INTEREST IN THE BOOK: The title grabbed me. The back of my book does not have the above synopsis. It is a much simpler synopsis that leaves room for imagination. However, it is pretty obvious, to me, what the story was about from the start. If it is not obvious to you, then I suggest you do not continue reading this review, as you may be spoiled.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The book begins when Bruno comes home and finds his maid, Maria, packing up his clothes. He is infuriated and asks his mother what is happening. She explains that the family is moving. Bruno loves his home and friends in Berlin, and he is quite unhappy about this news. He does not want to leave his ” three best friends for life” or his five-story house that has loads to offer in terms of exploration. He arrives to his new home in “Out-With” and his entire world changes.
CHARACTERS: Bruno is an interesting nine-year-old who is smart for his age but absolutely clueless about the outside world. This is evident from his many comments about his life. I blame his parents, who have kept Bruno and his 12-year-old sister, Gretel, pretty sheltered. For good reason, in their eyes. It was quite amazing to experience life outside of Bruno’s new home. Throughout the story, Bruno matures greatly from a simple friendship with Shmuel, who lives on the other side of the vast fence that Bruno can see from his bedroom window. Neither boy is aware of the reasons they are different and most live on opposite sides of a fence. Neither boy is knowledgeable as to why they are supposed to hate one another and why they cannot play together.
Bruno’s father is a high-ranking SS official who mans the “Out-With” camp. His mother is a flighty woman who is obviously depressed, and his 12 year-old sister, Gretel, is pretty much a troll. I wanted to kick her on many occasions but she is definitely a product of her environment. It is very obvious that these two children are kept quite sheltered, despite their father’s involvement in such atrocities. They are never allowed in Father’s office, which is “Out Of Bounds At All Times and No Exceptions.” They are given orders and tasks but nothing is ever explained to them. Gretel at one point tries to explain something to Bruno about Jews, but even she can’t identify why they are different and “Opposite” and must “hate” them. His father’s too busy, mother sleeps all the time, and Gretel talks to her dolls, so Bruno is left to his own devices to discover life. You can learn a lot from reading, but children learn about life through socialization with others.
WORLD-BUILDING: The world is not new and unfortunately, a part of our world’s history. A part we all wish to forget. Bruno is our narrator, and we see the world through his eyes. His innocence makes you gasp, and you immediately wish you could revert back to the days when the world was so simple, when you knew of nothing much other than playing with new toys and new friends.
I’ve seen a ton of criticisms about this book on Goodreads, and while everyone is allowed their opinion, I’m a tad shocked at their responses. Children are children – NOT adults. Bruno was nine-years old and in my eyes, that is pretty young. We’re talking living less than a decade of life. I work with children and while they can be very imaginative, resilient, inquisitive and observant, they are still children with little life experience and even less socialization. And the growth that Bruno experiences is very much apparent. He isn’t the most observant person you will ever meet, but neither is half the world, if you ask me.
Yea, the horrors of the Holocaust were far, far more horrifying than portrayed in this book. However, Bruno was not a prisoner in the camp, and this is a middle-grade book. Let’s keep it kinda not nightmare-inducing, k? I don’t doubt that middle-graders can digest such horrors, but there is plenty of room for discussion with those children once this book is closed. Discussions in which they may learn about far worse scenarios in these camps, but they will have adults available to them in which to process their feelings and thoughts, and that is a much better way to learn and grow and mature and experience life, from my perspective…
And personally, those who complained about such things missed the entire message of this book.
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: This was a powerful story, full of innocence and compassion and what it means to be human. The ending will leave you feeling many intense emotions. I was not expecting what I received when I opened this book, and it is one I will not soon forget.
"What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?"(less)
Smashtastic Entertainment Quickie:A very raw, poignant tale of a young man's journey towards adulthood, all the while maneuvering the good, bad and ugly that life throws his way.
Interest in the book: I was bullied into reading this book by Adam, and I am so happy that I finally caved. He did gift me the book, after all. I obviously don't read these types of books often, but I do occasionally pick them up because I feel it is my duty to read these types of stories in my line of work. It helps me understand and connect to my clients, who are often the very people I find between the pages.
