OK, on to Katie Nash #3. She is an addictive character with a unique voice. A sweet follow up to Durable Goods. Berg's a writer I'd love to have lunch...moreOK, on to Katie Nash #3. She is an addictive character with a unique voice. A sweet follow up to Durable Goods. Berg's a writer I'd love to have lunch with....(less)
Reads like the classic books I grew up with: Cricket in Times Square, Miss Bianca, Rabbit Hill, but more poetic. A lovely story about a family who gat...moreReads like the classic books I grew up with: Cricket in Times Square, Miss Bianca, Rabbit Hill, but more poetic. A lovely story about a family who gathers and lives around ice in Maine. Will baffle the kids of today about how families used to entertain themselves. Highly recommend for young readers and parents who love to read out loud to their kids.(less)
Another late to the party book. Picked it off of my library staff pick shelf. I see now it's first in a series, that Berg's main character was so love...moreAnother late to the party book. Picked it off of my library staff pick shelf. I see now it's first in a series, that Berg's main character was so loved that fans asked for more, and that Berg feels this is her best book. It is a sweet summer read, with lovely writing and some quietly profound ideas. The plot's been done (daughter in rural Texas with abusive father), but Berg's insights and prose make this worth reading. Loved her sentiment at the end, that her abusive father was "only what I was given first. There are other places to look for things." (less)
My book blurb: Atmospheric and electrifying. Mantel's novel vibrates with originality and poetic brilliance. Her frayed characters are "planted in the...moreMy book blurb: Atmospheric and electrifying. Mantel's novel vibrates with originality and poetic brilliance. Her frayed characters are "planted in the dirt of the plains" and do their best to make "abundance out of scarcity." I admire this impressive debut, carefully crafted to take language and story to a new level.(less)
Sometimes it seems as if the form of flash fiction were invented just for Meg Pokrass to experiment with. Another collection of her brilliant, origina...moreSometimes it seems as if the form of flash fiction were invented just for Meg Pokrass to experiment with. Another collection of her brilliant, original stories, as fragile and ethereal as the birds that flutter throughout the book.(less)
From the book: "That's what I hope they think of me: a present to them all from God, to show how little one can possess of what we think it means to b...moreFrom the book: "That's what I hope they think of me: a present to them all from God, to show how little one can possess of what we think it means to be human while still possessing full humanity. I am a gift . . ." It took me awhile to get reeled into this marvelous debut. After reading Alice Hoffman's lush prose, Elkins' simpler style seemed a tad dull. And I am not a fan of books that change points of view. I'd rather stick with the one. However, after a few chapters, I was completely captivated by this incredible jewel of a true story that Elkins unearthed.
I'm so glad she did. I'm so glad she gave us the gift of Laura Bridgman, the predecessor to Helen Keller. Though this is fiction, and there are notes at the end that let the reader know how much is fact and imagination, I admire the author's ability to write from multiple povs. And while the reader has to suspend some belief in the eloquence of the chapters narrated by Laura, who can neither hear, see, smell, nor taste, the empathy and refusal by the author to make her subject only sympathetic makes this story full of depth and intelligence. You will not always like Laura, but you will root for her in a misogynistic world, cry for her when she loses something, celebrate when she gains the smallest bits of humanity.
What is even more remarkable about this story is that so much of U.S. history crosses over and around Laura: Charles Dickens, Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller, John Brown, Julia Ward Howe, John Wilkes Booth's brother; the list of 19th-century names is one of those truth is stranger than fiction things. It almost reads like a Victorian soap opera, but Elkins manages to rise about the suds and deliver a short but epic story that reveals the growth of her characters and "how strangely the tides and times change for every man [or woman]." Questions about philosophy, the role of religion, sexuality, women's rights, disabilities, raise this novel above the usual historical fiction. I hope this remarkable book with an unvarnished heroine wins some awards. After reading it, I feel more awakened to life. What more can you ask from a book?(less)
This is my first Hoffman book. I had no interest in her earlier works, haven't yet read Dovekeepers (on my list), but was intrigued by this story. I'm...moreThis is my first Hoffman book. I had no interest in her earlier works, haven't yet read Dovekeepers (on my list), but was intrigued by this story. I'm from Long Island and grew up with Coney Island and its mythic shadow. So I'm coming at this reading as sort of a Hoffman virgin. And the book for me was well done enough that I enjoyed it and want to read Dovekeepers for sure.
