Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Book Review: The Effects of Light

The Effects of Light by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

I read many books a year and thought I'd share a few with you as I finish them and think on them. Some books are just reading books for me, "trash novels" I call them, not that they are trash but just a filler and not a book that has any meaning to me. This particular novel made me think.

There were two sisters, Myla and Pru, who were raised by their father since their mother's death when Pru was an infant. He was an academic in Oregon and was very much "into" himself and his philosophical tangents.

Enter a family friend/photographer, Ruth. She started shooting the girls when they were very young. Many/most of her photos of them include nudity, innocently taken, not as pornography.

Through the years, the pictures gain national attention through Ruth's exhibits and their pictures are given the black mark for containing nudity.

For me, this book was a walk through Myla & Pru's self discovery of themselves, their bodies, other people's perceptions (and thus their reality). Myla dives into her father's life after his death, does some real soul searching herself through destructive behavior (drinking) and through love - real love, true love.

I had to think about the effects of such pictures: their beauty, downfall and rising again. Were the pictures wrong? Did Ruth go too far? What was the father's role in this? Is there something wrong with taking pictures of our bodies, of our children's? What if we have permission? Does nudity = porn? Is it only porn if someone else views it as such? Is it bad if someone else says it is? Is there a fine line with pictures and if so, how fine? Could I cross it myself, unaware? What about the baby pictures in the sink and tub? What about my girls when they were young playing in the sprinkler without shirts on... and I took a picture. If it got in the wrong hands and someone "liked it", would that picture become black? I don't know. I do know I was challenged in my thinking and beliefs and because of that, I have say it was a good read.

Available at most public libraries and on-line.

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