I always have such mixed feelings about the Joey Pigza books. But I love Jack Gantos. And this, he says, is the last Pigza book. And, it's funny, andI always have such mixed feelings about the Joey Pigza books. But I love Jack Gantos. And this, he says, is the last Pigza book. And, it's funny, and full of colorful imagery and fully realized scenes and when I read it I was just THERE with Joey and baby Carter Jr., and it's all awful because if you've ever worked in a public school or public library, you know Gantos is not exaggerating. There are awful parents and out-to-lunch parents and parents who are 100% up front about withholding their love from their kids who just want to be loved, and there are parents who cannot bring themselves to think about what their kids need to eat. All too true....more
A sweet return visit with Ajax Penumbra and an introduction to some of the characters we get to know much later. Plus some San Francisco history, a liA sweet return visit with Ajax Penumbra and an introduction to some of the characters we get to know much later. Plus some San Francisco history, a little archaeology, and some high-octane sneaking around. Highly recommended for fans of the first....more
I feel a little bit bad because I did want to love this book. It's a great idea - In a small New Jersey town, not far from the city, a new drama teachI feel a little bit bad because I did want to love this book. It's a great idea - In a small New Jersey town, not far from the city, a new drama teacher decides to stage Lysistrata. While the teenage girls are learning to project, the women of Stellar Plains are experiencing their own version of a sex strike. One by one, as a cold breeze envelops them, they more than lose their desire; they become averse to sex. Their men (and these are all, despite a little mention of one gay marriage, heterosexual) are confused, hurt, resigned.
Here's what to love: Willa, the daughter of one of the main couples. She is a real teenager. Normal, ordinary, getting ready to have her moment and to learn what she, herself, wants. Marisa, one of her school friends, an excellent student who discovers her political center and also an awareness that she can decide what happens to her based on her own wants and desires. These feel like real girls and real victories.
For me, I just never felt that the whole Greek play as catalyst worked. I love a good fantasy, and science fiction, too. Somehow, though, the spell on which this whole plot spun did not feel real to me. I was not able to believe it. I also had a lot of trouble believing the complacency with which most of these formerly sexually involved and happy women gave up that part of their lives. They largely walked away from it without much thought, other than feeling a little bad about disappointing their partners. If this is supposed be a realistic exploration of marriage, relationships, and female desire over time, I would expect each of the women to actively fight to figure out what had changed for them and how to get their desire back.
Then, when [spoiler alert] it turns out the drama teacher has done all this on purpose as part of some G-d complex, well, meh. That seemed a little 'mwa-ha-ha' cue the horror movie music.
I did really love the writing of the evening of the play's actual performance....more
This is an engagingly written look at the limits of medicine and how they impact the choices we have and the decisions we make as we age and, inevitabThis is an engagingly written look at the limits of medicine and how they impact the choices we have and the decisions we make as we age and, inevitably, approach death. The biggest takeaway for me is threefold: just because a procedure (chemotherapy, surgery, etc.) can be done, doesn't mean it should be done; we should ask ourselves and our doctors about best possible outcomes, pain, and what is the most reliably way to get to live the rest of our time (days or years) closest to how we want to live them; and we need to have these conversations with the people we love for whom we will be making medical decisions (and who will be making decisions for us). Gawande also covers nursing homes, the evolution of assisted living facilities, and how to think about hospice care. I wish I'd read and thought about this before our dad's death. He asked to stop dialysis and may have been happier taking a different path. He didn't share his priorities with us before he got sick, and we didn't know what to ask.
The reader of this audiobook version (Robert Petkoff) was excellent....more
Super funny, inventive, just right for its target audience! What starts as a staid and standard shapes book becomes a hilarious goof when Moose crasheSuper funny, inventive, just right for its target audience! What starts as a staid and standard shapes book becomes a hilarious goof when Moose crashes in. In classic kid 'look at me' fashion, Moose bends herself into shapes, eats them, and gets evicted from the story. In swoops Zebra, and the book becomes a sweet tale of friendship. Kids will love Moose and Zebra and how they make their own fun. Perfect for reading together in lapsits or story times....more
Frankie and her parents are still reeling from the drowning death of her little brother four years before. Each hurts and blaMoving and pitch perfect.
Frankie and her parents are still reeling from the drowning death of her little brother four years before. Each hurts and blames him or herself, and they are all trying to cope in ways that separate them from one another. Then Frankie meets a little boy at the pool, is asked to babysit him all summer, and finds a connection with him that brings her back into life.
