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 ou...moreI 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 (or...moreHow 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.(less)
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 review...moreThe 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. (less)
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 but...moreOn 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. (less)
I only have one comment, really. The romance-but-not-really-sigh-it's-pretty-messed-up really got to me. On their...moreJust kind of tragic. And beautiful.
I only have one comment, really. The romance-but-not-really-sigh-it's-pretty-messed-up really got to me. On their first date, Kit brings her brother along and Billy says, "You don't trust me. Good. I'm completely untrusworthy." That killed me. It was the line that endeared him and condemned him all at once. He gets into trouble and fights but he's also a dreamer, wanting to marry his girl. I know love is a broken record, but even I feel a little bit torn between figuring out if it's Billy the Bad, or Billy the Good (it's probably Billy the Both).
Strings Attached is a real heartbreaker, but I think I have to side with Kit's brother on this one - "I'm on the side of true love. However it falls."
Jaclyn Moriarty is a criminal mastermind (Writing books in a seemingly offhand and overdramatic fashion, eh? AND THEN USING THE NONSENSE TO CONFUSE US...moreJaclyn Moriarty is a criminal mastermind (Writing books in a seemingly offhand and overdramatic fashion, eh? AND THEN USING THE NONSENSE TO CONFUSE US INTO NOT KNOWING WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?). I'm glad (no, relieved) that she became an author, and not something else. (less)
The best way I can describe this book at this time in the evening is like watching one of those movies that restore your faith in humanity even though...moreThe best way I can describe this book at this time in the evening is like watching one of those movies that restore your faith in humanity even though the film didn't align with reality by a long stretch.
The angst levels in this book are record-breaking. But it's bearable, because if it's a steady leak of angst, and not a hurricane, I think I can handle it. And besides, this whole book is made of leaks of brute force feelings from people trying desperately to hold them back.
Did that make sense? Of course it didn't. It didn't even make sense to me.
The lowdown is that this book is two very messed up people who fall in love. Mm, tastes of bran and unoriginality. Boring.
Except the side characters are awesome. And even though the writer loads up on way too much angst, the sweet side characters and their messed up stories to follow and way less macking out and way more actual dealing with relationship stuff without getting stupidly cliché, which is kind of a plus.
I don't know. The book's good, not great, and still worth reading. It's an unsolvable paradox, but one that's fun to mess with, just because you can.
I have no idea what I'm even trying to say anymore.
The title's pretty cool, though. The Sea of Tranquility. They talk about it in the book -- they thought it was a lake on the moon but really it was a shadow and it really goes to show how much of everything is just what we want to see and not what it actually is.
So I'm looking at what I've got so far, and all I can see is that I'm implying that this book is a Sea of Angst and the whole point of this book book is to transform it into a Sea of Tranquility, just by looking at it from a different angle.
This book sure is hefty. 700 flipping pages is enough to fend off a sizable assailant, in my opinion.
The main thing to get about Ellen Emerson White,...moreThis book sure is hefty. 700 flipping pages is enough to fend off a sizable assailant, in my opinion.
The main thing to get about Ellen Emerson White, though, is that even she's completely obscure (for reasons I have yet to figure out), her books are unquestionably witty. Clever witty. Funny witty. Actually, I think I'm up for more than 700 pages witty.
But we must march on, wit or no wit! To the characters! Generally, the people are what make or break a story, given that the stuff the characters do create everything in the plot. We live in humancentric book world, my friends, and it just gets strange when books are published from the point of view of an animal (It's even stranger when it's a plant). Fake-people-that-are-completely-real-in-my-mind are my favorite kind of character, boy oh boy oh boy oh boy Meg and everyone else makes me happy. I know it's really whiny sometimes (Dude, are people not allowed to whine anymore? Then I'm in a heap of trouble.), but hey, Meg acknowledges her flawed humanity. Whining is also offset (very nicely) by wit. And wit. And more wit. Garden variety wit. I'm giggling under the covers and it's waaaaay past midnight wit. Exhibit A:
"Why are you in college, Miss Powers?" ... "Because I can't sing or dance." she said.
