OH MY GOODNESS. I am a WRECK. This book has torn apart my soul and put it back together again.
I have SO much to say about this book. For the first tiOH MY GOODNESS. I am a WRECK. This book has torn apart my soul and put it back together again.
I have SO much to say about this book. For the first time in a long time I want to review it so other people can just... understand what this book does to a person.
I sobbed the great awful ugly tears last night after finishing. And now, today, anytime I even START to think about this book, I start to get teary and have to stop myself. (NOT a good idea to cry and drive 80mph down the interstate... Just saying)
These people in this book seem to very REAL to me. I'm almost ANGRY that they aren't, that they are fictional and exist nowhere other than the pages and in the minds and souls of the readers.
I was pretty sure I knew how the book was going to end. I was resigned to it, expected it going into it. But then, I had HOPE. (Tricky bastard) I wanted SO BADLY for the ending I knew couldn't happen. But I WANTED it. And then, what happened was so far away from ANYTHING I had expected that I was a mess. I SOBBED. Like, held my hand over my mouth because my body couldn't contain the anguish on my own and I SOBBED.
This book is so perfectly crafted. There are layers and nuances and secrets and hidden things and nothing is quite what you think it's going to be. And the way everything comes together, the way to puzzle pieces fit is so painfully perfect, I was left devastated in it's wake. This is one of those books that's going to linger with me for a long time. A very, very long time. I don't know if I'm ever really going to recover. ...more
In my opinion, there are two types of 5 star reads out there. There are those that stay with you over long periods of time, that grow in your mind, chIn my opinion, there are two types of 5 star reads out there. There are those that stay with you over long periods of time, that grow in your mind, change and develop over time. Books that range anywhere from the liked it to the loved it range while or after reading, but weren't necessarily 5 star books until 3 months later when you realize you can't get the book out of your mind and it has changed out.
Then, there are those books that you have no idea how long they will last with you, but while you are reading, they are absolutely perfect in the telling.
This is the latter. I have no idea how long this book will stay with me, but I know it is one I will reread, and I know it is one that is simply and stunningly perfect. ...more
Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert came in the mail for me one day, completely unexpected. It was signed and shipped from Stephanie herself and I have no idea why. I searched through my emails, couldn't find any mention of the book, but it had been on my watch/tbr pile for a while, and it was signed, so I was happy and added it to the pile, waiting to be read. It waited for a couple of months before I finally picked it up.
I wish I had read it immediately.
This is one of those books that forces a person to redefine and reevaluate the way they view their world. At least, that's what it did to me. I've been waiting a while now to write this review because there is so much to be said about this book, and I don't feel at all qualified to say it.
It's a story about Kara, a teenage girl who doesn't really seem to fit in anywhere, doesn't make friends easily and doesn't deal with internal pain very well. When her best (and only friend) moves away, she has no one left but her younger brother Liam who doesn't really trust her, because they used to be close, and then she ditched him for the best friend. But they start to get closer, and then Kara meets Maya. She's confident, vibrant and flamboyant, pretty much everything Kara is not. They bond quickly and Maya takes Kara with her to Scoville Park, where she is introduced to an entirely new world and where she feels, for the first time in forever, that she has friends, that she fits in, and here, she can be cool.
But the crowd that hangs out at Scoville Park is not exactly the crowd that mommies and daddies want their kiddies hanging out with. They drink, smoke, do drugs-some 'basic' high school fair (pot) and some much, much harder (heroin and acid) and get into all kinds of trouble. But Kara, who has been secretly cutting for years to feel in control of her life finally feels like she's found a place to belong.
This leads me to the only thing about this book that I can find fault with. Every single teenage character in this book (and I do mean every single one) that gets more than two sentences of face time spends the entire novel drunk/stoned/high/strung out/tripping/hungover or some combination of them all. I know that there are some teenagers who did go through high school like that. And, it makes sense that if you are living like that, the people you hang out with are likely to be living like that too. I get it. Really, I do. But it is something so completely foreign to me, something that is as completely and totally different from my own high school (and life) experiences as you can possibly get, that I had a hard time with that. It just felt a little over the top, a little extreme.
But then again, this is coming from the girl who has never even tasted alcohol, has never picked up a cigarette, never even been tempted to try drugs. None of these are things that appeal to me. Partly because I'm supremely fond of my brain, and very aware that any and all drug use diminishes brain capacity, and also because I don't like the idea of giving up that much control to a substance. I freely admit, I need more control over my life than that.
