My roommate suggested this one to me as one of her favorites, so I figured I'd give it a try. Read it in practically one go on a lazy Saturday evening...moreMy roommate suggested this one to me as one of her favorites, so I figured I'd give it a try. Read it in practically one go on a lazy Saturday evening (took about five hours). It was amusing and didn't require a whole lot of thought, which was perfect for what I was looking for (though normally would get a book a bad rating from me - I know, I'm such a snob).
A friend of mine who teaches middle school had been talking about "Theme" and this book is pretty explicit when it comes to theme. By explicit, I mean that each theme is repeated nearly verbatim by different characters. "Things happen how they are supposed to" was the best example of this. "When you get married, your spouse will have deep, dark secrets" was another theme (though not said out loud).
There were some lazy-author moments, like this one, where one character was explaining why she was on the island, and her crush "gets" her right away:
Daff looks at him in surprise. "Exactly! How did you know?" "I don't know." Michael stands up with her and climbs back on his bike. "It just seemed to make sense."
Uh huh. That was a little too easy. But that's nothing compared to the "coincidence" of Evan showing up at the end. I laughed out loud, it was so unbelievably convenient. OR IS IT KISMET?!? Yeah. That.
Anyway, it was fun and silly. I can't be too hard on it. (Too bad about all the typos in my edition, though.)(less)
Content: Benvenuto handles a sticky subject with fairness and as much objectivity and self awareness as one...moreFour stars for content, three for editing.
Content: Benvenuto handles a sticky subject with fairness and as much objectivity and self awareness as one can expect when the subject is one's own life. At first I sided with all those in "The Valley of the Politically Correct" as I think a lot of readers will. But if you stick with her and listen to her side of the story, I think you will reconsider the black-and-white of this issue.
In many ways the story is not at all about how a wife experiences her transgendered husband - it's about grief, what happens when life changes so completely, and how the people around us deal support or ignore those in pain. Reading this after a painful breakup of my own was cathartic and gave me perspective. So I think there's something in it even for those who have no curiosity about trans issues (or thought they didn't before reading this!).
Certainly Benvenuto could have given more time and explanation about the trans culture and politics, but that wasn't what this book was about. If you want that, there's plenty out there from the trans-folk point of view.
Unfortunately I nearly put the book down several times because Benvenuto's phrasing can be confusing and chaotic. She needed more editing. So many times I had to re-read a sentence or paragraph over and over to figure out what exactly she meant. It wasn't the misspellings and grammar that I usually complain about, or even the length. It was the sentence structure. (If I had more energy I'd type up a couple examples, but I don't. So you'll have to see for yourself - maybe it won't bother you.)
I'll say this - Benvenuto is a brave woman to put this story out there.(less)
This was a fun, fast-paced read. Suspenseful elements without being overdone, strong personal development of characters, a plot that was simple enough...moreThis was a fun, fast-paced read. Suspenseful elements without being overdone, strong personal development of characters, a plot that was simple enough to be believable, but nuanced enough to hook me in.
Several elements felt heavily borrowed from the Firefly series (in the space / Alliance area) and others from Harry Potter (why are the teachers wearing robes?). Fans of either might like this for that reason, or they might feel cheated. You decide.
It's best not to think too hard, because not everything makes sense (see: robes, above; also, earth fruits, lock picking skills) but the details weren't so bothersome as to distract me from enjoying the book. They're just things I'd suggest the author address (or not repeat) if she was to do a sequel.
I LOVED Going Bovine, so I was probably more disappointed with this book than I had a right to be. Bray does a good job including all the demographics...moreI LOVED Going Bovine, so I was probably more disappointed with this book than I had a right to be. Bray does a good job including all the demographics - the stereotypical beauty queens, the token "ethnic" girls, the lesbian, the deaf girl, the trans girl, even the boys. She also manages to address a whole host of issues that face teen girls - body image, assertiveness, sexuality, dating, etc. But sometimes it just felt like she was checking things off a list, making sure there was something for everyone.
The footnotes were funny at first and made the connection with "The Corporation" make sense. Unfortunately by the middle they were kind of driving me nuts. One of the things I struggled with when reading Going Bovine was the surrealism. This book had some of that, but it was surreal in the "WTF?" way that bad reality television is. And it made sense there... but here, not so much. By the end I was reading just to see how she wrapped it all up. Luckily, the DJ scene at the end sort of redeemed it for me.
Bray is a great author so I'm going to stop whining about this book. She deserves a lot more credit than I'm giving her - so don't let this review stop you from checking out one of her other books!(less)
This was a good mix of suspense and information about blindness. The action sometimes felt like it was secondary to the author's quest to educate the...moreThis was a good mix of suspense and information about blindness. The action sometimes felt like it was secondary to the author's quest to educate the reader about being blind, but since I'm not much into the "thriller" genre, that was okay with me.
