I know I definitely did not do this play justice as I both studied and taught the play for the very first time this school year. But I love the characI know I definitely did not do this play justice as I both studied and taught the play for the very first time this school year. But I love the characters of Falstaff, Prince Hal, and Hotspur. They are Shakespearian masterpieces I'm ashamed I was not acquainted with until now. I will never forget this story and these characters....more
As social commentary, Little Brother gives the reader a ton to think about, and it would have been especially timely had I read it when it was releaseAs social commentary, Little Brother gives the reader a ton to think about, and it would have been especially timely had I read it when it was released in 2008. The book screams early 21st century politics, yet the concerns of privacy and freedom are timeless. I appreciated the two afterwords so don't skip those.
As a novel, Little Brother feels a little wonky in its structure, especially when jumping back and forth between action and love scene—and Doctorow certainly struggles when developing any of the more human relationships in the book.
There is a ton here about technology, computer hacking and teen agency to geek out about, but I didn't connect with Marcus the way I probably should have and I admit I got a little lost in the jargon. The second half is a bit more well paced, and I appreciated the literary references to Kerouac's On the Road and the Declaration of Independence....more
Delightful little morsel of a book. It took no time at all to read, really, but the ending—and those beautiful drawings—are lovely (especially for a cDelightful little morsel of a book. It took no time at all to read, really, but the ending—and those beautiful drawings—are lovely (especially for a cat lover like myself). I was happy to share this one with my little guy....more
Whew! This one spun me through so many emotions: delight, awe, page-turny excitement, eye-rolling annoyance, confusion. Mitchell's writing is a rollerWhew! This one spun me through so many emotions: delight, awe, page-turny excitement, eye-rolling annoyance, confusion. Mitchell's writing is a roller coaster ride of impressive sentences, one after the other—he's one incredible stylist!—but this outing ends up feeling emotionally cold.
The first 3 sections (Holly, Hugo and Ed's chapters) were the better half by far. I thought there was a lot of beauty in the writing and a cornucopia of truth about life and relationships and time (always a big Mitchell theme). I especially loved how the fantastic elements were only hinted at in these sections.
The Crispin Hershey section (#4) sorta bugged me because he was such a daggone jerk (and I found it validating to read that Mitchell himself said that Hershey is all the worst parts of his own self). But it was the 5th section when Mitchell sadly lost me. The fantastic elements take center stage in this longest section of the book, and I found it infuriating. His world was so unnecessarily complicated and obtuse that I even resorted to skimming about 30 pages of the text. Even now, I can't tell you what Horology really is (or why I should care), and for a 600+ page book, that feels like a let down to me.
The final movement of the book was an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic story, but by that point, any emotional connection I had with Holly in the earlier sections had completely waned. Although the last 60 pages, if in another book about that world solely, could have been very compelling, it instead was uninspired, perfunctory reading.
Considering the fond memories I have reading Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas, even when Mitchell challenges me as a reader to keep up, some of this review feels difficult to admit. Either I wasn't smart enough for this book, or there are flaws in his ability to connect the haunting and fantastic elements with more resonate and palpable human ones....more
Oy. This is probably the silliest thing I've ever read that was supposed to be read earnestly and straight-faced. The book—a story told as a series ofOy. This is probably the silliest thing I've ever read that was supposed to be read earnestly and straight-faced. The book—a story told as a series of photographs, snippets of conversation, and postcards—is packaged beautifully. I saw it on display at my local library (and noted the Junot Diaz rave on the back*) and read the first third while my son was putting together a puzzle in the kids' area. I really shouldn't have finished this one. My gut told me to leave it there, but I was curious.
Turns out the book is an enraging gap-filled story with no resolution. I mean, what really happened? What drew these people together? And why am I supposed to care one iota about these two teenagers? What makes them interesting? And who thought giving a piano prodigy a penchant for weaving Chopsticks (yes, Chopsticks) in her performances?
Had this actually been a story, if the author would have actually done the hard work of actually developing characters and not just vague impressions, I might have more to say. I'm honestly surprised this was even published. It's not a story. It's not art. I'm not sure what it is. Meh.