So, although I struggled with the level of constant drug abuse, it is also such an integral part of the novel, and given what these characters experienced is so completely different from what I, or anyone I know, went through at that age, it really forced me to reexamine the way I view the world and the people in it. These characters are filled with so much pain. I wasn't always a happy person in high school, in fact the emotion I was most familiar with for most of my growing up years is anger, but I've never met a cast of characters with so much emotional turmoil before and the pain practically bleeds from the pages. But, surprisingly, somehow, there is a lot of love included in that pain. This group of friends- flawed, suffering, somewhat stupid- is there for each other, and you know that at their core, they would go through Hell to protect each other. Which is why it's all the more heartbreaking when things start to break them apart, when they start to splinter.
I read this book through a perpetual ache in my chest, wanting them to find help, wanting them to understand that there is hope in the world, a life better than drinking and drugs can offer you. Every time Kara cut herself because she couldn't handles the pressure, my heart bled along with her arms. I wanted them to want something better for themselves, to understand that each of them deserved better than what they were giving themselves.
My absolute favorite part of this book was the way Stephanie told the story. It begins with the epilogue. Kara has been gone for four years now, having left the area after a night in Scoville with her 'boyfriend' Aidan leaves her almost dead in the park from a heroin overdose. She decides it is finally time to tell her story, and so begins her Ballad. The story is told mostly by Kara, but her narrative is broken up by the Ballads, or stories of the other characters. They take a few pages to express their hurts, their pain, their suffering. They write about the life experiences that made them who they are, that brought them to their present state. And although the story on its own, Kara's story is powerful in and of itself, I believe that the heart of the story would be missing without these added narratives. There is something about hearing about these disappointments straight from the characters who experiences them that gives the story a raw honesty that really reached into me. They each titled their own story, and these short titles really capture the tone of the story, and the characters themselves. And, as if that weren't enough, Stephanie has includes a single lyric with each ballad, each new section, a lyric that captures and hints at the tone each new section, each ballad will take us through. And the lyrics are perfect, almost as if the songs themselves were written for each of these characters.
I can't express enough how much this book moved me. These characters are so incredibly real to me, so rich and raw, their stories so moving, that I don't know how you can read this book and not be touched. I don't know how you can spend time with these people and not be left with an ache in your chest because you know there are people like them in real life, suffering, waiting, heading toward death or a life full of nothing. I ache for them. Still. It's been over a month since I read this book and I still find my heart aching every time I think about this book, every time I glance at my bookshelf and see the spine. This is an important book, and it doesn't get nearly the attention and love that it deserves. People, this book needs to be read. So what are you waiting for? Go do it....more
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John is easily one of the best books I have read all year. It's so layered, so complex and I can't get over how amazed I was by this book. My very first reaction after finishing this book was to say (out loud) Oh My LOVE! Antony has created this rich and emotional story filled with real people. I read this book back in March and am only just now writing my review because for the first time ever, I am at a loss for words to adequately describe how I'm feeling about a book. I've started and deleted this review more times than I can count, and it's taken me a lot of tries to get something out there that I think *might* do justice to this phenomenal story.
Nothing about Piper's story is ever simple or easy. She's the only deaf person in her family, her father has refused to learn sign language (he has his reasons, but ultimately leaves Piper feeling like he's ashamed of her and thinks she's broken), her best friend (also deaf) has just moved because her school district just cut their deaf programs due to budget cuts (and Piper's family moved into an area a bit above their income level so Piper could have those deaf programs) her dad got laid off. Oh, AND her parent's took money from Piper's personal college fund so that her baby sister, also born deaf, could have a cochlear implant, which makes it so she can hear. And that is what leads the deaf girl to become the manager of the band called Dumb.
Talk about confusing. How is Piper supposed to feel about any of that but especially her parents?! She can't really be angry at them, even though they stole from her, because that would make her cruel and selfish, not wanting her baby sister to be able to hear. But it makes Piper feel worse, because they spend so much time cooing over new baby ears that it makes Piper feel even more like they (dad especially) are ashamed of her, and think she's something to be fixed or 'normalized' if possible. But really- How do you make that kind of decision without even telling your daughter that you have just taken away any chance she had of attending her Dream college, so that the baby doesn't have to be like her. OUCH. I was so pissed at her parents. Seriously. SO pissed. But at the same time, it was obvious that, even with all their struggles and problems, her parents really and truly did love her. Piper had a real family- they fight, sometimes everyone thinks everyone else kinda sucks, they have issues, nothing is perfect but they love. I think that this is exactly what is missing from most YA books right now. So many books have that crappy YA family where the parents suck or are neglectful or whatever. But this is far more realistic. Families have problems, but most families are tied together by this strong bond of love and all anger aside, Piper had that. Sometimes it's murky, sometimes she doesn't really feel it, but it's always there and it's mutual.
