A glimpse into the heart of NYC in the late 60s, early 70s. And, more importantly, the story of friendship, love and art.
I've read some criticism tha...moreA glimpse into the heart of NYC in the late 60s, early 70s. And, more importantly, the story of friendship, love and art.
I've read some criticism that Patti Smith was droppin' names and copying the fashions of others. But, regard the title of the book: Just Kids. She was 20 when she moved to NYC - impressionable and impressed. Our brains aren't even fully formed at 20, of course we're going to imitate Bob Dylan and Rimbaud. That's what we do in our 20s. ALEX AWARD contender, or at least I'd recommend it to every kid (especially girl) seeking the sacred truth of art and rock n' roll. (less)
Never have I wanted to read a book after watching a crappy movie adaptation of a book I hadn't read, but I did this time for some reason. It was well...moreNever have I wanted to read a book after watching a crappy movie adaptation of a book I hadn't read, but I did this time for some reason. It was well worth it. Joyce Carol Oates, why didn't they make me read you in college?! It should be mandatory. Had I read this the year it was published I'd have been the same age as the characters when FOXFIRE was born. Better late than never, I suppose. (less)
Thought of this essay as I discarded a very old edition of "Stuart Little" and decided to read it over a heat wave weekend. My dad gave it to me a few...moreThought of this essay as I discarded a very old edition of "Stuart Little" and decided to read it over a heat wave weekend. My dad gave it to me a few years ago when he (re)started school in NYC. He just told me that it was amazing. I only read half of it then (as my attention span dictates), but read it over and completely today. NYC 60 years ago was surely amazing and different, but I'd say the essence still remains (this is based solely on 3 years of being almost in NY as a transient, dreamer, frequent visitor, etc across the river). Here is New York, enjoy. (less)
I was very skeptical about this book before I read it. This year I have read 3 books that included some sort of performance art to mark the climax of...moreI was very skeptical about this book before I read it. This year I have read 3 books that included some sort of performance art to mark the climax of the story; and while they all served their purpose, the chosen event seems exhausted. I felt a little uneasy knowing that the original musical, Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad was the main event of this book. But, it turned out not to be, but actually so so much more.
I was only going to give A Love Story 4 stars because sometimes the dialogue felt clunky and too mature for 17 year olds; man, they are complicated! I was also unsure about the alternating "Now" and "Then" chapters. Cass, the narrator, is preparing for the early school year performance of Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad during the "Now'; and recounting a doomed bicycle journey to honor her best friend, Julia, during the "Then". But, it is clear they are complementary parts creating a bittersweet whole. So, 5 stars it is.
As for the actual story: Cass may or may not have been in love with Julia since their friendship began in grade school. Julia died in a car accident right before their senior year of high school, but she left behind the script for the original muiscal, Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad and her friends decide that they must put it on. Ollie, Julia's boyfriend, resents Cass and whatever feelings she may have had for Julia. Heather was Cass's mortal enemy in middle school and shows up after transferring to Catholic school and back right before senior year because she was cast as Ninja Princess Himiko/needed to get away from the nuns and her ex. Put these characters together in a high school and prepare for something volatile. And, sprinkle a thoughtfully crafted romance to soothe the tempest within (or not!).
Aside from designing artillery for the play, Cass is a bicycle enthusiast, a math geek, Quaker and a lesbian with pretty supportive parents who are big on "hippie Jesus" - turn the other cheek, love your enemies. But, this is by far NOT the Gaytopia of David Levithan's books. There is plenty of homophobia to make it feel authentic (without being didactic) and remind us that yes, people are still judgmental and kids are still scared to come out even with plenty of gay role models, community support, films, etc. That's what makes this book so important. But, bravery and courage prevail, always.
I look forward to more novels by Emily Horner. This is a remarkable debut from a totally sweet YA librarian!
