This book was an education about Vietnam and the US. It's set right after the Vietnam war. Our narrator is a biracial man, son of a French priest andThis book was an education about Vietnam and the US. It's set right after the Vietnam war. Our narrator is a biracial man, son of a French priest and a Vietnamese girl. He is intelligent, well educated, and a spy for the communists working for a South Vietnamese general.
It reminded me of Graham Greene in its satirical treatment of serious questions of good and evil. The author directly mentions Greene in the text. This is no homage: it's told from the Vietnamese viewpoint.
Fidelma is a village beauty in Ireland. Her husband is much older than she, and her fancy dress shop has closed. She's pushing 40 and regrets never haFidelma is a village beauty in Ireland. Her husband is much older than she, and her fancy dress shop has closed. She's pushing 40 and regrets never having children. Then mysterious Dr. Vlad, comes to town and rents her shop for his spiritual healing practice. She falls for him and is horrified when the world discovers he is the Butcher of Bosnia, a notorious war criminal.
She flees to London where she lives with other immigrants, refugees all, trying to make sense of the evil into which she stepped.
O'Brien's writing about nature is stunning as usual, and the story has the feel of a dark gothic tale shot through with glorious group choruses. References to Shakespeare, Virgil, and the Decameron will satisfy literature lovers. Voices and settings shift frequently, making this surprisingly hefty: you get to know a lot of people in a relatively short number of pages. Skillful, mature readers will enjoy the rich challenges and joys of this 21st century instant classic....more
A fast paced (haha this is a pun because the main character is an elite marathoner) whodunit with themes of immigration, race, sportsmanship, politicsA fast paced (haha this is a pun because the main character is an elite marathoner) whodunit with themes of immigration, race, sportsmanship, politics, corruption, and moral.
It's set in a two fictional countries that struggle with a flood of illegal immigration. One society is rich, the other poor. Yet both suffer under similar tyrannical and corrupt governments. Through Kieta's story we learn about how his country plunged into turmoil, the terrible conditions immigrants are fleeing, and what it's like to live on the wrong side of immigration law.
A worthwhile read--it's a pageturner about important current events. I recommend it to all high schoolers. I think they'll like it a lot. I know I did.
One caveat, the ending tied up a bit too neatly for me. But then again, I'm not a connoisseur of thrillers. The rest of the book was so good that it I still give it four stars....more
The story is told from 7 year old Anna's viewpoint, in clear, thoughtful language. It seems like it's historical fiction because it's set in Poland during WWII, but in the end it's pure dystopian science fiction. Anna lives with her multilingual professor father. He is imprisoned during a Nazi sweep and she is left to fend for herself after she realizes none of her fathers' many friends is going to extend themselves to her.
She meets an odd, mysterious, tall man who, like her, speaks many languages and is aware of the nuances of language. They bond and perambulate through the Polish countryside for years. This is the bulk of the book--a mysterious journey told through the viewpoint of a girl who loves the strange man, knows nothing about him, and grows up focused on him in a phantasmagoric setting.
The book explores themes of war, man's inhumanity to man, and what constitutes the soul of a person. We wonder if the strange man is human and what kind of a person a child turns into when they grow up in these circumstances. How will the world heal from this awful war? The end of the book is satisfying and answers these questions....more
I love a good artsy dystopian novel and this is a gem. A girl visits her cousins in England and is stranded there after a world war breaks out. The woI love a good artsy dystopian novel and this is a gem. A girl visits her cousins in England and is stranded there after a world war breaks out. The world devolves into anarchy. The kids (of course the mom is away on a trip when this happens!) live on an isolated farm so they are able to survive without having to deal with the dangers of town life. The characters are quirky and interesting. Short, sweet and masterful....more
Travis enlisted in the Marines right after graduation and is serving in Afghanistan. His ex-football pro father is a jerk. His little brother is on aTravis enlisted in the Marines right after graduation and is serving in Afghanistan. His ex-football pro father is a jerk. His little brother is on a perpetual free ride. His mother frantically tries to keep everything together. And his "girlfriend" just broke up with him--for his little brother. Basically almost everyone in his "home" life is not emotionally available to him--or anyone else. He can't depend on them like his comrades in Afghanistan.
Now he's home on leave in Ft. Meyers, FL, for a few weeks to "pull himself together" as his superior advises--because he watched his best friend get killed in Afghanistan. Good luck with that, Travis!
But the amazing thing is, Travis does it. He lets go of hurtful people and accepts healthy people into his life. There is no magically beautiful ending to this story, but you get the sense that Travis is making the right choices and listening to the right people. The Florida setting is evocative and a major part of the book. The romance between Travis and Harper is healing and realistic....more
Another five star book from AS King! Glory, her father, and her best friend Ellie are stuck in a morass--depressed, traumatized, hopeless. Glory underAnother five star book from AS King! Glory, her father, and her best friend Ellie are stuck in a morass--depressed, traumatized, hopeless. Glory understands the world through photography, the art practiced by her mother who committed suicide years ago. Glory is graduating from HS and has no plans. Ellie lives across the street in a commune she can't wait to leave, and artist dad eats microwave burritos, does online tech support and never paints.