My heart went out to Piper. But then, I kinda got over it. Because Piper became, well Piper! The high schools awesomely hot new band, who just won a big competition, play an impromptu concert on the school steps and Piper finds herself entranced. At first, she's just caught behind a crowd of kids, trying to ignore the awkward stares of people watching the deaf girl 'listening' to a band, but something about the energy becomes contagious and Piper gets swept up in it. And then in what was probably more of a pissing contest, but becomes something very real and desperate to Piper (after realizing she now her no college fund) Piper becomes the manager of this band and has to try to help them make it big. Imagine the challenge of that! It boggles my mind.
I just... I can't even begin to describe how much this book made me think. I spent so much time thinking about Piper and her friends, and the people in this band. She learns so much from this experience, about life, about people and family, about music (umm, helloooo awesome tour of Seattle's rock stars' homesteads!) and she also learns a lot about herself. And it was brilliant. Watching Piper grow both as herself and in relation to everyone around her was just so... amazingly intense. It's one of my favorite things about reading Contemporary. That growth is real. It doesn't need some great quest to develop. It's just a teenager, living her life, trying to make the most of the hand she's been dealt and when you take life and learn it's just perfect.
And I loved that every single character in this book is fleshed out, multi-dimensional and just flat out real. These characters could be real people. I want to search for their band's performance on Youtube and write them fan mail. Even the characters that at first glance appear to be those stereotypical fill-in-the-gaps characters are so much more than that. A lot of the characters first appearances make you think they are going to be flat, but as you get to know them through Piper, a lot of misconceptions leave and you realize there is so much more to these people (and, consequently to every people, in real life too) than immediately meets the eye, and you miss out on a lot if you just take everyone at face value. I was going to say a little something special about each of the characters, but decided that would take too long in an already long and kinda rambling review, so I am just going to tell you that they rock out loud & that you need to go read the book to figure out why.
There was really nothing missing from this novel and it's one that I want to read again and again. I have a feeling that there is more to be learned from this book every time you read it and I want that experience, I want to be able to experience this story over and over. I know that there were some things about the book that felt a little underdeveloped right after I finished reading the book, threads that I didn't think were used to their full potential, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were or why. All I feel now is this overwhelming sense of love and feeling like I need to convince everyone else to read this book (which, BTW, in true Ashley style, I have done :) ) So while the book might not be 'perfect' it's pretty darn close to it and it's one that is just amazing.
I also have to mention, very briefly, that ending. Oh my goodness, did that scene give me chills!! Seriously. I just sat there soaking in the awesome and wishing, wishing so hard that it could have been real because I just so wanted to be there when it happened! But alas. I had to settle for rereading the scene immediately after finishing the book. :) In the notes I wrote to myself, I called it- Rockin' awesome, and I still think that's a perfect description.
I'm still afraid, even after having written this whole review that I haven't done it justice, that I haven't been able to convince anyone to read it. So let me just reaffirm that this is a book worth reading. I can't imagine trying to deal with what Piper is facing but she's such a strong character. She grows a lot as a person and becomes so much more confident in herself. She doesn't like to draw attention to herself because she's different in a very noticeable and obvious way but by the book, she's more comfortable in her skin, more willing and able to let her opinion be known. I loved Piper by the end of this book and it makes me legitimately sad to think that there are people who are never going to meet her or these other wonderfully rich characters. I can't think of a single person I would hesitate to recommend this too. So what are you waiting for?! Go read it!...more
I read Saving Francesca earlier last year, but hadn't gotten around to reviewing it, mostly because I was afraid all that would come out was a big LOVE! But then, I saw some news that made me spaz out a little bit... She wrote a sequel. That happens five years later, and is told by Tom, who was my favorite of the male characters in Francesca's story. Seriously... I did myself a little squeal and dance and started breathing funny. So when I had the chance to sign up for an ARC tour, of the sequel, I took it. Which meant I had to quickly review the first. So I did. Then I read this book. And, sigh. Here I go again with that great big LOVE!
The Piper's Son is Tom Mackee's story, and the years between now and the end of Francesca's story have not been kind to him. His family is disintegrating, Tom is unraveling, he has no idea how to stop it, and he's basically given up on everything. Two years ago, Tom's favorite Uncle moved to London to teach, and was killed by a bomber on the train. And everything has completely fallen apart since then.
