Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: "Walking With Elephants" by Karen S. Bell

Suze Hall is trying to juggle it all. She's a wife, a mother to three growing children, and she works full-time for a boss who hates her. In her "spare time" she's a chauffer to her kids, a shoulder to cry on, a cook, and a housekeeper. When her husband announces that he is going to Australia for the six months of his sabbatical leave everything starts to fall apart for her. Suddenly she's expected to do everything at home completely on her own, not to mention the fact that her boss truly has it in for her at work. When Suze coincidentally runs into a significant boyfriend from her past she starts to re-evaluate her choices in life and where they have taken her.

I enjoyed Walking With Elephants. Suze's voice felt authentic, although at times I found her internal dialogue a little distracting. The variety of characters were interesting and colourful and good for a few laughs as well.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was the interesting points that it brought up about women and their place in the world. As a working mother myself I could relate to how Suze viewed her world at times. The equality of the sexes still seems so unbalanced. So many women are expected to keep the house, raise the children, and bring in a necessary second income. If we work too hard we feel like we're neglecting our children, and if we dote on our children too much we feel like our jobs are being neglected. "Equality" still seems out of reach as we find ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of tasks that we are expected to undertake in our everyday lives, yet underwhelmed by the amount of help that we are offered along the way. Women who put their children in daycare are "leaving them to be raised by strangers", and women who choose to stay at home with their kids "aren't bringing anything monetary to their marriages". It just seems like such a collection of contradictions and Karen Bell examines these issues and more in Walking With Elephants.

I really loved this quote, which is found on page 68:
Enjoy everything, my children! Enjoy everything that you do and make vivid memories because life is a racehorse galloping in the wind and we can barely hold on for the ride.
I recommend Walking With Elephants to anyone interested in reflecting on the issues surrounding the modern-day women within a fictional novel.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Challenges: 2011 100+ Reading Challenge

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