The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines
Synopsis: If you’ve seen the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” you might be wondering if Chip & Joanna Gaines are really that silly in real-life. Has Joanna always been a designer? Is Chip that impulsive all the time? And how did Chip land a beauty like Joanna in the first place? This is the story of how Chip & Joanna became Chip & Joanna (as seen on TV).
I enjoyed this book primarily because I enjoy their show. I laugh at Chip and wonder how Joanna keeps her cool. It was fun to find out how they met and married. How they make decisions and how Joanna and Chip wound up being on TV. It was ALL interesting to me because I find THEM interesting. While each chapter jumped around from topic to topic a little more than I would have liked, it is still a quick and fun read.
Philomena by Martin Sixsmith
Philomena Lee knew her son Anthony was destined to be beautiful; his father captivated her with his looks and promises that night at the fair and their child would look the same. Anthony’s looks would be her only reminder of his father. As was common in 1950’s Ireland, Philomena was thrown out by her family as a “fallen woman”, and sent to the convent at Roscrea. There she gave birth and raised him for three years under the supervision of the nuns, all the while laboring to pay off her debt. After swearing she’d never give away her son, even she was coerced by the Church to sign the documents agreeing to never look for her child.
Oh, this story is heartbreaking! My youngest son is 3 (same age as Anthony Lee/Michael Hess was when he was sent to America) and the thought of him forgetting me and forever feeling inadequate makes me feel ill. Philomena’s story seems like the perfect platform to point out the horrific policies of the Catholic Church, but the author’s story doesn’t focus on the obvious and instead pieces together the story of the man who came to be known as Michael Hess. I found the details of his adult life especially interesting as he struggled with the strange dichotomy of his homosexuality and working for the Republican Party. What I took away from this book is that we are complicated beings, juggling in the situations we find ourselves, and looking for acceptance.