Monday, February 04, 2008

Between Friends

I just finished another Debbie Macomber book. The title is Between Friends and it is about two women, both born in 1948 who grow up as and remain, as my daughter would say BFF (best friends forever). The story is told via their correspondence with each other and with others. The book includes references to "current" (as of the dates of the correspondence) events, and since I remember many of these, I found it a trip down memory lane. Neither of the characters gets the ideal life; both have much sorrow to bear, but both bear it well. The book has a pretty happy ending. I have mixed feelings about it though.

I'm 13 years younger than these women (who I'd guess, looking at her picture, are Macomber's contemporaries) so my experience of the world is going to be different from theirs. One of the women was pregnant when she graduated from high school, married her high school sweethart and went on to have three more kids, all unplanned. The main characters were both raised Catholic and graduated from a Catholic high school. While she doesn't come right out and say it, you definitely get the impression that this character left the Catholic church for the Protestant church where she attended Bible study. None of her kids were married in a Catholic church. During her marriage she struggled with the birth control issued and tried using rhythm with little success. After her fourth child, she had her tubes tied, figuring God gave her a brain and a budget and she needed to use the brains to stick to the budget. Her mother, after her alcoholic husband dies, ends up marrying a priest. On the one hand if Macomber was a Christian fiction author, I'd dismiss the whole book as Catholic bashing. On the other hand, the conflicts this character went through, and her resolution were pretty common for women her age. She started having kids in the mid '60's. My mom's kids were born in 61, 62, 64, 65, and 71 (with miscarriages in 60, 63, and 69). When I was in Catholic school, out of my class of 35 kids, at least 10 of us came from families of more than 3 kids. By the time my baby brother's group came through, big families were much less common, and most of the kids in his group who were from big families were the youngest. Catholic women my mom's age (born in 1930) didn't generally use birth control, at least until their families got "too big", and if they did, they felt guilty about it. Somewhere between her generation and mine, birth control ceased to be an issue for most Catholics--but those in-between women did struggle with the issue so to have a Catholic character of that age struggling with birth control is a very realistic thing.

The other major character also leaves the Church, and for the most part, God, until clost to the end of the book when she realizes she needs to surrender her will to His (or Hers). It is interesting to note how one character finds strength from God to deal with the adversity in her life while the other rejects God because of the adversity in hers. As I said earlier, the book has a happy ending and while not typical of Macomber's books, I'd say it was enjoyable overall.

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