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)
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)
Hyperbole: Language that describes something as better or worse than it really is; extravagant exaggeration. Allie Brosh is THE BEST EVER!!!
Which is m...moreHyperbole: Language that describes something as better or worse than it really is; extravagant exaggeration. Allie Brosh is THE BEST EVER!!!
Which is my way of saying that I enjoyed this book. It made me laugh out loud, and sometimes even go, "huh, good point." It didn't change my life (though I've heard from other reviewers that it did so for them, or someone they know), but it was laugh-out-loud-to-the-point-of-tears on at least one occasion. So definitely worth reading and sharing. I can see how her blog would be addictive.
I'm not super into dogs, so I picked through and read all those ones together at the same time. It was a good strategy. The book doesn't need to be read in order, so I'm glad I didn't. And the not-so-funny ones are generally on the white pages, in case you want to seek out/avoid those.
I put this on my "graphic novel" shelf, but it's not really. More like an illustrated memoir. But I don't have a shelf for those, as they are not so common.
Recommend to: EVERYONE I KNOW!!! (or something.)(less)
This book was a fascinating look at Inuit / Eskimo culture and the history of their interactions with Europeans. I had no previous knowledge of these...moreThis book was a fascinating look at Inuit / Eskimo culture and the history of their interactions with Europeans. I had no previous knowledge of these people, and this story was a great way to dive in. I really enjoyed how the author had Billy Bah walk the line between the (to my modern, feminist eyes) misogynistic culture that she grew up in and her desire to follow her own path. At times she felt most comfortable being told what to do by her husband, and at other times she wanted nothing to do with him. Kirkpatrick toes this line in a very satisfying way, without making Billy Bah seem wishy-washy or one dimensional.
A heads-up for conservative readers - this book is upfront about the Inuit's sexual habits. I'm pretty cool with sexuality in books, and I still found myself a little shocked. Wife sharing? Um, isn't this a teen book? But it makes sense for their culture, and the story would not have worked without honesty about this issue. Still, it's worth an FYI.
In college I watched "Nanook of The North" for a documentary film class and memories of that film came back as I read about the "white man" misunderstanding the Inuit ways and seeking to bring them back as souvenirs, like they would a rock or a tool. I wish Kirkpatrick had asked, how do we do this still today? But that's another book for another time, I suppose.(less)
When I read YA novels about teens who are in a bad situation and further deteriorate that situation by making bad choices, I just want to shake them....moreWhen I read YA novels about teens who are in a bad situation and further deteriorate that situation by making bad choices, I just want to shake them. Usually they are oblivious and drawn into decisions by some combination of unchecked emotion and hormones. Astrid is not one of these teens, at least not by the end. Fitch very skillfully grows Astrid's character, developing her slowly enough that we don't notice and that it seems natural, but quickly enough that by the end she is exactly where she needs to be to take control of her own life.
That was what I liked best about this novel. I read some reviews that bemoaned the flowery language and imagery, but honestly I thought Fitch had it just about right. The story needed that in order to get the feel for Astrid's life with Ingrid, and how Ingrid truly did shape her, even though Astrid ended up shaping her own life.
The different foster homes and horrifying things that happened to make her need to leave those homes (esp. the first two) were borderline over the top, as well as seeming too disjointed. There was little overlap, such that I felt she could even have put "Part 1" and "Part 2" etc. between them. That felt contrived to me, which was distracting.
At times I wondered, how could someone with such an extraordinary childhood, traveling around the world like that end up in the foster care system that is so broken? But upon thinking deeper about this it's clear that it could happen to anyone. Events collide and you find yourself (or your children) at the mercy of the system. What you make out of that - rising from the ashes - is up to you. I found it very interesting seeing Astrid claim her life. Bravo to Fitch; masterfully done.(less)
I really ought to read more books like this, books that make me think and have to read slower. Because even though this book is not very long, it took...moreI really ought to read more books like this, books that make me think and have to read slower. Because even though this book is not very long, it took me a while to get through it. I think it stretched my brain in very good ways. It asked me what would I do if I had the power to change the world all at once in wide, sweeping ways. It asked, what does it mean to go with the flow of life, vs. push against it until you force change? Which is the better path? Is there a middle path?
