There are moments where this book slips. That's no surprise, what with the fact that it's a collection of essays from so many different female writersThere are moments where this book slips. That's no surprise, what with the fact that it's a collection of essays from so many different female writers. Some essays get boring, a few come with that unpleasant realization that you don't like the person writing them. But they're all pretty interesting in that they show how important Judy Blume books were for women who were teenagers in the 70s, 80s and 90s. I work with teen readers at a library. I don't see them hustling to pick up Forever...I think Gossip Girl and The Luxe series has kind of supplanted JB's particular variety of advice and exposure. Maybe that's something that we'll just have to live with -- modern girls won't be the sort who sneak around copies of Judy Blume's racier stuff, or their mom's copy of Clan of the Cave Bear (or whatever that goofy ass Jean M. Auel novel is called), or even Flowers in the Attic, which to this day is one of the most disturbing books I've ever come across. They know more than we did about sex acts. But when it comes to figuring out how we feel about that stuff, I think teenagers then and now and before are the same -- it takes some navigating.
That's where JB comes in. These essays are so cool because they sort of validate how much of our thinking about growing up and sex and friendship came from her books. Nobody was saying quite the way she was. And she's still a very powerful voice.
I think the best essay in the book is actually one in which one writer talks about how the books have evolved for her. When she was a kid, she identified with the kids of the book. Now that she's an adult, she sees how fleshed out and real the mother characters are. And she said that she thinks that were she to read the books as a grandmother, she would probably identify with those characters. So, yeah. Not every essay in this book will knock you out. But some of them will. The main thing that pops out is the power of those characters and situations and how we felt about it all when we first read it, and how those feelings sneakily inform parts of our characters. Who else does as universally as JB?...more
Where should I start? With the fact that the characters sound nothing like they belong in the early 1800s? Or with the fact that the author usesUGH.
Where should I start? With the fact that the characters sound nothing like they belong in the early 1800s? Or with the fact that the author uses every GD cliche in the book? Sometimes twice in the same chapter, within a page or two of each other. Maybe I should be begin by talking about how shallow I found the heroine's intelligence to be. Or by the fact that the book goes so shallowly into the truths of the time -- women were moved around like chess pieces to ensure their families' places. Or how annoyed I was by the fact that the main character repeatedly rolls her eyes at her mother, and how we were supposed to think that that little tic meant that she was independent and spirited instead of bratty and spoiled.
Know what? I'm tired of young adult heroines who are like this. They act stubbornly and that's supposed to be some sort of manifestation of spirit, rather than petulance (Bella Swan, I'm talking to you). I'm tired of the cliches of teen girl narrators and how they do nothing to forward understanding of character.
The story in this book (a murder along with a coverup) almost feels like another half to this book. If you get your rocks off by reading period pieces and bodice rippers, then I think this book won't do you any harm. If you love Jane Austen, proceed with caution. ...more
What a gorgeous, sad, lovely book. Every moment of it -- the author's relative poorness, the joy he feels at connecting with a girl, the way it feelsWhat a gorgeous, sad, lovely book. Every moment of it -- the author's relative poorness, the joy he feels at connecting with a girl, the way it feels to be in a family that doesn't entirely see what's happening to him (if they see it at all) -- it's all done so well. This was the first graphic novel I read that I really connected to, and seemed like it was told in the best possible way. By that I mean that the story was so well served by the art -- the feelings came through beautifully.
This was such an interesting book, from a lot of different standpoints. I ordered it from another library (didn't have it where I work), and I saw thaThis was such an interesting book, from a lot of different standpoints. I ordered it from another library (didn't have it where I work), and I saw that it was classified in Juvenile fiction, rather than young adult fiction. Would anybody from ages 8 to 12 read this book? Would anybody from ages 12 to 20? I really hope so. I think it's a lovely one. I have a love and appreciation for Austen that probably borders on the mildly goony, so it's hard to separate my reactions to anything Austen related from those I think a kid might have.
This is an imagining of Austen's life when she was a young teenager up to her late twenties. It starts with her cousin returning from France after her husband was killed by revolutionaries. This sets Jane off to thinking like a writer. It was a quiet life, with quiet concerns, I guess, before the French(ish) cousin showed up, but I guess this wakes Jane up to the drama. Her physical world was so small, but it's interesting to think about what that allowed a mind like hers to accomplish. She saw the way people acted, the way they evolved, the way they spoke, and how those things betrayed their motives for better or for worse.
Austen was Disappointed by a young man. Tom LeFroy, so dashingly played by that fox James MacAvoy in "Becoming Jane". The book handles the sadness and the joys of Austen's world so well. Jane Austen never knew what she would mean to the world. She never knew that people would act out her books. That authors would write spin-offs ("What, pray, is a spin-off, Sir?"). That women would see themselves in her characters for hundreds of years to come. Sometimes when I think of that, it can make me cry. Sometimes people talk about not liking Austen because she wasn't bold enough. When I encounter people like that, I wonder what they would have liked for her to do? She was an unmarried, fortuneless daughter of a country clergyman. She had no position in the world. One misstep, and she was majorly tainted in the eyes of society. Did they expect her to have hurled herself at the juggernaut of the British Empire, declaring herself against their policies? The fact that she was a woman writing was revolutionary in and of itself. That her work endures is major.
