Let me be clear: I am not a football fan. My motivation for reading this book is its consideration as mandatory summer reading this year. Set in MemphLet me be clear: I am not a football fan. My motivation for reading this book is its consideration as mandatory summer reading this year. Set in Memphis, Tennessee, a city still racially polarized forty years after MLK’s assassination, The Blind Side works on multiple levels: as an explanation of the NFL’s growing reliance on QB passing as a game strategy and the need for the QB to be protected from injury(hence the development of offensive left guard) , an expose of college football recruiting in an area of the country known for its veneration of the sport, and an illustration of the power of love (and money) to make a difference in a life destined to go nowhere. At 15, Michael Oher is 6’5”, 350 pounds and a gifted athlete. He is black, practically illiterate, and living on and off the streets. How he overcomes the obstacles and capitalizes on his talents makes a fascinating story, one that is sensitively handled and well-written. Michael Oher will graduate from college this year and is expected to be a first round NFL draft. I’ll be cheering him on. ...more
The story unfolds slowly, so that you gradually learn about the students’ role in society. Kathy H. is a matter-of-fact narrator, rather detached andThe story unfolds slowly, so that you gradually learn about the students’ role in society. Kathy H. is a matter-of-fact narrator, rather detached and accepting. I think much of what the author is trying to convey comes from what Kath doesn’t say (i.e., read in-between the lines). There’s no outrage or desperation, and any anger Kath expresses is against other students for perceived slights or betrayals. I would classify this as dystopian rather than SF because it’s all possible now and chillingly believable. The author exercises a lot of restraint while exploring themes of illness, mortality, and “other-ness”....more
Another gem from ALA’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners. It both cracked me up and grossed me out. Roach (who could easilAnother gem from ALA’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners. It both cracked me up and grossed me out. Roach (who could easily hold her own with Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart) delivers much food for thought in a funny, funny way. What happens to one’s body after death is a timely topic, given the number of aging baby boomers. I found myself rooting for the Swedish ecological burials, though think it unlikely they will catch on in the U.S. (especially in the South, which already has the country's lowest cremation rates)....more
I’m not sure how to sum up this book. It’s compelling, moving, funny, horrifying. It shows the power of voicing one’s emotions and experiences throughI’m not sure how to sum up this book. It’s compelling, moving, funny, horrifying. It shows the power of voicing one’s emotions and experiences through writing and the indomitability of the human spirit. America, as a society, needs to take a hard look at the juvenile justice system and adopt a more redemptive route to dealing with offenders. Volatile adolescents and bad circumstances often lead to poor life decisions, and the answer is not locking kids away for life. Salzman writes convincingly and well. I loved True Notebooks, even if it is a heart-breaker....more
This novel, notwithstanding the flaming Germans that begin and end the story, is an absolutely charming read. Pia, the ten-year-old half-German, half-This novel, notwithstanding the flaming Germans that begin and end the story, is an absolutely charming read. Pia, the ten-year-old half-German, half-English narrator, appeals to the sleuth I aspired to be oh so many years ago. I loved the Brothers Grimm fairytale elements and all the German expressions sprinkled throughout (too bad I discovered the glossary AFTER finishing; it would’ve saved a lot of googling). The novel relies more on humor and the atmosphere of a German village than plot, and I’d be tempted to call it a cozy mystery were it not for some of the grislier developments. Charmed and chilled pretty much sums up my reaction. ...more
Ready Player One is incredibly imaginative and will make an action-packed movie, providing the studio can afford to pay for intellectual concepts mentReady Player One is incredibly imaginative and will make an action-packed movie, providing the studio can afford to pay for intellectual concepts mentioned in the book (R2D2, Marty McFly, Monty Python, PacMan and other eighties’ concepts). There’s a lot of excruciating detail given about video/online games, and I zoned out while the final scenes spilled onto the page (too much like an obligatory car chase, I suppose). I wish Cline had focused more attention on the realities of life in 2044 (ugly or not), to balance out the virtual 24/7/365 OASIS world. The short part about Wade’s real-life effort to get fit in his apartment is great....more
Anyone who is either from a small town or enjoys a David and Goliath story would like this book. L.C. Sweet knows how to motivate students and athleteAnyone who is either from a small town or enjoys a David and Goliath story would like this book. L.C. Sweet knows how to motivate students and athletes. He likely wouldn’t fare as well in today’s educational arena (where no Popular Mechanics magazines are allowed in English classes and standardized tests determine pay grades) or on the high school baseball diamond (where playing time, winning, and scholarships are paramount). In the early 1970s, though, when gas was a dollar a gallon, the Vietnam War was being fought in America’s living rooms, and long hair was a sign of communistic leanings, Sweet coached the baseball team of his small school to an Illinois state final against an urban school with far more resources and talent. He was by all accounts an unorthodox coach, leading by example, not requiring practice, soliciting input from the kids about their abilities and preferences, and insisting that everyone have a good time on the team. Not everyone liked his methods (the players warmed up to Jesus Christ Superstar) but no one could argue with his impact on his team. In this instance, one man made a huge difference in the lives of thirteen baseball players who only had 5 bats between them at any given time and were required to wash uniforms between double headers.
Quick, light, fun read. Loved the characters—even the most unlikely had surprising roles to play--and the presentation of the first two-thirds of theQuick, light, fun read. Loved the characters—even the most unlikely had surprising roles to play--and the presentation of the first two-thirds of the story by emails, reports, and notes knitted together by the daughter’s narration. Sort of like one of Bernadette’s LA houses. This has to be the first novel I’ve read to feature blackberry brambles in an urban context, evoking both environmentalism run amok and Briar Rose. It falters a little towards the end when the style switches to full narrative.