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Summer vacation brings void after kids semi-grown

With the kids semi-grown, summers have a different feel than they did before. Back in the day, that first day of summer vacation had the sweet feel of a house full of sleepy kids, the obligation of extra groceries in the fridge to feed the masses, and working around their elaborate plans all of a sudden. Or, after they started driving, the tug of war over curfew and those elaborate plans.

Now there's nothing. As in, a void that has me mildly perplexed. It's hot outside, the school zone signals are off and the school parking lot is empty, there are lots of kids out in public at all hours of the day and night, but they're not mine, and mine aren't here.

So that happened.

In my dreams, this is where I get to run off into the sunset and do all those things I haven't been able to do when they're under my wing, but so far the frolicking has been down to a bare minimum. I still have my job that is required to support me and them, plus they need me just enough to keep me on the hook.

So summer reading has at least been a diversion. The latest few novels I've enjoyed have been "The Woman In Cabin 10" and one I'm about to finish up, "A Gentleman In Moscow."

"The Woman in Cabin 10" was a good, quick read, with a plot interesting enough to keep me turning the pages, though the story was a little out there the way many suspense/mystery stories are. Whatever ... that's why it's called fiction.

"A Gentleman In Moscow" was a recommendation from my mother, who said it was one of the best books she's read in a long while. Beautifully written, it's the story of Count Alexander Rostov, a member of the early 20th century aristocraticracy Russia, who is deemed traitorous and sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest at the luxurious Metropol Hotel. Decades pass as the story of both his life under those circumstances unfold, and Russian politics evolves at this important time in the world's history.

Every sentence is masterfully crafted, and it's taken me a long time to read, for that reason, I think. You really hang onto every word.

Another book I've read recently is "Becoming Nicole," the true story of an adopted, identical twin boy who was born with the belief he was girl, starting with feminine traits and female identification as early as 2 years old. With the support of his parents (although there is reluctance and dismay on his father's part at first), Wyatt Maines eventually goes through hormone replacement therapy and surgical procedures to become female as a teenager.

Happening within the last few years, the Maines family was pivotal in early transgender legislation regarding bathroom use and helped bring the issue to the forefront. While I know many people disagree with that concern, it was an interesting and informative read to better understand transgenders and what they go through. Let's face it, that is something most of us know very little about.

So while "I enjoyed" that book may be an overstatement, I'm glad I read it. A little empathy never hurt anyone.

I have other books in line, but my next one is likely to be my good 'ol standby, John Sandford's latest "Prey" book that I have yet to read. After that, I think I'll look at "Rules of Civility," another book by Amor Towles, the author of "A Gentleman In Moscow."

I'll keep you posted. Unless I get a chance to break away for the summer.

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