Read as part of the 2015 Reading Challenge: memoir Rating clarification: 3.5 stars
I was skimming through Goodreads reviews while reading this book, andRead as part of the 2015 Reading Challenge: memoir Rating clarification: 3.5 stars
I was skimming through Goodreads reviews while reading this book, and wow, some are pretty harsh, aren't they? Now, let's address the cancer elephant in the room straight off: Cancer and I are unfortunately acquainted. My dad died of cancer ten years ago when I was only 22, his brother following this past December. My best friend's father, as well as the parents of too many other friends, were also lost to cancer. So, you might think this makes me somewhat more sympathetic to "cancer lit" than the average person. And maybe it does. It brings me back to a time that I lived through, reminds me of the heartache, and somehow makes me feel closer to my father because it helps me create a clearer picture of what he went through----what he really must of went through when he was alone with his own thoughts, faced with his own mortality---the things he tried, I'm sure, to keep from all of us as he put on a brave face.
With all that being said, this wasn't the best book in terms of a cohesive piece of literature. It was less a traditional memoir as it was a collection of anything and everything even somewhat related to the life of The Fault in Our Stars-muse Esther Earl. I have been debating back and forth with myself about whether or not I think this book would have benefited from some editing. On one hand I say, yes, absolutely, because the stream of consciousness style of many of her entries(of course, being her diary, never intended to be published)does not always make for the most interesting read. On the other hand, her entries represent real life. Life is unedited. If anything, I think the book might have been more interesting, perhaps, if the artifacts (entries, photos, blog posts, tributes from friends, etc.) were arranged in a way other than chronological or if not every single thing was included.
But to see people calling this book "meh" and "nothing special" and not worthy of "literary merit" as I spotted in some reviews----well, this offends me because I believe that everyone's life story, whether how big, small, or mundane on the surface, is certainly one worth telling.
And just look what influence this life unknowingly had on John Green, on teens and YA fans worldwide, and certainly on young people suffering with cancer themselves.
Agh! Bleh! Blah! This book was such a letdown. The cover is gorgeous, reminding me of a still right out of the movie "Serendipity" (I'm thinking of thAgh! Bleh! Blah! This book was such a letdown. The cover is gorgeous, reminding me of a still right out of the movie "Serendipity" (I'm thinking of the Rockefellar ice skating rink scene and doesn't the guy on the cover look eerily like John Cusack?) and I happen to love "Serendipity". It's a story about chance meeting, crossed paths, testing fate, and having faith in the universe. It's a story in which New York City is almost just a much a character and the characters themselves and it's a story that leaves you believing that there is someone out there waiting for you, too, somewhere, anywhere.
But do you remember Alanis Morissette’s misuse of “irony” in her song “Ironic”? How “rain on your wedding day” and “a fly in your chardonnay” is really not ironic at all but just unfortunate luck?"Probability of Love" thinks that it is this grand serendipitous love story but it isn't, not really. Hadley meets Oliver at the NYC's JFK Airport after she misses her flight to London by a mere four minutes. She is on her way to her father's second wedding in London and Oliver is a native Brit on his way home from Yale. So, they end up chatting on the plane. Hadley is a brat who can’t stop obsessing over her daddy issues and Oliver, although perhaps a cute travel companion willing to listen to Hadley’s whining, isn’t particularly interesting himself.
I didn't care about either of these characters as people so I certainly didn’t care what their “statistical probability” was of falling in love, even before they got off the plane. But, I did hold out hope that they were sure to have a crazy adventure in London, either together or separately, as they desperately try to find each other and reunite. I pictured searching among the crowds of passerby’s from the top of double-decker buses, trains crossing on the Underground, leaving messages on London Bridge or at Buckingham Palace: in other words, as did “Serendipity”, using the backdrop of this beautiful, historic, and vibrant city to fuel the story itself and help carry the characters along.