There's mysticism, poetry, friendship, first love and teenager-parent drama and it all feels real. There's been a lot of loss in our friendship circle lately - someone shared a quote with me, attributed to author Louise Erdrich: “Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
Everyone's life will be touched by tragedy; I don't think any of us can escape that. In between the moments of tragedy, we have to taste as much of the sweetness as we can. I recommend this book for readers trying to find their way back to the sweetness....more
Imagine you would live forever. Well, not forever. Imagine you will live again and again, the same life, born to the same parents, in the same part ofImagine you would live forever. Well, not forever. Imagine you will live again and again, the same life, born to the same parents, in the same part of the globe, in the same era. You will be born as any other babe but, eventually, some time in your pre-school years, you will regain consciousness of your previous lives and the wisdom of all your previous experiences and education. What do you do? Suffer through adolescence again? Become a doctor this time? A hermit? Use your knowledge of future world events to prevent war or get rich and luxuriate in your good fortune? Or, will you use the cumulative knowledge of all the ages to solve the question of life, the universe, and everything, regardless of the cost to the mortals around you?
North (a pseudonym) poses these questions and creates a believable world and a believable cadre of humans who have this very experience. Four stars for inventiveness. Three because I wasn't 100% sucked in to the central dilemma or any of the characters. There's lots to think and talk about, though, and I loved the way she created a mechanism for the stretched out generations to communicate with one an other. Well worth the time spent!...more
I mostly skimmed this accessible compilation of very short and practical essays. I found the sections on training, team-building, and board relationshI mostly skimmed this accessible compilation of very short and practical essays. I found the sections on training, team-building, and board relationships useful. Worth reading....more
This has great makings of a terrific book -- a brother and sister on their own, in desperate circumstances, fall in with a troubled but noble family aThis has great makings of a terrific book -- a brother and sister on their own, in desperate circumstances, fall in with a troubled but noble family and stumble on a dark but seductive secret. Horror! Intrigue! Danger! Snooze! It just wasn't my cup of tea. For a very long time, not much happened. The story just moved so slooowly. In reading the Author's Note, I was not surprised to find that Jonathan Auxier found some inspiration in Henry James. I remember experiencing reading James as almost painful. Though I cannot imagine any kid in the 10 - 14 range thrilling to this tale, I am in the minority. It was the winner of this year's MLS Mock Newbery Award. So, don't listen to me. ...more
Yu Hua has written an inventive and contemplative look at the afterlife. Our main character is a young-middle-aged man who has recently died; initiallYu Hua has written an inventive and contemplative look at the afterlife. Our main character is a young-middle-aged man who has recently died; initially, he is not quite sure what has happened to him. In the first seven days following his death he visits important places and people from his life story, finding a measure of resolution.
It took me a little while to get into this story - I was confused along with Yang Fei, and it took time for me to get used to Hua's style and the pacing of the book. In the end, though, I appreciated this window into modern Chinese life -- rich business people, underground squatters, small entrepreneurs trying to get ahead in the face of government kickbacks, and hard working civil servants looking for meaning in their daily lives. It made me want to learn much more about China, to piece out what was real and what was Hua's invention. From The Seventh Day, it seems like a cold and unforgiving society.
The good news is that all are comfortable, beautiful, loved, and part of the community in the afterlife. In the place Yang Fei goes, all have food, all have comfort. It's the fulfillment of the communist ideal. Additionally, as long as you have not yet been cremated, there is the possibility of reuniting with loved ones.
I highly recommend The Seventh Day to readers who don't mind a bit of a learning curve and are interested in experiencing a taste of another world.
How how how is it possible that I did not know Adam Rex had written another adventure for JLo and Tip? Must read now.
Sooo happy! We were reading thisHow how how is it possible that I did not know Adam Rex had written another adventure for JLo and Tip? Must read now.
Sooo happy! We were reading this out loud in the car in the driveway, waiting our turn at drum lessons and laughing and snorting and having tears to stream down our faces. Me and my humansgirl LOVE this. Final answer no takebacks!
"Out of curiosity, how many buildings are too many buildings to crash into?"
"JLo shrugged, or tried to. He doesn't really have the shoulders for it."
"I want a leader who's a humble supergenius."
"The peoples in this town they sure do hold a grudge," he announced. "You accidentally make ONE PUPPY colossal and suddenly you are that alien."
"Apologies. I do not speak English."
"She is still mad about this?" he huffed. I told her - I thought they were anklewolves." "Okay, whatever, I - " "Why elsenow would a person wear fur with shortpants? It makes no sense!"
"JLo, please pass the salt." "This is the chlorine. The salts is in front of you." He put a little chlorine on his deodorant sandwich. Mom shuddered. "We have to start labeling things."
"Remembers," said JLo. "We are in parking spot number pi-/73034."
"I have been watching the Americans. You like to think you decide things, but you only ever decide not to change. Because you are afrightened of change. You are the man who likes a big menu but always orders hamburgers."...more