Tag: law


If This, Then That: History of Wolves

Posted 2 January, 2017 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

If This, Then That: History of WolvesHistory of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Published by Grove Atlantic on January 3rd 2017
Pages: 288
Goodreads
three-half-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Linda has an idiosyncratic home life: her parents live in abandoned commune cabins in northern Minnesota and are hanging on to the last vestiges of a faded counter-culture world. The kids at school call her 'Freak', or 'Commie'. She is an outsider in all things. Her understanding of the world comes from her observations at school, where her teacher is accused of possessing child pornography, and from watching the seemingly ordinary life of a family she babysits for. Yet while the accusation against the teacher is perhaps more innocent than it seemed at first, the ordinary family turns out to be more complicated. As Linda insinuates her way into the family's orbit, she realises they are hiding something. If she tells the truth, she will lose the normal family life she is beginning to enjoy with them; but if she doesn't, their son may die.Superbly-paced and beautifully written, HISTORY OF WOLVES is an extraordinary debut novel about guilt, innocence, negligence, well-meaning belief and the death of a child.

I want to start with a brief review of Fridlund’s History of Wolves. While I usually love debut literary fiction novels, History of Wolves was a bit of a failure to launch for me. I felt like Fridlund was a little too ambitious with this story. It’s true that the writing is lyrical. She attempts to create an atmosphere that is charged with the feeling something isn’t quite right, but this ultimately fails. The burn is a bit too slow. The juxtaposition between the scandal of child pornography and the family that seems a little too good to be true doesn’t quite come off.

Ultimately, I felt like the narrative push and pull that Fridlund seemed to be aiming for in History of Wolves failed because she was trying to do too much. The atmosphere in the woods, Linda’s school life, home life, and time she spends with the Gardners never really becomes a cohesive narrative. The reader thinks that there’s something slightly off about the Gardner’s, but honestly up until the reveal (which because of heavy handed foreshadowing was completely expected) it’s truly hard to really care.

I think that Fridlund would have been better served to focus completely on the story of Linda and the Gardner’s, cutting out the whole bit about the teacher and her odd upbringing in the commune.

That being said, if you read this book and enjoy it, or even mostly enjoy it I have to point you towards The Children Act, it explores similar themes of the rights of people to their religion weighed against the rights that their children have. It’s a fascinating first amendment discussion for anyone who wants to have it.

So Reader, what do you think? Have you read History of Wolves yet? Does it sound like your kind of thing?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Where I’ve Been Busy

Posted 11 October, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

sundaysalon-200-pixshark

Time // 9:30 AM EDT

Excuses // I’ve been away for a hot minute y’all. Which I know is what I say in every Sunday Salon post that I write after a prolonged absence. I’m clearly not blogging, I’m not doing much reading anything that requires my eyes, but what am I doing you might ask? Moving, working, general adulting. I refuse to join the cult of busy for the sake of busy… but I’ve been busy.

The House // Is moved into and in order. Painters are coming tomorrow on the U.S.’s ‘Subjugation of Indigenous Populations Day‘ I mean, Columbus Day. But since it’s a federal holiday and I work for the county, I will work on this most noble of holidays. (I mean seriously, how come we haven’t done away with Columbus Day yet? I don’t get it.) Anyway.

Work // Is what is keeping me away.

Exhibit A: My Active Caseload

Exhibit A: My Active Caseload

I know that John Oliver (who I adore) did a whole segment about the problems we have in the U.S. with the lack of public defenders — and I agree, but I really felt that the segment was one sided. It’s true that 90 – 95% of cases will plead out before going to trial and while I am in whole-hearted agreement that there are people who are unfairly targeted by the police and who are indeed innocent of the crimes they have been arrested/indicted/accused of – I’ve also seen enough evidence, even in the backwoods south that many that plea out are guilty of what they’ve been charged with. The unfortunate truth is that the U.S. justice system would collapse without plea bargaining, we don’t have the infrastructure or the manpower for every case to go to trial. Right, wrong, or otherwise – this is the case. I’m not claiming our system is perfect, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it’s the worst justice system in the world, except for all the rest.

