I may have enjoyed this book more if I'd read it instead of listening to the audio version. The narrator that voiced Andi's portion of the book just g...moreI may have enjoyed this book more if I'd read it instead of listening to the audio version. The narrator that voiced Andi's portion of the book just grated on my nerves. I thought she was way over the top in the dramatic way she read the book.
I thought the portions dealing with the what lead up to the French Revolution, and details about the Revolution were well written and historically accurate. I thought the modern day story was extremely dark with teens drinking and drugging, suicidal thoughts and disconnected parents.
Why do so many YA books seemed to be filled with such dark themes? I was reading this with a view to give it to my 14 year-old niece. She's an advanced reader and wouldn't have any trouble with the reading level, but I'm not going to give it to her because of the modern day melodrama that was so centrally featured.
I liked this book less than Donnelly's 'A Northern Light'. I had heard such great things about this book, but for me the modern day segments dragged down the historical fiction centered around the French Revolution.(less)
This book review was originally written for and published on the LuxuryReading.com book review website. --------------------------
The college years are...moreThis book review was originally written for and published on the LuxuryReading.com book review website. --------------------------
The college years are usually full of angst, longing, uncertainty and growth. The main characters in Chad Harbach’s debut novel, “The Art of Fielding” experience all sorts of conflicting emotions and life experiences as they each struggle to define who they are within the small rural Wisconsin campus of Westish College; and who they will become when they leave college. This book has been billed as a baseball story. There are plenty of pages devoted to the discussion of baseball philosophy (the Zen of Baseball if you will) and lots of descriptions of baseball games. For those of you who aren’t baseball fans or who normally shy away from sports centered books I’d suggest that step up and (ahem) take a swing at this book anyway. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
To me this story was reminiscent of John Irving’s, “A Prayer for Owen Meany” or David James Duncan’s “The Brothers K”. Like “The Art of Fielding”, both of these books had strong baseball themes; and like “The Art of Fielding”, they were both about so much more than baseball. At more than 500 pages, Harbach has given himself a broad enough canvas to also be able to throw in some Herman Melville history and other 19th century poets and philosophers. Guert Affenlight, the current Westish College President became a Melville scholar and changed his intended career because of a discovery about Melville that he made as a Westish undergrad. The Westish teams are called the “Harpooners” and Melville is a symbolic mascot for the campus.
The story centers around five main characters. Henry Skrimshander is the phenom short-stop recruited by Mike Schwartz who is himself still just a sophomore at Westish when the story opens. Schwartz is a motivator and mentor to his teammates, but he has higher aspirations for his life than just coaching. Owen Dunne is Henry’s erudite gay roommate who also happens to be an exceptional batter on the Westish baseball team. Pella, Guert’s daughter, arrives back in Wisconsin the day that Henry makes his first ever throwing error. Owen is seriously injured and hospitalized by the throw. Guert is so preoccupied by his unexpected obsession with Owen that he barely has time to acknowledge that his daughter has fled back to him, leaving her depressing marriage behind in San Francisco.
How all the characters react to the consequences of that one errant throw propel the story arc for the remaining bulk of the book. If the story seems overly tinged with soap opera angst the fault lies with my abridged retelling of the bare plotlines. The book feels lively and character driven as Harbach takes his time to tease out the nuances of the story. Overall, I thought Harbach only copped out with the resolution of the relationship between Guert and Owen. Otherwise this memorable story about friendship and coming of age reminded me how tough it was to work through all the issues the college years presented.
Amazing -- simply amazing! I listened to this in the audio book format and was enthralled. The characters cames to life in all their pain riddled glor...moreAmazing -- simply amazing! I listened to this in the audio book format and was enthralled. The characters cames to life in all their pain riddled glory. Oskar is such a great character. All those things that we might have fleetingly thought about as the hours and days unfolded after 9/11 Oskar dwells on. But through his quest for his Dad's last scavengar hunt for him, he's able to move through some of the pain.
It's the best book of the year so far for me. (less)
Great story set in Maine in the 1960's. Florine lost her mother mysteriously when she was 12 years old. The rest of the book describes how she and tho...moreGreat story set in Maine in the 1960's. Florine lost her mother mysteriously when she was 12 years old. The rest of the book describes how she and those around her cope with that loss, and move on in their small coastal community. This coming of age tale hits the right tone for the ages of the characters and the time period in which they live.
I really like Florine. She wasn't flawless (hurray!), but she was believable. (less)
Not one of my favorite books by Kate Wilhelm. Give me a goo Barbara Holloway mystery any day! This book just kind of plods along. The story wasn't all...moreNot one of my favorite books by Kate Wilhelm. Give me a goo Barbara Holloway mystery any day! This book just kind of plods along. The story wasn't all that interesting to me even if it was set in my neck of the woods.(less)