I must divulge on a brief opinion on Jack - oh my goodness it's a real boy! With crude comments and feelings and mess ups and everything! And it's all really really awkward and I can't even. Also, their inappropriateness is kind of funny. They manage to be awkward about that, too, and it's all very very cute.
Well, that's all for today, folks, but rest assured, this book is at least the greatest gift to novel-writing and at best plain wicked excellent.(less)
Just a family trying to figure it out. I find the relationships in White's books to be very thoughtful and for that I am grateful, because without her...moreJust a family trying to figure it out. I find the relationships in White's books to be very thoughtful and for that I am grateful, because without her I don't know if I could have understood the tiffs between parents and children can be fixed and the quarrels between siblings can be remedied and the silent treatment of friends can be forgiven. A lot of times English teachers will tell you to look for the theme of books and "what the author is trying to teach the reader," but I don't think that's exactly what's happening here. And I hope you'll let me get a bit opinionated because I think what's happening here that there is a writer who can see real people who are stubborn and broken and cowardly and naive. White doesn't lecture on how people can be fixed or who is good and who is bad. Here is a writer who sees people who mutually exist and disregards all the connotations. She ignores who's famous and who's a criminal and who's smart and who's violent. Here is a writer who sees real people with interlocking lives and here is a writer who understands how people live together without falling apart. This is a writer who understands acceptance, and I read her books because I want to figure that out. (less)
Reviewing this book reflects on one very important flaw of mine: indecisiveness.
It's really a bugger when I rate books. Four stars? Three? Yes? No? Ma...moreReviewing this book reflects on one very important flaw of mine: indecisiveness.
It's really a bugger when I rate books. Four stars? Three? Yes? No? Maybe? Maybe 2. I don't know.
The problem is that Pink fluctuates so much. I like the pink cashmere sweater. I like that Ava wants to test out the other extreme. But it's doubtful that these problems of hers are so mind-consuming that she switches from deciding she likes girls to she likes guys to she likes girls and guys to she likes neither and so on. That, my friends, will make my indecisiveness flare. And not knowing how to review this book makes me irritable.
One thing I did realize, though, as I smirked at yet another romance in yet another summer with yet another sad tint (see The...moreUnashamedly predictable.
One thing I did realize, though, as I smirked at yet another romance in yet another summer with yet another sad tint (see The Summer I Turned Pretty), was that corniness and bad puns was not an excuse to brush something off. Surprisingly, I learned a thing or two from Second Chance Summer.
1) Don't run away from things when it gets hard. Life is about making bad things better, not about letting things go from bad to worse.
2) As if you couldn't piece it together from the title, give people second chances. It makes the world less sucky.
3) Raspberry sorbet and coconut ice cream. Must try sometime.
Those are my thoughts.
EDIT: There is this quote in the book. "You want to know something about gymnastics? . . . The things is that people only get hurt -- really hurt -- when they're trying to play it safe. That's when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they're scared. They hurt themselves and other people." Corny but deep.(less)
I got the warnings. You're reading Code Name Verity? Better bring some tissues. Except I only legitimately shed tears o...more So many feels from this book.
I got the warnings. You're reading Code Name Verity? Better bring some tissues. Except I only legitimately shed tears once, when the smushing of "I have told the truth" and "after a while, all children tell the truth" made a feeling come up that I don't have a word for. Good books are more like lasting pangs in the chest for me.
No romance, either. This is a writer - someone who makes reader feel less alone without telling them that the only way of doing so is to hook up and get married. Maddie and Julie are a sensational team.
I didn't quite grasp the abbreviations - SOE, WAAF, ATA, etc. - because I was too busy mulling over things like Julie-during-interrogation saying, "I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can’t believe I ever said anything so stupid . . . I desperately want to grow old."
So many feels from this book. I'm still in the muddle of feelings, actually. Finished it this morning.
I'll cut it short here, because I'm afraid that if I go on I will turn into a blubbering fool. As Julie would say, "careless talk costs lives." (less)