In a way, I really appreciated that the main character was in trouble despite her blindness. What I mean by that is that it gave a different flavor than books that are about the experience of being blind, such as Follow My Leader or Blindsided. It was about a girl in a tough situation who has to make it out alive.
I can't give it more than three stars though, because I never felt a connection with the characters. They were each interesting enough on their own, but the plot moved too quickly for me to care about them once the book ended.(less)
I'm not sure why I avoided this book for as long as I did. I love Patchett's work, but this book just never struck my fancy when I read the cover. I'm...moreI'm not sure why I avoided this book for as long as I did. I love Patchett's work, but this book just never struck my fancy when I read the cover. I'm glad now that I picked it up.
I thought the dream sequences would put me off, but they didn't. They seemed to make sense in a world of magic, and I liked that Sabine generally didn't remember them upon waking. It was a cathartic book to read after a personal loss, as one pieces together what a relationship "really" was and whether we actually know someone we think we know.
That Patchett wrote Parsifal as a gay character, and his lover so kind and generous made the book feel more modern than I think it was when it was actually written. There are so many kinds of love in the world, and this was a beautiful rendering of its many forms. Between Parsifal's family in the midwest and Sabine's chosen family (and true parents) in LA, Sabine walks us through how these relationships affect us; how they stay strong or break in the face of great loss and trials.(less)
Impulse pick up at the library. Therefore, I had no preconceived expectations going in.
Huh. Wow. I'm not sure what to say. The beginning and end were...moreImpulse pick up at the library. Therefore, I had no preconceived expectations going in.
Huh. Wow. I'm not sure what to say. The beginning and end were surrealistic and strange enough that I was put off, but the middle was so satisfying. I wish someone else I know had read this so we could discuss, because I'm not sure what to think. I thought of it many times as I solo hiked 26 miles the following weekend after finishing it. So despite it's futuristic bent, it still resonates today.
Also amusing... ding*ding*ding my bookdar strikes again. LOL. (less)
This was a sweet book about a transgender teen in a small town. I wasn't sure I liked the switching back and forth between Emily and Claire, but only...moreThis was a sweet book about a transgender teen in a small town. I wasn't sure I liked the switching back and forth between Emily and Claire, but only because Claire's chapters were told in third person, while Emily's were not, so that felt weird. Who is this omniscient narrator? But besides that, this is one of the better trans teen books I've read. It was a pleasure.(less)
If you are looking for a fiction piece on the death penalty and the ripple effects of this sentence on the people involved in the crime (victims and p...moreIf you are looking for a fiction piece on the death penalty and the ripple effects of this sentence on the people involved in the crime (victims and perpetrators), this is a good place to start. It's not difficult to get through, written in non-technical language, and filled with emotion.
By about a third of the way through I'd guessed how the crime actually happened. I'm not sure most readers will, so I won't spoil it. I think the actual details might be another novel in itself, which made me surprised that Rakha included it. Judging from the reviews, it is likely to turn off some readers whose sympathy she had up until that point. She isn't particularly kind with non-liberals or small town folk, which I also see turning off readers who self-identify in that way.
Living in Salem, and less than a mile from the prison described, I enjoyed the geographic details Rakha included, though I could see how the description of Tab's evening run could be annoying or boring to those who don't live here.
It's a little simplistic to truly do the issue justice, but I think it's a good place to start.(less)
I was lucky enough to have a free weekend in which I could read this entire 530 page book in a 24 hour period. Woo hoo! Really enjoyable. I liked how...moreI was lucky enough to have a free weekend in which I could read this entire 530 page book in a 24 hour period. Woo hoo! Really enjoyable. I liked how the stories were interwoven, and that Doerr did not feel like he had to stick to his/hers/his/hers but also wove in others as needed to make things make sense. (Sometimes an author will pay more attention to form than function and it ruins it. Doerr avoided this - yay!)
The story felt like there was a touch of magic in it, though no mention was made beyond the superstition surrounding the stone and the "magic" of radio, which isn't magic at all but can feel like it, and I'm sure did at that time in history. I liked that, too.
