The premise is interesting though derivative, and not at all plausible. The narrative is awkward but well-paced. The plot is alternately predictable a...moreThe premise is interesting though derivative, and not at all plausible. The narrative is awkward but well-paced. The plot is alternately predictable and interesting, and full of deus ex machina. The characters are substantial enough for an action-driven story. The emotions are complex. And the writing is bad.
Prime examples (of many):
"I know I haven’t been in this part of the woods before, there were no sizable rocks like the one I’m sheltering against on my earlier travels."
"even more strongly than at home, I feel my impotence."
"When I open my eyes, the world looks slightly fractured, and it takes a minute to realize that the sun must be well up and the glasses fragmenting my vision."
"This girl...is unrecognizable. Her features eradicated, her limbs three times their normal size."
The necessary violence was kind of fascinating and made you stop and think. I liked the issues (wealth & ethics; TV & desensitization; survival vs. compassion, etc.) and my favorite thing was the extreme dual philosophies as embodied by straightforward idealist effeminate Peeta and calculating practical manly Katniss. But this reversal, too, was ultimately disturbing as it depended on these very notions of gender roles.
And is it bad that I just wouldn't even want my kids reading books with sentences like "Today I'll have to be scrupulously careful" and "We look well [i.e. 'good'] together"?!
The whole time I tried to imagine how I would've responded to this book if I were 13. And I just don't know. Would I have been engaged by its tensions and themes, by its narrator who has a heart but buries it so deep that she even righteously guilt-trips clinically-depressed loved ones? Would I really believe in her contrived internal melodrama and become immersed in her telling of the story?
It's hard to say.
When I reread other YA coming-of-age books, I don't feel that it's simplistic in any way. But when I read THE HUNGER GAMES now, and the narrator is explaining things excessively and smacking me over the head with the fact that these aren't normal circumstances since they have to fight to the death, etc. etc., my mind just goes totally numb. And I feel that we should give teen readers more credit than that.
Which is why I feel that an Ursula LeGuin dystopia would be healthier than this.
That said, I can't wait for the HUNGER GAMES movie.
After being super pissed off through the first 140 pages of the father figure's tyranny, I began to have more patience for Bread Givers.
The most inte...moreAfter being super pissed off through the first 140 pages of the father figure's tyranny, I began to have more patience for Bread Givers.
The most interesting thing was keeping in mind that it was not historical fiction but rather a semi-autobiographical novel published in 1925. So I think the reason that it is widely-read and -taught is that it had been a pioneer in English-language immigrant fiction. Tension between the Old World and the New, between generations--family vs. personal identity, obligation vs. freedom--these are all of the classic themes, acknowledged honestly and in very basic terms. The narrative is kind of melodramatic and repetitive (breathe, heart, & life are a few of the narrator's overused words :( ) with some (IMO) really nice pieces of prose in-between.
My favorite part is when Sara decides to go to college and to be an independent woman. She'd broken free of poverty and patriarchy! I was inspired. If only there had been more of this and less of the father, hahaha!
Even at the end, I still couldn't forgive him. The author tries to describe him as a man simply trapped in the Old World and really all together innocent, but it's clear from his actions that he's not. He is a hypocritical, delusional, selfish, greedy poser who wants tradition to justify how he shamelessly exploited all of the women in his family. I believe that this fact totally undermines his role as a representation of Jewish tradition, if that is his role as we discuss it in literature class. I mean, even when there is this message of moderation and drawing out the best in American-ness, there is not too much of that for Jewish-ness (at least in the areas of philosophy & religion) because the father just turned off his children to Judaism that badly.
Finally, I must say that I would have been in love with Bread Givers when I was ten years old. Even then, there are better children's/YA books out there, but this one can be valued for its authenticity and place in history.(less)
Skip the first few hundred pages, start at Chapter 13 (where Stephenie began writing it), and it's way better than The Hunger Games. It is totally tel...moreSkip the first few hundred pages, start at Chapter 13 (where Stephenie began writing it), and it's way better than The Hunger Games. It is totally telenovela.(less)
Drugs, abuse, child molestation, anything that would make people cry & be traumatizing for a teenager, it's all here in overdose, injected whereve...moreDrugs, abuse, child molestation, anything that would make people cry & be traumatizing for a teenager, it's all here in overdose, injected wherever possible into every character's life. How can the author be such a douche.
I felt emotionally manipulated by this inconsistently written, I'm-trying-to-be-deep-and-real-and-strike-emotional-chords crying fest.
"Life has one overwhelming desire, which is to grow."
A simple book parting New Age wisdom through a series of short fables/conversations with a metaph...more"Life has one overwhelming desire, which is to grow."
A simple book parting New Age wisdom through a series of short fables/conversations with a metaphorical old man from Deepak Chopra's youth. I remember not being able to accept a lot of the ideas but still gave each of them a few days or more of space for contemplation. Many of them I still keep in mind today.
New Age spirituality has always felt very radical and "out there" to me, which is probably why I haven't learned to fully apply it. But after spending time with Deepak through this book, I've seen how it can be empowering. Even if you don't buy the whole philosophy, it can help you to be positive change for yourself & others.
I also totally recommend anything by Deepak over that awful book, The Secret. (less)
Sophie's is a short & sweet story of a pubescent girl trying to find her way as a freshman in high school. I like the transparency and innocence o...moreSophie's is a short & sweet story of a pubescent girl trying to find her way as a freshman in high school. I like the transparency and innocence of her voice. Her best friends and crushes and broken family were my world too as I read her diary-like free verse, which has lots of lovely lines in which every moment expands to become huge and often delirious, funny, sad, and/or touching.
The side conflicts (mom & dad and discrimination for being Jewish) I think were a little on the cliché side in the intentionality of them, but they were fairly well-done; they weren't very substantial, but I felt them.
Things begin to happen quickly and tie up pretty neatly (maybe too much so?) in the final thirty pages or so, including the interestingly open ending. I feel this was kind of "the easy way out" and would have liked something stronger, though what is here works and is nice and cute (and made me say, "Awww!"). I think it is only the novel-in-verse format that made this possible.
Overall, this is some sweet, light teen reading that made me smile! And was a welcome break from studying. I recommend it to girls ages 12-16, but if you're older I'm sure you'll enjoy it, too, as I did.
[some favorite lines to be inserted here once I borrow it from the library again:](less)