What worked and didn't work? I guess from a fellow writer's pov, I know how hard it was for her to accomplish all she did. The research esp. into the landscape even more than the events was remarkable. When Eddie is wandering along the riverbanks and in the swamps, you hear the night birds and smell the flora and fauna. And for the most part, the prose flowed beautifully, and her descriptions of characters are unique (rabbi: He was an old mane from Russia, who owned a single suit that he wore every day. There was sorrow in the seams of his clothes, but he was used to death. It seemed that life was a bolt of cloth to him, and he was there to fold it and set it in a drawer). But in some places the prose resorted to cliches, and I found some glitches in the editing where facts were repeated verbatim.
I think some on GR complained about the obvious plot. I don't think of that as a problem. Almost every book you pick up with a love story, you know where it's going, don't you? But I agree with some of the critiques that there was little to go on once the characters actually met. It felt as if the book was a set-up for this moment, and the moment was too far along and had to be cut down in an editing rush.
The final "letter" also seems to be too much of a convention, and without giving it away, it disappoints in its attempt to resolve one of the delightful mysteries I wish the author had left hanging, like the sparking embers that end the novel. I was thinking, how marvelous that this writer did not feel the need to tell us the answer to this one mystery, and then she sorta did...
However, I still delighted in this book and its mastery of lyrical language and its ambition and its compassion. And I loved the spotlight on this time of history.(less)
I bought this book because I love monkeys, and wanted to read this fascinating memoir about a Colombian child abducted and abandoned in a jungle, then...moreI bought this book because I love monkeys, and wanted to read this fascinating memoir about a Colombian child abducted and abandoned in a jungle, then taken in by a band of Capuchin monkeys. The writing is simple (Chapman's daughter interviewed her and they brought in a ghost writer to finish the work), but the story is riveting and revealing. While I was a tad disappointed that only about 1/4 of the book takes place in the jungle, the book does pick up when Chapman reenters society. She goes from a brothel to the streets to the home of a mafia leader to a convent, before she finds her place.
Some don't believe her story. I do. I've read some memoirs and felt that there was no way that someone could remember so many childhood conversations verbatim or so many events. To me, most of this story rings true. Chapman indicates where she is vague, and has knowledge of the jungle and animal world no one could know unless they spent vast amounts of time exploring it from a monkey's level. Having traveled through a rain forest and followed a troupe of monkeys through the trees, her descriptions sound dead on.
If some memories have been embellished, the basic story of a child surviving with animals in the jungle and then surviving the human animals in the city should give readers a window into what it means to be resilient and to hold on to what is good in you, when everything is conspiring to make you give up your life or take on the values of the oppressor.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in animals, foreign culture, and survival stories. And there may be a sequel, which I will for sure pick up. Chapman is a wise spirit, one we can all learn from.(less)
Glad I got out of the library. It's a pretty little book, but $14? I think of all the wonderful literature out there one can buy for the same price. L...moreGlad I got out of the library. It's a pretty little book, but $14? I think of all the wonderful literature out there one can buy for the same price. Look this up on the internet and read in ten minutes. A nice sentiment to preach to graduates to be kind, but nothing remarkable in the language or insights or advice.(less)
Full disclosure that the author is my cousin, so a biased but proud ranking. A personal look by the adoptive father of two special needs children into...moreFull disclosure that the author is my cousin, so a biased but proud ranking. A personal look by the adoptive father of two special needs children into learning how to cope. Structured as vignettes followed by questions and prompts, this book will help not only parents with special needs children, but parents who are single or overwhelmed in their daily roles. Joshi has a gift for rising above, and his background in ministry allows him to offer something of more depth than the usual platitudes.(less)