1 point: movie theme
Ben is Back is a hard-hitting and emotional roller coaster of a film. At the heart of the story is the theme of ADDICTION and the toll it takes on Ben, the Abuser, and those around him during his unexpected visit home before Christmas. Not ready to truly be released from rehab, Ben wants to convince his family that he won’t use drugs again. But will he? Does his family believe him? The film’s strengths center on the acting of both Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts, whose performances tear at your heart and literally leave you exhausted at the end of the movie. It’s a powerful mother-son dynamic but what we particularly found valuable were the statements on drug abuse in America, stereotypes, off kilter value systems and the realization of how one’s life can easily slip into the realms of horror. Both of us are so very fortunate that this particular horror has never crept into our lives but that doesn’t make us blind to the tragedy that awaits those who travel this path.
1 point: “A” Author
Laura: I enjoy discovering new authors so I was looking forward to reading That Kind of Mother by Rumaan ALAM. The novel deals primarily with motherhood and adoption (an unintentional nod to our A month), but what makes this different is that the adopting family is white and their new son is African-American – plus the author is a gay male, with parents from Bangladesh, who is raising two African American boys with his white partner. Wow! That’s a lot of viewpoints! It’s not surprising that racial issues and white privilege are also examined. But the main character, Rebecca, was so spoiled and self-centered that I could never truly embrace her point of view. In addition, I found myself getting annoyed and even a bit angry at the few storylines that were hard to believe or a bit of a stretch – difficult to explain without giving anything away. This would actually make an interesting book club selection since there are so many things to analyze and discuss.
2 points: new restaturant
ALLEN CAFÉ in (where else) Allen, Texas has been in the neighborhood for 23 years so it was about time to give it a try. We found it to be a slice of Americana – an old-fashioned café that serves breakfast and lunch, as well as a serving or two of homespun comfort and local chatter. Good food and great prices. Oh – and the coconut crème pie that Laura took home for her hubby was outstanding!
1 point: “A” Author
Barbara: Jami ATTENBERG is a new author for me and since The Middlesteins is a black comedy and is written from all the characters’ alternating viewpoints it’s right up my alley. Here’s an example of her style which is in line with my sensibilities: “There he was, in a suit (it was his only suit, but Edie didn’t know that yet), and he was smiling (his happiest days were behind him the minute he met Edie, but Richard didn’t know that yet).” So although a story that is basically about a woman who eats herself to death doesn’t sound like it would be funny, it definitely worked. It was a very adept handling of the dynamics of a family that misunderstands each other.