It was only my deep and uncomfortable love for Lanagan's Tender Morsels that prompted me to open a book with a cover this bad. I used various techniquIt was only my deep and uncomfortable love for Lanagan's Tender Morsels that prompted me to open a book with a cover this bad. I used various techniques to hide it on my subway ride and felt I had to explain myself to friends, but it was worth it.
Unlike Tender Morsels, it started slowly, and it took a while for me to care about any of the characters. But I soon found myself intrigued and heartbroken, and I began to imagine various ways that the text could be used in a gender studies class (one that I teach only in my dreams at the boys' school where I librarian.)
I don't think this book is for everyone. But it is for me....more
I found the ending rushed, confusing and wholly unsatisfying, but on my way to that ending I couldn't put it down. Characterization was complex when iI found the ending rushed, confusing and wholly unsatisfying, but on my way to that ending I couldn't put it down. Characterization was complex when it could have been shorthanded, and the plot was oddly believable in a supernatural way. It could have been improved by a sure-handed editor to get rid of some unnecessary description and repetition, but that's a complaint I have about almost all contemporary YA. I'm hoping that the next in the series will negate my troubles with the ending, and I'm looking forward to reading it....more
I almost never give a book so few stars, because I'm pretty good at anticipating what I'll like, and ditching anything I don't after 50 or so pages. BI almost never give a book so few stars, because I'm pretty good at anticipating what I'll like, and ditching anything I don't after 50 or so pages. But An Uncommon Education was a tricky little thing. I *should* have liked it, maybe even loved it. There's a tiny picture of Shakespeare on the front cover, for crying out loud, and the heroine was weird, compelling, unexpected. The story began with a fascinating and heartbreaking friendship between two outsiders and continued at a Northeastern Liberal Arts college. Sounds tailor made for me.
Ms. Percer is a talented writer (and goes to great pains to show us that she is awfully, awfully clever), but this book just did not work. It read like a young girl's unedited diary, and I don't mean that in a hilarious way. The more interesting and fun parts of the story involved the youthful friendship between Naomi and her first love, a neighbor and kindred spirit. As the book and the heroine progress, things just fall apart. I don't think I'll ever hear the word "Wellesley" again without rolling my eyes, and I'm afraid I have to blame Ms. Percer for that.
Not recommended, no matter how much you like smart girls, classical literature, or coming-of-age stories....more
What do you say we give this book to politicians, judges, and even voters who are being asked to decide on the fate of other people's love lives? BecaWhat do you say we give this book to politicians, judges, and even voters who are being asked to decide on the fate of other people's love lives? Because this is about the best case I can imagine for the sameness and simpleness of love regardless of gender.
Levithan's A is neither boy nor girl, fat nor thin, rich nor poor, white nor black. Every day A wakes up in a different host body, and that body could be female, could be male, could be transgendered, could be kind, could be a douche. There's no telling, and that makes for a story with no limit. Well, there are a few limits. A is always 16 and always somewhere in Maryland (a fact that puzzled me at first but is more or less explained). But being 16 somewhere in Maryland can mean a lot of things, as the reader will discover.
The reason the book is a book and not just a writing exercise is that A, despite never staying in the same host body for more than 24 hours, is an individual, and as most individuals do, A falls in love. It seems impossible to imagine consistent love without a consistent body, but Levithan imagines it and give it to us in the form of an astonishingly believable and beautiful story. Part parable, part fantasy, part romance, it's all compelling. And if A and (the lovingly named) Rhiannon can't be together, at least it's because of a fascinating literary concept and not because of a law, a vote, or a constitutional amendment. ...more
Of all the books I read this summer about or involving psychopaths, this was my favorite. Astonishing in its clever plotting, delightfully twisted, anOf all the books I read this summer about or involving psychopaths, this was my favorite. Astonishing in its clever plotting, delightfully twisted, and finally very, very scary....more
Unfortunately for those of us who loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Haddon's newest novel has little of the spirit, compassion,Unfortunately for those of us who loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Haddon's newest novel has little of the spirit, compassion, and basically none of the humor that the earlier book had. Haddon describes simple acts--driving through the countryside, eating a meal--and complex emotions--guilt, fear, anger--with prose both confusing and pretentious. Lists that disguise themselves as short chapters and a stubborn refusal to use quotation marks did not help.
I would have quit after fifty pages, but I was on a plane with nothing else to read. I am glad I kept going, as I eventually found the small story of an awkward family on vacation to be compelling if not beautifully rendered (and I quickly learned to skip the lists). There were even a few glimpses of that compassion I so admired from Curious Incident, particularly in regard to the teenaged characters. A sexually and religiously confused girl is rebuffed by her social superior with cruelty, and Haddon manages to find sympathy for both of them. Siblings are shown to be remarkably kind to one another, and it doesn't read as sentimental or outlandish. But while the portrayals of suffering kids are nuanced and satisfying, the adults are pathetic and nasty and drooping. I can forgive a nasty character, or even a pitiful one. But a boring character, or rather, four of them? No, thank you. Stick to writing about kids, I say. There's nothing wrong with literary YA, and in fact, we could use a lot more of it. ...more