This is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a man who fought for his county in the World War II only to become a prisoner of war, which he escaped due to the...moreThis is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a man who fought for his county in the World War II only to become a prisoner of war, which he escaped due to the bombing of Dresden. Once he arrives back he tries to live a normal life, marrying, having a child and becoming an optometrist but the war still haunts him on a deeper level. After the loss of his wife he starts believing that he has been abducted by aliens, clever aliens who live a life much simpler than our own American ones and are able to teach him some very simple yet important lessons.
This was a very easy read for a classic book. One that I flew through and only once closing the book was I able to ponder on all the subtle morals Vonnegut wove into these few pages. I would say that this novel centered around freewill. The aliens on Tralfamadore lived a life where they could see it all - the beginning, middle and end. They could see their mistakes, yet lacked freewill thus they could not change them. Therefore the serenity prayer comes into play throughout the novel...change the things we can, accept the things we can not and pocess the ability to know the difference.
Like most satires this novel lightly touches on many important lessons throughout the story, using humor to cover some of the most painful parts. For instance, the author uses the phrase "so it goes" after every death from cow to person to glass of water. He mentions death in this casual manner because, unfortunately, this is it how death relates to war. Using this same light writing style, Vonnegut also touches on the issues of peace, poverty, the American press and fate in general.
Overall I would say that this was a very thought-provoking read, more so even after closing the cover. I can see exactly why it is considered a classic. I feel the need to read it again and highly recommend it to all. (as posted at readingforsanity.blogspot.com)(less)
This is a beautiful, descriptive tale with depth and intensity. It's an all encompassing tale with romance, mystery, humor, darkness, tears, suspense,...moreThis is a beautiful, descriptive tale with depth and intensity. It's an all encompassing tale with romance, mystery, humor, darkness, tears, suspense, and drama. It crosses many genres and is completely engrossing.
Jane Eyre is a true classic. I can now see how other books have used this foundation. This is a timeless tale that begs to be read time and time again. With each reading one would certainly acquire additional pleasure.(less)
"When I was little the great mystery to me wasn't how babies were made, but why." So reads the first sentence in this stunning novel by Jodi Picoult a...more"When I was little the great mystery to me wasn't how babies were made, but why." So reads the first sentence in this stunning novel by Jodi Picoult and it summarizes the book rather nicely. Anna was designed in a tube to be the perfect match for her sister, Kate, who has been battling a rare form of leukemia since the age of 2. It was originally planned that Anna's umbilicus would provide cells causing Kate to go into remission. This works for a short time but then Kate relapses and Anna has to donate lymphocytes. This cycle has continued throughout Anna's life; first blood, then marrow and now it's a kidney her sister needs. Anna has finally had enough and wants the acknowledgment that her existence is independent from her sister and she is ready to have some say in what happens to her body. The kicker is that Kate is dying and doctors don't feel like she is strong enough to survive the transplant her mother so desperately wants anyway.
Jodi Picoult deals with the controversial issues of designer babies and stem cell research throughout her novel. She does this in a manner that cuts right to the heart by telling the family's story. Each chapter lets you inside another members head, giving you a taste of the personalities and letting you share their feelings. The reader gets a feel of where Picoult stands on these issues, yet Picoult presents both sides to the story, proving that no matter which side of the fence you stand on the slope is slippery. I love that the author leaves out media views and outsider feelings about this case from the story. This way she allows for the reader to form their own opinions based on an insider view of the family dynamics.
This story had a strong emotional draw to it. Though I felt from the beginning that there was no way this story could close happily, I could not put it down. It was a rather depressing story but one that floods the reader with what-if questions. There is a heartbreaking twist in the final pages of the book. I can't say that I enjoyed this ending but will admit that it was completely unexpected and it gave me chills. After this twist the book closes quickly and on further examination I found that the ending did not tie in with the prologue, which was somewhat disappointing.
There were a few other things which held me back from giving this novel 5 stars. First, there are several spots in the story that feel too unrealistic. As with all her other novels, I feel Picoult once again tried too hard to tie all her characters together. I certainly could have done without the relationship between the attorney and guardian ad litem, as it didn't really add that much to the story. I also found the many coincidences to be somewhat distracting from the main story the author is trying to tell.