What I adored about Veronica Bennett's book is that she never loses sight of what Austen's world was like. How major the heartbreaks, how bold the seemingly small decisions were. This book gives you a sense of what that world was like, and how it was to live in it. So well done....more
Wow -- what an inventive, gripping book! Helen is a spirit who has been dead for 130 years -- she remembers almost nothing from her actual life. JustWow -- what an inventive, gripping book! Helen is a spirit who has been dead for 130 years -- she remembers almost nothing from her actual life. Just the lives of the people to whom she has "cleaved". In other words, she trails one human being until they die, and then must find a new one. Everything changes when one day in the classroom of one of her hosts (an English teacher), she can feel somebody actually looking at her. James is also a spirit, but has taken the body of a boy whose spirit left. Obviously, there are lots of twists and turns and plot squiggles, but Helen finds a way to do the same thing, and the two of them form a romantic relationship. This relationship leads to the changing of pretty much everything in their worlds, including the worlds of the two people whose bodies they have taken over.
It sounds like a nutty premise, but it's so well done, so matter of fact, that it's actually just gorgeous. You walk around in Helen's sorrow and questions so completely that you feel a true attachment to her as a character -- all you want is for her to have what she wants. And that's really the mark of a well written character. A good story, nicely written and nicely done....more
When I first started this book, I thought, neat. A book that's a combination of the Percy Jackson books and Mamma Mia. Very weird. But then it sort ofWhen I first started this book, I thought, neat. A book that's a combination of the Percy Jackson books and Mamma Mia. Very weird. But then it sort of takes on its own life, and you keep going. But I think what keeps in interesting is the relationships. Phoebe, the book's main character/narrator, is genuine, if occasionally dense for the purposes of certain plot twists, but she's a nice girl, and not a self-absorbed narrator, which is unfortunately more rare than it should be for YA lit. The relationships all unfold in interesting ways, and sometimes things tie themselves up too tidily, but you root for her all the way. A fun read....more
This is just a simple little project from Craig Thompson (that's how he describes it, anyway), but the truth is that it's a lovely book of his drawingThis is just a simple little project from Craig Thompson (that's how he describes it, anyway), but the truth is that it's a lovely book of his drawings and pages while he was traveling overseas to promote his work. He's in Europe, on the continent of Africa -- we see it how he saw it. The art is engaging and something about it is downright charming -- you like Thompson, you like his fragility.
Good book. Makes you feel the way you do when you travel -- that whole mix of feelings, good and bad....more
Neko Case described this book as generous, and as with so many things she says, writes and sings, I identify with that. I follow Barry's comics, and tNeko Case described this book as generous, and as with so many things she says, writes and sings, I identify with that. I follow Barry's comics, and this book looks very much like those little funny, quirky strips. This book is about writing, but it's also about where inspiration starts, when you get down to it. Barry explains what she thinks an image or an idea is by just putting both of those things out there. She intersperses thoughts on creating art with the realities of her life, and, yeah. It's very generous, and thought provoking and cool. Great for people who like reading books on writing, but also just for an interesting story of where ideas start, and how we translate them into something that others can see, feel or hear....more
This guy is the bee's knees. Three stories work together to form a really interesting, surprising connection, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy evThis guy is the bee's knees. Three stories work together to form a really interesting, surprising connection, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy every frame while on the way to that connection. I have to say that what I love the most is the pages about The Monkey King -- Chinese mythology about the Monkey King has as many variations as there are regions in China (more than that, really) -- the stories vary between families. I love how Yang works with his own experience with the Monkey King. \...more
This story is told in these vivid flashes and pieces -- so beautiful and sad and frightening. Skinny (the nickname she earns) is a Czech Jew who getsThis story is told in these vivid flashes and pieces -- so beautiful and sad and frightening. Skinny (the nickname she earns) is a Czech Jew who gets mistaken for a Gentile, and becomes a prostitute in a German field brothel. She must now sleep with the very soldiers and men who are persecuting her people. You read this novel breathlessly -- you worry what will happen to Skinny at every turn. The story has so many beautiful passages and images, though, that it's enough to carry you through the scariness and the sadness of the book. ...more
This book is dark, and what else is to be expected? Dita is survivor of the concentration camps, and is lost in Europe after the war is over. Not lostThis book is dark, and what else is to be expected? Dita is survivor of the concentration camps, and is lost in Europe after the war is over. Not lost physically, but unloosed from everything important and grounding, and safe. The things she goes through to try and make herself feel again, to make it all mean something are haunting -- a dark book that tells us so much about the state of mind of Europe after World War II....more
I'm a sucker for movie star autobiographies -- old school movie stars. The ones that flowed along the screen in black and white, and said the word danI'm a sucker for movie star autobiographies -- old school movie stars. The ones that flowed along the screen in black and white, and said the word dance as "dahnse". So I read this book with great relish. Start to finish, this is a really great one. Ginger Rogers is a natural storyteller, and she paints a picture of a life that had an unusual beginning and an incredible everything else. I adore Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies. I watched them with my grandmother as I was growing up, and they just used to fascinate me. I love hearing about the making of those movies from Rogers' side, but more than that, learning more about her life apart from those movies. Really a great book and life to lose yourself in for a little while....more
I first heard of David Hernandez when he came to do a poetry reading at my high school over a decade ago. I remember thinking, "Great. A poet. This guI first heard of David Hernandez when he came to do a poetry reading at my high school over a decade ago. I remember thinking, "Great. A poet. This guy's going to get eaten alive." And he walked into the crowded library, where kids were talking and being general loudmouths, and he started to read -- he was incredible! We all shut up and listened, and connected, and wound up cheering our heads of for him.
His poetry is so accessible, so warm and interesting that it's hard not be drawn in. He writes from such interesting angles, and about the people, moments and places that are important to him -- his poems are even better to me now, more than ten years later. Wonderful book....more