As I mentioned above, Tom was my favorite of the guys we met in Saving Francesca. I was so excited to learn that this would be his story, but just reading the blurb broke my heart a little, because I knew Tom was going to be really suffering throughout the whole book. In Saving Francesca, it's clear that there is a lot more depth to Tom than Francesca and the others believe. He has a huge capacity for love, which means there is also a lot of space for pain. And in the last two years, all that love is drowning in the pain Tom can't escape from. So he ignores it. He spends him time lazing around, mostly stoned out of him mind. He has no liking or respect for the people he lives with, but they have cheap beer and access to drugs, so whatever.
After a chain of events where even Tom begins to realize that he's let things get out of control for too long, things start to change. He gets a job, starts (sort of) talking to Francesca and Justine again, and after a time starts sending Tara emails. She's living in another country at this point, and given their history, he's pretty sure she doesn't actually want to hear from him. But these emails to her become cathartic and he can't seem to stop sending them. He's able to tell her things in an email that he can't hardly face yet, and it begins to slowly heal him, as do the interactions with his former friends, and moving in with his aunt.
The family scenes were the hardest to read. Marchetta is such a gifted writer that it doesn't take much for the pain to start pouring off the pages. There is so much anger, grief and betrayal floating around that family that it is hard to see how they've stuck together for so long. But, there is undeniably also a lot of love, and that is what holds them together past all the hurts. It's almost palpable.
The only complaint I have with this story is the absence of Jimmy. He was such a fun character to read about before, and he is kind of who brought the group together. Things would not have been the same without Jimmy, and I definitely felt his absence. I understood that he was working on his own issues, but I missed him! Maybe Marchetta will write his story next. (Ahem... Please. Thank you)
Marchetta has definitely earned herself a place on my favorites list. She is a stunningly brilliant writer. Her characters are real and they are raw. They all have their faults, their inconsistencies within themselves, but they also each contain good qualities. There is never any doubt in my mind that these people whose lives I am reading about are real. They exist, they, hurt, they laugh, they cry, they bleed. And I will love them always....more
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly is a vivid and captivating book filled with feeling. If you haven't yet read anything by Donnelly, I seriously think you are missing out, and I strongly recommend you fix that. Now.
Revolution is the story of Andi, an intelligent, talented girl who should have her whole future ahead of her. She's always been smart, has done well in school and is a gifted musician- able to play guitar and write her own music. But, her younger brother died in an accident about a year ago and Andi blames herself. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, Andi loses focus on everything but her music. Her mom is immobilized by grief, scarcely able to function, and her dad, who has never been around much, retreats even further.
When her father forces her to accompany him to Paris, as a way to rescue her slipping grades, Andi is angry and can think of nothing more than getting back to New York. But then she discovers a journal, hidden in a guitar case that might date back to the French Revolution, and her world changes.
I was blown away by this book. The writing is intense and powerful, and Andi's pain practically screamed from the pages. Her depression and detachment from life was so real, and so perfectly portrayed that I found myself experiencing everything right along with her. But even more than just experiencing it with her, Andi was so well written, and so real a character to me that I found myself knowing how Andi would feel or react to a situation as it happened, before we, as readers, were given her reaction. I knew her. I don't think I've ever felt such a strong connection to a character before, but it was thrilling.
The only thing that really reaches Andi is her music and this is where she goes when life becomes too much for her, often playing her guitar until her fingers bleed. She is constantly listening to music, both classical and contemporary and she lets that heal the outward hurt. Nothing can touch that empty place inside her, but she seems content to let that fester, although that 'contentment' might be more a side effect of the anti-depressants she eats like candy than anything real on her part.
It was powerful watching Andi struggle between life and death, both metaphorically and realistically. There is more than one aborted suicide attempt, and they start right at the beginning of the story. She isn't sure if she wants to die, but she also isn't sure she wants to continue living.
Her experiences in Paris help to open her eyes to life, and help her to understand that although her grief will always be a part of her, it does not have to completely define her. Both the journal she discovers of a young girl living through the French Revolution, and Virgil, a boy she met while joining a local band for a few songs help to bring Andi back from the depression she's been drowning in.
I liked the sections with the journal. It was well written and engaging, but Alexandrine was never a real person for me the way she was for Andi, and the way Andi was for me. I don't mean to be derogatory toward them at all, because they are an essential part of the story, and still beautifully written. But, they were always sections of a journal, fascinating, but removed from me. I doubt I would have paid as much attention to this if my connection to Andi hadn't been so strong.
Virgil was wonderful. Although he doesn't have a lot of actual face time throughout the story, he is in no way a minor character, but neither is he the focus of the story, which was nice. (I'm a little bored with the books right now that seem to be all about the romance, even when other points should be more important. Virgil was great and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop. It was pretty realistic. They met, and are attracted to each other. Andi does think about him a lot over the next few days, but isn't obsessed, and doesn't believe herself to be in love. He's just on her mind, because it's a new-almost relationship.
