Jane in Bloom is a sweet, loving, book, with a touching main character, a girl who doesn't want to settle for being invisible in the aftermath of herJane in Bloom is a sweet, loving, book, with a touching main character, a girl who doesn't want to settle for being invisible in the aftermath of her sister's death. I look forward to my daughter being of age to read this title. It's a novel to be shared, talked about....more
So my basic response to The Help is that I truly enjoyed reading it. The characters were vivid and the story line moved me. I carried the book with meSo my basic response to The Help is that I truly enjoyed reading it. The characters were vivid and the story line moved me. I carried the book with me and read it while my daughter took dance class and when I traveled to New York. The setting, plot, and conflict allowed for easy perusing, and I enjoyed its nostalgia for a time worth remembering. The good characters triumphed, the bad were punished. This is the legacy of the civil rights movement. And yet, I couldn't help thinking about all the ways in which society hasn't changed. Most domestic workers in this country still suffer the abuse of poor wages and insufficient health care. Most toil behind a gauzy haze of invisibility. Would a similar book set now be as well received? What if a fast food worker spit on my hamburger? Would I see this as plausible nonviolent rebellion, even if the issue of respect and disrespect were similarly articulated? The Help made me feel good but I'm not sure it really challenged me or anyone else to think differently about race or social injustice. Instead, it gave me a warm fuzzy and if I wanted to, in it's pretty landscape, I could stay complacent forever. I look forward to what Kathryn Stockett writes next. I think she could produce a novel with real teeth. ...more
I dislike that there are so many great books for children. My frustration is a result of having a daughter who now handles most of her reading choicesI dislike that there are so many great books for children. My frustration is a result of having a daughter who now handles most of her reading choices for herself, and a son who is well on his way. Neither kid is coming to me for my help, or even my opinions or suggestions anymore. Big Nate in Class by Himself arrived in a package addressed to me, so I grabbed it and fled to the bathtub so I could have firsrsies. When my family asked me what was making me laugh, I said that I was cutting my toenails. When they asked what was taking so long, I said I would be out in a little while. I finally emerged and handed Big Nate off to my eight year old daughter. She disappeared. Snickers could be heard through her bedroom door. An hour later she reappeared and told me her favorite parts of the story. Nate is a boy who has a lot in common with my son Cass. He has a wayward way of viewing life, an attention grabbing sister and a couple of screwball friends. I think Zoe and I enjoyed getting a little peek at Cass's interior life through Nate. Meanwhile, Cass caught sight of the copy of the book his sister and I had been keeping from him. The interesting drawings made him turn one page then another. I don't know when I'll see him again. Too bad. Like Nate, he is a really entertaining kid. ...more
It's easy to get disingenuous when you try to write about teen girls. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that characters who are victims of circumstance ratIt's easy to get disingenuous when you try to write about teen girls. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that characters who are victims of circumstance rather than agents of their own pain are easier to forgive; maybe it's easier to like girls who behave unhappily rather than angrily. Whatever the problem, I experienced an intense cathartic pleasure in reading Lauren Strasnick's Nothing Like You. Holly, the main character, flings herself into a downward behavioral spiral after the death of her mother. She is self destructive. She is frustrated. She is in over her head and her behavior hurts people who are close to her. But I loved Holly for this rawness and realness, for telling me the truth about herself in an unvarnished way. Strasnick's details are spare and pure, kind and revealing. We feel Holly growing up as recounts the events of her senior year. We see the woman emerging from the shell of the little girl. I saw a long ago young me. I look forward to reading more of this author's work....more
A few years back, a college professor I know was talking about designing a popular culture class around Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought he was a nA few years back, a college professor I know was talking about designing a popular culture class around Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought he was a nut. As much as I liked the series, I didn't see how he was going to spend twelve weeks on the subject, much less design interesting writing assignments. Now, I see that it was me who was foggy and short sighted. Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy, undeniably changed the literary and cinematic landscape of the next ten years. One pass through the YA section of bookstore will reveal that there are a number of fantastic stories that have Buffy or Angel as a predecessor.
Dreaming Anastasia is Wedonesque and more. Like Buffy, Anne the narrator is witty and ironic, but never pretentious. She has problems as mundane as math homework and as complicated as how to escape the witch Baba Yaga’s clutches as Baba Yaga takes the form of a windstorm. I especially loved the character of Ethan, Anne’s love interest. Ethan is frozen in time and lonely. His self-deprecating humor makes him sexy as hell. He returns to 21st century Chicago to find Anne because she might be the girl who can help him unravel a one hundred year old mystery.
Dreaming Anastasia is a modern fairy tale with one foot in contemporary culture. It’s an enjoyable blend of the occult and the real and most of all a book for anyone who wants to see their own life at a magic new angle. ...more
Two of the stories in this collection are the best Sherman Alexie has ever written. No question--they blew me away. War Dances includes a lot of experTwo of the stories in this collection are the best Sherman Alexie has ever written. No question--they blew me away. War Dances includes a lot of experimental prose and poetry which I didn't think I connected to as much, until the end, when I thought about the book as a whole. I felt at times like I was getting an interesting peek in Sherman Alexie's head, an insight into what the pieces look like when they are in the process of coming together. In a way, War Dances is a kind of primer--how to find the heart of a story. It comes in flashes and songs. It converges when you least expect it....more
OK, here's what I would do if I won a National Book Award for a novel as fantastic as Godless. I'd kick it up a notch. I'd create a more complex and eOK, here's what I would do if I won a National Book Award for a novel as fantastic as Godless. I'd kick it up a notch. I'd create a more complex and edgier main character and I'd get her involved with some deep pscycho-emotional behavior that seems harmless at the beginning, but spirals into the uncontrollable as the pages turn.
What I might do differently than Pete Hautman, is I might follow the tried and true yet predictable path of having Kelliegh, my main character, come to some moment of truth that makes her back away from the darkness of the inevitable. The critics might like me if I pulled my punch. They might give me a book award too.
But what Hautman has done is much riskier and really astonishingly brilliant. Kelliegh's resolution rests somewhere outside the bounds of her story in the zone of human mystery. Her father says he loves her. Her mother smokes a cigarette in front of her instead of hiding her bad habits. How do these two things add up to Kelliegh's evolution as a human being? I'm not sure. I'm not sure they even will save Kelliegh but I admire Hautman's trust that by letting us know these things, Kelliegh's tale is fully told.
I also admire that he is brave enough to face the criticism that will inevitably follow for breaking the mold of wishful thinking endings in Young Adult novels. Not every human story ends well, and though readers often like to be uplifted when they read good fiction, sometimes, like Kelliegh they are just wanting to be told the truth....more