I thought this was a fascinating novel that artfully blended the tale of friendship between Lily and Snow Flower with Chinese customs and history. I l...moreI thought this was a fascinating novel that artfully blended the tale of friendship between Lily and Snow Flower with Chinese customs and history. I loved how their story unfolded and developed over the course of their lifetime. Reading about the process of foot binding was painful, as was reading about the worthlessness of girls. However, the secret writings of Lily and Snow Flower and other Chinese women was inspiring. I wish I hadn't waited so long to read this!
I see-sawed with my opinion of The History of Love. The beginning never really grabbed me, but I felt the story became more compelling in the last hal...moreI see-sawed with my opinion of The History of Love. The beginning never really grabbed me, but I felt the story became more compelling in the last half of the book. The problem for me was the story was so convoluted, by the time it started to come together, I was already a little put off.
Krauss had some brilliant moments with the book within a book elements, but I think maybe she was trying to be too clever sometimes. The elderly Leo was too needy and pathetic. Alma was a little too precocious. Bird was too unconventional. And Alma and Bird's mother was too inattentive to her children. A case of too much "too", that the characters didn't ring true.
I did love how people inspired the characters in the book within the book and how those characters in turned inspired other lives; then the stories and lives all intersected.
I thought this was an incredibly quirky and imaginative book. The main character, Oskar Schell, is a precocious 9 yr old by trying to deal with the de...moreI thought this was an incredibly quirky and imaginative book. The main character, Oskar Schell, is a precocious 9 yr old by trying to deal with the death of his father in the 9/11 tragedy. Oskar's attempt to make sense of his fathers death, his struggle to keep his memory alive, his guilt over not taking his father's last phone call and his fear seem very real.
I especially liked how Oskar constantly invented things. When he couldn't sleep, his mind operated in overdrive. His inventions helped him feel safe and in control. His lists of things he couldn't or wouldn't do made we want to wrap my arms around him to protect him. I thought this was an accurate portrayal of depression.
The pictures in the book, which were images of Oskar's "Stuff That Happened To Me," helped to see things through Oskar's eyes. Oskar searched for meaning, where sometimes meaning can't be found. We can see things, but it doesn't mean there's an explanation for them. Juxtaposed throughout the story is the tragedy of Oskar's grandparents and their life after the senseless firebombing of Dresden.
I felt for Oskar as he grasped for meaning and answers, and though his search didn't bring him to the conclusion he was hoping for; I think in the end it made his boots feel lighter.
Elizabeth Berg's The Year of Pleasures takes a contemplative look at the grieving process. This book struck a chord with me because being middle-aged...moreElizabeth Berg's The Year of Pleasures takes a contemplative look at the grieving process. This book struck a chord with me because being middle-aged I've already had friends dealing with the death of their spouse. I imagined the choices I'd have to make if I was in Betta's shoes. How do we go on after losing our partner and is there any right way or appropriate timing involved in our decisions to move forward? Berg reminds me that we should make the most of each day, since we don't know when the unexpected may occur; and when it does, we have permission to seek happiness and pleasure afterwards. Well done!
"Baptism by fire" is a fitting metaphor for Jeannette Wall's life. At the young age of 3, Walls literally set herself on fire while cooking hotdogs un...more"Baptism by fire" is a fitting metaphor for Jeannette Wall's life. At the young age of 3, Walls literally set herself on fire while cooking hotdogs unsupervised on the stove. Thus begins her story and the first real memory she has of her life.
Fire seemed to be a dominant theme in Walls book. After the incident of the burn to her torso and her 6 week hospitalization, Walls instead of showing fear of something that caused pain and scarring, became fascinated with fire. She experimented with matches and setting things on fire, from chemicals she and her brother found to paper in the toilet. She had one rental where her family lived burn down. She saved her brother from a burning shed. A flash fire started at her home in Welch and one year her father set their Christmas tree on fire. I don't know if Walls intentionally set out to use fire as symbol of her life, but after reading her book I found it very apt.
After Jeannette and Brian set the shed on fire, her father described the the top of the fire where the flames dissolved into an invisible shimmering heat. He said, "...that zone was known in physics as the boundary between turbulence and order. It's a place where no rules apply, or at least they haven't figured 'em out yet."
I thought that was the zone where the Walls children lived, between turbulence and order. They took care of themselves without much help from their parents; dad was an alcoholic and mom a self-centered artist. For a while Jeannette was mesmerized by her father and their nomadic way of life, just as she was mesmerized by fire. Eventually, the reality of the way they lived set in and Jeannette fought for herself and her siblings to escape to a world of order.
I was fascinated by Walls memoir and the fact that she rose above her life of poverty and dysfunctional family. She came out of it with scars (from the fire), but instead of being hindered by them, she chose to view them as something that added texture to her life. Amazing story! I can't stop thinking about it. It truly is a must read! Bookmarks Issue: 17-July-Aug-2005(less)
Brooks did an amazing job breathing life into the character of Mr. March, father of the infamous Little Women. Alcott's Mr. March is off to war throug...moreBrooks did an amazing job breathing life into the character of Mr. March, father of the infamous Little Women. Alcott's Mr. March is off to war throughout most of her novel, and Brooks takes his character, and gives him his own story. It was lyrically told, and mesmerizing. I liked how Brooks carefully wove his story into Little Women, along with actual historical personages and events. Excellent!