World-building: Obviously, the world-building is not like that of fantasy and paranormal reads. This book is set in a very real city, follows a very real family, and highlights the trials and tribulations of a very real adolescent boy. That being said, the true world-building happens inside of Charlie. Through his eyes, we are presented with the highs and lows of an awkward teen boy trying to find his way. The author delivered the story via letters from Charlie. We are never sure who "Dear friend" is, though Charlies explains that this person is "trustworthy" someone who Charlie heard about via a mutual friend. I can only assume, however, that the letters are addressed to the reader. Charlie is bearing his heart and soul to us, hoping to find peace and understanding in the mere cathartic process of writing down his thoughts and feelings.
Meet Charlie. And yes, this is Charlie. The movie is being released 9/21/12 and was written and directed by the author. If there is any movie that should live up to its written counterpart, this will surely be it.
Logan Lerman, especially in this picture, is exactly how I picture Charlie. Awkward, naive, observant, timid, but there is much more to Charlie that meets the eye. He is intelligent, brought to his attention by his English teacher who assigns him extra reading and writing assignments to nurture and expand his intellect. Many readers have discussed the possibility that Charlie has a pervasive developmental disorder like Asperger syndrome, and it is certainly plausible. However, I suspected a different issue from the start. Charlie's tragic experiences, inadequate coping skills and limited life "participation" present him with a struggle that he is ill-equipped to handle. Regardless of these factors, Charlie heals and morphs and surprises us all. The author smacks you with an epilogue that will make your head spin, however, I was so impressed with Charlie's perseverance, fortitude and positive outlook in the midst of it all.
Ginger at GReads really sums Charlie up quite nicely:
Charlie surprised me with his words of wisdom, he took my breath away by his innocence, and he mesmerized me by his strength. He really was infinite.
There are other characters, like his family members, and Patrick and Sam, siblings that take Charlie under their wing and provide him with friendship, candor and kindness. Sam is Charlie's love interest, but I will leave that part of the story for you to discover.
Lasting Impressions: The author highlights many, many different struggles that every-day people face: anxiety, teen pregnancy, abortion, relationship violence, sexual abuse, discrimination, drugs, suicide, grief, guilt, death, depression. It is an endless list of issues that no one wants to discuss but affects us all in one way or another. Viewing these social problems and mental health issues through Charlie's eyes was incredible and really reminded me of why I love working with children and adolescents. They can heal if provided a safe, non-judgmental environment in which to do so.
And on that note, I leave you with this: Charlie shows us that life is always a box of chocolates, and it is up to us to decide if we allow that unsuspecting chewy center to yank out a tooth or instead, battle the sticky surprise.
So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.
“It's just that I don't want to be somebody's crush. If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don't want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it too.”
"I just want you to know that you’re very special… and the only reason I’m telling you is that I don’t know if anyone else ever has.”
It’s not often that you come across a book that is way more experience than plain ole reading. Before I even opened the book, my experience with Le Cirque des Rêves began…
It took me a month to read this novel. It was not for lack of interest, but because I would carefully read and absorb and experience the book in small doses so as not to miss anything. The layout of the book is extraordinarily creative and imaginative, and it is quite obvious that the author was intent on providing the reader with much more than just a book. And that she did.
All the characters in this book are magical, even the non-magical ones. You will find yourself wrapped in their histories and current situations, and you will laugh, cry and love right along with them. I am quite enamored with twins Poppet and Widget, who play integral roles in the Circus’ future. I am also quite fond of the author’s ability to turn the circus itself into a character. This circus does not “fake” magic, it is infused with it. No one knows when the circus will arrive in town, it just magically appears. It is is worldly, traveling across oceans with ease. It is its own entity, full of wonder and excitement. The circus is the stage for an enchanting competition between two incredibly talented and magical opponents who never expected the end result.
One scene I really enjoyed took place inside a tent that a character discovers. It is filled with hundreds of jars, bottles and boxes. When the boy opens a container, his senses are transported. In one container he experiences the ocean and sand, in another the desert heat and silk. One container takes him back to the holidays with his family. To me, this book was a container that transports you to the magical journey within its pages.
