quick listen! whole thing in under an hour. a really enjouable, well-written short story about faith and family and how they sometimes conflict, set i...morequick listen! whole thing in under an hour. a really enjouable, well-written short story about faith and family and how they sometimes conflict, set in 18th century poland. the viice actors were great (although sofia was really annoying, to be honest), particularly rivka and her daughters. there are a lot of characters in a very short span of time which was a little confusing, but it came together very quickly. if you've got an hour to kill, this is a good pick. there's about an hour of additonal klezmer music afterward, as well, if you're into that!(less)
Debating four or five stars on this one. Definitely five for the first two stories--the first could stand on its own as a complete and frankly perfect...moreDebating four or five stars on this one. Definitely five for the first two stories--the first could stand on its own as a complete and frankly perfect short--but the last two felt almost rushed. The first two stories are practically self-contained narratives; the second two don't really stand on their own. Which isn't really the point of segments in a novella, of course, but they just seemed, imo, to be less engaging on the whole than the first two pieces about Mayola and Levi. Truthfully, I was a little disappointed the story seemed to veer away from the springs in the third part. As other reviewers have said, it's really a stretch to call this specfic or SFF at all; but I was hoping the last two segments would really capitalize on the haunting magical realism set up in the first two. Regardless, it was wonderfully written, and the narrative tone was gorgeous, shifting from Mayola's clever homey narration to Anna's quick and efficient voice in the last section. Admittedly, there is a certain degree of discomfort in two white authors writing about POC characters and voices and experiences (and also, it has to be mentioned, using a real person with real living descendants in the way they used Johnny Weissmuller); but I think they did so carefully and thoughtfully, reflecting attitudes of the various time periods without venturing into caricature or playing the frequent and regrettable "white author becomes POC spokesperson to demonstrate how enlightened they are" card. It's a thin line and one white authors have to be especially careful of, which the writers here seemed to do very well. The characters, as briefly as they appear, are well-rounded and sympathetic, clever and interesting and flawed. I'd read a whole book about Mayola, tbqh. Her piece was by far my favorite in the whole novella (though the alligator chase scene comes in at a close second).(less)
I said I'd give this 100 pages, but honestly, I just don't care enough. This book isn't poorly written (the actual prose is...fine; some heavy-handed...moreI said I'd give this 100 pages, but honestly, I just don't care enough. This book isn't poorly written (the actual prose is...fine; some heavy-handed metaphors, but nothing terrible) so much as boring, and subject to pitfalls of its own making. Putting a novel about an ostensibly poignant and emotional coming of age story in the voice of its fourteen-year-old protagonist is always a risky maneuver; fourteen-year-olds are not exactly the greatest storytellers, realistically speaking, and to make them readable you often have to succumb to the tired trope of the too-intelligent, world-weary, dreamy protagonist who Just Wants To Be Loved. I won't give a summary of the book--I haven't finished it, for one, and don't intend to; and you can find plenty of summaries elsewhere--but after 75 pages if I find the protagonist mind-numbingly boring, the prose bland, and the entire conceit of the book saccharine and schmaltzy, well, I'm just not going to continue. June doesn't seem to be grieving so much as self-centered and whiny; her touching anecdotes about her uncle Finn are just sappy vignettes about how wonderful and perfect and flawless he was; her blind ignorance of anyone around her trying to reach out and befriend her doesn't come off as an ironic disparity between the narrative and its reality, so much as a teenager being an oblivious brat. I had quite enough of that when I was a teenager; I don't really want to relive it. Maybe it gets better later, but a book shouldn't take 100+ pages to become palatable, particularly when the book isn't even 400 pages total. (less)
**spoiler alert** Hmm. Not sure whether I liked or disliked this book as a whole--there were parts of that were extremely enjoyable, but the vast majo...more**spoiler alert** Hmm. Not sure whether I liked or disliked this book as a whole--there were parts of that were extremely enjoyable, but the vast majority of it felt slow and pointless. The first half of the novel is Amy's fake diary vs. Nick's initial reactions to the kidnapping. Nick is an asshole. Amy is bland as three day old toast. Yes, this is supposed to be psychopath Amy's idea of a weak, lovable woman the press will adore--but she's not even that. She wasn't enjoyable to read in the least. Wandering around in the rain gazing longingly at the house, waiting for her husband to rescue~ her? Give me a break. If I hadn't read a spoiler that there was a significant twist in part two and the diary wasn't real, I would have put the book down. Diary Amy is obnoxious, and provides little relief from Nick "My wife is missing but mostly how much does MY life suck" Dunne. And that's before he figures out Amy is framing him. These characters are atrocious--not just bad characters you want to read about, but bad characters. The writing is solid, but even good writing won't keep me invested in people who I don't give a fuck about. Slogging through the first half of the book was a nightmare. Nick's plot was interesting and picked up significantly; but reading about it through his self-pitying eyes was grueling work. I dreaded coming to Diary Amy chapters like I dread hearing about how Bella Swan is a model heroine.
The twist was great, but couldn't carry the novel for me. Once it happened and Real Amy explained everything, the book just sort of puttered on for a while, Nick insisting he had to get Amy home and Amy doing nothing of interest or value. The end of the novel completely fell flat. The content was all right, but it read like a car suddenly sputtering to a stop on the freeway. Everything is moving forward, there are roughly 30 Chekhov's guns floating around, but instead of any of them firing, the book just ends. Seriously, Flynn spent the entire novel talking about Nick turning into his father, his father's rage against women, his father constantly showing up at the house (apparently looking for Amy?)--and all that comes of that entire novel-long plotline is that Mr. Dunne passes away and that's that? What? Andie, who repeatedly told Nick she had to see him everyday to the point of borderline obsession, who bit him, just magically gets over it and starts dating a new guy? Boney and Go's virulent insistence something be done about Amy the Psychopath is dropped with barely a "have a good life" from Boney. (Ps, what the FUCK kind of name is "Go?" That is some just-to-be-different bullshit.) It's like Flynn carried the novel up to its conclusion and then got bored, and just finished it as quickly as she could.
That being said, the latter half of the book, up until the end, was very readable (if not 100% enjoyable). I was constantly pushed forward to see where all the little pieces Flynn had set out were going to come together. They never did, unfortunately, which is really what made the ending so wildly unsatisfying. I initially wanted to give this book three stars because I tore through the latter half; but on reflection, slogging through half the book and then the atrocious finale really outweigh the maybe 35% of actual good novel.(less)
Library loan ended, and I'm not attached enough to this anthology to renew again. Many of these stories are lovely and interesting; but many are also...moreLibrary loan ended, and I'm not attached enough to this anthology to renew again. Many of these stories are lovely and interesting; but many are also tedious and frankly, a little pretentious--the sort of ponderous, nonlinear, dreamlike narration of Literature. The Little Mermaid story and Swan Sister at the seaside were gorgeous, heartbreaking narratives; I definitely recommend those if you pick it up. I will in all likelihood borrow it again later and read through some more of the stories, though. Anthologies as a rule tend not to hold my interest for the entire book--it takes a cohesive narrative for that.(less)