This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the terrible wars in Africa. It is the story of a 12 year old boy who, along with some friends,This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the terrible wars in Africa. It is the story of a 12 year old boy who, along with some friends, is separated from his family when the rebels attack. The first quarter of the book is about the children's attempt to keep out of the way of either of the armies and to find their families. Eventually, they are caught by the army and given guns and drugs and turned into soldiers. The book does not go into great detail about all the atrocitis the children commit, but the ones that are alluded to are horrifying. The use of drugs and the tactics that engender hatred of the enemy are terrible.
One of the strongest things about this book is the ease with which children can be turned into terrorist. Ishmael Beah is able to give us enough of a glimpse into his pre-war life to realize that he is an intelligent and kind boy who was turned into a monster despite his intention to not become a soldier.
The last part of the book is his reclaimation and I was just in awe of the people who do this incredible work. One scene stays with me. The boys are in the reclaimation center with other boys who fought on the opposite side, but finally out of danger. Despite the work of the staff, they end up in a fight and boys are killed. The terrible brain-washing that inflames their hatered is so difficult to eradicate that even when they are safe, it is hard to let go of. To all the things that happen, the staff continues to convey to the boys that it is not their fault. That is probably one of the strongest messages...the boys are not at fault. They have been turned into killing machines by adults and used for their own ends.
This book is about Sierra Leone, but it is found all around the world. Children raised on hatred to this extent are unable to use the same kind of reasoning as adults and they kill blindly. Their childhood is being stolen from them and turned into something terrible....more
I loved this book! It is the story of a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Her brother dies on a train and her mother leaves her in foster care wiI loved this book! It is the story of a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Her brother dies on a train and her mother leaves her in foster care with a family in a small village. The story is told from the point of view of Death who comes to take various people during the story and has become interested in the person he calls "the book thief." The style of writing was very different and perfect for this story. While the time period is one of tension and tragedy, the book is not especially gloomy. The everyday life of Germans during the war is fascinating. The characters have depth and complexity and I find that I remember them in much the same way I remember Dickens' characters. I would recommend this book to anyone.
I read this in 2010 and knew I would read it again. I think I've gotten even more from it this time. I appreciate the view of WWII from the ordinary German point of view. I know from talking to German friends that a lot of people were against Hitler, especially as he gained more and more power.
On my second reading, I've paid more attention to the power of words in this book. Leisle understands the power of words even before she can read. The book also raises the point that Hitler came to power through his ability to use words. By the time many people understood his whole plan, he had so much power it was hard to object....more
Reclusive biographer Margaret Lea has grown up in her father's bookstore. She has been asked to write a biography of the dying Vida Winter. The mysterReclusive biographer Margaret Lea has grown up in her father's bookstore. She has been asked to write a biography of the dying Vida Winter. The mysterious Ms. Winter has been a wildly popular writer whose real background has been clouded in secrecy. It is not that Ms. Winter won't tell of her past, it is that she makes up wild stories that are obviously untrue. She published a book called the Thirteen Tales, but there were only twelve. But now she is dying and she wants to finally have her tale told.
As Margaret begins to interview her in her brooding mansion she finds that she is in the dark about what she is to write. Ms. Winter seems to be spinning a tale again and Margaret does some investigating. What follows is a tale that is eerily like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. As Ms. Winter becomes weaker, the story becomes more twisted and sinister.
I enjoyed this book. I found the idea to be completely original while serving up a true gothic mystery with all the false trails, the sinister seeming servants and the derelict old mansion. I will probably read this one again as I am sure I missed quite a bit the first time....more
This book was as good as it was unsatisfying. What can I expect considering that Dickens died in the middle of the book. He stopped writing, had a strThis book was as good as it was unsatisfying. What can I expect considering that Dickens died in the middle of the book. He stopped writing, had a stroke at dinner and never regained consciousness. At first I wondered what the point would be to reading a mystery that wasn't finished, but it was much more interesting than I thought. It appears that Dickens was half-way through the book when he died, so the scene was set, the characters developed and the major clues laid down. There is fairly wide agreement on who did the murder, if there actually was a murder. On the other hand, some people feel like Edwin did not die, but survived the attack and disappeared. They feel that he would reappear at some point and confront the supposed murderer.
There is also a pretty fair agreement as to why Edwin Drood was murdered, if he was murdered. There are still plenty of mysteries left though. Was Dickens salting the book with red herrings and he intended a complete plot twist? Does he have one or two characters in disguise so that the book actually has two less characters than would appear? There are at least two possible romances set up...how do the turn out? What happens to Neville?
