It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the mostIt’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.”
Among other things, Big Little Lies is about playground politics. It's about the way kids interact, and the way their parents interact.
There are three main female characters. Madeline, a married just-turned-40 mother of three. Her story involves how she relates to her 14 year old daughter and to her ex-husband and his new wife. Madeline is funny in a wickedly snarky way, and is not afraid to confront conflict head-on.
Celeste is a beautiful, married mother of twin boys. She comes off as emotionally conflicted despite having a Facebook-perfect family.
Jane is young and a single mom. She is new to the school and is raising her son Ziggy by herself. Her story begins on their first days of school and is of how she makes friends and enemies.
Themes include bullying, violence, beauty, friendship, blended families, how women treat each other, how women see themselves, adultery, and other hard-hitters. The main theme concerns the lies we tell ourselves to get by--the little ones, and of course the big ugly ones.
I read Big Little Lies in about 24 hours. The plot is gripping, suspenseful, and includes a couple of perfectly crafted mysteries. It's extremely addictive, and I couldn't wait to get to the end--which did not disappoint....more
"I'll Give You the Sun" was mentioned under Entertainment Weekly's "Must-List", and let's face it. I'm a sucker for anything Entertainment Weekly. I a"I'll Give You the Sun" was mentioned under Entertainment Weekly's "Must-List", and let's face it. I'm a sucker for anything Entertainment Weekly. I am.
This was heralded there as the new "The Fault in Our Stars". Which...no.
This is the story of boy/girl twins (interesting enough, because I currently parent 13-year-old twin girls) and their Mom, their Dad, and their first loves. And of their experiences--some that draw them all closer together and some that will tear them all apart.
It's about how parents misunderstand their kids, and how teenagers REALLY misunderstand their parents and their intentions. It makes you feel like, no matter how much you love your kids, there is inevitably going to be a point in time where you are going to very passionately and epically (because of all of the emotions tied up within each of you) disconnect. It's also about how kids, Moms, and Dads--they're all just regular people.
There is a great deal of artistic metaphor here. And there are some sweet moments. It's revealed early on that Noah, the male of the twin duo, is gay, so his story of first love story will be a bit more complicated than most. And his sister Jude is quirky in a superstitious, eccentric way, that lends to her story being a bit more unconventional.
You will embrace all of the metaphor, or you won't, and it was just OK for me. I do think there were some real moments here, but I'm sad to say I wasn't as deeply moved as I wanted to be. And this audio experience was a bit disappointing for me, as I realized I could have finished this faster by reading it, and as I kept getting distracted....more
The demand for commercial sex will never go away. Neither will the Internet; they're stuck with each other. It may no longer even matter anymore whethThe demand for commercial sex will never go away. Neither will the Internet; they're stuck with each other. It may no longer even matter anymore whether the sale of sex among consenting adults is wrong or right, immoral, or empowering. What's clear is that no good can come from pretending that the people who participate in prostitution don't exist. That, after all, is what the killer was counting on.
This is the second book I have read this year that was a compilation of investigative reporting. The first was Ten Days at Memorial, and each of these non-fiction accounts share certain elements of story-telling that are similar and characteristic of this genre. Among these are a "no-stone-unturned" approach to telling a story that you can't find from a simple news article or 60 minute news TV special. You come out knowing everything you ever wanted to know about your subject, and more. I feel like these writers eat, sleep, and breath their subjects for large chunks of their lives.
Lost Girls tells the story of five (at least) unsolved murders on Long Island in the past decade. Each woman murdered is presented as a living, breathing human being, and we get a look into their worlds--why they would voluntarily work as prostitutes knowing the risk, and how the media and America would come to prioritize the importance of their lives, as prostitutes, and how law enforcement would come to rank the importance of the resolution of their murders.
