My only comment about this book is that the author's Ex-Chinese husband probably has some kind of mental/social disorder which is not limited to a cer...moreMy only comment about this book is that the author's Ex-Chinese husband probably has some kind of mental/social disorder which is not limited to a certain race.(less)
Just realized most people's review on this book is a rant or one star...but the unique heroine herself and her love of reading and books deserve a 4 s...moreJust realized most people's review on this book is a rant or one star...but the unique heroine herself and her love of reading and books deserve a 4 stars already. The world building and characters are quite interesting as well. You'd think the timeline is Medieval in the beginning, but as you read along you'll realize that it's actually post apocalypse in the near future.(less)
If you liked The Glass Castle you'd enjoy reading this book as well. The author was one of 9 children growing up in rural Maine. As the only one in he...moreIf you liked The Glass Castle you'd enjoy reading this book as well. The author was one of 9 children growing up in rural Maine. As the only one in her family that read (Stephen King, coincidence?) growing up, her take of their life full of guns, hunting, animal killing, non-existent parents, bullying siblings is unique and well presented. Her control or words and language is also superb. You will not want to put this book down. (less)
I was stalled about 40-50 pages near the end for two reasons. First of all, I did not want this book to end, I love this author's writing style tremen...moreI was stalled about 40-50 pages near the end for two reasons. First of all, I did not want this book to end, I love this author's writing style tremendously. I truly believe she could breathe life into every object, every human, every feeling and every action she describes. Nothing fails or escapes her pen. I wanted to keep reading the book non-stop. I also heard that she spent 10 years between her last book and The Goldfinch, I'm afraid I can't wait that long for another work of hers.
The other reason: I hadn't been able to put the book down for more than a few minutes since I started. I was actually late one day for my daughter's lesson since I could not bear not being able to continue reading while waiting for her in the car, so I drove back to my house after discovering the Kindle was forgotten. I was really worried that she would blow the whole book by giving it a wrong or mediocre ending. I lingered, and dawdled, and prolonged as much as I can... Let just say, I can finally breathe now that the book is finished, but it's still a sad situation that most seekers of great writing will understand. The ending was so good that I read it three times.(less)
I don’t read reviews before I actually finish a book. Most of my reading selection and book purchases are based on instincts. The cover definitely hel...moreI don’t read reviews before I actually finish a book. Most of my reading selection and book purchases are based on instincts. The cover definitely helps, and the little blurb on the inside fold of the cover usually differentiates if a book will be put back on the shelf, or going home with me. My Kindle purchases are simplified, but similar versions of the same process. However, after I finish reading a book, I’ll read some of other people’s review to see if we share similar feelings about the same book…
After seeing so many negative (below 3 stars) reviews of this book, my finger hesitated between four and five stars for a long time, before I made up my mind to select the fifth one. I truly enjoyed reading this story, and Thea is among my favorite narrators of all times. This is another one of those books that people who enjoy plot-driven and non-wordy books will hate. This book is narrative-driven, character-driven, but it’s definitely not a thriller or mystery. We definitely don't read it to find out “what has she done?” What Thea has done or is going to do definitely should not be our main concern in reading this book. This book is great because of the characters, imperfect yet lovable. I also loved the book since the author did a great job bringing out Thea’s full character, her self-reflection, her self-doubt, her desire for love (parental/sexual), her worries, her passion for riding and her friends and family…it’s all there. It’s a wonderful coming of age novel. Thea is a conflicted girl. Yes, she’s self-destructive, let her desires rule over her head, compulsive, rebellious, headstrong, judgmental…yet she’s also smart, sensitive, curious, spirited, horse-lover, a great friend and sister, wise beyond her age, full of passion, and knows herself very well even without much guidance from her parents. Unfortunately the story took place in 1930, on the verge of the depression, when women/girls are still treated unfairly. I couldn’t help but imagine what kind of achievements Thea could’ve reached in our present world. She has just the right personality, drive and passion. It’s hard to remember she was only 15 at the beginning of the book, and barely 16 at the end.
“Mother would tell us that we were loved even before we were born. But that wasn’t quite true: one of us was loved, the other unknown.”
In the beginning of the book, Thea was dropped off by her Father at the Yonahlossee Horse Camp for Girls in the mountains of North Carolina. The camp was only affordable by the rich, where the girls could learn all sorts of things (including riding and manners) among other similar girls. Although she did not know herself at that time, Thea was sent here because her family was ashamed of something she did or caused. Among a bunch of teenage girls, Thea, who was sheltered in a luxurious home all her 15 years of life, being home-schooled by her physician Dad along with her twin brother Sam, feels out of place. Thea’s Mom, we later found out, was definitely not a normal, supportive and loving Mom. Although they had lots of money and physical needs were met, She did not provide her growing twins with the emotional support teens desperately needed, and she loves Sam more. Sam was the closest “friend” Thea had, along with their cousin Georgie. The animals in the farms were Sam’s world, and the horse Sasi was Thea’s. Being thrown into this mixture of girls, some nice, some not so, forced Thea to grow up and handle her own affairs. Being able to still ride offers Thea tremendous comfort, because it’s great to at least have control of something as simple as a horse. Making a close friend, Sissy, also helps. The whole story was narrated by Thea’s 15 year-old voice. The voice was sometimes naïve, sometimes angry and scornful, and other times lost and scared. The reader couldn’t help but get emotionally involved with her life. On the other hand, we also wait patiently for her to reveal her past, which came rather late in the book, while her “present” error somewhat mimics her past one. In a way, she made her mistakes over and over again. As a mother of a teenager at around the same age, I understand how important guidance is at that age. (view spoiler)[I also understand the curiosity about the other sex, and the pleasures that sex could bring. (hide spoiler)] With a Mom who kept her in a house without any other human contact was definitely not a good way to teach her about the world, or the rights from wrongs. Choosing to send her away was also not exactly problem solving, but it was 1930. Thea’s actions; therefore, were understandable in the way she was brought up.
“I was a girl of fifteen, locked away in the mountains, surrounded by strangers. But I would be all right; I would emerge from this place.”
As a debut novelist, the author’s reign on her story was as good as the Yonahlossee girls’ on their horses. It’s quite impressive considering her storytelling also alternated between now and then to tell Thea’s present and past environment/story. Not one instance I felt bored. Usually an inexperienced author would make the transition from now to the past at the wrong time, I find her transitions smooth, her story telling prose soothing yet gripping. Her descriptions involved all five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and uniquely, smell. Thea’s character, as well as all others, along with the camp, came alive on the pages. I truly enjoyed reading the story and did not roll my eyes at the more sensual scenes (I do that a lot since some people are terrible in those kind of writings). However, a sense of sadness lingers long after I finished the book, for Thea, and for all the other suppressed women in that era. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)