A group of people who become fascinated and infatuated with the circus’ magic join together as rêveurs. The rêveurs await word on the next location of the circus, and take off to enjoy the circus in its new setting. For those who have read and will read this book, I think it’s safe to say that you will join the rêveurs with me, put on your red scarf, and follow The Night Circus to the end.(less)
This book was an escape from my usual paranormal smut and urban fantasy adventures, and it is so worth the change in scenery. I had to read the book f...moreThis book was an escape from my usual paranormal smut and urban fantasy adventures, and it is so worth the change in scenery. I had to read the book for my Vulnerable Children class, where I am learning about the child welfare system. It was a poignant tale of one girl’s tumultuous journey through the foster care system and will no doubt leave your jaw hanging on many occasion. As a human being, you will be horrified at the life that Astrid must endure after her mother is sent to prison for murder. And Astrid’s mother, Ingrid, is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read. You will want to reach through the pages to ring her neck all the while experiencing sadness over her situation.
I was sickened by how Astrid was treated by these foster parents. They destroyed her innocence. Astrid reached out for love and was constantly slapped in the face, except for a few encounters that introduced this young lady to love and evil, themes that are very interconnected in this story. I was also sickened at the role of the social workers in this book! They treated Astrid like shit and I am horrified at the thought of a real social worker acting this way.
Janet Fitch’s writing is downright magical, poetic and intoxicating. I felt every hunger pang, every yearning for some semblance of normalcy, every embarrassing, depressing and desperate moment, every let down, every heart break, every smile, every relationship that was real and the many that were not. The book is raw and leaves your breathless.
Most of you have probably heard of this movie, which I watched recently, and thoroughly enjoyed. However, with any book, your imagination is always better, and in the case of this book, your heart breaks even more intensely. The ultimate reality of this book is that Astrid’s myriad of foster home experiences is an unfortunate common theme amongst foster children. This book is one story out of thousands that we have not heard. However, If you are up for a change of scenery, and a story that will steadily tug at your heartstrings, all the while filling you with hope that resiliency is real and can save someone, then take a dive into this book, head first.
"I wondered why it had to be so poisonous. Oleanders could live through anything, they could stand heat, drought, neglect, and put out thousands of waxy blooms. So what did they need poison for? Couldn't they just be bitter? They weren't like rattlesnakes, they didn't even eat what they killed. The way she boiled it down, distilled it, like her hatred. Maybe it was a poison in the soil, something about L.A., the hatred, the callousness, something we didn't want to think about, that the plant concentrated in its tissues. Maybe it wasn't a source of poison, but just another victim."
"And I tried not to make it worse by asking for things, pulling her down with my thoughts. I had seen girls clamor for new clothes and complain about what their mothers made for dinner. I was always mortified. Didn’t they know they were tying their mothers to the ground? Weren’t chains ashamed of their prisoners?"
"I know what you are learning to endure. There is nothing to be done. Make sure nothing is wasted. Take notes. Remember it all, every insult, every tear. Tattoo it on the inside of your mind. In life, knowledge of poisons is essential. I've told you, nobody becomes an artist unless they have to."
"That was the thing about words, they were clear and specific-chair, eye, stone- but when you talked about feelings, words were too stiff, they were this and not that, they couldn't include all the meanings. In defining, they always left something out."
"And I realized as I walked through the neighborhood how each house could contain a completely different reality. In a single block, there could be fifty separate worlds. Nobody ever really knew what was going on just next door."
"I felt like an undeveloped photograph that he was printing, my image rising to the surface under his gaze."(less)
Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina -- she's fearless.
Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul -- her life.
I was introduced to Ellen Hopkins when the blogosphere was enraged over a teen lit festival uninviting her from the event. I wrote about that particular situation here. I became immediately interested in what she had to say because banning books is something that seriously pisses me off. Having no prior experience with Hopkins’ work, I wasn’t prepared for the poem-esque writing. I must say though, it worked so well and brought such depth and emotion to this story. She is a fantastic writer, and so very different than others in the YA genre.
This story isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s about a straight-laced teenage girl name Kristina who has never stepped a toe out of line. She visits her not-so-heavy-on-the-morals father who is pretty much a stranger to Kristina. Her father lives in the same building as Adam. And Adam is hot. Kristina has never approached boys before and is nervous as hell...
Enter Bree, Kristina’s alter-ego. Bree takes over, Kristina is gone. Adam likes Bree and quickly introduces her to his friend, the monster. AKA, Crank. Kristina’s life quickly spirals out of control as she enjoys her roller coaster ride with the monster. Unfortunately, her dad doesn’t help steer Kristina back to the shallow end of Hell, as shown by the scene where he enjoys crank with his daughter and friends in the back of the bowling alley where he works. Nice role model.