This book was almost perfect. The only reason I'm not calling this book Basically Amazing is because of climax. It's the part of the summary that reads, "on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present." Take from that what you will/what you can. I won't spoil it for you. I had my thoughts on what that might mean when I picked up the book, and was a little disappointed to realize which of my theories was correct. It didn't work quite as well for me as the rest of the story.
However, Andi is one of the strongest characters I've ever come across, and this is most definitely a book I'm going to have on my 'keep forever' shelf. It deserves to be read again and again, because I imagine there will be new things waiting for me every time....more
This is kind of a hard book for me to review. Because really, I just want to spout out random parts of this book that make it so great before just sighing at you and telling you to go read it yourself, because it's kind of a book that just needs to be experienced. But, I won't just blabber on at you.
So Room. It's narrated by Jack, a sweet, smart and charming just turned 5 year old whose whole world are the four walls of Room and it's contents. The only person he's ever seen or spoken to is Ma, although Old Nick is probably real too (but not real real).
I was very impressed with Jack and his voice. I've spent a lot of time around little kids at all stages of life and development, and most of the time, Jack is very much a five year old. The connections he makes, and the way he forms understandings is very typical of five year olds, as is the way he names things. Each wall is named (Door Wall etc), he sleeps in Wardrobe, eats at Table, etc. He does have a rather extensive vocabulary, but to me, that makes perfect sense. Ma has only Jack to talk to all day, and let me tell you- Baby talk gets old really fast. Ma mentions at one point that Jack has already heard every story that she knows, which means they talk a lot, and Jack is surrounded by words. Numerous studies have shown that children who grow up hearing language regularly will learn to speak earlier and will speak properly faster than kids who are rarely spoken to and/or who only hear the adults speak in that babbling baby talk. They also play the 'parrot game' which I loved.
I was impressed with Ma. That would be insanely hard. I can't imagine what it would be like, first to be taken from my home and family and trapped in a small 11x11 room with the only visitor being the creepy older man who kidnapped and rapes me, but to add onto that a baby?! I don't know if I could have done it. And, she's done an admirable job raising him given her circumstances and her resources. That takes a very strong woman, and even though she wasn't perfect (really, who is) she did a good job and she tried so hard. The only thing I could never figure out was why she didn't escape. I know that sounds harsh/unrealistic, especially given the state of the room she was trapped in. But the door was locked using a number keypad, one on the outside, and one on the inside. If I knew I was going to be trapped for an indefinite period of time, I'd start pushing buttons. What else are you going to do?! Or listen to the number tones and try to figure out which he pushes each night. I kind of think she could have done something. But, that's a small thing.
Overall, I was very impressed with this book. There were parts I didn't like, especially in the second half of the book, but for the most part, I loved it. I loved the word sandwiches and the way that Jack tried to take all the new information and assimilate it into ways he already understood. Overall, this is a book that makes you think, makes you wonder and makes you want to hug your kids a little closer. It's a strong book with a strong core of goodness to it. This is a book I would read again, just to hear Jack's voice.
I read this book at work. Which was a bad idea. Made me CRY. SO amazing. SO good. Seriously. Perfect. Realistic characters, believable actions and reaI read this book at work. Which was a bad idea. Made me CRY. SO amazing. SO good. Seriously. Perfect. Realistic characters, believable actions and reactions and such a story of love and hope, pain and grief, life, love, fear and all the things that make life worth living.
*Update* I just listened to this one on audio book. I really quite liked the author's narration, but this is one time where I felt a lot of the emotional impact (for me) was lost. Still a fabulous book, one that I would definitely recommend, but the audio was just... not a favorite....more
Where She Went by Gayle Forman is the highly anticipated sequel to If I Stay, one of the best books I read last year. (click to read my review)
If I Stay was amazing. If I let myself, I could go on and on about that book, but I've already written that review, so I'm going to limit myself to one adjective. If I Stay is one of those books with characters that seriously move you and become real to you. You hurt with them, feel with them, love, cry, and bleed with them. So, I'm not even a little embarrassed to admit that when I found out Gayle Forman had written a sequel from Adam's POV 3 years later, I made some really interesting noises, jumped up and down a little bit, and had to take a break from my computer because I couldn't get my heart rate down. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this is/was my most highly anticipated novel of 2011.
Antony John, the author of Five Flavors of Dumb hosted a giveaway on his site for a copy of his novel and his ARC of Where She Went. Not gonna lie- I freaked out a little bit. I got my #1 most anticipated book along with a book I've heard nothing but good things about and had been interested in reading. Made of Awesome! So thanks Antony for giving me a copy, and thanks Gayle for writing such great stuff. Now, I'm going to tell you why I loved it. Also- I'm going to assume, if you are reading my review, that you have already read If I Stay, and this review is full of spoilers for If I Stay. (Actually the existence of a sequel is a spoiler, but I digress.)
