6 Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation: From ‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret’ to ‘The Tie That Binds’

Six degrees of separation logo for memeIt’s the first Saturday of the month, which means it’s time to participate in Six Degrees of Separation!

This book meme is hosted by Kate from booksaremyfavouriteandbest. Every month Kate chooses a particular book as a starting point. The idea is to create a chain by linking to six other books using common themes.

This month the starting point is…

‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret’ by Judy Blume (1970)
I have fond memories of reading this as a teenager (so obviously not reviewed here). The story of a late developer who is concerned about boys and periods and fitting in and going to a new school, it’s one of my favourite novels from childhood. Another favourite book from childhood is…

Watership Down

‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams (1972)
This is an anthropomorphised take on the rabbit world. It charts what happens to a community of rabbits when their warrens are destroyed. The rabbits have a language all their own; it is that language that fascinated me most when I read this book aged 13. Another book about animals and language is…

‘The Animals in that Country’ by Laura Jean McKay (2020)
This wholly original story is about a virus raging throughout the community which allows infected humans to understand what animals are saying. It’s not exactly a pleasant experience. Another book set during a pandemic is…

‘Nemesis’ by Philip Roth (2011)
Set in Newark, New Jersey during the summer of 1944, this is a gripping account of the polio epidemic as seen through the eyes of one man. This incurable infectious disease, which caused paralysis in infants and children, wreaked much fear and heartache around the world until a vaccine was developed in the mid-1950s. Another book about polio is…

The Golden Age by Joan London (Europa edition)
‘The Golden Age’ by Joan London (2015)
This gently nuanced novel is set in 1954 and follows a cast of characters with links to a children’s convalescent home for polio patients in Perth, Western Australia. It’s based on a real-life outbreak that was so bad that an impending visit by The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh had to be seriously curtailed. Another book set in Western Australia during the post-war period is…

‘Finding Jasper’ by Lynne Leonhardt (2012)
This debut novel highlights the immediate and long-term impact of the death of a World War Two Australian fighter pilot — the Jasper of the title — on three women (his wife, sister and daughter) left behind. His sister, Attie, is a strong, self-reliant, independent woman who just gets on with things, running a farm in harsh terrain and a difficult climate, without any male help. Another book about a woman running a farm is…

‘The Tie That Binds’ by Kent Haruf (1984)
In Haruf’s debut novel we met Edith, a woman who is born on a farm in the high plains of Colorado, and spends her entire life on it, never having had the opportunity to marry or even leave home. It’s a beautifully rendered tale that shows how circumstances “fixed” her and her brother, Lyman, to live quiet, some might say dull, lives under the thumb of a cruel man from whom they could not escape.

So that’s this month’s #6Degrees: from a story about teen angst to a story about agricultural angst, via talking animals, pandemics, life in Western Australia and farming. Have you read any of these books? 

Please note, you can see all my other Six Degrees of Separation contributions here.

22 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From ‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret’ to ‘The Tie That Binds’”

  1. I’m pleased to see that there’s a Roth you did like! Nemesis really ‘spoke’ to me, because I remember children in my childhood who were disabled by it, and (to my enduring shame) how I feared that. Roth really captures that sense of fear…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For some reason I get Roth and Updike mixed up in my mind, so when I saw your comment I was like “but I have read a Roth I like!” And then I realised it wasn’t Roth at all; it was Updike. 🤷🏻‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve only ever read one Updike, and that was Terrorist, which I thought was a very courageous book. I’ve got the famous Updikes on the TBR, I just haven’t got round to reading them yet.


    1. Because polio is now virtually eradicated thanks to a vaccine (that took decades to develop) it’s hard to believe that it caused so much fear and angst for so long. I worked with an older chap who was wheelchair bound thanks to contracting polio as a child. I remember him telling me that vaccination was a modern miracle witnessed in his lifetime. He could not comprehend the anti-vaxxer movement because he had experienced first hand the effects of a crippling disease. Why would people choose not to protect themselves from it?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe she can send it to you when she’s finished! It’s a truly original tale… and one that’s stuck with me. I can’t look at dogs or birds or any animal for that matter the same way again…

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I read Nemesis during lockdown and it comforted me to know how people react to pandemics, so while it seems like a scary concept to read right now I actually found that it helped me comprehend what was going on and how people react when they don’t have all the facts at their fingertips.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No, I really really can’t manage a pandemic reading list just now. even though there are some fine authors here. I’ve already read the Kent Haruf though,. What a fine writer. And it’s not pandemic-related either!


    1. I think most people missed Haruf’s first novel — and probably his second, too. I only discovered it after I read The Plainsong Trilogy…and had to order it online. It’s definitely worth reading. (I was less impressed by his second novel.)

      Liked by 1 person

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