Fortunately, I was doing this with a book group and we could bounce ideas off each other. It has made it even more interesting. ...more
This was an extraordinary book! By the end, I felt like I knew what it was to be autistic. I'm sure that there is much more to the mental state, but tThis was an extraordinary book! By the end, I felt like I knew what it was to be autistic. I'm sure that there is much more to the mental state, but the book goes a long way to putting the reader into a brain that feels so foreign. The main character is so compelling. It is easy to see why neither of his parents can handle living with him on a day to day basis. I don't know why this didn't occur to me before, but there are all sorts of marginal parents around who do a terrible job with their children and a certain percentage of special needs children are born into these families. By the end of the book, Christopher seems more mature than either of his parents. I found myself cheering him on as he made his train journey and aching for him as he found out what his parents were really like. This is a must read.
I've finally finished this book I am reading for a book group and am wondering how to summarize it. The best I can come up with is that it wasted my tI've finally finished this book I am reading for a book group and am wondering how to summarize it. The best I can come up with is that it wasted my time. It's not a bad book. I don't mean that, but the only thing I learned from is was a bit of knowledge about Australia.
The plot is simple, Ellen, the hypnotist met Patrick on an online dating site. They seem to hit it off, but he tells her he is being stalked by an old girlfriend. It is still going on. After his wife died leaving him with a 1 year old, he started a relationship with her that lasted for 3 years. After the break up, she started stalking him. It turns out that his ex-girlfriend is a client of the hypnotist. Neither Patrick nor Ellen know this.
Then there are about 10 chapters where Ellen compares Patrick with every ex-boyfriend she ever had and agonizes about the relationship Patrick had with his stalker and his first wife. It was beyond boring to me. I know people who read this love story and loved it, but it wasn't for me.
I did like the information and descriptions of Australia and the customs there. I think the author did a great job of making me feel like I could see the things she described. I think the problem is that I don't much care for romances....more
This is my favorite of Anne Tyler's books. Poor Macon Leary is a travel writer and hates to travel. In fact, he hates anything that makes the slightesThis is my favorite of Anne Tyler's books. Poor Macon Leary is a travel writer and hates to travel. In fact, he hates anything that makes the slightest blip in his carefully controlled world. Then he meets the delicious Muriel who is the antithesis of everything he knows. The book is both poignant and funny and I couldn't help but like the characters. In a way, the book challenges the reader as much as the characters themselves....more
I enjoyed these books because I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and, while I have very rarely lived there, visited every year and have all sorts ofI enjoyed these books because I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and, while I have very rarely lived there, visited every year and have all sorts of relatives there. I could fill in his examples with my own family and the book brought back so many memories. As we become more and more mobile and homogenized, character sketches like this are going to be more and more rare. There is much to be said for preserving these memories of community identity....more
The Catastrophist by Ronan Bennett is set in the Belgian Congo in the early 1960's. The plot centers on two writers who are caught up in the rise andThe Catastrophist by Ronan Bennett is set in the Belgian Congo in the early 1960's. The plot centers on two writers who are caught up in the rise and fall of the charismatic leader, Patrice Lamumba. I remember the headlines vaguely, but was never able to set the memories in a clear context. The story focuses on a writer, James, and his Italian correspondent lover, Inez. While the book focuses on the relationship between these two, the awful history of that era unfolds with a nice balance....more
My doctor recommended this book to me and I am finding it fascinating. It is about a rare genetic abnormality that causes the main character to be a hMy doctor recommended this book to me and I am finding it fascinating. It is about a rare genetic abnormality that causes the main character to be a hermaphrodite. The story starts in the shadow of Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor and concerns the main character's grandparents from whom Callie/Cal gets the gene which sends her/his life careening into the textbooks.
The story is told well, not just as background, but as an exciting glimpse of the lives of ethnic Greeks whose lives are turned upside down by an invasion of the Turks. The brother and sister emigrate to America and end up living in Detroit in a Greek community. Into this community, Callie is born and lives the life of a girl for the first 14 years of her life. Although this portion of the book is actually background for the main focus of the book, it is written in a charming way and the characters are well developed. ...more
This book was excellent. The complicated relationship between the characters is rich and well articulated. I liked this especially because it gave meThis book was excellent. The complicated relationship between the characters is rich and well articulated. I liked this especially because it gave me some insight into the complicated thinking of the Taliban and the people who are effected by them. Apart from that, the book was an excellent thriller....more
This book does not take very long to read, but it will stay with you for a lifetime. Without being a spoiler, I think I have to say that it is the queThis book does not take very long to read, but it will stay with you for a lifetime. Without being a spoiler, I think I have to say that it is the quest that is the object and not the jewel. It is a beautiful book and one worth reading again....more