Really a 3.5. I've never read anything else by Murakami so maybe that's it. I found myself wanting to like it more than I did, although it was beautifReally a 3.5. I've never read anything else by Murakami so maybe that's it. I found myself wanting to like it more than I did, although it was beautifully crafted. I read a lot about running and I think this book was not what I needed right now on that front.
What I'll remember is the description of the perfect sour plum during the ultra but everything else drifted away. ...more
More accurately, a 3.5/maybe 4. This started a five star read and it was the kind of good read that made me want to pace myself because I didn't wantMore accurately, a 3.5/maybe 4. This started a five star read and it was the kind of good read that made me want to pace myself because I didn't want to miss anything. But about 5/6 of the way through, I got the feeling the author was rushing to finish, and pulled a lot of punches and wrapped up the book firmly and efficiently, but I didn't think it was especially true to the story. It's not my story, so I can't know, of course.
I have some anthropology knowledge, and while I loved the author's obvious research, I thought it was a strange mix of historical novelization and thin masks, with heavy handed exposition. Andrew was a good character with a lot of promise, and I wanted more for him. The last chapter was exactly what I wanted in a novel, especially a novel about anthropology, but by the time I got there, I had had more than a few "o rly" moments with the other characters so it caught me off guard.
So, I don't know what to say--I loved the premise, and I loved the final chapter, and I firmly believe there need to be more novels about cultural anthropologists. I think I just wanted more. Major respect to the author for extensive research and crafting....more
Reasonable and important for visibility of a difficult topic, but also troubled by uneven story-telling. The characters were often caricatures or tropReasonable and important for visibility of a difficult topic, but also troubled by uneven story-telling. The characters were often caricatures or tropes (the emotionally closed-off photographer who could only see the world through her lens? ho hum), but expressive and insightful, except when they missed all the falling anvils. A lot of cultural details were explained in detail at the expense of some family or personal dynamics. Some of author's choices seemed hesitant, but others seemed brave. The ending was a bit too wish-fulfillment.
The author has a nice gift for language, so I will definitely consider reading her again, although the subject matter is usually something I bypass.
Characters and storytelling were weak but I thought the writing was fair. Sort of a 2.5ish....more
This is normally not my bag, and although it had some pluses, I was mostly put off by various things.
Good things-- Fairly realistic depiction of libraThis is normally not my bag, and although it had some pluses, I was mostly put off by various things.
Good things-- Fairly realistic depiction of librarianship, although this was sparse The interfamily drama was realistic-ish and not OTT Low stakes Vintage wardrobe I like the rockstar's mother
Detractors-- The hot rock star sounds pretty fug, like a mix of Guy Fieri and some professional wrestler, although I think he wasn't blond. The librarian veered into creeper territory, hard and fast. Lots of Not Sharing which leads to Incorrect Inferences and a lot of Stomping Off.
The author seemed to put a lot of effort into world building and research, but just stopped when it came to the song titles.
Perhaps not the best book ever, but certainly one of the most enjoyable reads--deeply satisfying on an entire spectrum from awful to screaming with laPerhaps not the best book ever, but certainly one of the most enjoyable reads--deeply satisfying on an entire spectrum from awful to screaming with laughter. I loved the gossip, I loved the stories of resilience, her new life as an AIDS activist and as an advocate for victims of sexual abuse. I also loved the bit of loving Nellie Olesen in France. As a memoir, it was almost a spiritual heir to Auntie Mame and Belle Poitrine, and it is the kind of story that would have worked as a novel.
I really wanted to like this book, and it was out of a sense of obligation that I even continued because I was ready to quit around p. 75 and by pageI really wanted to like this book, and it was out of a sense of obligation that I even continued because I was ready to quit around p. 75 and by page 100 I thought I had done my due diligence, per Nancy Pearl, but I trucked on, and was rewarded in a small way.
The good parts: I liked the general pacing of the story, and I thought June's discoveries were interesting, and I think the author has a reasonably good grasp of the inner workings of the human heart.
HOWEVER, I thought a lot of punches were pulled, and the mother's story seemed like a dropped plotline. I thought the story was overly long and dragged in places. I thought June was a total Mary Sue, and when she wasn't a Mary Sue, she was flat and didn't really have much of an inner life. She was defined by things she liked, and although she liked the Cloisters and medieval stuff, that's not a substitution for a personality. Toby was the real gem of the story, like others said in reviews, and a novel about his life would be an interesting read, in theory. I also wonder if the unnamed town where he was from is Wolverhampton, but that's not a relevant detail.
It also bothered me that a man born in the 1940s would be named Finn.
I don't read a lot of YA, so I'm out of my depth on how it compares with genre, but as an adult reading it, I also thought June was a strange mix of too flat, too articulate, and kind of dim. As someone who remembers the 80s very well, I was irritated by a lot of the markers of place, although the politics were a nice touch. The props and related details poked through an otherwise balanced story about plagues and loss and sadness. We know it's 80s--I get that the details contrast with the details of the middle ages, but I thought they were superfluous and self-conscious.
Summary: It was more interesting than good. Like many readers, I had a teary moment, but it was about cookies. ...more