Kristina enters into a reality that no parent wishes upon their child. A reality full of divorce, addiction, rape, suicide, teen pregnancy. All the things we wish to shield our children from. However, shielding them from reality only hinders their ability to deal with it, should they find themselves in Kristina’s situation. You definitely need to gauge the maturity level of your child before you allow them to dive into Hopkins’ mind, but I think allowing them to see this harsh reality through a book – rather than personally experiencing it – is a much better route to take. I can’t imagine an adolescent putting this book down and looking forward to a date with the monster…
As someone with a background involving ‘party drugs', as I like to call them, this book was very personal and is so very important. While I never shook hands with the monster or any of his seriously sadistic friends, I have friends who did. One of my good friends in my Social Work cohort is a recovering meth addict. He was able to escape his relationship with the monster. Not everyone is so lucky.
I’ve read in various places that this story is loosely based on Hopkins’ daughter’s struggle with crank. That makes this book personal, and it shows.
But it is Mom’s low, level threats I best remember.
You do not deserve these children and when I’m through with you in court you ‘ll be lucky to get visitation.
She was right. And I still had not forgiven her. Maybe he wasn’t perfect But he was still my dad.
I keep to the shadows, observing the game I hadn't dare play, absorbing the rules with adhesive eyes
No bowling, no small talk, just plain, empty time, I walked down to the corner store for Pepsi and Cosmopolitan. Guess who was buying cigarettes, copper skin glistening bittersweet summer sweat. One look, I was Play-Doh.
Just Before The Drop
You know how you stand and stand and stand in line for the most gigantic incredible roller coaster you’ve ever dared attempt. Anticipation swelling, minute by minute by minute, you choose to wait even longer, to ride in the front car and finally it’s your turn. They buckle you in, lock the safety bar with a jolting clunk! Hook engaged, the chain jerks you forward. You start to climb Crank-crank-crank. Cresting the top, time moves into overtime as you wait for that scant hesitation, just before you drop You know how you feel at that instant? Well, that’s exactly how it feels when you shake hands with the monster.
Like an Idiot
I took one too. Things went from weird to worse.
I mean, there I was, snorting crank with my dad, my boyfriend, and his other girlfriend.
Something majorly wrong with that picture.
Okay, I Looked Awful
To anyone else, he probably looked worse. To me, he resembled an angel. A poor, sad, beautiful angel.
His hurt swallowed mine, like space swallows time, and the two intertwine. We tangled together. I'm sorry. Me too. I'm just so confused. Ditto. I do know I love you. Ditto squared.
Girls get screwed. Not that kind of screwed, what I mean is, they're always on the short end of things.
The way things work, how guys feel great, but make girls feel cheap for doing exactly what they beg for.
The way they get to play you, all the while claiming they love you and making you believe it's true.
The way it's okay to gift their heart one day, a backhand the next, to move on to the apricot when the peach blushes and bruises.
These things make me believe God's a man after all.(less)
The Edict is a novel of heart-stopping suspense and brilliant imagination that conjures up an all-too-believable future – a time when the uncontrolled growth of the human population has pushed the world to the brink of total disaster.
The earth’s resources have been strained to the utmost, and in many parts of the world open cannibalism and food riots are commonplace. Seeking a solution to the crisis, the leaders of the WorldGov meet in emergency session. Their computers spin through billions of facts, and the reports are more than disquieting – they are chilling. Further growth of the population is unthinkable, and the leaders finally settle on the only possible solutions, which is soon announced by the World Gov satellite.
“All citizens stand by,” it intones. “This is an edict from WorldGov. In the interest of balancing the population, and preserving the food supply, the birth of any baby is forbidden for the next thirty years. Any man and woman who conceive and have a child during that period will be put to death by the State. Any child conceived will be considered an outlaw child, and will also be liquidated. There will be constant surveillance by StatePol and a large reward in extra calories for any citizen who reports the presence of an outlaw child. That is all.”