It reminded me a little bit of The Book Thief, and was not too graphic for younger (teen) readers who might enjoy books set during WWII. (less)
Eh. I think going to grad school for a career type degree is different than going for an academic type degree, which is more of what this guy was talk...moreEh. I think going to grad school for a career type degree is different than going for an academic type degree, which is more of what this guy was talking about. I guess it was funny. I read it as an e-book, but kind of forgot about it. Sorry, Ruben.(less)
I think I was expecting something more along the lines of Mary Roach - science woven through a human interest story and a sociological lens. This is n...moreI think I was expecting something more along the lines of Mary Roach - science woven through a human interest story and a sociological lens. This is not that book, but it is worth it's own look, as Doyle writes this ode not so much to the heart as the doctor who saved his son's heart. It truly is a love poem, and a prayer. I'm not sure who this book was written for, but it's sweet and short and full of lists and lacking in commas or breaks and full of "heart" and so it begs to be read. Enjoy! (less)
Even as a woman with an advanced degree and some money, living in a world through which I can move relatively freely, I still have experienced some of...moreEven as a woman with an advanced degree and some money, living in a world through which I can move relatively freely, I still have experienced some of the disempowerment, fear, and being taken advantage of or being trapped that Bhima talks about. Truly, the novel was about how both women were trapped by society and fate (and men - mostly men), though in different ways. I liked how the author wove their stories together for us, revealing a little bit at a time.
I thought it was interesting how neither woman is made to comment on the other's misfortune that was revealed - Bhima does not talk about the massage she gave Sera, though it must have been a memorable experience for her as well, and Sera doesn't talk about going to the hospital when Bhima's family was there. By not doing that, it allowed each woman to keep possession of her own experiences, untainted by someone else's perspective. It enabled me to understand them on their own terms.
The last eight pages were pure magic, as Umrigar frees Bhima inside her own head. Definitely worth reading. (less)
I can't give this any stars not because it was that horrible, but because I don't know what to make of it. Reading other reviews has given me more con...moreI can't give this any stars not because it was that horrible, but because I don't know what to make of it. Reading other reviews has given me more context, and helped me sort through whether this was anti-religious, or pro-religious, or something altogether different. Not that I've come to any conclusions... but at least now I can tumble it about in my head with more input. It was confusing and disturbing and hard to slog through. I could appreciate the interweaving of the boy and the uncle's inner monologues, and how they were very similar, though they each thought they were so different. That's the best I could come up with for compliments. I imagine this book speaking to someone out there in the way that poetry and thick symbolism do - either you get it or you don't. I can't say I did, but it was just familiar enough that I appreciated trying.(less)
The plot of this book takes place over the course of a weekend (mostly) where all the parents and kids are out at the beach house. At the end of the w...moreThe plot of this book takes place over the course of a weekend (mostly) where all the parents and kids are out at the beach house. At the end of the weekend everyone goes home and says "thank God that's over". That is exactly how I felt upon completion of this book.
Maybe you have to have kids to appreciate this book. Or live in New York, or be narcissistic, or rich, or neurotic, or something that I am not. None of the characters were likable. Or if they had their moments, these were quickly washed away. The only "likable" one was the nanny, and the author's narrow portrayal of her as "good above everyone else" was as one-dimensional as the rest of the characters were petty and mean.
Fierro makes sure all demographics of conception are there. Planned, unplanned, stay at home mom, stay at home dad, young mom, lesbians, in vitro... which also seemed like a caricature. It was not diversely inclusive. It was a demographic laundry list.
Why did I keep reading? I guess I wanted to see how the train wreck would end. Thank God it was only a weekend.(less)
I was really hoping this book would have more stories and less jargon. I can read about A1C levels, shots, pumps, and so on from any variety of websit...moreI was really hoping this book would have more stories and less jargon. I can read about A1C levels, shots, pumps, and so on from any variety of websites - I don't need a book, as Amy herself wished she'd had, pre-internet. What I wanted to hear was how she integrates this into her identity and what it means. That's what makes or breaks a memoir for me - translation of experience into meaning.
Life is often meaningless, and of course I understand that there was no cosmic "reason" why Ryan got diabetes. At the same time, I have read a couple of blogs from people who tell stories about their Type 1 diabetes (see: http://sixuntilme.com/wp/2014/06/04/d... for a great example). It's a mixed bag of technical terms and heart-wrenching stories, but it's the difference between talking about your glucose level and number of units in your last dose of insulin at a dinner party, and telling the same party guests how these numbers told some greater truth: something everyone could relate to. That's what good memoir (and good story in general) does - it connects with readers who have not experienced what the author has, but can still relate on a deeper level of shared humanity.
Ryan has short bursts of this, and those made the book readable. Such as when she talks about outing herself to a colleague (or pointedly not doing so), and how that changed her relationship to herself. The strain of having to ask for help when expecting to be independent. I loved when she talked about control and how none of us are in control, whether we have diabetes or not. Unfortunately these moments were not enough for me to really enjoy this book. (It also didn't help I found a few typos... ughhh...)
I wish there were more books about type 1 diabetes out there, either memoir or fiction. Ryan takes a good stab at it (pun intended), and I hope others follow.(less)