Heather Keith Freeman (jnanacandra) wrote,
Heather Keith Freeman

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SkyBed (books #31-32 of 2006)

#31: The Sky so Big and Black by John Barnes
The fourth in Barnes' The Century Next Door universe, that includes Orbital Resonance, Kaleidoscope Century, and Candle, and just as good as any of those were (I loved them all). It's about the year 2100, on Mars, amidst terraforming efforts and culture clashes and a quarantined Earth, taken over by an AI that has figured out how to infect human brains with memes. This book also has that particular story structure of looking back on the story of the main character, from after some traumatic, unknown (to the reader) event. All the clues are there for you to figure out what this event is if you want to, but it doesn't have that annoying quality of mysteries where it tries to trick you into figuring it out (I hate mysteries for the same reason I hate jazz music - they make me feel manipulated. grr.)

The one flaw in this book, in my opinion, is that once it reveals the Traumatic Event, another twist comes out of nowhere and suddenly it seems like everything has been destroyed - but five pages later everything's good and happy again. For such a sudden and huge fall, it feels like he should have spent a bit more time building things back up again. (Who knows, maybe he did, and the editor made him cut it out. Silly editors.)

#32: The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin
This book was written in 1987, but sadly reads like something from the 50s in many ways. It's a book on co-sleeping (the idea of having your child sleep with you in your bed rather than in a crib in a separate room). Now I was already quite in favor of the idea going in; but this is very much a book that is trying to convert the unbelievers. 3/4 of the book left me going "yeah, and?"

And mixed in with everything were assumptions and biases that left me cringing. Things like the assumption that the mother would stay home and the father would go to work; that homosexuality was abnormal and wouldn't occur in a society where babies were given the touch they needed; that a six- or seven-child famiily was normal and better for all involved. I don't think there was a single testimonial from a single-child family, and so much of her argument revolved around having the baby move to eventually sleeping with their siblings instead of you, it actually undermined her own argument if you weren't planning on popping out kids like skittles every year or two.

What I was hoping this book would give me was practical advice on logistics. Things like where you put them in the bed; what to do with the pillows and blankets that you need but are supposedly a suffocation risk to the baby; do you need a waterproof pad and how does that work; if nursing in bed is supposed to keep you from getting up at night, how do you deal with diaper changes, just let them sit wet all night?; and how on earth are you supposed to have a sex life (once your delicate bits are up to it again, of course) if the child is supposed to spend every moment of every day and night in physical contact with you until he's [mumble] years old?

The book did sort of address most of these questions, but in offhand, dismissive comments to the effect of 'don't worry about it, you'll figure it out'. You try telling a new mother to 'not worry about it' and see how far that gets you! And the sex question? She spent most of the book dancing around it, and when she finally faced the topic, went off on a tirade about how there seems to be an evolutionary mechanism for children to interfere with procreation until they're old enough to deal with having a sibling, so basically you have no business even thinking about sex for three or four years anyway.

Um, how about no?

Now on the last point, I openly admit that I may be getting pissy because that's not the answer I wanted to hear; but when so much else about the book pushes my buttons, it's hard to give credence to any of it, even the stuff I agreed with before going in!

I know there have got to be more liberal sources of information out there on co-sleeping, and I will be searching them out posthaste to get the taste of this one out of my mouth.

Currently reading: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (yeah, I said I wasn't going to rush right out and get another Fforde book; but I was in the bookstore, and in the mood for something fluffy, so....)
Tags: books, parenting
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