To give the world some semblance of normalcy, realistic mechanical babies are devised to pacify the maternal instincts of 10 billion women. But to Carole Evans, the very idea of accepting one of the robot infants is abhorrent. She wants and needs a real child, and this slowly becomes an obsession…
Let me set the tone: I don’t think we ever know the year when this story takes place. However, the technology is far more advanced than what we presently have. Regardless, the world has become one big shithole, to put it mildly. There was a major pollution and food crisis. People live on top of one another in the pockets of the world that are safe from radiation. Life expectancy has reached 150 due to cures for cancer, disease and the like, and births are rampant. All flora and fauna are extinct (except for special museums) and people pretty much live off plankton and algae. I think the typical calorie ration is about 650 calories per day, and it fluctuates. There is a major announcement made at 11 PM every night as to the calorie ration for the next day. Machines and robots have replaced most jobs, so WorldGov created opportunities for people to do something, like move bricks back and forth on a sidewalk, so they feel important and don’t go insane with boredom. Suicides happen regularly and WorldGov makes it very easy for the older population to off themselves by providing a euthanasia of sorts. The less mouths to feed, the better, right? Marriage has disappeared because the main reason for its existence has been lost. People still have steady partners, but sex knows no boundaries in this world and the meaning of swingers is put to an entirely new use.
And thus, the setting for a very interesting look into the human psyche and how we handle prohibition of a basic human right and a biological need.
In order for this scenario to work, they’ve brainwashed women into thinking these life-like robot children are real. Carole tied to make this situation work for her, but she is absolutely horrified at the thought of having a robot for a child. She needs to have a baby, a real baby. She lures Russ into the decision, and the rest of the story is a suspenseful ride as the constant threat of discovery hangs over their heads. The end will produce a tear or 2, but I’ll let you decide if it’s happy or sad ones.
This world in The Edict is pretty damn sad, but there is a silver lining through the smog. It’s an engrossing dystopian plot that challenges the reader to think about how they would feel in Carole and Russ’ situation…how it would feel to have the most important and primal human right…eliminated. I first read this book about 15 years ago. My mother introduced me to it and we loved to sit around and talk about it. I bought the book for my husband for his birthday last year and I decided to pick it up again. I am glad that I did. It is still as good as I remember. This book is out of print, but you can likely find a copy in your library, or a cheap used copy online.(less)
Smashtastic Entertainment Quickie: This is a book that will stick with you. It's compelling and haunting, and leaves you with many questions and opinions.
Interest in the book:The title grabbed me, and then the synopsis really grabbed me. I was unsure of where the book would take Ma and Jack, but I knew it was going to be a difficult journey.
First Impressions: I started this book in audio while packing up my condo. The voice artist who plays Jack was ridiculously annoying in only a way a 5-year-old voice can annoy you. So in essence, brilliant job, but it took some time to get used to. Honestly, I loved Jack-speak. It did not take me long at all to acclimate to his language, and personally, I found it endearing, amusing and whimsical. Once Ma informed Jack that there actually was an Outside, and not just what he sees in TV, I became very engrossed in the story. I switched to the book and could not put it down. Jack begins to question his entire existence, and seeing Outside through his eyes for the first time is terrifying yet hopeful. Children are incredibly adaptive, resilient beings!
Characters & World-Building: Jack turns 5 at the beginning of the story and you learn that he was born in Room. As you get to know Jack and Ma, you learn that Jack has never been outside Room and knows of nothing outside his 11x11 environment. Everything on TV is pretend. Jack has named all of the objects and refers to them as people. In his world, they are his friends. Jack's constant questioning of everything was so realistic. He asked Ma many questions but he kept most of them to himself, and it was upsetting to experience his uncertainty and fear, at times. Seeing the world through Jack's eyes keeps the reader on their toes as you are awed and annoyed by the imagination and lack of experience of a 5-year-old. A very under-socialized but intelligent 5-year-old.
Seeing Jack change and morph once exposed to Outside evokes a ton of emotions. The reader is slapped with the realization that humans need other humans to learn how to be human. Socialization comes from being social, and while Jack had Ma, he had experience with no other humans, situations or environments, except a few short interactions with Old Nick. If a child is raised in a room and knows of nothing else, he will be comfortable and content in that space. Jack was absolutely comfortable and content, so much so that he wanted to return to Room later on. That was his home, what he knew and was comfortable with.
