I am so glad I decided to do the 888 challenge.
The first book I read was one I picked randomly and I don't remember why or where I saw it.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was a very very very good choice. I even say that knowing full well that out there a lot of people find the book despicable. It is a fictional imagined back story of the biblical Dinah. It not a true story. It was written as fiction to be read as fiction. Some people can't get past that...and I think for the same reasons I LOVED it.
It paints the biblical "giants" as human. Well...they WERE! While almost none of her stories about Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Dinah, Joseph...ect. are factual...they are realistic. They were people. Mothers, lovers, daughters, siblings, cooks, workers. They felt hate, fear, jealousy, sexual urges, love. They did foolish things, sinful things, honorable things, sexual things. The same crazy thought processes that run through my head ran through theirs. The same battle between doing what I want and "taking the high road" was raging in their minds and hearts. They had to live in their culture and think through their religion too. I love this. I don't mind a "giant" being painted as horny...illiterate...blemished. In fact...I LIKE it!
Just because the Bible doesn't tell us everything about a story or a person doesn't mean it didn't happen. Yeah...Jacob had 12 sons. But each son meant nine months of pregnancy. 12 birth stories...12 first steps...12 mothers agonizing and rejoicing over the childhoods of each one. And one daughter. Who must have been loved and doted on...who must have been spoiled...who must have had her hair brushed a million times...who must have been kissed and held and had dreams and loves. She was a whole person...not JUST what we read about he in a few verses.
It is extremely graphic. Not pornographic mind you...just graphic. The story could be just as well called a story of childbirth, or midwives of history, or ... the rituals of menstruation...oh wait...it's called the Red Tent. As in...the tent where the woman would go during their monthly cycles or to give birth...and the rite and ritual that went with it. I found this information and insight to be very intriguing. I would imagine however men might be very uncomfortable. Neal and I discussed then and he thought maybe those parts could be skipped. I'm not sure. It's pretty crucial to the depth of the story. And I LIKED it!
In another sense its a story of motherhood...and when I finished I was reminded of the honor of being a mother. And in the moment where I held the book and its story was still fresh and ringing in my mind...I felt like generations of women were behind me honoring my motherhood. And the best thing I got out of my first book was the reminder that being a mom is the best job ever...and there is good reason I chose to be a mom and be a mom only. And EVERY sacrifice has been worth it.
I'm reading The Kite Runner next...which I imagine to be just about the polar opposite of The Red Tent...I'll keep you posted.