Lately // I did finally start Furiously Happy and it’s furiously amazing. AnnaSaurus Rex and I went to see Jenny Lawson read and get book signed and I had her sign as Stephen King just like last time. I’m still wending my way through Rev. Weber-Bolz’s essays in Accidental Saints. Expect a write-up soon on how fabulous she was to meet again.

Next Up // I’m going to start Fates and Furies as soon as I finish off these two essay collections. That’s coming up for Socratic Salon pretty soon.

Playing // Deck building games! Largely on my iPhone. Anyone play Tanto Cuore, Penny Arcade: The Game, or Dominion? If so – hit me up, I’m often looking for a game!

Okay, it took me all day to write this post, Readers. How was your week?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Love Wins: A Dramatic Reading of Obergefell

Posted 1 July, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

So last Friday the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 5-4 opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges which ultimately made marriage equality the law of the land in the United States. The decision with four separate dissents totaled 103 pages. While I found the majority decision, written by Justice Kennedy to be as eloquent as Supreme Court decisions come – the real gem in this piece was Justice Scalia’s dissent. He’s furious and it completely shows in his dissent. With all respect due to a Justice of the Supreme Court, I present to you a dramatic reading of Justice Scalia’s dissent in Obergefell. Enjoy. I know it’s no Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles, but I still had fun. Justice Scalia’s opinions are not my own, I’m just reading what’s been written.

If you want to read the full text of the opinion and the other dissents it can be found here.

A further resource for all things SCOTUS is SCOTUSblog.com, for their analysis and all the info on Obergefell go here.

Leave me a message about my performance, or just your thoughts, Reader. 

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Love Wins Edition

Posted 28 June, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

Time // 1:50 PM EDT.

Watching // Somehow I’ve gotten sucked into a Naked and Afraid marathon on The Discovery Channel. It’s like a train wreck that I can’t look away from.

Reading // I’m looking. I finished The Beautiful Bureaucrat this week and I’m looking for something as satisfying and readable as that.

Celebrating // The inevitable Supreme Court decision that makes marriage equality the law of the land in The States. The best summary of the 103 page opinion and dissents can be found in Haiku format at McSweeney’s.  I also love what Twitter did with the love wins hashtag.

The fact that SCOTUS left the ACA in tact is also a decision that shouldn’t be overlooked. I won’t say my faith in SCOTUS was restored, but I’m feeling better about them.

I’m also starting a new job, the bad part is that it’s going to be a fifty mile commute – and getting outside of Atlanta is going to be a bitch, but the good part is that it’s going to give me plenty of time to listen to audiobooks, oh, and more money.

Listening // I’ve started on the fourth volume of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower on audio. It’s a re-read, so far so good. I’m less familiar with the fifth through the seventh books so if things are going to be challenging that’s where the challenge is going to be.

Waxing // The gouda! Instead of waxing it in a wheel I cut it into fourths and learned why this isn’t traditionally done, it takes three times as much wax and twice as much time. But at the same time I found with my last batch that once I cut into the wheel it started to turn fairly quickly. The wheels are about five and a half inches in diameter and 3 inches thick, so it’s a lot of cheese.

gouda

Looking ‘gouda’!

What happened in your week, Reader?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Part Deux: On the Nativity and the First Amendment

Posted 21 December, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings


With Christmas upon us I feel the need to address something that I have endless fascination with and endless frustration.

The First Amendment. Specifically (you guessed it!) the two religion clauses found within. In case you slept through high school civics the relevant text reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

So, quick breakdown. The two clauses are known as (1) the Establishment clause (…no law respecting an establishment of religion…) and (2) the Free Exercise clause (…[no law] prohibiting the free exercise thereof…). So the government may neither endorse a religion nor prevent people from practicing their religion as they like (with certain exceptions that the Supreme Court has found, but let’s set that aside so we don’t get too deep in the weeds). 

