alexander Skarsgård” phase, following my seven season binge on True Blood.
What Maisie Knew is the heartbreaking story of a young girl subject to the wrath of her parents’ divorce. Hungry with greed, Maisie’s parents (played by Julianne Moore & Steve Coogan) force their daughter into the midst of a heated custody battle. Thrown from house to house, parent to parent, Maisie is repeatedly neglected and forgotten, with no sense of stability in her life.
Her mother, a hot-headed rockstar and her father, a distant art dealer, are too wrapped up in their own little worlds to provide a supportable life for their young daughter. Living in environments subject to drug addiction and neglect, Maisie is often left in the care of her longtime nanny, and the mother’s boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård).
I didn’t expect to get so emotionally wrapped up in the sorrowful and whirlwind life of Maisie. The acting was spot on in this film–I adore Julianne Moore, and obviously Alexander Skarsgård. Maisie is played by newcomer Onata Aprile, who I thought did a fantastic job capturing the complexity of the character. All I wanted was for someone to give her the love and care she deserved. Heartbreakingly mesmerizing, grab some tissues, just in case.
TV Series –
After reaching the end of my favorite television series, Parks and Recreation, I was in dire need of finding a new show to fill my void. Parenthood turned out to be that show.
Parenthood is like Modern Family, in that both shows have a strong focus on family dynamics and relationships. Parenthood, however, concentrates on more serious content, things that test the bonds that hold a family together. The show follows the day to day trials and tribulations of the Braverman family. Zeek and Camille have raised four children, who are now grown with their own families. Crosby is a carefree guy who lives on a houseboat, enjoying his limitless freedom. Julia is partner at a prestigious law firm, trying to juggle work while raising a young daughter with her husband. Sarah wants to make a fresh start, taking her teenage kids and moving back into her childhood home with her parents. And finally, Adam, the eldest of the Braverman children, and caretaker to everyone, including his wife and two children.
What makes this series special are the intense bonds shared by the members of the Braverman clan. Together, this family endures everything that life throws their way. I would strongly recommend Parenthood to anyone who loves realistic family dramas. I was completely invested in each of the main characters, and though fictional, their stories often left me tearful.
10/10 would recommend to friend.
Book – I’ve been reading a lot of Sophie Kinsella recently. The Summer season always puts me in the mood for lighthearted comedies, and Kinsella’s books really hit the spot.
Remember Me? (not to be confused with the emotionally moving film featuring Robert Pattinson, although also worth a gander), by Sophie Kinsella , is a great choice for anyone who loves a good mystery with their comedy. The novel follows Lexi sMART, a spunky young woman nicknamed “Snaggletooth,” who’s having a pretty crappy time in life. It’s 2004, and her boyfriend, Loser Dave, is always a no show, she was the only one who didn’t get a bonus at work, and then she’s in an accident to top it off.
When Lexi wakes up from her accident, she can’t remember anything. It’s suddenly 2007, and she has no memory of the past three years. She can’t recognize the tan, slim, flawless woman in the mirror. Life seems perfect: she’s married to a drop-dead gorgeous man, lives in a million dollar penthouse and is head of the company! Things couldn’t be better, or so it would appear. But things start to fall through when Lexi learns what kind of person she’s become, and just how imperfect her life really is. Is it too late to rewind and change those last three years? Is the past really lost for good? Dive in to find out what happens!
With a quirky cast, drama, and secrets, Remember Me? makes a splash as a beachside read! If you fancy some more Kinsella books, I highly recommend checking out Can You Keep a Secret? and The Undomestic Goddess.
Book – Bridget used to work as a lawyer; now she stays at home with baby Julia while her computer-programmer husband Mark supports their little family. Bridget and Julia aren’t alone in the house while he’s gone, though. There’s a shadowy figure, a ghost that creeps through the rooms. Mark can’t see the ghost, but Bridget is all too sure it’s real.
A hundred years ago, Rebecca is the daughter of a doctor, and although she’s unsure she chooses to marry a farmer, an old friend, and become a farm wife. She struggles with her new life and fights with her husband almost constantly. Their life together may be interesting, but it’s anything but happy.
While alternating between the stories of Bridget and Rebecca gives some hints about the nature of the ghost that haunts Bridget, it remains a little unclear just what the connection between the two women really is. I found I enjoyed that; I like a little mystery with my scariness. I also liked that neither of the two main characters were really, well, nice. Rebecca is profoundly selfish, while Bridget can’t stop herself from looking down on her friends. That doesn’t mean they aren’t likeable, though – Bridget’s devotion to her daughter is extremely moving, and Rebecca is caught in an impossible situation that’s hard not to empathize with. I was enthralled by both of their stories, and I only wish I could have learned a little bit more about them.
Book – Douglas Petersen, a scientist, is trying to cope with his wife Connie’s announcement that she thinks she wants to leave him. Also, his relationship with his recalcitrant seventeen-year-old son, Albie, has always been rocky. Douglas hopes that their family’s planned “Grand Tour” of Europe will somehow help them resolve their issues. He sets some personal goals for their inter-rail trip, including “It is not necessary to be seen to be right about everything, even when that is the case.” As they embark on the trip from their home in suburban London, Douglas narrates their experiences, and shares the story of his marriage to Connie and struggles as a father to relate to his son. Told in short chapters, and alternating from past to present, Douglas kept me entertained with his dry humor, insights and predicaments as he tries to approach his life in a new way.
Book – David Finch has been married to Kristen for 5 years and their marriage is in crisis. They have two young children, own a home in the northern suburbs of Chicago and work full-time. But they no longer communicate with each other and miss the fun they had together before they were married. The catalyst for a change in their relationship comes in the form of an online survey testing for Asperger Syndrome. David scores 155 out of a possible 200. Kristen scores an 8. (David’s diagnosis is later confirmed by a medical professional.) David is stunned, but realizes that they now have answers for some of the behaviors that are causing issues in his life. He sets on a quest to improve those behaviors and his communication skills. He records his lessons and results in a Journal of Best Practices. David discusses the progress of his journey in a straight-forward and often humorous manner. I was impressed by the amount of effort it took him to learn, understand and maintain socially acceptable norms. Both David and Kristin were committed to the process, and Kristen’s patience in accepting and guiding David was also awe-inspiring. While this is a non-fiction account, if you are interested in further exploring personal accounts of living with Asperger Syndrome, try the novels The Rosie Project or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Book – Can marriage work for a modern day mail order bride and her suitor? Read The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger to find out. Twenty-four-year-old Amina from Bangladesh meets 34-year-old George from Rochester, New York via the internet on the website AsianEuro.com. They had never met in person, but only received photos of each other as attachments in email. Despite obvious differences in nationality, culture and religious upbringing they decide to marry. When Amina arrives in 2005, she experiences true culture shock, but slowly assimilates. Within three years she has her green card, is married to George, and is taking college courses while working at Starbucks. However, there are problems. Amina returns to Bangladesh to bring her parents to the U.S., but a problem with her father’s visa delays her return. Will absence between Amina and George make their hearts grow fonder? This is a moving story of love, kindness, acceptance and cross-cultural differences with just the right amount of humor to make it an enjoyable read.