|Beer Garden at Burkes of Ireland|
Crystal River, Florida
Ten or eleven of us were at the meeting last night to discuss The Watchmaker's Daughter by Sonia Taitz. Only one person hadn't finished the book and only one person gave it a sideways thumb. What didn't she like about the book was "the main character." She thought Sonia Taitz was kind of whiny. None of us really found that. But when I came back and re-read my posts Before/During Reading and Review (clickable links so you can re-read if you'd like), I was reminded that as Sonia reached college age, I wasn't so thrilled with her and her likeability took a nosedive. As she matured, I liked her once again. Almost as if she was my own teenage daughter!
Why did people like the book? They felt that they were able to learn about another culture. The respected the devotion the author and her parents showed towards each other. Sonia Taitz had a wonderful way with language, too. She was viewed to be honest and critical when telling her own story.
In retrospect, I was so foolish to feel that just because I was able to make so many text-to-self and text-to-world connections that I was the only one who was going to enjoy this book. I was so focused on what I and my family shared with the author that I didn't open my eyes wide enough to realize that so many universal themes were included. An open-minded reader can read a book about any culture and find things that personally resonate.
Suffering is universal. And while the suffering of the Irish was of a different scale than the suffering of those persecuted during the Holocaust, at the end of the day, the suffering of parents has a major impact on the lives of the children. In any culture, children raised by long-suffering parents believe that it's within their power to make up for the suffering. That really is never the case. Like Sonia, the child might be able to excel and make the parent proud. But does that really make up for earlier suffering? I don't think so. We talked about many different forms of discrimination and how that impacts parent/child relationships.
Children raised in households where there are secrets - an alcoholic parent, spousal abuse, etc. - were able to relate to Sonia's efforts to keep others away from learning the reality of her home life.
The final issue that Taitz tackles is that of the mother/daughter relationship. You don't have to be an immigrant or have suffered the Holocaust to be able to relate to mother/daughter issues.
Excellent book. Excellent discussion.