That main story line, however, is told brilliantly. The emotions I felt during reading this story are sure to stick with me for some time to come. I think that this would be an excellent book club pick as it would lead to some heated discussions. This is a novel I will be recommending to many (along with a heeded warning to expect tears).(less)
While I can't say that this was an enjoyable read, it was strangely addicting. I found myself staying up very late to read "just one more chapter". I...moreWhile I can't say that this was an enjoyable read, it was strangely addicting. I found myself staying up very late to read "just one more chapter". I also had to continually remind myself that this was a nonfiction book, an memoir of one eccentric childhood, as it's not an account that you would wish to be true for any child. If it had been fiction I would most certainly have had to put it down as it seemed that sooner or later one of the children would be killed by the neglectfulness of their parents. You get the bonus with this nonfiction of knowing that the author's life turned out well against all odds.
Jeannette Walls at no time plays the resentful victim in her tale. Instead she tells her story with love and compassion for her neglectful parents. As a young child she has the same admiration for her parents as all children do, especially for her dad whom she feels incredibly close to. There were points in this story that I even felt a bit of pity for these parents. In her teens she begins to see her mother as selfish and comes to the realization that her dad will never remain sober long enough to keep his promises. At this point she loses faith in her father but gains confidence in her ability to save herself. Jeannette (as well as her brother and sisters) had to grow up very fast but in doing so she grew up strong and noble.
I am in awe of the courage this book must have taken to write. In doing so Jeannette must have had to relive some pretty traumatic childhood memories that I imagine she had previously buried. She weaves an incredibly emotional story that will have the reader giggling one moment and on the verge of tears the next. This story is not an account of childhood neglect and border-line abuse, but rather a lesson in the moral "life is what you make of it".(less)
Jodi Picoult takes you for an emotional journey in "Nineteen Minutes". How can you care about a character that is a cold-blooded killer? Yet you do co...moreJodi Picoult takes you for an emotional journey in "Nineteen Minutes". How can you care about a character that is a cold-blooded killer? Yet you do come to care about Peter and even somewhat identify with him. Here's the story of a boy who was bullyed all his life and this is the result of that behavior. The books asks the reader at one point to recall a memory from junior high or high school. It states that for the majority of us it will be a painful memory that first creeps into our head, an embrassing moment, a moment when our peers had a good laugh at our expense. Most of us are able to get past the incident, realizing that although it may be truely humilating at the time, it is not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But what if everyday was filled with painfully embrassing incidents? What if these incidents defined you as a person? How would that have changed who you are today? The story also suggests that even the popular kids have insecurity problems. That they, too are unable to define themselves beyond the definations set by their peers. They stumble along trying to balance between the person they are and the person they are expected to be by others. Sometimes the result of this imperfect balance is bullying another student to be more liked by your own group. Having grown up somewhere in the middle of the pack, this is a novel idea to me, but one I certainly phanthom being true. What type of mother raises a killer? This is the question Picoult addresses in her book. As it turns out, it may not be a mother too different from your own or even you. It's just a mother doing what everyone of us does, what she feels is best for her child, though her desicions may differ from your own. Picoult writes "Children don't make their own mistakes. They plunge into a pit they have been led to by their parents." This really made me think about the pits I may be leding my children to. I'm not sure that there is a way to avoid all pits. Maybe the key is to teach your child to step around. Or maybe it's just being there so that when they do take that tragic step they are not free-falling. This novel really gave me a slightly new view on parenthood. I believe that I will focus a little more on tolerence, preach individuality, seek signs of bullying and remember how everything seems so important when we are young and can't see the grand picture.(less)
While the main story line is intriguing, there are so many side stories taking place that don't tie well with the main story line, that the reader fee...moreWhile the main story line is intriguing, there are so many side stories taking place that don't tie well with the main story line, that the reader feels distracted. It was difficult to care for Mariah because she was so needy and weak at the beginning of story. And her transformation to a stronger, more independent woman is slow coming and incomplete. Father MacReady and the whole Catholic church side story add little to the book and I feel could have just been cut or mentioned in a less detailed manner. Rabbi Weissman fits well because Mariah is Jewish and his character is very likable, but he pretty much just drops out of the book during the second half. And while I can't say that I liked Ian Fletcher, I do think his character fit nicely with the story and added another dimension. That being said, Picoult has an excellent writing style that keeps the reader intrigued regardless of the subject. She has a way of making you think about things from a new perspective. I liked how she weaved two sides into "Keeping Faith"...keeping faith from a religious stand point and keeping Faith as in child custody. This novel had so much potential but left the reader wanting for something more. (less)
Margaret Lea is daughter is of a knowledgeable bookstore owner, and thus loves books. In fact she loves and relates to books better than she does peop...moreMargaret Lea is daughter is of a knowledgeable bookstore owner, and thus loves books. In fact she loves and relates to books better than she does people. This could have something to do with a secret about her birth which she stumbled upon as a young girl. A secret that makes her feel so different and alone. Yet Margaret has found some happiness in the books she reads, the relationship she has with her father as well as in the amateur biographies she has recently begun to write. Though not amateur, this is Margaret's story, told through her.