Le Guin is obviously very smart. This might put off some readers, but this book is also readable at a plot level, if you don't want to go deeper. It was fun to read about Portland and Oregon and how things could change, also what kinds of ways a person might imagine the world differently.
I would be willing to read this again someday.(less)
Have you ever had a friend who was completely batshit crazy, but just sane enough that when you first got to know them, you thought they were sane? An...moreHave you ever had a friend who was completely batshit crazy, but just sane enough that when you first got to know them, you thought they were sane? And then as you spend more time with them, they say things that make you think, "wait, that's not right... or is it?" You get drawn into their world, agreeing just enough that you start to question your own view of reality. After all, you don't know everything. Maybe they are right?
Then one day they turn on you, and you realize what a huge mistake you made trusting them AT ALL.
That was this book for me. Or rather, the father character in this book. But in some ways, the book itself was like this too. I don't want to spoil anything, but the last two chapters were what made the book both work and not work. The beginning was intriguing, and like Donoghue's Room, were the basis for pulling in readers. But the dad seemed at first, if crazy in his methods, still mostly reasonable. It's not until Caroline begins to tell the rest of the story that you realize you had it all wrong.
It's also tragic - the ending implies that Caroline is so f*ed up she can't return to normal life, nor would she want to. She is a domesticated animal that was returned to the wild and now preys on other domesticated animals, trying to lure them to join her pack. (The part where she talks about calling out to the softball players was super disturbing, btw.)
There were things that upon further inspection were not quite right with the book. These might be spoilers, so read at your own risk. This is what I meant by the ending not working. The one that gets me the most is that in chapter 7 she tells the boy she's 13, but then she's somehow 15 or 16 in the next chapter, having gotten her GED and starting college. I understand time has passed, but there isn't enough explanation of how she spent that time alone. She's collecting her father's checks, but nobody would rent to her without an ID, I'm sure. And wouldn't the checks stop if she didn't file taxes or check in with the authorities somehow?
It's an interesting read, and if you're looking for regional work, I'd recommend it. I wouldn't call it great literature, but it's different than most things you are going to read out there, and for that reason alone it's worth reading. I read it in about 4 hours in one sitting, so it's fast, too.(less)
I think this is a good "starter" book for people who might be unfamiliar with transgendered people, and are open to hearing about their experiences. T...moreI think this is a good "starter" book for people who might be unfamiliar with transgendered people, and are open to hearing about their experiences. The photos are cute (especially the chapter that features the teen on the cover). But it doesn't really address the politics or even explain things very well. I think this is because it is the teens speaking out - teens are great at telling their own story, but they needed someone to put it all in context for us (and for them) so that it's more than just anecdotes. In hearing their stories we want to care, but are not given the tools to do something.
The use of "them" and "their" as singular forms of a personal pronoun were so annoying to me I had a hard time reading. It's true - we don't have widely known, non-gendered pronouns other than "it" which is humiliating and objectifying. So I should probably put aside my grammatical misgivings in the face of someone's desire to be treated humanely. The fact that the book doesn't really address this though is why I enjoyed it less that I might otherwise have. Why not take the time to introduce other pronouns? They are out there (or so I was told by someone else who read this).(less)
**spoiler alert** The saddest thing about this book is that in the prologue the narrator says he never comes back to see Henry again until his funeral...more**spoiler alert** The saddest thing about this book is that in the prologue the narrator says he never comes back to see Henry again until his funeral, and that he feels lost and unfulfilled in his life. When you realize that this narrator is the carefree little boy who likes to read (and has some OCD tendencies around poetry), you have to wonder what happened to him to make him so unhappy? Especially because this was introduced so early on, it sets the feeling for the whole book - one of sadness and loss, loneliness and abandonment. And yet it is really not addressed, as only Henry's story is told.
