I think Maureen Johnson is my new favorite YA author. I just ordered 3 of her books from Amazon because I liked her story in Let it Snow so much. Her...moreI think Maureen Johnson is my new favorite YA author. I just ordered 3 of her books from Amazon because I liked her story in Let it Snow so much. Her strengths seem to be creating engaging characters (which as I have noted before is the most important thing I look for in a book) and writing a story that just glides along at an ideal pace.
This will make a great addition to my classroom library. I can already think of several of my students who would love this.(less)
Halfway through...very enjoyable, funny and true. Thank God my kids are grown; I'd forgotten how tough it is to have young kids, but when Anne Lamott...moreHalfway through...very enjoyable, funny and true. Thank God my kids are grown; I'd forgotten how tough it is to have young kids, but when Anne Lamott writes about her pre-adolescent son, it all comes back...(less)
Teaching in the fall. We start out with this one, senior year. I have read this several times and love it, but haven't ever really taught it before, e...moreTeaching in the fall. We start out with this one, senior year. I have read this several times and love it, but haven't ever really taught it before, except to gloss over it in mythology class. Looking forward to going into depth with the seniors.(less)
Andrew and I were talking about this book yesterday. We agreed that it was one the best books on school reading lists. So much going on in this book....moreAndrew and I were talking about this book yesterday. We agreed that it was one the best books on school reading lists. So much going on in this book. You can read it for enjoyment, or analysis, or (if you're like me) both. (less)
YA novel. Read this in a couple of hours last night as part of my grad class. Engaging characters, realistic, nice commentary on race, gender, parent-...moreYA novel. Read this in a couple of hours last night as part of my grad class. Engaging characters, realistic, nice commentary on race, gender, parent-child relations. (less)
3/52 in my 52-book challenge. Not a quick read, but a rich, satisfying one.
This book is the perfect example of why I still take classes even though I...more3/52 in my 52-book challenge. Not a quick read, but a rich, satisfying one.
This book is the perfect example of why I still take classes even though I don't "need" to. When I have to read something for a class, I keep pushing through it. No SparkNotes for me. I never would've picked up The Ordinary Seaman if I didn't have to, but once I started reading it (for a graduate class on American Multiethnic Literature) I was drawn in.
I say this wasn't a quick read because a.) again, reading in an academic context is more demanding than simply reading for pleasure; and b.) the storytelling was so vivid and layered and interesting that I didn't want to miss a single word.
I want to read everything by Francisco Goldman now. This book is so good that Goldman's gone from "vaguely heard of him, that book about his wife" to My New Favorite Author.(less)
I am working my way through some of the books recommended by Kelly Gallagher in Readicide. This one was cited as a book that engages students who don'...moreI am working my way through some of the books recommended by Kelly Gallagher in Readicide. This one was cited as a book that engages students who don't enjoy reading.
I will definitely keep this in my classroom library. The characters are "types" but I liked them all and cared about what happened to them.
I've read some of the reviews here that say it was tough keeping track of the narration because the POV kept changing. This is a common complaint among my high school kids about any book that uses multiple POV. I actually think Hughes did a pretty good job of giving the characters individual voices.
I have attempted to read several books with the same basic premise (misfits bonding) and this was one of the few I could get through.(less)
The first part of the book is four stars. The rest of it is barely two stars. This has all been done before---rural setting, coming-of-age, offbeat pa...moreThe first part of the book is four stars. The rest of it is barely two stars. This has all been done before---rural setting, coming-of-age, offbeat parents. Tamara's voice starts off strong but just as you're starting to care about her, she veers off into that all-too-familiar detached teenage girl voice that ruins so many novels. The book won a lot of praise from high places (NYTimes, Stephen Crane Award, Cleveland Arts Prize, Publishers Weekly) so I thought it was odd that the book cover chose to make a one-word blurb from Entertainment Weekly so prominent: "funny." That was not the word I would have chosen; I don't recall anything funny in the book. Very misleading! I thought Tamara's family was annoying, especially the sister Megan who could have easily been written out of the book with no damage done to the narrative. Couldn't stand the parents. I did like the supporting cast, the Burns and Murphy families. The idea of Timothy could have been developed more too. Overall I didn't hate the book but I had really wanted to love it. Last thing--- 1954 seemed like such an arbitrary date. The book did not seem to be set in any particular time or place. Once in a while they mentioned radios rather than TV but that was it. It seemed to be set in the 1970s in my mind, based on the descriptions and characters. If you are going to set a book in such a specific time, make it authentic. (less)
**spoiler alert** I thought this would be light chick-lit I could read during my convalescence, but, although the writer's style is a tad chick-litty...more**spoiler alert** I thought this would be light chick-lit I could read during my convalescence, but, although the writer's style is a tad chick-litty (not that I'm complaining; so is mine), the real subjects here were family secrets, handling the terminal illness of a loved one, and learning to accept yourself even when your crazy-ass mother has done a number on your self-esteem. Oh - and food. There's a food reference on every page, it seems, and recipes are included at the back of the book.