However it is not Margaret's story alone. It is also the story that famous author Vida Winter wishes to tell before her death, the true story of her past. Margaret has never read any of Winter's contemporary fiction novels, as she is more interested in classics and nonfiction. Therefore, Margaret is stunned when Vida Winter writes to ask her to do her biography. Winters, however, has does her research and finds Margaret to be the obvious choice as her storyteller as their pasts share a common thread. Vida is dying and realizes that it is time to confront some ghosts in her past. She senses that Margaret has some hidden away secrets as well. And so the tale begins.
Diane Setterfield weaves the story of Vida Winter's past seamlessly into the story of Margaret Lea's present. Both stories are utterly captivating. The scenery is so vivid and the characters so alive that the reader feels like part of the story. The plot is unique and fascinating, taking the reader through many twists and turns. This is truly a book one can get lost in. The story comes full circle and the ending is complete, yet I was disappointed to see the story come to an end. I so enjoyed my time spent inside these pages.
This is a novel obviously written by a true book lover. Much of the action takes place either in past or present libraries. And the author refers to many classic books, especially Jane Eyre. Throughout the book the author uses many reading metaphors to relate to everyday life. At one point Margaret is having trouble concentrating and the author relates this to being unable to close your mind on your previous book. She state that this is as leaving a book "with ideas and themes - characters even- caught in the fibers of your clothes and when you open the new book, they are still with you." This is the exact sensation I have after closing the cover on this novel.(less)
To quickly summarize this is the story of the help, referring to black housemaids living in Mississippi in the 1960's. It's their journey and one that...moreTo quickly summarize this is the story of the help, referring to black housemaids living in Mississippi in the 1960's. It's their journey and one that will completely engulf you. I can not tell you much without giving the story away. What I will tell you is that this is an utterly delicious story that will consume you from the opening chapter right through to author's note on the final pages.
Kathrynn Stockett has written this novel in a manner which allows the reader a private journey inside the characters heads. Three main characters tell this story and each chapter is written in their unique voice. The first chapter begins with Aibleen describing herself, "I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning." And in writing as such these brave, humorous, sassy, sensitive, tough, sweet women seem to jump from the pages.
I found myself tangled up within this story, completely engrossed and loving every moment of it. Tears and laughter, love and bitterness, humiliation and pride, it's all within the pages of this book and on so many different levels. It's a riveting story that addresses the ugly issue of discrimination, (not only racism but sexism and social class as well), in a delightfully entertaining manner.
It is a beautifully told story that you'll want to share with others. There is so much to talk about that this is a must pick for book clubs. While this story was based in the 60's, it's easy to see how some of the issues still apply in modern times. It will leave you reexamining the treatment of our fellow human beings, regardless of race or social class. (as posted on readingforsanity.blogspot.com)(less)
I first read this book about 6 years ago and remembered really enjoying it at the time yet could not recall exactly what the story encompassed. I was...moreI first read this book about 6 years ago and remembered really enjoying it at the time yet could not recall exactly what the story encompassed. I was not disappointed in my second reading. The story centers around Ruth and her Aunt Amanda, who cared for Ruth after her mother's drowning when she was a mere three years old. There is a certain amount of mystery that surrounds this death and the story is given to you in bits and pieces, the past combining with the present.
Upon picking up the book I was transcended to a time when a tough young lady, Amanda, let her guard down for a minute and made a mistake she would spend the rest of her life paying for. With this mistake came both good things, the raising of her nieces, and bad, never getting to live her life as she had planned. The focus of the story is on the secret Amanda keeps and how she hides this knowledge at all costs. And does it ever cost both her and those surrounding her as the tale is unraveled.
Schwarz's skilled writing style makes the characters within her novel come to life. You want to slap Amanda for her selfishness but feel a great deal of empathy for her guilt and the guarded secret she must manage. Ruth's character is likewise extremely sweet and likable yet contains a sharp edge. And one can not keep from being drawn to Imogene, the first to befriend the poor outcast, Ruth. It's an all encompassing tale that lends itself to being read time and time again. It has left me longing for more of Schwarz's work.