But the problem with this story is, it is actually less about the budding relationship of Hadley and Oliver and more to do with Hadley’s strained relationship with her dad, which is really on Hadley’s end. No romance here and any reuniting is really more about using a bus map than it is about fate. It starts, nothing happens, and it ends. I think this story could have been a bit more successful for me if it had the chapters had alternated between the POV of Hadley and that of Oliver, ala “Nick and Nora” and “Dash and Lilly”, a structure done to death perhaps, but at the very least interesting.
I am hardly rich, have never been to Martha's Vineyard, and certainly do not know anyone who even almost owns a private island of mansions on which weI am hardly rich, have never been to Martha's Vineyard, and certainly do not know anyone who even almost owns a private island of mansions on which were spent the summers of yesteryear. But, once upon a time, I did spend my childhood and teenage summers on a land of cabins in the Catskills, New York. There were 14 cabins total, there was a pool and a ping pong table, a volley ball net and a basketball hoop, a farm, a barn, and a lake down the road, ice cream, blueberry picking, card games, parties, campfires, sunshine, and summers that seemed endless. And there was a group of friends. We didn't call ourselves the Liars, but we could have been the Liars on a smaller and considerably less grand scale. During the rest of the seasons, we would go on with our real lives, but we could count on and look forward to those summers when we would see each other again. It was our Beechwood.
I couldn't help thinking about my old Summer Friends as I was reading this book.
And I can't stop thinking about this book now that I am done reading it.
It is haunting and strange and interestingly crafted in the way that it revealed bits of information over time. It is also unpredictable and heartbreaking and not what I expected (even though I semi-guessed the twist, there were still parts of it that surprised me).
Loses a star because of the narration, which although poetic also tried too hard to be poetic, and because I thought the big reveal was too long in coming.
A gentle, tender, unassuming coming-of-age story that tries too hard to pack an emotional punch. Also, not to be that person, but I was suprised by soA gentle, tender, unassuming coming-of-age story that tries too hard to pack an emotional punch. Also, not to be that person, but I was suprised by some of non-Henkes-like language....more
Oh, Bennett Cooper. You just might be my new favorite time-traveller, second only to Marty McFly.
Bennett has two unique gifts: he is able to travel dOh, Bennett Cooper. You just might be my new favorite time-traveller, second only to Marty McFly.
Bennett has two unique gifts: he is able to travel distances within seconds (in the mood for some authentic Mexican food for lunch? B.C. is your man) and and he is able to travel in time as far back as his birthday, March 6, 1995, from the current date (in this book: 2012). There, in '95 of course, he meets 16 year-old Anna Greene, who is actually 16 years his senior.
I love a good time travel love-story, but how much I loved this book really suprised me. Intially, it was a cute, quick, almost fluffy read on the surface that made me ache for my 90's middle-school years. Being 12 years-old going on 13 in the spring of '95, I am only three years younger than Annie, and it was so fun to be back in that place when Pearl Jam was a radio staple and grunge still all the rage. But somewhere along the way the story transformed from being a cozy trip down memory lane into this epic love story that transcended both space and time. Although maybe a bit cheesy or cliche in parts, I read it compulsively to the very last word.
It could have been a five-star book for me all the way, if not for just a few points here and there. Without going into detail, let's just say a question is left unanswered, a bit more could have been toyed with in the plot, and I unfortunately noticed a flaw, maybe a typo, that doesn't make sense within Bennett's time-travel restrictions---can you spot it?
But the good news: yay, there is a sequel to this book and I am hoping that all ends will be tied and all questions answered. Can't wait to continue this love story! ...more
Eat your heart our "Twilight"!! Rarely do I give five stars to a sequel, especially those that add two additional characters. Isabel Culpeper from booEat your heart our "Twilight"!! Rarely do I give five stars to a sequel, especially those that add two additional characters. Isabel Culpeper from book one, as well as newly christened werewolf Cole join Sam and Grace sharing their point of view via first-person account, an addition which I feared signaled the jumping of the shark. It didn't, and not suprisingly: Maggie Stiefvater is just a poetically gorgeous writer and knows how to weave a beautiful story, so much so that I just could not but the darn book down. I cannot wait to read the third! ...more
Ever since I first ordered a copy of the Newbery-winning "Lincoln: A Photobiography" by Russell Freedman in elementary school from my Scholastic bookEver since I first ordered a copy of the Newbery-winning "Lincoln: A Photobiography" by Russell Freedman in elementary school from my Scholastic book order form many moons ago--a book that I devoured--the life of the sixteenth President has remained a thing of fascination. Even more so, perhaps, is his death a thing of legendary and melodramatic proportions: the setting a theater and the very suspect an actor, played out in front of live audience of hundreds.