Glory and Ellie drink beer mixed with a dusty old bat (a stretch, but pleasingly Alice in Wonderland-esque) and lo and behold receive transmissions when they look at people. The transmissions show the past and the future. The transmissions are the best part of the book! So creative! So mind blowing!
The transmissions help Glory understand her path in life. No spoilers here! Just read it!
Every year literary publications publish their best books of the year lists, and every year I wonder why certain books are nowhere to be found. This iEvery year literary publications publish their best books of the year lists, and every year I wonder why certain books are nowhere to be found. This is one of those books. There was no buzz about it, probably just a really good review in an unglamorous publication like Booklist (likely the reason I bought the book for the library in the first place).
Our main character is an officer in Iraq. He leads a unit that clears roads. This means they clear every square inch in and around the road of bombs while trying not to get shot at. Their track record is 100%--every time they suspect a bomb, there is a bomb. They operate under the fives and twenty fives rule: first secure the first five feet of perimeter around the vehicle (secure means make sure there are no concealed bombs waiting to trip and no one trying to shoot at you). After the first five feet is secured, you fan out and secure the surrounding twenty five feet. Super suspenseful and metaphoric, and relates to the narrative and structure of the book. Bravo Mr. Pitre!!
The story is told in alternating viewpoints, in medias res. We hear from the officer, a young Iraqui translator, and a medic. They have all moved on from the war and reflect on their experience. A big event is the centerpiece of the narrative but we're not sure what it is until the end. Some chapters start in military memos, and we piece together the back story of the memo in the following chapter.
With themes of leadership, class, and a 360 view of all the participants in the Iraqui war, this is a fantastic read for anyone. A huge plus: while the book naturally discusses the destruction and violence of war, it doesn't contain gore, sex, or anything that might be objectionable in a high school classroom setting--so I also recommend for English required reading. ...more
A masterful historical novel about war, gender, memory and how we make sense of our lives and fears. SWow. One of the best books I've read in a while.
A masterful historical novel about war, gender, memory and how we make sense of our lives and fears. Set during the Civil War, Constance Thompson leaves her farm and husband in Indiana to satisfy her urge to fight for the Union, where she is noted for her bravery, gallantry and good sense and shot (yes, disguised as a man). I know there is a body of powerful Civil War historical fiction--however, I am not familiar with it, so I can't make any comparisons for you.
The narrative becomes a phantasmagorical epic told from the first person perspective, with interlacing dreams, and evocative yet beautifully simple language. Meaty symbolism, adventure, suspense, and brief, simple and powerful mediations on meaning and memory make this an excellent choice for readers looking for a challenging and satisfying novel. In addition, the simple language, first person voice, and (mostly) linear structure make this a good gateway book to challenge readers who are *not* looking for a challenging read.
This is one of those books that stay with you forever. Regina Segal takes her granddaughter with her on a trip to Poland from their home in Israel. ThThis is one of those books that stay with you forever. Regina Segal takes her granddaughter with her on a trip to Poland from their home in Israel. They're both going for different reasons, and the grandmother has a huge secret she has been guarding her entire life. The book confronts and overturns many cultural stereotypes. It gives a fascinating glimpse into contemporary Warsaw, the culture of Jews visiting for heritage trips and how the residents of Warsaw "deliver the goods."
It's also a rumination on what we use for fuel and inspiration--what belongs to us, what do we take from other people? Regina and her grandmother in a sense are living parallel lives even though they disagree and are frustrated and confused by each other's motives.
I can't imagine a 100% print novel delivering this multi-layered story of love, history, family and understanding in such a clean, elegant, almost minimalist manner. You can breeze through this graphic novel in an hour, like I did, and contemplate the story, finding new symmetries and insights. Definitely something to read more than once!
Hayley and her father Andy battle the fallout from PTSD in Anderson’s latest. I can’t say this is an entertaining read—it’s stomach churning. However,Hayley and her father Andy battle the fallout from PTSD in Anderson’s latest. I can’t say this is an entertaining read—it’s stomach churning. However, it’s exceedingly well written, suspenseful, and beautifully constructed. A recurring water image moves through the work. Anderson, like Katherine Paterson, is really good at creating characters that are not entirely likable. Sometimes you just want to shake Hayley because she’s so stubborn. But as you come to understand what makes her tick, you also realize that probably none of us are what we seem.
I was a little disappointed in the neatly-wrapped-in-a-bow conclusion. But it felt good to walk away from this novel knowing that all was well in the world within it. There is only so much trauma you can take—as Hayley and her father teach us. ...more
I love everything by Carol Tyler. Her graphic novel output is small but amazing. You'll Never Know is about her relationship with her father, a WWII vI love everything by Carol Tyler. Her graphic novel output is small but amazing. You'll Never Know is about her relationship with her father, a WWII veteran. It's a three volume collection, but we have only the first two.