So, the reason I bring all this up is that I recently ran across a blog post (one of thousands, no doubt) entitled Born in a Stable and Still Being Bullied. I’m not in the habit of responding to other people’s posts on my blog, but I think that this common misconception of the law is something that as an attorney I have something of a duty to educate about. 

The Down Low
There are two cases that are key when interpreting the First Amendment in regards to religious holiday displays. The first is Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) the issue was whether or not a Nativity scene sponsored by the city in a Christmas display was a violation of the Establishment Clause. The Nativity scene was surrounded by secular symbols such as Christmas trees and candy canes and was located on private property owned by a local non-profit.

The Court found that it was not a violation of the Establishment Clause because it met what is known as The Lemon Test, (again, we’ll skip that to stay out of the weeds, but I encourage you to follow the link and learn about it) but in a concurring opinion Justice O’Connor set forth a clarification on the interpretation of the Establishment Clause. The most relevant part reads: 

”Government endorsement or disapproval of religion is unconstitutional. … [e]ndorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.

Five years later the Supreme Court considered Allegheny v. ACLU (1989), which concerned two recurring religious displays on public property. The first was a Nativity scene that was erected and prominently displayed on the ‘Grand Staircase’ of the county courthouse. The second was located outside the City-County building, included a menorah, a Christmas tree, and a sign, which read, “During this holiday season, the City of Pittsburgh salutes liberty. Let these festive lights remind us that we are the keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom.”

The Court ruled that the Nativity scene was unconstitutional because it stood alone in a position of prominence and therefore constituted a government endorsement of religion. The majority stated: 

“No viewer could reasonably think that it occupies this location without the support and approval of the government. Thus, by permitting the ‘display of the crèche in this particular setting’, the county sends an unmistakable message that is supports and promotes the Christian praise to God that is the creche’s religious message.”

The menorah and the sign were found to be constitutional because of the particular setting of the display the secular symbol of the Christmas tree was the prominent point of the display and the sign celebrating liberty diminished the possibility that a reasonable observer would see the display as an endorsement of any religion. The Court stated that the city’s overall display must be understood as conveying the city’s secular recognition of different traditions for celebrating the winter-holiday season. 


What does it all mean?
I’m glad you asked. What it boils down to is that government bodies that are displaying only a Nativity scene in a place of prominence, on public land is in violation of the Constitution. 

But Christians just want to celebrate our faith, why does the government want to crush our spirit? Personally, I don’t think that the government (or rational reasonable people of other faiths or non-faiths) want to crush anyone’s spirit or poop on anyone’s religious traditions. However, to maintain the integrity of the First Amendment and to respect the wide variety of belief systems that are found in the U.S., governments have a responsibility to all citizens to ensure that they are not acting in ways that endorse a particular religion. 

Private citizens (and corporations) are more than welcome to set up whatever religious symbols they feel drawn to on their private property with no interference from the government. In fact the Free Exercise clause prohibits interference from the government on that point.

The First Amendment is not about political correctness. Separation of church and state is not ‘mumbo-jumbo’. It’s the law of the land. It’s about ensuring the freedom of (and from) religion for all citizens – including Christians. It’s about not being marginalized by your government no matter what you choose to believe in (or not). 

With that I’d like to wish everyone the warmest of holidays and the hopefulness that you are happy, healthy, and surrounded by loved ones always, not just during the holiday season.

Thoughts, Readers? Questions? As always, respectful dissent always encouraged.



April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Let’s Talk About It Tuesday: The Children Act

Posted 16 December, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Let’s Talk About It Tuesday: The Children ActThe Children Act by Ian McEwan
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on September 9th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Legal, Literary, Psychological
Pages: 240
Goodreads
four-stars

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

McEwan’s The Children Act is a fascinating novel with themes that sit at the intersection of law and freedom. Being an attorney I was most interested in what Fiona’s ruling would be on the case set forth in the book.

