Brilliant and heartbreaking and so much more alive than any other book I've read.
A web of intrigue so far removed from the normalities of historicalBrilliant and heartbreaking and so much more alive than any other book I've read.
A web of intrigue so far removed from the normalities of historical fiction that I hesitate to label it so. Out of the Easy may be set in what we see as history, but to the people in the book, it is their all-consuming present, and that vibrancy shines through. How do I explain it? It's like everything in the novel makes perfect sense, so much sense that you not only believe it's true -- you believe that you are there. Like book-induced hallucinations. It's awesome.
A stunning cast of characters. For one, there's Josie Moraine, daughter of a lying no-good prostitute, crack shot, bibliophile, and (hopefully) a college-bound young adult. All her details add up into a really tangible, densely alive character. It's awesome.
A tale of dreams that fall into disaster and how they come to be resurrected again. I can't tell you how much I love this story. I'm always mentally rating books on a scale of relateability, and this one flew off the charts. The feeling of wanting something and the struggle to achieve it. The need to be accepted, respected. The desire to rise up in society, to prosper, to escape through success. The resolve to do terrible things to get there. Also awesome.
I have a working theory that every book can be captured with one perfect word. It's not going to be a perfect fit. Some favorite parts will be left ouI have a working theory that every book can be captured with one perfect word. It's not going to be a perfect fit. Some favorite parts will be left out. There's a high level of variation, because words are different for every book, every person, every reread.But they're there. Harry Potter is magic. Sherlock Holmes is mystery. And there has to be one for Eleanor & Park.
I'm no expert on real life love, so if I'm wrong, forgive me. But how can one word capture the cute, warm, and fuzzy feeling?
The frantic, fast version of first love, and the need to slowly, carefully, meticulously examine it.
The awkwardness of needing to learn how to kiss and sometimes tripping over coffee tables and falling on the couch.
The unforgiving arguments that end in silence. The non-arguments that end in silence anyway. The problems with the outside world and with the world between two people. Picking fights without knowing why.
And more mundane things. The aversion to meeting the parents. The first date. The first kiss. The first shared mixtapes and comics. Holding hands. Driving around. Sneaking around.
The tenuous, fragile, "It's because I have to" family love.
Even the weird, arbitrary things matter.
Makeovers, eyeliner, satin pillowcases.
The weird loveliness of having a punk rock Asian kid date a tomboy redhead. Because, yeah, looks can matter in a lovely way.
Reading a book written by someone with a cool name like Rainbow Rowell.
Quick recap for you Boyfriend List newbies : Ruby Oliver wrote a list. Of ever boy she'd ever kissed (orHow wonderful it is to love a book like this.
Quick recap for you Boyfriend List newbies : Ruby Oliver wrote a list. Of ever boy she'd ever kissed (or had a relationship with). Then her bestfriend stole her boy. Now she's left with no more joy. Now Ruby sees a therapist. About panic attacks that come forthwith. Ruby's life is now a mess. You have to read to know the rest.
*congratulates self for impromptu rhyming*
The thing I think most everyone is going to comment on is Ruby Oliver's freakish realisticness -- except I think that it's realistic only because it's written by a real person who is skilled at coming across the right. Coupled with heaping doses of painful awkwardness. Which make readers cringe at first and then feel so happy later, because they are not the only ones who readily consume painful awkwardness.
But that's something anyone could say. So I'm going to go into the metatext. This is a people-centric book, and even though I love talking about the deliciousness at Ruby's bake sale, people are much more interesting, which is even more true when the people are more people-like.
Good thing this is a realistic book, then.
Going on. If Ruby Oliver were a play, then I have loved and hated all of the lead parts. And when she was talking about her Great Dane, and something about how when the good outweighs the bad, you stick by people even though they can be a huge pain in the butt sometimes (Yes, I'm too lazy to dig back for the direct quote. Sue me.), my reaction was something along the lines of:
yes all the things how are you so wise when the majority of your vocabulary consists of things like Poncho! and Mocha Latte? why are you so awesomely flawed and why so I think this chick lit has so much value on learning about life it's like not fluff at all must read on!
And it got me thinking about how all the conflict is really a product of constantly shifting perspectives. Like, I hated Nora when she was stupid enough to be like, you have to stop liking him even though you can't help it because it's all your fault and besides, I got dibs but then I was thinking about how if I was Nora, then I'd be angry and say stupid things to get what I want. The metatext is that nobody's going to get what they want but they'll try anyway. That's how I've loved and hated the characters -- they do all these terrible things and you think for a minute and then it feels justified and you see how they're "flawed people worth loving" a la John Green the Quote Machine.
So yeah. Lots of flawed people and conflicting emotions about everyone and middle school feelings like But does he like like her? that make you feel stupid except you don't care because this book is awesome. Not that everyone will feel the same. But that's how I feel.
Side note: I'll admit that I had a fangirl moment when I saw the likes of John Green/Libba Bray/Maureen Johnson in the acknowledgements. And I'll also admit that I read the acknowledgements. My favorite is Libba Bray's in Going Bovine ("If I don't mention them, they might not invite me back for dinner. And I like dinner"). Sue me....more
The major incongruity I would like to point out here is that an idealist begins to write with a decidedly realist tone.
Alright. Last book. Last reviewThe major incongruity I would like to point out here is that an idealist begins to write with a decidedly realist tone.
Alright. Last book. Last review for these characters. I won't tear up. I didn't invest read the book just to cry about it, after all.
Fitzosbornes at War reminds me of my favorite rock-songs-that-are-also-love-songs. Serenades at midnight involving a balcony is a tad overdone, what with that inevitable Shakespearean scene, but it's refreshing to hear the same sort of affection remixed, a serenade that requires an all-consuming rhythm and a decidedly loud (and unromantic) voice. It's the incongruity that makes these my favorite kind of songs. The sound says "I wanna rock 'n roll" but the words say something more along the lines of "Let me be your everlasting light / Sun when there is none" (thanks, Black Keys, for the very nice song).
So yeah, Cooper pulled out some incongruities this time. Sophie (decided idealist) took on a sort of grim, what-can-you-attitude -- surprisingly realist for a previously optimistic person.
Why only four stars? You ask in bewilderment, as I sing praise to Michelle Cooper's cleverness. There was a bit too much of a play-dough-weird-overused-realism in this novel. Which is just another way of saying too many characters were unnecessarily killed off. I have some opinions, and I have some biases -- this is one of them. Four stars, living incongruities, and love songs. That is Fitzosbornes at War. ...more
On the melodramatic side, but I think that just makes it more amusing. There were a lot of recycled character traits (Red Sox fan, trauma, flawed butOn the melodramatic side, but I think that just makes it more amusing. There were a lot of recycled character traits (Red Sox fan, trauma, flawed but indisputably charming, the like) that I saw from the President's Daughter series, but I love White's style too much to care. ...more