This is the type of story that you cannot judge as you are reading it. It is the type that cannot be properly evaluated until you reach the conclusion...moreThis is the type of story that you cannot judge as you are reading it. It is the type that cannot be properly evaluated until you reach the conclusion. Yes, it is about Oscar and his brief life; about a nerdy kid and the treacherous ways he is treated.
Of course you cannot tell the tale of Oscar without learning about his family, his mother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, their history and The Fuku Curse. The story bounces back & forth seemingly in a random time frame order informing you about Oscar’s family and how their past actions will effect our hero in the present. But through the entire account, as you think you are learning about Oscar’s own life, in truth you are learning the real heart of the story: the systematic rape of the Dominican Republic by its crusty political class. First it was Trujillo and then it was Belageur. The author depicts pungently, ironically, and emotionally through historical footnotes interspersed throughout the book the horrid offenses of each dictator and their minions. These footnotes have their own cynical way of delivering depressing news of shock and outrage with a sort of tongue in cheek sense of humor that takes the edge off of the sad state of affairs in this part of the Western Hemisphere; a part of the world that is glossed over in history books.
Only when I reached the end of the book did I realize how much more there was to the story. What made it effective was the method in which it was told. If you ever pick up this book, just make sure to finish it.(less)
**spoiler alert** Wicked is the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became wicked. Or at least that is what I believed the book to be about. You...more**spoiler alert** Wicked is the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became wicked. Or at least that is what I believed the book to be about. You see, Elphaba, the future witch, was born with green skin. This anomaly is never fully explained. Was it a curse? Perhaps. And herein is where my problem with the book starts. There are too many loose ends.
Elphaba, or Elphie as she is sometimes called, is a great many things in this story: she is quick-witted and rational; she's a fervent animal activist; she's an anti-establishment revolutionary; she's a nun and nurse, ministering to the sick and dying and perhaps a mother (although we are not really sure about that). What she is not, as far as I'm concerned, is wicked. If nothing else in the story, Elphie was a failure. She failed as a daughter, a sister, a student, a militant, an assassin and even a witch. The only thing she seemed good at was being rude, bitter and paranoid. If the point of the story was to make me feel sorry for the Elphaba, the book succeeded. I like the genre, the alternate reality, the peripheral information around a much more popular story. It is almost like a historical fiction novel, but not. (if that makes any sense). My point of contention would be that the while trying to answer questions about the witch, the author created too many new issues.
I did feel great sympathy for Elphie. That was one of the things I enjoyed about the book. The information about what Elphie does when she's working with the underground activist movement is alluded to but never explained. I'm still wondering just what she was actually up to in Emerald City.
I thought in the beginning that Elphie would have some glorious role - for good or evil - and would make a difference or serve some purpose - she didn't. She lived ever on the outskirts of the action, and basically "became" a witch quite by accident.
Also, I did not enjoy the way in which the author seemed to discard many of the characters. Elphie's friends at Shiz, especially Boq, had real stories - then all of the sudden, their stories were over. Then some characters, like Fiyero's widow and her family, seemingly pointless to the story, were written about at length, making the story seem like a meandering tale or shaggy dog. I kept hoping that my many questions would be answered. Why was she green? Was she cursed? Was her father or mother cursed? What did Glinda do to the shoes? Was Morrible in cahoots with the Wizard.
The only rationale I can imagine for all of these loose ends was that the author was concentrating so much on the story of Elphaba, that he felt the story was Elphaba's exclusively. But even that line of reasoning isn't consistent through out the book. Just as the climax was building, the author changes his mind, and shoves Elphie into a situation that makes no sense. At the beginning of Wicked, Maguire makes it perfectly clear the Elphie is a non-believer. Suddenly, she's in a convent? She's a nun? And she spends 7 odd years doing... what? It was very frustrating.
Overall, I did enjoy the book; the irony of the ending and how Elphaba perceived Dorothy to be a symbol of death (after all she did kill her sister, her dog, her birds, bees and eventually Elphaba herself). I'd like to be able to give the book four stars, but the sometimes meandering story and the remaining questions force a three star rating. I only wish that Jasper Fforde had written this.