Henry is a believable character, with fears and issues that he works through in the course of the book. I would have liked to talk to someone who read this in the original Icelandic because I'm sure the language would have added to the starkness of the setting and therefore the mood of the book.(less)
I liked this, but it just didn't feel cohesive. The whole point (for me) was finding out about her dad, and it was summed up in the afterward in just...moreI liked this, but it just didn't feel cohesive. The whole point (for me) was finding out about her dad, and it was summed up in the afterward in just a few pages. It lacked a sense of closure - probably because it isn't closed!
I did like the art, especially the difference between today and her memories. And the story was always engaging, if disjointed at times. As an Oregonian, the Portland bits were great. I'm glad I picked it up. (less)
What is the difference between a miracle and a coincidence? Or a coincidence and plagiarism?
In Before I Die the main character has cancer, and a list...moreWhat is the difference between a miracle and a coincidence? Or a coincidence and plagiarism?
In Before I Die the main character has cancer, and a list of things to do, and on that list is shoplifting, oh AND she loses her virginity to someone she doesn't care about because that's on the list too, only to find the "right" boyfriend in the end. In Going Bovine the character is dying and goes through Disneyland, specifically the Small World ride. I'll admit the use of "Make a Wish" as a plot device is hardly limited, but you'll find it in The Fault in Our Stars. Another reviewer mentions Girl Saves Boy has a "save a lobster" scene in it. (I haven't actually read it myself.)
Now, I'm not accusing anyone of anything, especially because this book stands on its own merits. Specifically that it leaves you guessing until the end (I'm not going to spoil it!) but the ending was the right choice to make. It was quirky and odd, and reminded me a LOT of Going Bovine, actually, for that reason. If you have a tough time with magical realism, this is probably not the book for you.
I read this immediately following Before I Die (like, the same day... glutton for punishment!) and liked it better because there was humor in it. If you're going to die, at least have fun first, right? I can see how it would seem irreverent to some, or even not realistic because she doesn't get angry. (That's probably why I gave it three stars - she doesn't mope quite enough.)
I did not cry, surprisingly. But I don't think Cam would have wanted me to.(less)
Books about teens who are dying are automatically given weight and seriousness that other books are not. Which is why I feel like they get three stars...moreBooks about teens who are dying are automatically given weight and seriousness that other books are not. Which is why I feel like they get three stars, regardless of the writing. But I think that is also a responsibility that authors have, to treat this subject matter with the weight it deserves. Lots of authors do this - Bostic, sadly, did not. I felt she used it as merely an excuse to tell a road trip novel that doesn't actually go anywhere.
I felt like the author spent more time describing the Tacoma area than actually thinking about death. For readers from Tacoma, this can be kind of fun, in the same way that listening to Neko Case's "Thrice All American" is. But there are other ways to do this. He doesn't have to be dying. Maybe his parents are military and he's shipping out with them to Japan? Maybe it's got a sci-fi twist, and he just has a premonition he's going to die (get hit by a bus?). I get that death works as a plot device because he needs finality in order to feel capable of confronting these folks, in a way that going off to college simply isn't plausible enough of a reason. But really? Really? If you're going to do that, at least put more effort into the death part. Or leave it out entirely. Find some other way to give the reader closure.
While I'm ranting, I feel I ought to also say that I didn't really think you could do everything they did in that span of time. (Consider that a challenge. I want to see someone try.) Also, teens today don't know about Never Never Land. It's completely gone - they've torn it out. The one redeeming part was that more than one character who he confronts was like "screw you, I don't care if you're dying" which was a little more plausible than "oh my god you know everything because you are dying" false wisdom that could have characterized each interaction.
Writing books is hard. So maybe pick something a little easier to tackle for your first novel?(less)