Ma was an incredible young lady. She is so very protective of Jack, who is her only friend and confidant. At times, you want to yell at Ma and encourage her to place Jack in time-out, as he can grate on your nerves with the best of them. Other times, you want to hug Ma and place her in the Patience Hall of Fame. As you learn of how she came to exist in Room, your emotions are overloaded. Once Outside, Ma is overwhelmed, much like Jack, though she is ready to move on with life. She struggles acclimatizing back into life and society, but she never falters as Jack's protector. I am so awed by this woman, you have no idea.
Lasting Impressions: This book hands your emotions to you on a silver platter. You feel the whole gamut. The characters are presented with some ugly psychological issues, as expected, and you are left wondering if they will ever recover. One thing that never faltered, no matter how irritated or depressed or overwhelmed or fearful Jack or Ma became, was their undying, unconditional love for one another. I did not close this book sad or angry. I closed it with a small smile on my face and happy tears in my eyes.
It's all real in Outside, everything there is, because I saw an airplane in the blue between the clouds. Ma and me can't go there because we don't know the secret code, but it's real all the same.
Before I didn't know to be mad that we can't open Door, my head was too small to have Outside in it.
"I was thinking. What if the world was like one of those Russian nesting dolls? What if we only saw one surface of it, the outside, but there was all kinds of other stuff going on, too? All the time. Underneath. But we just don't see it, even if we're part of it? Even if we're in it? And what if you had a chance to see a different layer, like flipping a channel or something? Would you want to look? Even if what you saw looked like hell? Or worse?"
Cursing below. Beware.
In the beginning of this novel, Jack attends a party at his best friend, Conner’s house. Parents are out of town so mayhem is sure to follow. Jack stumbles, drunk, into Conner’s bedroom, where he is being pleasured by a lady friend. Conner’s such a nice friend that he invites Jack to the private party, but Jack ain’t having it. He finds his way to the street, and eventually wakes up on a park bench. A nice man offers help, and as our parents have dutifully pounded into our brains, Jack should not have talked to this stranger.
Jack finds himself in a very serious situation. He’s been kidnapped by one Freddie Horvath, whose idea of a fun time is the stuff of nightmares. Jack narrowly escapes this maniac, only to find himself still stuck in his own personal hell. Jack confides in Conner, who swears to help Jack get revenge. One more tragedy later, and Jack arrives in London, where he will be attending school a la study abroad. Jack is paranoid and cannot seem to keep a firm grip on reality. One night he ends up in a bar and meets Henry Hewitt, who tells Jack a very confusing message and disappears. Henry doesn’t leave Jack empty handed, however. On the table is a pair of glasses, which eventually lead Jack to Marbury. And now the fun begins. Or should I say, the chaos ensues.
I refuse to go into details about Marbury. It is a place that you must discover on your own in order to really appreciate the post-apocalyptic, maniacal, twisted, horrific landscape. As Jack visits Marbury time and time again, you see his sanity slowly unravel like a tattered old blanket. It’s surreal and creepy as hell. And as the reader, you are left wondering if your sanity is in tact, as well. Jack has endured trauma, and for those unaware, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real. The intensity of the trauma is not what is important. It’s how the person perceives the trauma that is the deciding factor for the mind to say “Hasta La Vista, Baby.” One of the main symptoms of PTSD is reliving the event. Does Jack do this? Yes, in his recurring distressing memories about Freddie among other hallucinations. He’s emotionally numb, feels completely detached from reality, has no interest in life, and has difficulty sleeping. More importantly, after visiting Marbury, he ‘comes to’ with gaps in his memory. I’m talking days, people. And his addiction for Marbury is insatiable.
I really enjoyed the friendship Jack and Conner shared, and throughout the book you really felt how much love, dedication and loyalty existed between them. Conner never faltered in his friendship and stood by Jack through his dark times. One thing that did irk me, however, was the ugly homophobic undertones of the book. For one, Conner constantly harassed Jack about his disinterest in girls, when Jack made it pretty clear that he’s heterosexual. I get that some heterosexual men tease their friends about being “gay.” I don’t find it funny but homophobia is one of those ugly issues prevalent in society. Conner seems to go a bit over the top on this topic, however, and it gets to a point where I really wish Jack would’ve either decked him in the face or kissed him, just to get him to shut the fuck up about it. The constant bombardment of homophobia felt a tad distasteful.