While McEwan’s novel is set in British courts, the set of facts that is brought forth in the novel is one that American courts have to grapple with all too often as well. Adam, a seventeen year old Jehovah’s Witness (born and bred) is diagnosed with a common form of leukemia. A simple blood transfusion is virtually all that is needed to save the boy’s life. Without it, he will surely die. Yet Adam, weeks from his eighteenth birthday, wants to refuse the transfusion. The issue? Can the law compel a minor (so close to the age of majority) to accept life saving medical treatment against his wishes and the wishes of his parents? 

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists have always fascinated me in a morbid way because of their refusal to accept modern medical treatment, even in dire situations where lives are at stake. In the U.S., courts have consistently held that a competent adult has the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment and the Supreme Court has upheld it several times as a liberty interest under the Due Process Clause.

However, as you may suspect, juvenile and family courts don’t deal with competent adults, they deal with minors. When dealing with decisions about a child’s well-being and the law in the U.S., courts nearly always use the ‘best interest of the child’ standard. So even though it’s well established that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit, (Wisconsin v. Yoder, if you’re interested) it’s not a right that is absolute. In the seminal case Prince v. Massachusetts, Justice Rutledge wrote for the majority:

“Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.”

But with the ‘best interest of the child’ standard there are many factors that courts will consider and they vary greatly state to state. Currently (and historically) there are hundreds if not thousands of cases where the courts have overruled the parent’s aversion to treatment for young minor children. However, the older the child is, the more likely the court will give his or her opinion weight. What makes the case in The Children Act so very close is Adam’s age and at the crux of the situation is truly his maturity level.

There were two cases that I could find that dealt with similar situations. In both cases the court held that despite the fact that the minors were very close to the age of majority, it was also deemed necessary that the court evaluate the maturity of the children in considering their wishes. In the end the courts ruled that it was acceptable to provide life-saving blood transfusions over the objections of the 17 year old patients and their parents.

At the same time I ran across a case of a 12 year old who was considered a ‘mature minor’ by the hospital, the hospital’s ethics committee opted not to pursue a court order to force life-saving treatment on the child and she subsequently died.

Clearly, I find this to be a fascinating point of law. I’ve run on too long with my legal history and background here but I still want to talk about the actual book a bit. The half concerning Fiona’s rationale in reaching her ruling is extraordinary. McEwan’s prose brings through simple truths about the law with his usual eloquence.

“This court is a court of law, not of morals, and our task has been to find, and our duty is then to apply, the relevant principles of law to the situation before us – a situation which is unique.”

It is a truth known to those in the legal profession that too often the law is not about morality or justice, the law is about… the law.

The second half of the novel was disappointing. I didn’t particularly care about Fiona’s marital problems or strife and I found some of her actions at the end to be incongruous with the character that she displayed at the beginning.

Overall this is a fascinating novel, though I would have liked to see more on Adam’s case and less on Fiona’s personal life. Highly recommended to people interested in the place where law and religion intersect and general fans of McEwan. It’s not Atonement, but it’s still an excellent read.

Edit: I should add that Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books has a most excellent review that doesn’t focus so heavily on the legal aspect here.

Any interest in this one Reader? What do you think if you’ve read it? How do you feel about the state of U.S. jurisprudence regarding forced treatment of children over the religious objections of the parents? 

