Fiction: 3 Deaths Affecting Families(Book &amp Movie Reviews)


I am sure it is a mere   coincidence that I came upon these 3 stories within  weeks of each other, but such is modern fiction.  Also, this is such a typical plot scenario.

All  three start with a death, and incorporate  flashbacks to  partially tell the story.  All are about resolving conflict.

The first I will  describe is a movie that didn’t spend  long in theatre release, but  worth renting:  “Black or White“, which Kevin Costner  produced and starred in.  It wasn’t well reviewed, and some described it as somewhat racist.  I’d  say  more condescending, as written, but it was co-produced  by one of the black actors, and the acting and story is generally  good, and the story told well to fit into the time frame of the movie.

Costner’s  (white)character is suddenly widowed. He and his wife were raising a grandchild .  Their daughter died in childbirth, and the father of the child was a drug dealing thug.  Costner’s character maintained his resentment  towards the thug and the thug’s family.  When  his wife  dies in an accident, the thug’s mother, a real matriarch who genuinely wants a relationship with her grandchild ( played by Octavia Spencer), asks for  joint custody, and this is the story of how they reach a compromise.     This  is  really  just  five main characters, but  richly developed.  Not Oscar material, but an interesting story. Anyone  involved  in divorce or a custody dispute should see it, and  it would be good to show to  kids who  live in  a racially isolated environment.

I had just finished Anne Patchett’s “The Magician’s Assistant.”  I  had enjoyed her book, “Bel Canto“, so was eager to read this.   Sabine, the Magician’s  assistant,  had been a waitress at a club that specialized in magic, and   this was how she met the magician.  She fell in love with him, but he was gay.  He dies at the very beginning of the book, and Sabine, the only child of holocaust survivors who met in Israel and emigrated to the USA, learns the man she spent 20 years with was  NOT an orphan, as he had  told her. .  Her curiosity about why he hid his family and  past from her makes this  a really interesting story.  Really movie material. Patchett makes this sort of an odd fairy tale come to life.

Jacquelyn Mitchard’s  ” A Theory of Relativity,” is, again, about  a death and family.  What’s  unique about the main characters is that their family was built through adoption, and custody of a  baby is challenged because some don’t consider adopted children  to be the  real  children of their adopted parents.   What complicates this is that  a set of grandparents  bases their  custody claim on the fact that their son (the father of the child being fought over) was not adopted, and that they should have more rights than th  mother’s parents.  This should probably be assigned reading (or on a readying list) for high school age  kids as it addresses  social relationships, and differences in religion, life outlooks, peoples’ opinions, and what love is.

I am not  very close to my blood family.  It could be psychological issues (ya think?) or  philosophical differences, but in my case, I’ve formed bonds with friends, and even these  are challenging.  It’s  good to read about how people cope with differences they have with people they care about.

 

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