Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On Hummingbird Wings by Lauraine Snelling Review

From Publisher:  "But Mother is always dying," is Gillian Ormsby's sarcastic response when her younger, favored sister tells her that she has to go take care of their hypochondriac mother. Much against her will, since she and her mother never have gotten along, Gillian arrives in California to find the garden and yard dead, the blinds all drawn, and her mother indeed in bed--waiting to die. But when Gillian talks with the doctor, he assures her there's no medical reason behind her mother's state.

Now on a mission to restore her mother to health, Gillian insists Mother get out of bed, eat, exercise and hopefully, choose to live. She also sets about reviving the garden to its former glory, enlisting the help of Adam, a handsome man who owns a family gardening business with his father. Gillian is delighted when a pair of hummingbirds appear, and her friendship with Adam grows. 

Soon, Mother's health improves, and one day she announces she and her friend Enzio are going on a cruise. Before Gillian has time to turn around, her mother is gone and she is left high and dry again, and wondering, what is she going to do with the rest of her own life?

My take:  This is a story about learning to deal with life changes and adjusting yourself accordingly.  Gillian is a successful New York career woman who finds herself going home after all these years because her mother has stopped eating and won't get out of bed.  There is nothing physically wrong with her mother.  Gillian steps into a new role as a caretaker to her mother until she can get back on her feet.

Meanwhile, Gillian's sister, Allie, is suffering from a midlife crisis.  This part of the story is never clearly resolved.  Allie is younger and has two teenagers.  She lives in a picture perfect home with a picture perfect husband but she is unhappy.  Why?  There is a little hint that she wishes she'd been career minded, too.  Anyway, Allie doesn't want to be the primary caregiver anymore.  

It's a pleasant read.  I liked it fine.  I found it a little slow for my tastes and the characters lacked the depth I would have preferred.  There is nothing I disliked about the book.  It's just kind of forgettable.  

Book Club Questions: 

1. An old adage says that as you age you will become more of whoever you are when younger. If you don’t like things about you now, what are you doing to change those before you get locked in to the habits?

2. As you watched Gillian struggle with her mother, what do you think she might have done differently?

3. Have you been through a similar situation and if so, how did you handle it? Are you pleased with the outcome?

4. Typically when siblings come home, they step right back into the roles they grew up in. How do you see that happening in your life?

5. Many people are being forced into starting their careers over, like Gillian was. What advice would you give someone in that situation?

6. Working in a garden, no matter how small, can bring healing on so many levels. What have you experienced in this area?

7. Heroes come in unlikely packages at times. How would you recognize one?

8. Gillian has found herself falling away from her childhood faith and upbringing. What experiences have you had in your life where life chips away at faith, rather than helping it grow?

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