Enter Swanson and his enthralling non-fiction account---a fast-paced page-turner, peppered throughout with photopgraphs of people and aritfacts--- describing the chain of events that led up to this crucial moment and the tweleve-day manhut that unraveled afterward, tracking the star of the assassination show, the undeniably charasmatic John Wilkes Booth, from the stagedoor exit of the scene of the crime to his own last days. Swanson's work is fascinating, his non-fiction the best kind there is because it reads as fiction, making it an easy-to-understand, truly compulsive read, especially for the young adult middle school/high school audience towards which it is geared. I could not stop reading and finished it overnight.
My gripes with the book though---and the reasons why it lost a star in my rating---are: this is a YA "version" of an "adult" book and I'd like to read the original title "Manhunt" to see exactly how it was altered. I suspect a "dumbing-down" of information, which I am absolutely against. Secondly, despite Swanson's proclamation at the start that everything presented within his pages are true, despite the fact that he offers endless quotes and artificiats, there is---surprisingly and disappointingly----not a single reference. Not a single title, not a single footnote, nothing. This not only lessened the experience for me as a reader, but even more so as a librarian: this unfortunate oversight would make me pause before adding it to my nonfiction library shelves.
I hope that improved version would come out, including references and suggestions for further reading!...more
Trueman----himself the father of a son with severe cerebral palsy----presents the character of Shawn McDaniel, a 14 year-old boy with the condition soTrueman----himself the father of a son with severe cerebral palsy----presents the character of Shawn McDaniel, a 14 year-old boy with the condition so serve, he is unable to move his body at all, save for his eyes....sometimes. He is, to the outside world, nothing more than a "vegetable", easily overlooked in a room, blending in seamlessly with the furniture. But inside: his inner life is bursting with joy, emotions, and extreme intellect. He can hear and understand everything being said around him, he can read, he can reason, and---during the duration of his frequent seizures---he can run, jump, kick, and fly. Literally fly.
Why I can appreciate this book (a.k.a: why I gave it two stars instead of one) is because, it is written from the point of view of someone suffering from the condition---or at least, what Trueman assumes someone with the condition could be like on the inside. It makes you consider, really ponder, the idea of "hidden lives" and the miraculous workings of the mind. I myself work in a school exclusively for children with "special needs," and although I currently do not have students diagnosed with cerebral palsy and have never had students with the complete inability to communicate like Shawn, I do have students who have trouble communicating, who struggle to write, read, look you in the eye, students who have no sense of their bodies in space,who lack social functioning skills, students whose inability to focus their attention can often lead them to suffer academically. And, I will tell you this:I found myself looking at my students differently wondering, "What are you thinking about right now?" I found myself remembering a previous student of mine diagnosed with Autism, who could play music so beautifully, and so advanced beyond his years, it made you want to cry because you felt like you were in the presence of a far greater power.
I believe in inner life.
But: my problem lies with Trueman and the execution of this story. Knowing that he is the father of a child so very much like his protagonist made the book overall a very unconfortable read because despite the important arguments he raises----among them whether or not children considered "unteachable" have a right to education (my answer of course, is yes)----I could never figure out what side Trueman was really on. I did not want to face the possibly of he himself---despite his son---being undecided on whether or not a child in such a state should still be allowed to live a full life---or for that matter, be allowed to live at all.
Thus: a story, that really has the potential to be a beautifully woven ode to the author's severely disabled son is instead--on the fence....more