I got way more than I bargained for when I picked up this book. It is definitely a challenging read, and one I won’t soon forget. This psychological thriller fantasy is a lot to take in, and I really admire Smith for dishing out the ugly parts of life (violence, kidnapping, rape, mental health, etc.). There’s a ton of cursing. The story is dark, gritty, intense, creepy, violent, offensive and might make you a bit ill. The writing is very disjointed, but it only added to the mindfuck of a book that is The Marbury Lens.
In the end, the real question is: Has Jack slipped into the deepest, darkest part of his psyche, or Is Marbury really real? We are given various tips along the way, but to be honest, I haven’t a damn clue. I won’t spoil, but to me, the ending made this deranged journey stick with you that much more. All I know is that when I closed the book and left Jack’s world, I had to take a moment to get my bearings and ensure I, too, wasn’t wearing a pair of magical spectacles. To me, that is great writing.
Recommended for: Those up for a challenge, as this book will have you questioning reality and will haunt you for some time. NOT for the faint of heart, and parents should read it first and decide their teen’s maturity level
“Anyway, I think we should activate Plan J as soon as the lights go out tonight.”
“Okay,” I said, knowing it was going to be something entirely ridiculous. “What’s Plan J?”
Conner smiled wickedly. “About five minutes after we say good night to them and it’s all dark and quiet, I’ll yell at you, ‘Jesus Christ, Jack! It' is totally inappropriate for you to be jerking off right now with these girls in the room!’ And so the girls will, like, feel sorry for the pathetic and horny American virgin I have to sleep with, and they’ll offer to switch bedmates so they can give us both some righteously hot sympathy sex.”
Conner started laughing. I knew he wasn’t serious, but I also knew that if I didn’t say something, he’d probably actually try it.
“Con, you’re my best friend, and you always will be my best friend, but if you pull anything that’s even close to that, I will punch you in the fucking face without even thinking twice about it.”
Precious Jones is a sixteen year old female living in Harlem, NY, with her mother. They are supported by the welfare system, of which her mother abuses left and right. Not an uncommon scenario. Precious is pregnant with her second child. She became pregnant with her first child at age 12, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. I assume that when most people read this, their first instinct is to judge this child. To gasp and say “Where are her parents?” Funny you should ask. Precious’ dad can be found in her bed, and her mom on the couch, pouting about dad being in the bed with their daughter. Yes, Precious has become pregnant twice by her father. And her mother blames Precious for running her man away. Can you feel the love? Mom treats Precious like shit. She’s abusive in every way: physically, emotionally, sexually. Yes, mom picked up on her ex’s disgusting habits. Fun times.
Precious is almost fully illiterate but she desperately wants to learn, to be able to leave the confines of hell that she shares with the Devil incarnate. She doesn’t want to continue the cycle of welfare that her mother so pleasantly shoves down her throat. (In case you are wondering, “living off the system” is a cyclical, learned mentality. In many cases, children are raised from parents who feel entitled, and they pass these beliefs through generations.) In fact, her mother probably doesn’t know any better. She may have been abused when she was younger. We don’t ever find out mom’s background, and as hard as it is to see this woman as anything but a monster, it’s my job to view her as a human being. She deserves to be heard, and to get assistance for her troubled existence just as much as anyone. However, she also needs to be punished for not protecting her child.
Precious finds her way to an alternative school where her life changes for the better. She meets a teacher who takes a serious interest in Precious’ well-being. She meets others like her, from all different backgrounds, who take a sincere interest in Precious’ well-being. For the first time in her life, Precious feels noticed. Important. Loved. Instead of falling into the welfare cycle, of which her mother so pleasantly shoves down her throat, Precious learns how to read and write. How to think. How to be independent. How to live.
It's hard to say "I liked this book" because it is not a story that anyone should "like" to read. The story isn’t a fun one. There are graphic scenes of sexual, physical and verbal abuse. Precious is abused, teased, tormented. She feels ashamed. Guilty. However, being the social worker that I am, I see the silver lining, and my heart was with Precious every moment of the book. She endured things you would never wish on your worst enemy, however, she was resilient, she persevered. She saw the light, and fought to reach it. She climbed her way out of the deep, black hole to safety and freedom.