*Supposedly the art director of the book designed some Junot Diaz's book covers. That's the only way I think he was roped into sharing his endorsement. Or else, I'm totally missing the point. Which I guess I'll own. To each his own....more
I had not expected to read the book so fast, but it was so clever and so, well, unoffensive in its depiction of teenage love, attraction and sexualityI had not expected to read the book so fast, but it was so clever and so, well, unoffensive in its depiction of teenage love, attraction and sexuality—and so much fun—that I just didn't want to stop. By the end of the novel, Albertalli had me cheering.
The mystery of Blue, though, was hugely obvious to me (and that's all I'll say about that, even though I want to say more), but I'm not always the quickest on those things, so I'm curious if Albertalli really wanted it to be that much of a mystery to the reader anyway. The fun wasn't diminished, though, since I think her message is a lot broader and more relevant. I especially loved the email exchange between Simon and "Blue." Seriously loved that.
The way Albertalli is able to take the burden of coming out and the challenges of being a gay or questioning teenager and make them so, well, ordinary and just a part of growing up makes this a book I'm glad exists. She hits the right notes, making this both a breezy, entertaining read and one that is altering the vastly changing (but still skewed) narrative about teenage sexuality and finding out you are different....more
I did not expect to read this novella so fast, expecting that I'd savor Morrison's poetic, lulling prose, but I literally could not stop reading thisI did not expect to read this novella so fast, expecting that I'd savor Morrison's poetic, lulling prose, but I literally could not stop reading this one—nearly the bulk of it in one sitting. There are distinct echoes of The Bluest Eye here, yet Morrison delves deeper (and in fewer pages) into the long-reaching impact of childhood abuse and trauma into adulthood and its impact on adult relationships.
I was impressed, as usual, with Morrison's prose and the sensitivity with which she brings to her characters—both male and female. I was obviously involved in the plot's unfolding, as well, even if there were hiccups in the overall design (a couple arguably convenient plot twists).
While this isn't a perfect novel, it's still a satisfying one. Sure, the novel's point of view doesn't feel balanced. It's starts out with bursts of first person narrators and then shifts halfway through to a more heavily driven third person narration (which is actually where Morrison's voice really shines). I'm not sure the first person perspectives were even needed (particularly Brooklyn's and Sofia's), although the Sweetness interludes were a stark juxtaposition to the rest of the novel.
I also wish the novella was more novel-like, closer to Song of Solomon in scope rather than The Bluest Eye. More third-person examinations of Rain and Sofia and even more Bride.
Despite these flaws, God Help the Child is a small but stirring example of Morrison's talent and her fierce insight into the human experience and human suffering. ...more
I'd probably rank this at a 4.5 if I could do half stars, but this book is too thrilling, too emotionally engaging to be a disappointment on any levelI'd probably rank this at a 4.5 if I could do half stars, but this book is too thrilling, too emotionally engaging to be a disappointment on any level. Certainly Madeline Miller has an advantage here, capitalizing on the sheer drama of Homer's The Iliad—and once the characters set off to Troy, the book really catches full flight. I'm not as much of a Iliad scholar to say whether or not Miller's version of the story is blasphemous or anachronistic, but she breathes such life into this old story and in such a beautiful way that I now feel compelled to reread Homer's original text just to go back to these characters again. (Which, as a fellow educator, I'm sure she would be happy to know.)
I wasn't sure how Miller was going to pull off the first-person narration, as Patroclus' death is a significant turning point in the original story, but by that point I was so swept away, almost refusing to turn those final pages, that the tenderness of the narration made my heart break over and over again. When I closed the book for the last time, Patroclus—greatest of all Greeks—was knocking at my heart, wanting to be remembered for how he tried to defy the cycle of violence, brutality, and cruelty. Miller's Patroclus is a sheer work of genius.
Of course much discussion must have been had about the book's premise when it was released: what if Achilles and Patroclus were not just friends but lovers? Miller does a nice job of weaving themes of gender and sexuality and human longing into the Homer narrative in a way that still feels timeless. I especially found fascinating the relationship between Achilles and Thetis—and her disapproval of his affection for Patroclus. It just felt very realistic and adds an interesting dimension to a passionate and thrilling ancient story....more