Although this was my highly anticipated book, I was a lot scared of it. I loved If I Stay, and I thought the story was perfect as it was. I didn't think it needed anything else. What if the sequel wasn't as good? What if it ruined the way I viewed Adam and Mia?! The synopsis tells us that they aren't together anymore, and that Adam has a girlfriend. Who is not Mia. After I got this book in the mail, I stared at it for a few days, scared to open it in case my expectations and hopes were dashed into the dirt. How can you top a story like If I Stay?!
The answer? You don't. You just finish the story. Where She Went is Adam's story. On the outside, Adam's life is perfect. He's got the rich and famous rocker lifestyle, complete with gorgeous girlfriend, but he is miserably unhappy and suffers from some serious anxiety about crowds. He hasn't talked to Mia in years, and everyone knows better than to bring her up around him. This is the story about what happens when fate gives them a possible evening together, and they decide to take it.
Where She Went does not have the emotional impact of If I Stay. It can't. If I Stay is Mia trying to decide if she is going to live or die, and Where She Went is dealing with the aftermath of that decision, and Mia and Adam's break-up. But the magic of both these books is not the situation our characters find themselves in, but the characters themselves. The connection I shared with them as a reader was so strong I knew how they would react or feel as they did. I felt with them.
It was so interesting being inside Adam's head this time around, and I feel like that is the real strength of the novel. He is still struggling with his role in bringing her back, only to lose her. He promised her that if she would live, he would let her leave him if she needed to, as long as she was alive in the world, somewhere. But, I don't actually think that he believed she would. So when she does, he takes it really hard. Which is, ironically, when he wrote the music that made his band such a success.
Where She Went is told in the same style as If I Stay. We only hear what Adam is thinking, the story takes place entirely in one evening, and a lot of the details are supplied by relevant and revealing flashbacks. This is how we learn why Mia left and what their lives were like after the accident. And, it's not really a pretty picture. Things have been rough for them.
Mia's story was scary in it's simplicity. Everything in her story pivots around one crucial event, one major decision- My family is gone, do I stay, or do I go? Adam's story is more complex. Outwardly, his life should be perfect but he's a mess. And people are not quite as understanding or empathetic that you miss your high school girlfriend as they would be about missing your entire family. Although, as I mentioned before, this story can't have the same emotional impact as If I Stay did, the emotion is definitely there, and the story is more complex, more layered. Adam has more he has to deal with than Mia did, and he handles stress in very different (often unhealthy) ways.
I could talk your ear off (or eyes...) about this book all day long. But, to at least appear/pretend that I know how to be concise, I'm going to leave you with the knowledge that this book is wonderfully brilliant and the perfect follow up to If I Stay. Nothing else would have worked for Mia and Adam. Love it or hate it, this was undeniably their destiny and I loved being there to watch them fulfill it....more
This story is beautiful. I want to find someone who loves me this much to share my life with. The story itself is good enough to merit the 5 stars, buThis story is beautiful. I want to find someone who loves me this much to share my life with. The story itself is good enough to merit the 5 stars, but it is also a special story from my growing up years. My grandpa loved to tell this story and I heard it from him growing up long before I learned who O. Henry was. This story never fails to bring back many great memories of my childhood and my most beloved grandpa. ...more
This book is perilously close to a full 5 stars. Because I can't decide, I am for now, instead going to give it a glowing review and demand that you jThis book is perilously close to a full 5 stars. Because I can't decide, I am for now, instead going to give it a glowing review and demand that you just go out and read the book.
The weakest part of this book and one reason it isn't getting an automatic 5 stars is the prologue. I feel that Ms. Marriott tried to tell us too much about her world all at once, by alternately giving the reader way more information about the happenings of this world than we can currently handle and casually tossing out words, phrases and ideas that should have an explaination but don't. Oh, that's right. We all worship a glowing blue fire goddess called The Mother...
Anyway, I understand the desire to introduce your readers quickly and fully into the world you have created, but I do think this time, it could have been better.
