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Friday, May 13, 2011

Reading Lips by Claudia Sternbach (Book Review)

Title: Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses
Author: Claudia Sternbach
Publisher: Unbridled Books

Kisses, even the ones that don't happen, can be the trace of what's constant when life changes.  In childhood, when what seems to define everything is competition -- for style, for knowing, for experience -- a kiss is the first first. When a girl's father moves out and chooses a new family, a kiss on the head from him may be the trace of constancy that she wants most.

Later, such things take on a different flavor.  Sometimes the kiss she wants doesn't come.  Sometimes the one she wouldn't have is forced upon her.  From time to time, the one she has kissed before is lost to her.

Some kisses are final.  When things are most hectic a kiss can be a celebration.  And when circumstances grow threatening -- to a woman, her family, her sister -- a kiss becomes the reassertion of the most vital connections.

The rich story in these essays rings with good humor and with moving wistfulness.  Throughout, Sternbach maintains a perfect balance between them as her story moves from the bittersweet desires of childhood on through loss and love.

Reading Lips is the tale of one woman who is just trying to get life right.

My thoughts: Have you ever read a book that just flowed effortlessly from the pages and was just a comfortable fit?  Reading Lips was such a book for me.  Ms. Sternbach takes us through events in her life, relating each one with a kiss - whether it be reluctant, denied, a missed opportunity, or much anticipated.  These are not just romantic kisses, but kisses from friends and family as well.

It could actually be considered a book of essays as each chapter tells a story in it's own right, but when taken in it's entirety it covers the majority of Ms. Sternbach's life - from an anticipated kiss in fifth grade through her life (and kisses) as a divorcee, wife, mother, sister, friend.

I was able to relate to her experiences through my own life of "reading lips".  It makes one realize how, on a basic level, we all are very much alike. We all have the same kisses in our lives, but possibly, what we do with them is what helps to shape us into who we become.


About the author:  Claudia Sternbach has one foot in Manhattan where her daughter resides and the other in Northern California where her husband is planted as firmly as the redwoods.  She is the author of Now Breathe (1999) and has been published in major newspapers and numerous anthologies.  She spent far too many years as a newspaper columnist and is now Editor in Chief of Memoir (and), a literary journal.  For her 60th birthday her daughter took her for her first tattoo.  It hurt, but it was worth it.

You can find her on Facebook and her blog. 

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Unbridled Books in exchange for my review.~


Publisher/Publication Date: Unbridled Books, April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60953-037-2
209 pages

2 comments:

bermudaonion said...

This sounds wonderful to me!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This sounds good!

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