I know I have enjoyed a book if, upon completion, I find myself searching out more information about it and the author so that the experience does not...moreI know I have enjoyed a book if, upon completion, I find myself searching out more information about it and the author so that the experience does not end - which is exactly what I did here.
You would think I would want the story of depression and suicidal thoughts to leave me as soon as the last page was over. But this book is really more about the spirit of survival when you are trapped inside yourself and fearful because the rest of the world expects something completely different from you - something you cannot give them.
This is a highly auto-biographical account by Plath of a young college girl finding that when she should be most excited about her life, she instead finds that things aren't exactly as they seemed and that the culture of the 1950's doesn't seem to allow for all that she wants. This transitional time in her life brings her to a period of deep depression and obsession with suicide.
I most enjoyed how she places you so well inside the mind of this character's traumatic experience, but mixes in terrific moments of humor throughout. She also does not seek to assign specific blame or cure for her character's mental illness - but rather to primarily let us see what it feels like to be in it - as she wrote - "I am I am I am."
I'm glad she shared this work with us but fear that it's creation might have been her ultimate downfall.(less)
Oh how I love this book. Parts of it do come off as a bit dated now, but the overall theme about all that we, the human race, and our oversized brains...moreOh how I love this book. Parts of it do come off as a bit dated now, but the overall theme about all that we, the human race, and our oversized brains are doing to make ourselves extinct is still very resonant.
This is a tale of "The Nature Cruise of the Century" to Darwin's Galapagos islands in 1986 and how the small group of people beached on one of the islands ends up becoming the future all of humankind.
The detached narrator looks back on the pivotal moments leading up to and including that doomed cruise and how Natural Selection caused humans to survive and evolve - to a much simpler, survival based existence - with smaller brains leading to a future one million years strong and counting.
I absolutely hate spoilers. I don't even care to be reminded in the slightest about the plot before I read something. So it is very funny that I enjoy this book so much since throughout Vonnegut does nothing but spoil things and tell us what is going to happen point blank rather than via foreshadowing - that seems to be for sissies. As he himself said, "Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages."
Vonnegut pokes fun at society and the problems we create for ourselves. His wry humor weaves around his more serious statements about such things as the atrocities of war.
This book was devilishly fun. Read it if you want a satirical laugh about yourself and human nature. After all, in a million years you won't be able to read the book with just your flippers and your mouth. (less)
I didn't like the manner in which the author jumped from the main character, Jean's, story and the story of the people Jean was researching - Maren &...moreI didn't like the manner in which the author jumped from the main character, Jean's, story and the story of the people Jean was researching - Maren & her family. Too jumbled and I just didn't get the parallels. When she finally got to the parts of each story that I was most interested in, she stopped writing. She wrote with such detail all the way through and then skipped over details of the things she had made me most curious to know. Perhaps that is why I didn't really buy into the ending she created for Maren.(less)
My favorite thing about this book was the every day dysfunction in the life of a mom, the life of a woman pining for love, the life of caring for an e...moreMy favorite thing about this book was the every day dysfunction in the life of a mom, the life of a woman pining for love, the life of caring for an elderly parent - the act of living in the real world.
When the book begins, Mattie is recently divorced and her best friend has moved away. She is left with her family to pull her through. She has 2 young children, some pets, a brother, a mom who she has a strained relationship with, and a deceased dad who was missing in her life even when he was alive.
Throughout the years she meets new friends, has pets come and go, and attempts to forge ahead in the dating world while trying too hard to be the care taker for everyone around her. She turns to her faith often as well.
The plot moving function is the search for and discovery of her father's past. But even when she learns all the incredible details, she seems to be much less effected than I would have expected. I think that is because she realizes that it takes enough effort just to live your present life without major disasters - and that is what I took away from the book. Acceptance is a big lesson learned.