That being said, I LOVED this book. Zira/Zihira is scarred. Not an interesting mark in her hairline, or a clever little rose spot on her cheek. No. She has a huge, horribly noticable burn scar that almost completely covers one whole side of her face. It almost cost her the eye. Magically (thank you fire goddess...) she can see. (No worries- it isn't really a spoiler, it's all talked about in the prologue). Oh ya, and she totally kicks trash. She is like, fer real hard core. When I was younger I wanted to be a ninja. (Who am I kidding... I STILL want to be a ninja) If I couldn't be a ninja, I totally wanted to be an indian warrior princess. This girl has got it going on! She gets to be it all! A hidden princess (not quite indian, but there are 2 differing ethnicities acting together here) and she can fight you and win. Bam, smack down! I love that Marriott is able to write a truly strong heroine here who doesn't apologize for what she has to do, or what she has become. Once she realizes who she really is (the true ruler of her people) she faces up to the challenge and makes the really tough decisions no one else seems able to make. And she sticks with them.
Then, there is Sorin. Who doesn't like this guy? He seems pretty down to earth definitely a guy I'd like to meet. And, I love that Marriott doesn't take the easy way out with his character. After the midnight mess (no details, sorry... I don't want an actual spoilers here... Just read the book!) it would have been so easy for Sorin to experience no long term effects, but given the nature of the incident, it would have been unlikely, and would have cheapened the event. So, she didn't. She let the story take it's natural and logical course, made Sorin's character grow and expand around that and I think the story is stronger and more meaningful because of that.
Oh, and her Uncle, the King. Lets no forget about him, shall we. He is creepy. And yet, I pity him. And not in the way you pity villians because they are just such pathetic maggots that there is no emotional response left available to you. No, I pity him because his character deserves the soft hearted genuine pity one gives to someone who has utterly lost their way, truly desires to find it again, but knows- as do you- that there is no redemption left for them. A truly great villian, because there are moments of humanity and heart that shine out through the depravity and darkness.
Most of the supporting side characters are just as fun as those taking the spotlight. Although many of them aren't fully developed and don't get a lot of 'screen time' I left the book feeling like I knew them and that in the event that I needed them, they would have my back. (Sigh... It's gonna really suck when I'm in an awful position, in imminent danger expecting Deo or even Rashna to come riding to my rescue, only to realize... Oh ya, they aren't real here.)
The only other complaint I had with this book- (Stop reading if you don't want a mild spoiler that may or may not ruin a moment for you...) Although they initially married for convinience and the sake of the kingdom, it is obvious to readers (and those who haven't gotten that far yet, because, come on... What else would happen here) that the pair, Zahira and Sorin fall in love, real love, happily ever after love, with each other. But, neither one actually ever says the word to the other. The closest Sorin comes is once to call her, My love. I for one, would have liked the verbal affirmation. Especially at the end. They both probably know how the other feels, but who doesn't like to hear that every once in a while.
Suffice it to say that this book was wonderful. I loved the characters. Zahira is a strong character. She is of the best kind, because she begins being strong in body and stable of mind and when the story ends, she is still physically strong (although perhaps more aware of her own mortality) but she is now incredibly strong mentally and emotionally and she relies more heavily on who she is. ...more
Saving Francesca is the second book by Melina Marchetta that I have read, and I must say- I'm reasonably certain that this woman is completely brilliant. The only reason that this book isn't 'Basically Amazing' is because I read Jellicoe Road first. And that book, well... That book simply blew my mind.
Francesca is having a really bad year. She has attended the same all girls school for years, but it is only for girls up to year 10. All of her friends are going to one school, while Francesca has to go to St. Sebastians, which used to be an all-boys school and they think that just because they gave the few girls who now attend their school their own bathroom, that makes them co-ed. If that wasn't bad enough, her mom, who has always been full of life, energy, ambition, and action no longer even gets out of bed. Her dad doesn't know how to handle it and her younger brother is scared, and Francesca is scared too, and depressed. It definitely doesn't help that she doesn't have any friends at this school, and that the few girls she recognizes from her old school are all... weird.
Tara is the loud mouthed feminist demanding equality in everything on campus. Sibhoan was Francesca's best friend in year 7 (I think), but they haven't been friends for a while, and everyone is pretty sure Sibhoan is a bit of a tramp. Justine is nice, but strange. She's a musician, and she plays the accordion. Then, there's Will. She's not quite sure how she feels about him, but he's definitely attractive, even if he can be a bit of a jerk. But, there's definitely a something there. Then, a couple boys in her year, Jimmy and Thomas (Tom) start popping up, and she can't seem to get away from anyone.
This book is awesome. Marchetta really knows how to write a book and give you amazing characters that you are rooting for. What I had previously heard about this book made it sound almost light-hearted. I knew that Francesca was in need of saving, but thought that had more to do with being one of a very few girls in what used to be an all boys school. The blurb on the book wasn't very informative, and really, I picked this one up because I so loved Jellicoe Road and wanted to see if this author was a really great writer, or if Jellicoe Road was just a one time deal. And people, it wasn't. Marchetta is awesome!