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Six Degrees of Separation: 1984

Posted 15 October, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes

Six Degrees of Separation time, y’all! Hosted by the indomitable Annabel and Emma

1984 has been one of my favorite books since I read it… in high school? Middle school? Anyway, it’s been forever since I first read it – and I’ve read it a million (okay maybe five or six) times since. If you’re a dystopian writer and haven’t read both 1984 and

Brave New World by: A. Huxley (I can never spell his first name right and I’m too lazy to check my spelling right now…) then you’re doing it wrong. I love Brave New World (also a dystopia for the woefully unknowing) almost as much as I love 1984. I first read Brave New World my senior year of high school, it was challenging because some chapters were told in an unconventional format. Which leads me to…

Solomon the Peacemaker by: Hunter Welles – also a dystopian novel, but with such a fascinating premise I ABSOLUTELY MUST INSIST THAT YOU READ IT RIGHT NOW. It’s also told with an unconventional narrative structure. A ‘terrorist’ is in police custody and being interrogated, but all the interrogation questions are redacted. The reader must pay careful attention to the answers, in order to glean the questions. It’s successful in slowing down speed readers like myself and also leads to more questions. It’s a brilliant book, but unfortunately (like many brilliant books) largely ignored. SO! Brilliant books (somewhat) ignored in unconventional formats leads me to…

Dear Committee Members by: Julie Schumacher – an epistolary novel written in the form of correspondence and letters of recommendation from (and a few to) a delightfully curmudgeonly tenured English professor in a completely dysfunctional university. I want to be Jay. Speaking of epistolary novels…

The Divorce Papers by: Susan Rieger – another unique epistolary novel – except that instead of just correspondance from/to the main character we also get statutes and legal memoranda from the same state. As an unemployed attorney I really enjoyed it. There were also legal issues between the divorcing couple in the novel about their kids which brings us to…

The Children Act by: Ian McEwan – (god, how behind on reviews am I?) a family law judge in England is confronted with a suit on whether or not a 17 year old Jehovah’s Witness has the right to refuse lifesaving treatment. It’s an excellent character driven novel on law, relationships, and hammers home the fact that lawyers and judges are real people too. With feelings. I connect this with…

Steal the North by: Heather Brittain Bergstrom – a coming of age novel set in the background of religious extremism and the need to understand and appreciate other cultures and religions. In this novel it’s extreme fundamentalist Christianity needing to understand the Native American ‘religion’. This is a beautiful and emotionally difficult book, it’s satisfying to see the protagonist shed multiple layers of herself. The beauty of acceptance and diversity in this novel really shine through.

So! From 1984 (also set in ‘England’ [my favorite country – the real England, not the dystopian one…]) to Steal the North in six easy steps. Do you want to play? I know you do. Here’s how:

So, Reader, where do you go from 1984 ? Don’t dare tell me you haven’t read it! But, it’s okay if you haven’t… as long as you’re not writing dystopian fiction. Check out the other chains. So wildly different and creative! 


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Six Degrees of Separation: Gone Girl

Posted 15 August, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes

It’s a new month, which means it’s time for another Six Degrees of Separation hosted by Annabel and Emma! I’m a little behind the power-curve this month, but I made it! 


Gone Girl is dark and twisty and delightful. Whenever I hear ‘twisty and delightful’ I think of Chuck Palahniuk. Which of his books to put in the chain?

Let’s go with Haunted which is a collection of short stories. One story involves a boy who has his intestines sucked out by a pool drain pump. It’s dark and funny and as always, totally screwed up.

When I think of people having their intestines sucked out by pool drains I think of John Edwards, but I’d rather talk about his late (sort of) ex-wife Elizabeth. I haven’t read her memoirs Saving Graces – which were written before her husband’s infidelity became public, but she was a figure for both gay rights and I really admired her for filing for legal separation instead of standing by John and just taking the humiliation, like most political wives do.

Since we were talking about politics (and books I haven’t read) – I think of the law (I know, I’m adorable.) Justice Stevens has written a book that I own and am desperate to read: Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. The fact that it had trolls on Goodreads and Amazon before it was even released, made me want to read it even more!

Speaking of trolls and haters, Caitlin Moran’s new book is going to have them coming out in droves, especially if you try to put it in a high school library. How to Build a Girl (you might have seen a post, or seven, about it…) is a delightful coming of age novel that is going to seriously piss some people off. Too bad. It’s fantastic.