I think this story was so powerful because it was written from Precious’ POV. If you remember, Precious is pretty much illiterate, and she has grown up in the ghetto surrounded by despair, hatred, and finger-pointing. The story is written as though Precious is writing it, so it is not easy to always comprehend what she is saying. However, the beauty of the story is that as time passes, the writing becomes a bit more legible and understandable. You actually experience her growth in a visible way. For someone like me, who seeks to assist those who really need it, this was very powerful.
Should you read this story? Yes. Will it be hard? Most definitely. Will you be thankful for your life afterwards. You have no idea. Will you view life differently afterwards? I hope so.
Before I read Push, I saw the movie, Precious, that is based on the book. It isn’t an easy movie to watch, and while this particular story is not based on a true event, it is not hard for me to imagine many, many children experiencing the harsh reality that Precious experienced. Author Sapphire states as such:
What was your inspiration for creating such an unforgettable character?
She's a composite of many young women I encountered when I worked as a literacy teacher in Harlem and the Bronx for 7 years. Over and over I met people with circumstances similar to hers, many with her amazing spirit. I wanted to create a novel with a young person like that. To me she has not existed in literature before. She existed on TV …but as a statistic -- as an 18-year-old HIV+ woman who can't read with two children. I wanted to show her as a human being, to enter into her life and show that she is a very complex person deserving of everything this culture has to offer. Source: http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pa...(less)
Having seen the movie before reading the book, I was prepared for the events that unfolded. The story starts off slow but gets very intense. This is n...moreHaving seen the movie before reading the book, I was prepared for the events that unfolded. The story starts off slow but gets very intense. This is not a happy story nor does it have a happy ending. I was amazed at the author's ability to have the reader empathize w/ both sides. I did find the ending in the movie way more powerful but the book was definitely more explantory and informative, obviously. I recommend both the book and the movie. (less)
The Lovely Bones is a novel that will keep you interested until the very end. It is beautifully written, has amazing imagery, and is intensely emotion...moreThe Lovely Bones is a novel that will keep you interested until the very end. It is beautifully written, has amazing imagery, and is intensely emotional with beautiful allegorical references. It will affect you on a deep level. The book is written from Suzie's perspective, even after she dies and arrives in what I believe is Purgatory. She has been raped and murdered and feels enormous pain in the afterlife. We feel the intense pain she feels as she watches her family deteriorate after her demise. Because of Susie's violent and abrupt departure, she isn't dealing with her death well and can't break the binds to Earth and the people she cares for. We follow her agonizing journey as she slowly accepts her own death and says goodbye to the people she loves.
There are some really important themes in this novel. The most important being Grief and Loss. Everyone grieves differently and moves through the stages of grief at different times and stages. This is very apparent in this novel, as the family members do not move through the cycle at the same time, and it greatly affects the cohesion of the unit. Acceptance is another theme. It is not easy for people to accept a loved one's death, maybe even more so when that person was taken in a brutal, violent way. In order to move on from the grieving process, they have to accept that Susie is no longer with them. And, Susie has to move on and accept her own death. This allows her to move on to Heaven.
Conclusion: 5 stars! This book is phenomenal. It is a heavy read and will evoke emotion in you. It is not a mystery, as Susie tells you the who/what/why/when/how immediately. Instead, it is a character-driven piece that travels through the human psyche and delivers raw emotion on an epic scale.
The movie was released this year and is now on DVD. While it did not convey the emotional intensity that the book portrays, I thought it was a beautiful and chilling movie.(less)
Exceptional Read! I'm not a teen but I can sure remember the up and down emotions and the crazy situations I got myself into during my adolescence. Ni...moreExceptional Read! I'm not a teen but I can sure remember the up and down emotions and the crazy situations I got myself into during my adolescence. Nick and Norah have a night such as this, and it is glorious. The book covers ONE NIGHT where 2 teens meet unexpectantly, although they were connected through a 'six degrees of separation' type of way, and enjoy what ends up being a magical night.
I must say that I LOVE Rachel Cohn's writing style! Reading Norah's POV was so gritty, witty, angsty and FULL of sarcasm! David Levithan's writing for Nick's POV was just as good. He really brought sweet, innocent Nick's personality out, and he held his own with Norah's sarcastic lines. LOVED the personal POV of each character. The book could not have been written any other way!
The book is short but fulfilling. The ending was perfect. It was SO entertaining! Going on my favorite's shelf!(less)