The depression was handled very well. Francesca's mom just can't do it anymore. She can't get out of bed, doesn't want to eat and is so completely unlike herself that no one knows what to do. And it really weighs on Francesca and for most of the novel, she is really depressed as well, although she is still functioning, and she puts a brave face on.
Although the story is done wonderfully, what really makes this book shine is the characters. Every single character in this book was well developed. I cannot think of a single stock character. Everyone had their own parts to their story, their personality and their role in Francesca's life, and I loved them all. Although, I am going to admit that even by the end, I wasn't completely won over by Will. He's a good guy, but I'm not yet totally convinced that he's great. Love them or hate them, each of the characters had an their own unique and important part to the story. Some of the characters add to her depression, many of them are doing what they can to lift it, and others don't even notice.
Francesca has been insecure about a lot of things for a while, in large part due to the stifling effects of her former 'best friends'. It was one of the constant points of contention between her and her mother, while her mother was still a powerhouse of whirlwind energy. The new group of friends that Francesca joins up with help pull her out of that insecure place, and I loved watching her grow into her skin, accept herself, and totally rock it. I also loved learning about their previous family dynamic, how close everyone was with each other, even when they fought, and how much Francesca loved and cared for her younger brother. It was hard watching them suffer with their current situation, and struggle to get back to where the used to be. That is something that it took the family a long time to learn. Even if mom does start getting out of bed again, things are never going to be the same as they were before. There is always going to be a difference.
There was one scene, at the end of the novel where everything becomes too much for Francesca, and she 'overloads'. I won't give you details, because this is a critical part of her story, but my heart was racing in my chest and caught in my throat as I waited to see what she would do, and how she would handle herself. Those girls and guys that she spent the beginning of the story at a casual distance to become an extended part of her family. If everyone could have friends like these to support and care for them, and a family that, overall, really is there for them the way that Francesca's family is there for both her and her mom, I think the world would have a lot less problems, and people would be a lot less dysfunctional.
There are really powerful messages of friendship, family, trust and love contained in these pages. I almost don't like the cover of this novel, because it, like the back excerpt, imply a light-hearted read when in reality, this book is so very much more.
Seriously people, do yourselves a favor, and read this book....more
I do want to add though, about this book in particular, that love it or hate it, it was right. I personally loved it and I thought Katniss was perfect in this book. So many people were disappointed, because she seemed to have lost a lot of that spunk and fire that was SO solidly Katniss in previous novels, but think about what her last two years have been like. It's called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder people, and honestly, if Katniss had remained the same and had not show any signs of an internal struggle? I would have been VERY disappointed. So, say what you will about how Katniss isn't as spunky as she used to be. Killing people and watching people you care about DIE in front of you (sometimes FOR you) kinda kills the spunk... ...more
Huh... I don't know what to say about this book. But it was brilliant. Absolutely wonderful. I was late getting back from my lunch break today because I couldn't put the book down, and now I want to curl up with it again to revisit the writing, and read it all again with the ending in my mind from the beginning to make all possible connections, and fully understand what is going on here within the story.
There were a few things that I wish had been expounded on a little more, but overall I think Re Stead did a marvelous job with the story, and I would love to read it again and revisit the ideas and the world that are created within these pages. I wish that there had been a little more depth given to some of the periphery characters and their interactions with Miranda, but overall I thought it was very well done. Marcus has got to be one of my new favorite literary characters. And, I liked parts of him the whole time, but really grew to like him when he finally gave his explanation to Miranda. He just lives by such different rules than most of the world, and I love that. I really liked him. I just feel that he is a very real character, and I really want to get to know him.
This book was fantastic- it left me wanting more of the story, yet it filled all the empty places. I don't know if that makes much sense, other than it was close to perfect. It was everything it needed to be, and I wanted more time with the characters. Simply wonderful. This is a book that is really close to 5 stars, and may very well become 5 stars after a reread. *** Update- I reread it- definitely 5 stars now! ...more
I read and loved this book growing up. It was one of my favorites, and I read it over and over again! There are so many great memories surrounding thiI read and loved this book growing up. It was one of my favorites, and I read it over and over again! There are so many great memories surrounding this book!...more
Brilliant. I don't have the words to do justice to this book. It was beautifully written with so much passion and feeling behind every word, each phraBrilliant. I don't have the words to do justice to this book. It was beautifully written with so much passion and feeling behind every word, each phrase and every telling of the various parts and pieces that make up this story. I don't know how to describe how it made me feel, other than to say this book was utterly, completely and totally brilliant. ...more