Six Degrees of Separation – I’ve got a Train to catch

Posted December 4, 2022 by elzaread in 6 Degrees of separation / 17 Comments

Greetings you guys! Gosh, it’s the last Six Degrees of the year and we only managed to do 6 about half of them. Next year will be better – somehow we will figure out how to make it happen. Blogging is such an important part of our day to day lives and especially our regular memes.

This monthly fun meme is hosted by Books are my Favorite and BestOn the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Books can be linked in obvious ways, for example: same authors, same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or you might choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read in the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend or books that remind you of a particular time in your life. The choices are endless here! 

Today we start with a book that my Mommy has actually read (hallelujah!) and loved:

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

This book is very close to my Mommy’s heart. Just like Mabel, she longed to have a child of her own for many many years. I guess I was also build from snow in a certain way. I am named after the ultimate Snow Queen after all.

Let’s see where our chain is taking us today.

1st Degree:

Australia, 1926. After four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written debut novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is another book that is very close to my Mommy’s heart and she shares Isabel’s pain and heartache on a very personal level. The longing for a child and to suffer through devastating losses, is no easy feat to overcome.

2nd Degree:

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna’s streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan’s best friend and companion is the brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents’ carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis’ take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler’s annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.

Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad.

This book broke my Mommy’s heart in a million little pieces. Once again, we deal with a woman who longed for a child of her own. However, this longing did not hinder Truus Wijsmuller to help thousands of children and to bring them to safety. This book was based on a real, living, breathing person and her actions inspired my Mommy to continue working with children, no matter what.

3rd Degree: 

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

Quite a few links here to our previous book – a train, London and of course another woman who suffers from infertility.

4th Degree:

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

But not all of live through fertility struggles are bad! There are a lot of wonderful ups and the most amazing books to read without a baby disturbing your reading times. Another train to London, this one just comes with magic and the most amazing escape. No matter how old you are.

5th Degree: 

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

From one magical school to the next. I haven’t read The School for Good and Evil, but it is very popular with the kids from school. Maybe one day we will read it! This school were all fairytale characters apparently go to learn their trade, brings us to our last link today:

6th Degree:

Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for their world or ours.

Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and his ageing master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.

Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.

King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale about another world than ours, in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.

And that’s our Six Degrees for the last time in 2022. See you all next year! Have a very Merry Christmas!

Lots of Love,

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17 responses to “Six Degrees of Separation – I’ve got a Train to catch

  1. Yours is the third chain to link to The Light Between Oceans, so that is now firmly on my library wishlist. I like the sound of The Last Train to London, as well. I see sorrow and hope in your chain. And it is years since I read any Stephen King but I have enjoyed everything I’ve read by him, so maybe I’ll give Fairy Tale a whirl.

  2. Great chain. The Light Between Oceans sounds really good and one I will look up. What a coincidence that both of us have Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as our fourth link! Hope things get better for you soon and books, Elza and your work with kids cheers you up in the meanwhile.

  3. I enjoy these posts so much, seeing the connections others make between the books and making my own (when I participate). I’ve actually read a few of these! I enjoyed The Girl on the Train and love the Harry Potter series. I just read The School for Good and Evil not too long ago. My daughter loaned me her copy. 🙂 I hope you have a great week!