Sunshine Cleaning, Not the End of the World and the Third Circle

Sunshine Cleaning

I saw a preview for a film called Sunshine Cleaning the other day which looked cute and charming (in a morbid sort of way) so I set my DVR to record it. It only got two stars in the synopsis, but I figured if it was awful I could always delete it. (The other day I lasted less than thirty seconds into a new series before I deleted the whole thing. 'Tis better to record and delete than never to have recorded at all.)

I was quite pleased with Sunshine Cleaning, which is about family as well as about trying new, scary things in order to make ends meet. I think that's why this film only got two stars; because it's about lady business. It's not just about two ladies running a business; it's about things that our society considers the domain of women, which automatically make them less important than masculine films about revenge or fighting.

Rose is the single mother of struggling student Oscar. When Oscar's school says she can either put him on ADHD medication or hit the road, she enrolls him in a private school she can't afford. (This part didn't work for me as my school district is required to work with students and will set up a tutor if they are too ill to attend school. I can't imagine that they would expel a student because they think he needs medication, which hasn't even been prescribed by a doctor.) Suddenly Rose needs a lot more money than she's currently making. Her married boyfriend complains about how much crime scene cleanup companies are charging and she decides to give it a try.

Joined by her sister Norah, the two women are completely unprepared for the job. They aren’t just not ready for the reality of the horrors of a crime scene; they don't know the first thing about the legal or insurance requirements for the job. As they stumble along they get excellent advice from Winston, a man who runs a store specializing in equipment and supplies for their new specialty.

The ladies grow their business and their relationship with each other at the same time, which allows them to finally discuss a deep trauma they suffered. The parts of this film about the cleaning business, and the troubles they have, are interesting and both funny and tragic, but it's the family dynamics and relationship issues that make this movie powerful.

Not the End of the World

Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean is a YA book that I reserved at the library, although for the life of me I don't remember why. Did someone on my twitter feed suggest it? Did I see it on a list of awesome books somewhere? Did it end up in my queue by mistake? I have no idea. The book was a complete surprise to me when I picked it up and really it's not the kind of thing that would ordinarily appeal to me. It's a kind of super real telling of the story of Noah's Ark, complete with the stink of dung and the terror of the animals removed from their natural habitats and fellow creatures.

Told mostly from the point of view of Timna, the youngest daughter of Noah, the story is quite grim. But it's also a story of hope and resurrection. Timna has to examine her relationship with her father, who is mysterious and powerful, her god, who has just wiped out of the human race, and the rest of her family, who are inescapable on the cramped ark. I can't exactly say I enjoyed this novel but it is interesting and thought provoking.

The Third Circle

This past week I read two and a half books by Amanda Quick. I'm in the middle of the third one so can't really discuss it at length but so far it's my favorite. Called the Third Circle it's an Arcane Society novel and has a thrilling beginning. Leona, crystal worker extraordinaire, disguises herself as a man and breaks into a mansion to track down an important crystal stolen from her family. To her shock she discovers a dead body with an intimidating stranger standing over it. The stranger, a man called Thaddeus, is also after the crystal. When he opens the cabinet a poison is released that will make him both violent and insane. Leona wants desperately to help him but he is a hypnotist with strong psychic powers with the ability to drag her into his hallucinated world. Add plenty of romance, a dog that looks like a wolf, women who live their lives as men and lots of mystery and intrigue and you have the Third Circle. I don't need to have finished it to recommend it.

Bonus Treat:

Natasha Allegri makes super cute comics that occasionally pop up in my twitter feed. They're always an unexpected treat. This one made me laugh loud enough to wake up my sleeping Akita. Click the actual comic a couple of times to enlarge it. Enjoy!