There is a lot of humor in Mattie's story and that is what I enjoyed the most. It was refreshing to read about a character who finds a way to get through life not always in the right way, but the best way she knows - basically a regular person!(less)
This is a good book to take on vacation for the plane or on the beach. Light, easy reading. Fun and fluffy romance read. The ending wasn't very creati...moreThis is a good book to take on vacation for the plane or on the beach. Light, easy reading. Fun and fluffy romance read. The ending wasn't very creative - happily ever after - but you would be disappointed with anything less for Jemima.(less)
This book is brutal. From the opening pages I was doing my best to stick with it to see if it got any better. It got worse. I dreaded having to read a...moreThis book is brutal. From the opening pages I was doing my best to stick with it to see if it got any better. It got worse. I dreaded having to read about these miserable and annoying characters. I have the hardest time bringing myself to ever give up on a book but should have with this one. It just wasn't for me. I was surprised since I remember her childrens' books fondly.
A bizarro "mother" with serious issues requests the presence of one of her brothers, her daughter (whom she abandoned as a baby to her own mother's care), and a friend to join her and her 2nd husband for dinner before leaving for a cruise. However, unbeknownst to everyone else, the mother finds out before everyone arrives that her own mother has just died in the old folks home.
The book spends about 2/3 of the time bouncing from inside the head of one character to the other as they spend an uncomfortable evening pretending to like each other. The way these transitions are written are very good. It is just that the characters themselves are so terrible, I did not have the desire to get to know them better, much less listen to them blather on to themselves.
The last 1/3 of the book deals with the effects of the grandmother's death on each of the characters. This was the more engaging part of the book but at that point I had lost all interest in caring about why any of them were the way they had become.(less)
I struggle to rate this book. There are parts that are just so vibrant and original. And there are parts that seem to try too hard - or needed better...moreI struggle to rate this book. There are parts that are just so vibrant and original. And there are parts that seem to try too hard - or needed better editing. Like many of the reviews I have read, the first half is favored and the second half brings me back down to earth (pun intended).
Upon finishing this book go back and read the preface - that brief little memory of the penguin in the snow globe. It sums up what I feel the narrator, Susie Salmon's, difficult lesson of life is. That it is possible to be trapped by things that you thought made you happy and to be alive when you are able to feel pain.
Susie you see, was raped, murdered, chopped up into pieces and disposed of as a teenager. That is not a spoiler. It is revealed in the opening pages and is the basis for all that comes afterward. She narrates her story from her heaven while her murderer survives next door to her shattered family. Her heaven is filled with all things that she desires, magically there as her whims come and go. But what she desires most - to be alive with her family and friends - is not possible any more. So she is trapped in a perfect world surrounded by things that make her happy. And the people who care for her are finding a way to live through the roller coaster of feelings that cause so much pain.
This is a book of lessons about living. About surviving. About hope and dreams. And it is told through a tale of death, violence and despair. Quite amazing really.
The story seemed to lose some steam once the first anniversary of Susie's disappearance has passed. It began to be more scattered and less in your face with strong emotions and actions. I suspect that is probably true in the real world of mourning someone who has been taken away without closure. But in the story line the writing seemed to suffer for it. The phrase - "it was then that I saw/heard/noticed/felt..." became overused and annoying. Details that had been so tidy before now seemed to be glossed over. It felt rather sloppy. Every time the author had written a perfect sentence to sum up the overall story I thought I had reached the end. And then I would turn the page to see there were still more pages. I'm not sure she knew how to disconnect herself from the story - much like Susie.
There were some plot directions - with Susie's mother, and with Susie's brief "return" - that may be criticized or disliked, but I think they are probably just misunderstood. I came to understand Susie's mother's evolution. What appeared to be poor choices weren't really things she was capable of deciding. She fled to survive. And then with time as a catalyst she was able to see that sometimes you have to embrace your fears to conquer them. Lucky for her she had an unrealistically supportive family. As for Susie's "return"...I think the author needed to give her narrator something good. A piece of the healing process that all victims of violence deserve and often never get. I saw it as something beautiful for her to be able to do. And since the author was a rape survivor, I'm sure the writing of these passages held special meaning.
As the book wound down, it became evident that the author believes that closure doesn't necessarily come from a body - but from the soul. And I thought her use of the icicle as a perfect murder weapon to be clever and it made me smile. Something that didn't happen often in a tale like this. But knowing Susie existed on some level made the tragedy uplifting rather than heart wrenching.(less)