Tuesday, March 14, 2023


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I can no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? What Happened to the Bennetts? by Lisa Scottoline. A typical nuclear family -- Mom, Dad, 2 kids, and dog -- are taking the scenic route home from the daughter's field hockey game. They're in high spirits: her team won, and Dad is finally getting comfortable behind the wheel of the family's new luxury car. And then, in a truly harrowing passage, they are car jacked.

This is Scottoline, so I know characters will turn out to be far from what they seem and there are lots of twists and turns awaiting me in these pages. I also know I'll either be gripped and enthralled (as I was with Every Fifteen Minutes) or annoyed and disgusted (as I was by Dirty Blonde).  That's how it goes with me and Lisa.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter by Randy L. Schmitt. I didn't expect to be as moved by this book as I was. Karen Carpenter was a nice girl, a flawed heroine, a uniquely talented singer. She committed slow suicide by anorexia. Her family never understood her, or the disease she battled, and tacitly seem to blame Karen's doctors for her death by allowing her to gain weight too fast, thereby straining her heart. They conveniently ignore the ipecac syrup found in Karen's system at the time of her death. 

This family conveniently ignored a lot. Like how Karen struggled to be seen and heard by her parents, her brother, and management. The story of Karen's solo album is particularly disturbing. Richard blocked it during her lifetime, but you can hear it here. Produced by Grammy winner Phil Ramone, with backup support from Chicago's Peter Cetera and Billy Joel's band, Richard felt it wasn't releaseable because it was too far from The Carpenters' sound. That was the point, Richard! It was her creative statement as an artist, not just as The Carpenters' "lead sister," as she was called. She longed to be more than an extension of her family.
But Randy L. Schmitt is very even-handed. His very fairness makes the story more credible and relatable. Richard isn't a villain. He was hard working, talented, and struggling with his own demons. Mother Agnes Carpenter isn't a monster, either. She was an unsophisticated woman watching her family cope with the pressures of celebrity. She made disastrous decisions, but she was naive, not evil. (Though her casual racism and anti-semitism is hard to take.) Father Harold Carpenter loved both his wife and his daughter and felt helpless to interfere.

This is the best book I've read so far this year.

3. What will read next? I don't know.