More than true crime stories, this book is a deep, dark look at prostitution in the modern age, and how sites like Craiglist and Backpage have changed the scene. To me that's where the book was at it's most interesting, as we were allowed to catch a glimpse of a lifestyle that we might otherwise never know about. This book truly made me sad for women lured into prostitution and drug use for the quick money it would bring, and it made me even more committed than ever to ensure that my children have choices and options that are open and not seemingly limited to the entrapments of a high-risk lifestyle.
I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tellI suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.
But what a rich story it is!
The Secret History is the account of a poor, twenty-year old from California who, in order to escape his bland existence and soul-less family life, transfers to a small college in Vermont called Hampden. At Hampden, he joins up with a group of five stylish, yet "morally neutral" students who study The Classics, and all of their other courses, under the mentor-ship of an intriguing teacher-slash-father figure named Julian.
The Secret History begins with a murder. The mystery is less about "who" than it is about "why". The story starts with the act, then flashes back to the beginning, as the reader tries to piece together why this group of young intellectuals felt the need to end the life of the seemingly benign one of their own.
In The Secret History, the plot takes back-seat to the characters and to style. We don't keep reading because we're so super interested in what happens to everyone at the end (as is usually the case). We keep reading because we've never seen characters written like this.
Each member of the group is multidimensional (though not necessarily "good" in terms of good and evil). They're like The Interestings, without a heart. We're fascinated by their combination of sophistication and lack of ethics as they follow the path to self-destruction. We don't want to BE these people! But we sure are curious to find out what they're doing on a Friday night.
At the end of this book, the author ties up the fate of even the minor characters. In most novels, minor characters are throw-aways, meant only to move the plot along. But even the minor characters here--Judy Poovey, each member of the murdered student's family--are every bit as interesting and in ways darkly comical as the main cast of characters. Think about the behavior of the Mother and Father at the funeral. Aren't they ripe for being brought to life by the right actors on the stage or screen?
There is enough drinking in this book to rival Hemingway at his drunkest. Drinking, drugs, sex, murder. It's all there. The Secret History for me was the epitome of escapism, but written by a genius with inspired descriptions and events. I actually liked this better than The Goldfinch, although similar threads run through both (Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.) To me it was neater and tidier and more efficient. I do believe I could pick this one up and start again today.
My only question remaining is why haven't we seen this on film yet? It begs for a brooding, well-acted adaptation.
The Giver is one of those books that all book-lovers seemed to have read except me. It was never required reading for me. My daughters read it beforeThe Giver is one of those books that all book-lovers seemed to have read except me. It was never required reading for me. My daughters read it before I did. So it was kind of a treat for me to finally, at 40, read a book that a lot of people had read and talked about for years. It was also a treat that I went into it blindly--having no idea about the premise.
There's a lot of dystopian fiction out there. I remarked to my daughters that so many of these books start out with a young person who, as the story begins, is about to go through one of the most significant days of their lives. Maybe there's a reaping for a competition, and guess what? They get picked. Maybe it's almost the day they get to figure out what faction of society they will now join to live in. Or maybe it's time they get told what they're gonna be when they grow up (at the ripe old age of 12).
In the Giver, our protagonist is chosen for a special field. He gets to be the recipient and keeper of the memories of the way things used to be--way back when there was pain, and snow, and Christmas, and colors. And we as readers are asked to look at a life without choices. Is it better? Is it worse? Well, in some ways, for a while, it may seem to be a little of both.
I was a bit surprised this was considered YA (I can prove it--I found it in the YA section of my library). The big surprise is--it's a bit of a horror story. We come to find out that the inability to choose goes farther than we even realize, and all of a sudden this new future world is bad. Very bad stuff indeed.
I thought this was an interesting little read that I finished off in about 3 hours. To me, it didn't say a GIANT amount about personal freedom or human sensation or emotion. We pretty much know by now that we'd rather choose our destinies. It's a big part of the human experience, for better, or for worse, and hopefully those of us with that choice never, ever take it for granted. I did think it was a very creative way to present the privilege of choice, though, and I'm glad I read it. It really seemed to touch the edge of something big, but then kind of never get there for me. But overall, a good reading experience in a haunting kind of way....more