What I liked about the book: the relationships between the sisters was absolutely real to me. Although my sister and I have a beyond-wonderful relationship, the kind that other people openly envy, I like reading about sisters who have issues with each other, especially when they (like the sisters in this book) come together at the end to support one another.
The weight thing - yes, Eleanor loses weight during the book, but by the end she has regained her curves and found a true love who appreciates her passion for food.
The cat - that was a very cuddly cat, and I'm a dog person (in fact, I read the book on my Recovery Couch with my doggie lying on my feet).
The guy - does he really exist and will he marry me? Honestly, the description of this guy made me fall madly in love with him. I love to get crushes on fictional characters, what can I say, I live in Fantasy World.
The hospice - I do not have any personal knowledge of hospices but from what I know, the hospice described in this book is a very accurate representation. I wish that my grandmother had been able to go to a place like Benny's hospice; I think she would have had a much more peaceful death. Maybe I've been thinking about death too much lately, but I actually was really into the Benny section of the book. His character rang very true.
The chick-lit aspect of the book - See, the problem I usually have with chick-lit is that most of it seems to follow a similar pattern: girl meets a bunch of guys, perhaps has a relationship with someone unworthy of her, then ends up with the guy you've known since page 3 was the one she would end up with. Meh. I like to be surprised, I like my heart to feel all tingly when I realize what's going to happen...And in this book, there really was only one guy, and he didn't appear right away, and when he did, he was immediately appealing. Yet - I still didn't know what was going to happen. There was even a wild thought in my mind that Henry would turn out to be a user (maybe a one-nighter with Anne?) and Eleanor would end up with Stefan, who wasn't really as perfect-looking as his picture. 'Cause that's probably the way I would have ended it, if I had written this...So any chick-littish book that can keep me guessing is awesome.
Portland - I so want to go there.
The ending, overall - I am fine with not having every question answered. I am happy assuming that Christine is Benny's child.
What I didn't like - Mom. I totally did not buy into this character. Of course, I know from having my own stuff workshopped that the characters and situations that seem the least plausible are sometimes the most real aspects of the book. I just did not buy that this woman would marry Benny, take off on him and Rosemary, bring her younger daughters to visit Rosemary, then take a photography class with her secret ex-husband and make him a part of the family, alienating her current husband in the process...and then cut him out of her life, not even visiting him on his deathbed.
Yolanda - It seemed like she was a plot device - just there to give Mom something to be pissed about. I didn't get why Yolanda and Benny had married in the first place, and I didn't get why she had taken off, or why she clearly loved him but didn't come back when he needed her. She was not a shrinking violet, she was a bold, colorful character; she could have told Mom to go to hell.
The whole mystery thing - Yes, all families have secrets, but this just didn't ring true in any way. I actually thought it was kind of creepy how Benny came to Portland and took over, pushing the kids on their swings, etc., when poor Dad - although he was not a sympathetic character, either - had done nothing to deserve that. Dad was probably worn out from dealing with Mom and raising kids he suspected were not his own. Eleanor told the story from the point of view of an adult, looking back on her childhood, but there were too many missing pieces.
Anyway - I will definitely read more from this author. This was an ideal book for my convalescence, which is (regretfully?) coming to an end, so now I probably won't get to Jennie Shortridge's other books until summer.
Post-9/11, highly metaphorical, tightly constructed. The entire book is a one-sided conversation between the narrator, a young Princeton-educated Paki...morePost-9/11, highly metaphorical, tightly constructed. The entire book is a one-sided conversation between the narrator, a young Princeton-educated Pakistani man, and a shadowy American figure who joins him for tea. The narrator, Changez, tells the story of his American experience before 9/11 and in the months following. This is such a short book that you can read it in real time, the time it'd take you to have a leisurely afternoon tea, followed by a meal, some wine, dessert...yet there is nothing leisurely about the book. One reviewer here described it as "claustrophobic" and I think that's accurate. I won't get into spoilers because I think you need to discover the book for yourself and figure out what message it gives to you. (less)
Chris Crutcher is usually good, and this one is ok, but I think he tried to do way too much here and ended up with width, not depth. Let's see: fatal...moreChris Crutcher is usually good, and this one is ok, but I think he tried to do way too much here and ended up with width, not depth. Let's see: fatal blood disease, alcoholism, mental illness, rampant sexual abuse, physical abuse, teen parenting, bad bad parenting, brotherly rivalry, racism, car accidents, hidden pasts of all kinds, "lies my teacher told me" - is there anything I missed?* My head is spinning from all of the big issues Chris Crutcher tries to cover here. I get that his main point is "we all have secrets" but wow...if he had just touched upon one or two of these things, and done it with more character development, it would have been so much better and so teachable. And I get it, the kid is short, but that's not a personality trait and it doesn't need to be mentioned on every page. I won't even get into the ending, which is soooooo contrived. Ok for the classroom library, but not worth adding to the curriculum.
*I missed the Jesus dreams and the sex. Oh Lord.(less)