*P.S. for all those fans of Looking for Alaska, this book may be for you. (less)
Amber Appleton is a hope spreader. True? True. Amber is into Jesus, her dog Bobby Big Boy and helping other people, namely the Korean Divas for Christ...moreAmber Appleton is a hope spreader. True? True. Amber is into Jesus, her dog Bobby Big Boy and helping other people, namely the Korean Divas for Christ, a Vietnam veteran, and some older folk at a Methodist Retirement Home. She is also the ringleader of the posse, Franks Freak Force Federation. Yes, there is a lot of going on and there are a lot of characters needed to keep this action going (there are also a lot of acronyms to keep track of). But, there is something totally genuine and authentic about Amber. She reminds me of several friends I had in high school all rolled up into one awesome chick. But, that's besides the point. Matthew Quick took this story places I didn't think it could go, and the pacing is excellent - especially for teenage readers. About a third of the way through the book, the plot takes a jarring turn. Everything is disrupted and while it comes neatly together at the end, it is totally satisfying and believable. Amber's voice and personality might be too quirky for some, but the reader will deal with that immediately and decide whether or not to move forward with the novel. The language, while dealing with bodily functions, heavy heavy emotions and dog copulation, was fresh and creative. There was a scarcity of words like f@^k and a$$h%^*. This dude's a writer. I not only like what he had to say with Sorta Like a Rock Star, but the way he said it. Funny, heartbreaking and optimistic all in one book. True? TRUE!!
*This book is also the third one I've read this year that includes a musical and/or variety show performance as a climactic event or resolution. It was the most fun and the only one that moved me to tears.
**I kinda wish adults and young people had relationships like they do in this book, friendly and respectful. (less)
If you liked that book Diary of a Wimpy Kid...you will absolutely love The Popularity Papers. Lydia and Julie are fifth graders who seek the endless k...moreIf you liked that book Diary of a Wimpy Kid...you will absolutely love The Popularity Papers. Lydia and Julie are fifth graders who seek the endless knowledge and wisdom of the popular girls, or anyone who has advice really. These best friends are keen observers and are able to document in a notebook everything they experience on their quest for ultimate popularity. Amazingly, this book has very wide appeal, stretching all the way from your typical fifth grader to just about any adult with a funny bone. The colorful charm is a testament to the talents of debut novelist Amy Ingatow, who wrote and illustrated the book (with colored pencils and digital tools, if memory serves correct). Forget that wimpy kid, there is action, hair dying, field hockey and an exchange student in the “papers”. Pick this up next time you do laundry or visit the pool. (less)
Essie Rosenfeld lives on the Lower East Side of New York City during the early 1900s with her mother, her brother, Saulie and her little sister, Zelda...moreEssie Rosenfeld lives on the Lower East Side of New York City during the early 1900s with her mother, her brother, Saulie and her little sister, Zelda. She works at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company and befriends a mysterious young woman there named Harriet Abbott. Essie can immediately tell that Harriet does not fit in with the other girls working in the ill-fated factory, and despite their differences the two girls become very close. There are plenty of subplots weaving throughout the story, as well as interspersed flashbacks set against darker pages that look like old, peeling walls. The narrative paints a vivid picture of what life was like for a single-parent Jewish family at a time when there were few labor laws protecting children from horrible working conditions, crowded dangerous streets and tenements, and constant sorrow and darkness for the working poor immigrant. Essie perseveres like so many other young women of the time. She is optimistic, shrewd and creative. The bustling streets and shops of the Lower East Side inspire her to design hats, and a young law student who lives in the same building inspires her to love. Lost is a brutal story, but an important one to know.
*There is a thorough author's note at the back of the book explaining the story's historical significance and context. This one made it to the high school's summer reading list!! (in the town where I work)(less)
For anyone (me) who was disappointed by "Going Bovine" or the first few pages of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist", this is a more compassionate AN...moreFor anyone (me) who was disappointed by "Going Bovine" or the first few pages of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist", this is a more compassionate AND interesting quest of the soul. Road trips, romance and music done right. (less)
I READ AN AUDIOBOOK! Yay :) I am going to watch 3 seasons of the Sarah Silverman Program now (even though I watched Season 1 a few years ago).