Banned books. I’ve already used The Handmaid’s Tale in this meme so lets use something else. How about And Tango Makes Three. Another children’s book that inexplicably (okay, not really inexplicably) pissed people off. How can you hate a book about penguins? I know, I know. They’re gay penguins – so there’s lots of room to hate. <eyeroll>

Let’s end on a positive note. The only public figure I can think of that is more consistently positive than RuPaul is the Dalai Lama. But I’d rather end with RuPaul. RuPaul’s life partner is a man – but he doesn’t identify as gay, still from gay penguins to the drag superstar OF THE WORLD is going to have to work as a link.  Lettin’ It All Hang Out, his 1995 biography, is out of print – but if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it. It’s very up-lifting.

So, from Gone Girl to RuPaul’s autobiography Lettin’ it All Hang Out in six easy steps! Do you want to play? I know you do. Here’s how:

Where do YOU go from Gone Girl, Reader? Sorry if I got a bit political and/or America-centric for my international readers – it’s just where the chain took me this month. 


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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In case you missed it: I’M TAKING THE BAR EXAM TODAY

Posted 29 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

[INSERT TOTAL FREAKOUT HERE.]
Get ready to be assaulted by random freakout gifs.

But first: THANK YOU.

The support of all my Readers and other bloggers has been really amazing (also, you know, my family). I know that things have been weird and tense around here and I haven’t been pulling my weight by responding to your wonderful comments or commenting on your wonderful blogs, but I want each and every one of you to know how much I appreciate the enormous support that you have provided.
 

Okay, let’s get on with it, sappy just isn’t my style. 

 
But wait, I’m probably following the Ron Swanson plan right now.
 
 
…and I gotta remember Mama Ru’s advice:
 
(This one makes me a little dizzy.)
 
I’m looking forward to reading your blogs (and books) without a miasma of low-key panic hanging about. See you soon! …and rememeber: 
 
 
 
Hearts and Flowers, 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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WASP-y Wednesday: The Divorce Papers

Posted 19 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

WASP-y Wednesday: The Divorce PapersThe Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Published by Crown/Archetype on March 18th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Humorous, Literary
Pages: 496
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old-line New England firm, where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are trapped behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one week, with all the big partners out of town, Sophie is stuck handling the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client.   After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. Mia is now locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology at Mather Medical School, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane. Mia also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. The way she sees it, it’s her first divorce, too. For Sophie, the whole affair will spark a hard look at her own relationships—with her parents, colleagues, friends, lovers, and, most important, herself.

So, personally, I enjoyed most of this book. It’s stylistically unique in that it’s written solely in legal memoranda, e-mail, statutes, and other legal documents. (I think there’s even some faux case-law in there.) The primary story – the divorce between the upper middle class Durkheim’s is interesting enough but some of the secondary stories seem extraneous and don’t add a whole lot to the narrative. Mainly, the love-life of Sophie just feels contrived and maybe something put in there to appeal to the ‘chick-lit’ crowd.

The story of Sophie’s parent’s divorce added to the book, it’s easy to see the author was drawing parallels between the Durkheim divorce and the impact that Sophie’s own parent’s divorce had on her as a child. That sub-plot was thoughtful and interesting.

My other concern with this book was that at points it felt like lazy writing. Since most readers who are not trained or employed in the legal field have very little experience reading case law and statutes I think that this could be a bit off-putting. Most readers aren’t going to take the statutes in the book and then actively apply them to letters from the client to try and guess how Sophie will structure the divorce negotiations – it seemed like filler. Personally, I just skimmed these sections they didn’t add anything to the narrative. I felt the same way about the divorce worksheets that appear several times throughout the novel. Lists of assets, requests for alimony, it’s snooze-ville for a ‘regular’ reader… give the reader (the same way you would a client) the big picture.

It’s difficult to figure out who to recommend this book to. Legal professionals may not want to come home from reading legal-ese all day to read a novel filled with it, people outside the legal profession might find it too full of jargon to follow easily.

I enjoyed it well enough… maybe you will too?
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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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