The Geography of Bliss tries to unlock the secrets that make people happy. the research documented in the book explains that some places seem to be in...moreThe Geography of Bliss tries to unlock the secrets that make people happy. the research documented in the book explains that some places seem to be incubators for happiness. So the author goes out to try and find out from theses good people what it is about their lands that make them happy.
First I'll tell you what I liked about the book. I enjoyed the exploration of the different cultures. It is always interesting to learn about others, their beliefs, habits, way of life and then compare them with my own. The author interviewed people from Qatar, Iceland, Britain, India, Moldova and tried to experience what was unique about each country. It sounds like it would make a interesting Discovery Channel show right? One that lasts 30 minutes.
Now here is what I didn't like. Have you ever had to sit through someone's vacation slides and here them tell you about each detail? That is how I felt most of the time reading this book. I got to hear about his visit to a ashram in India run by a guy that reminded me of The Love Guru. He also shared with us the niceities about Icelandic poetry, what it is like to eat rotten shark meat, that he felt the Swiss are arrogant (already knew that), that Qatar is like Florida in that no one is really from there, Moldovians have trust issues and that Miami is paradise in the U.S.'
So what did the author teach us about happiness? Well, we learned that money matters, but less than we think, and not in the way we think. Family is important, so are friends, envy is toxic, so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional, trust is not. Happiness is full of inconsistencies; places are the same. It's not the elements that matter, but how they are arranged and in what proportions.
So nothing really enlightening. And that is exactly how I would describe this book. (less)
This is one of those books that I am not supposed to like for a variety of reasons. One being that it is a mass marketed author which I seem to have a...moreThis is one of those books that I am not supposed to like for a variety of reasons. One being that it is a mass marketed author which I seem to have a prejudice against. There is no real reason for this mind set, I just seem to have it. Secondly, it is a really sappy sort of love story and I think that kind of book is just for girls. (I know, I know, another unreasonable mind set, but I felt like I should be under a umbrella at the beach behind a pair of Ray Ban Sunglasses) And finally, it is written by a mass marketed author whom has numerous books for sale in the check outline at the local grocer right next to the M & M's.
But you know what? I liked the book. True, it is a sappy love story. And true, it is mass marketed. But for some unjustified reason I liked it. I found it a simplistic read that required no background knowledge (but it would be nice to have been to Astors in New York City at some point in my lfe) and I finished it quite rapidly.
The story is about a little girl who has a imaginary friend that no one else can see and who, when the girl turns nine, must leave her forever. But later in life, when this little girl grows up, her imaginary friend comes back into her life by accident. (I now what you are thinking. "I thought he was imaginary?" It does get a bit convoluted there but you have to go with it) You see, they are each others true love and in this story even angels can fall in love. The second half of the book Michael, the imaginary friend, tries to rationalize why this is happening, why are all the rules being broken, why did he cut himself shaving, why does his heart hurt? But Michael can never stay in one place long, he always has another job and no one ever remembers him. Why is this time different? But it can't last.....can it....(less)
I was pleasantly surprised by this family saga. Initially the story seemed flat, which only seemed to confirm my suspicions. But the story and prose s...moreI was pleasantly surprised by this family saga. Initially the story seemed flat, which only seemed to confirm my suspicions. But the story and prose slowly gripped me, making me at first curious and then engrossed with the protagonist. (less)
Okay, so it sucks to be poor. Although that is a fairly obvious statement, this book drives the point home with the authors experiences and some stori...moreOkay, so it sucks to be poor. Although that is a fairly obvious statement, this book drives the point home with the authors experiences and some stories from the trenches of real life people instead of faceless and impersonal statistics culled by some economist.
The best thing about the book is the perspective offered about what it is like to try and live while making $7-$8 an hour. What was most alarming was the cost of putting a roof over someones head. In the last 10 years, inflation itself has been relatively calm, while rents have skyrocketed making not only meals, transportation and health care unaffordable, but even a consistent address a luxury.
Although I had wished for a little more depth of study (the author never stayed employed or resided in any one place more than 30 days), you still were offered insight into a world that over 40 million Americans still live. (less)