SS's me...moreI READ AN AUDIOBOOK! Yay :) I am going to watch 3 seasons of the Sarah Silverman Program now (even though I watched Season 1 a few years ago).
SS's memoir (she's not even 40 yet) was fun to listen to. I can almost imagine it being this other media-y interactive thing where pictures of her at the Emmy Awards pop up so you can laugh at her fashion faux pas or the "Sell the Vatican, Feed the World" video pops up into the space right in front of your face and you can choose to wait until you are finished listening to the audiobook to watch it because that would be seriously distracting.
I am not sure I would actually read this book, and maybe that's because my experiences with Sarah Silverman had, in the past, satisfied non-intellectual needs. Or maybe because I like comedy in context and reading the book would have been like watching stand-up comedy. Blah. Even though that's how SS started out, I can't sit through stand-up comedy and always turn off Seinfeld when he's before the crowd at the end of most episodes. My point is that listening to the audiobook provided a "context" to learn about the bright career of Sarah Silverman. For part of this book, I was driving. Sometimes I was doing the dishes. Other times I was just hanging out in my apartment. And one time I was interrupted by my brother asking me how to play the clarinet live from Union Square. Sarah S. was even giving me context, she was talking about buying stuff online and eating a pot cookie. I felt like I was in her neighborhood sometimes. Is this all really contextual?
I listened to the first half of the book and could not help but think to myself: This would make for a funny YA novel. SS was a chronic bedwetter into her teens, and even once in her adulthood. She grew up in one of the most "Un-Jewish" states in the union, New Hampshire, but attended Jewish Camp, went to mass with her Gentile friends and remains pretty agnostic. SS also battled with depression for years and was over prescribed (whoops) highly addictive medication. She remains a fairly optimistic and genuine voice. I'm probably naive, but SS sounds sincere. But, she'll be the first to admit that she's stubborn and will not relent, especially where her work/art is concerned. Even so, I think you can still remain sincere.
One of my favorite parts is when she recites the phone messages her father leaves. He calls her every Saturday, but she likes to let it go to voicemail so that she can mine his messages for material. They were really funny.
Less funny are anecdotes concerning other comedians. Like stripping and throwing clothes over a balcony with Louis CK eleven times. That's the kind of stuff some people like, I guess. But, those were the low points for me. It's like telling someone about stupid stuff you did in college. It probably isn't funny or interesting to the person who wasn't there. And, those pieces felt out of place in a weird way.
There were some insightful moments that are applicable to various sections of the book. Like when she talks about a run in with a Chinese media watchdog group who take her on after she uses a racist slur on an late night NBC talk show in July of 2001. Her philosophy about racism existing less in the slur itself and more in a diluted state like the FOX news network was really interesting. She also points out that this short-lived controversy did not catch as much heat as when she dissed Paris Hilton and Britney Spears on various Mtv awards shows. I almost judged her when she was talking about these situations, but I thought it was quite smart how she spoke about tthem in terms of the 2001 situation. She also talks about the subjectivity/prejudice of human censors and the absence of an algorithm to calculate obscenity. That could be useful, maybe.
Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook. I enjoyed listening about a pretty well adjusted person who has succeeded in a pretty f'd up business. She doesn't drink or do drugs (anymore/just pot sometimes) and she's funny. Every 16 year old girl who is interested in becoming a comedian should learn a little bit about SS. She had a passion and she went for it.
* I just drank strong coffee and sometimes I mistaken this platform for a personal blog. Sorry readers! This is a bad review :)
Great idea...not the best execution. There was a lot of exposition and an overall lack of cohesion between the narrative and images; probably because...moreGreat idea...not the best execution. There was a lot of exposition and an overall lack of cohesion between the narrative and images; probably because the book is based on a short story. Very cool idea though and for that I wanted more than the book itself offered. Will read the HG Wells story it is partially based on. Perfect for this time of year...just enough creepy. (less)