I never do two simultaneous book reviews but I could hardly stop myself after seeing that Jill Rodrigues sister Lisa Moravek titled “Serena’s Serenity”.
The book is very interesting in the levels of puerile behavior, childish thoughts and sheer green eyed envy the main character “Serena” has towards all others. It’s an indictment over the sheer failure of Jill and Lisa’s mother to properly educate her daughters. It also reveals, in a scarily intense manner, what living in poverty as a ‘believer’ when all these unGodly sluttish whores around you are working full time out of the home and living large.
Serena is nothing if not your typical super judgmental evangelical whining that she does not understand why God isn’t heaping blessings on her head.
Published in 2009 by Jill’s sister Lisa who has some parallels with her fictional Serena. A husband that had to work two jobs to make ends meet, the loss of baby in the 36 week of pregnancy. She, like Serena, teaches piano lessons. I wonder if the grinding poverty and judgmentalism is the same?
This part of her bio makes me laugh:
“Lisa deeply respects her parents who sacrificed to home educate her and her sisters”
The book starts with Serena sighing and driving, thinking anew about the death of her eight year old daughter Allegra. She’s going for a job interview to be a nanny, and puzzles over the sight of a hill in Ohio. I am guessing Lisa does not know that Cincinnati was built on a series of hills, just like Rome. It’s known as the City of the Seven Hills. Plus a large swath of the state is home to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
She misses her home in New York, waxing rhapsodic about it for a page before wandering into a well groomed subdivision of big houses and perfect lawns. We get this:
“Serena felt out of place driving her rusty white clunker in this elite neighborhood.”
There is some small encounter with a fancy car and a fancy driver and we get this.
“She hoped the stranger would take notice that, despite the car’s year and decay, it was shiny clean.”
Had anyone ever really thought that way? I can say I have had horrible old cars in the past and never once worried that strangers driving by were judging me over my car. But then again I’m not very judgmental over what people drive. Particularly here where you frequently see cars over thirty years old held together with bailing wire and duct tape. It does not matter, but it sure reveals mindset.
The crazy judgmentalism of Serena starts quickly, after thinking about her own former house and picking dandelion greens for salads she looks at what sounds like a McMansion and thinks this:
“Well, they can’t provide a healthy salad for themselves whenever they desire–free of charge.”
Lots of rambling about feeling inferior for being poor, and lots of stupid jealous:
“She wasn’t poor due to lack of enterprise. She was whom God had made her to be, and she would try not to feel intimidated.”
Descriptions of the McMansion.
“…she nervously viewed the exterior of the home that reminded her of the glowing paintings in the art gallery at the mall.”
I am guessing she’s referring to those Thomas Kinkade galleries that used to flourish in malls with prints of his paintings of Victorian houses and landscapes.
She tried to interact with the gardener but he’s either really deaf or just ignoring her. There is some talk of allergies and asthma where she bemoans the fact that she’s out of medications and cannot refill for a few weeks. Followed by lots of other complaining mentally about being poor.
She finds herself in the perfect home, perfectly decorated with the perfect little woman interviewing her for the nanny job. Serena tries mightily not to cry. She throws thought shade at her new potential employer for having hussy dyed hair and she’s hired just like that.
Pages spent puzzling over how Ohioans supposedly think they are Southerns with ‘y’all’ and ‘Miss so n so’. As a Southern who has spent time in Ohio this seems so so wrong. I’ve never picked up on that. But perhaps they seem Southern compared to upstate New York. Very weird diversion.
Serena visits the cemetery and pages upon pages of her grief, grooming the grave and planting purple weeds. Then Serena heads to the INNER CITY!!!!!! OMG!!! She talks about the creepy neighbor that keeps staring at her all creepy like. She describes other neighbors thusly:
“People hung out lazily on their ramshackled porches, their cigarettes lighting the evening like diseased fireflies.”
A neighbor warns her about turning around instead of using her mirrors while driving and the only thing she could think was this:
“She was amazed that this man spoke perfect English.”
Serena freaks the heck out in the stairwell, overreacting and thinking a pack of hoodlums were coming for her and her empty pocket book until her big strong husband shows up, treats her like a frightened child, before cooking dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches. She lays on the sofa and bemoans her poor fate and her hideously swollen up varicose veined legs. And we’re out.
So much to unpack here. There is poor shaming, self hatred, racism, constant constant nasty judgmentalism, and the inability to deal with changing scenarios like an adult instead of a nervous poodle. They make the Christian life sound sooooooooooo wonderful don’t they? Awful inner thought life.
A book that is a terrible witness for what the author claims to believe in.
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