**spoiler alert** Ok, so "That Night" took awhile to get to...the beginning of this book had the influence of Amanda Knox's case written all over it t**spoiler alert** Ok, so "That Night" took awhile to get to...the beginning of this book had the influence of Amanda Knox's case written all over it to me. There were things I really liked about the book and things that I didn't.
The Good: I thought Toni's experience of getting bullied at school was interesting. I went to an all-girls school and never saw anything even remotely close to this level of bullying (the worst it ever got that I saw was talking behind someone's back - otherwise, there really was not much drama). So the idea that a group of girls would go so far to make this one girl's life a living hell was just foreign to me, but also troubling and very worrisome. You hear about kids nowadays killing themselves over being bullied and it makes me wonder exactly what kids are doing and saying to each other.
The other thing that struck a chord with me was Toni's experience as a teenager with her mother. While I didn't have the experiences with jealous girls that Toni had, I did have a mom that usually disapproved of who I was dating. And my sibling (in my case, a brother), was always SO perfect but in actuality, just really really good at hiding what he was actually doing (probably nothing major, but he wasn't quite as innocent as my parents thought).
Another positive aspect of this book for me was Toni's narration of her prison sentence. I thought her progress from scared, to pissed, to, logically approaching the situation "Ok, how am I going to actually deal with this?" was really an interesting transformation.
The Not-so-good: Like Stevens' book "Still Missing," I thought the approach to the end was kind of cheesy. The fact that there was NO other evidence that implicated anyone else (aside from Shauna's white car at the campground That Night) led me to believe that it absolutely was Shauna - an aspect I liked and thought made sense because she was so awful. But midway through the book I thought, "Ok, so she's Rachel McAdams in 'Mean Girls,' but murder??" So I definitely thought the straw that was going to break the camel's back had to involve her father. There had to be something that Shauna found so appalling about Nicole that she would go so far as to murder her then frame her sister. Nicole having an affair with her father only made sense. So minus stars for predictability.
Toni's Mom - wow, she never came around?? Even after Toni was exonerated?? This struck me as truly horrible :-( Instead of trying to repair the relationship, she wanted to hold onto blaming Toni for the rest of her life. What an awful way to live - although, it's easy to say this, right? I'd imagine needing someone to blame for losing your child, and in such an awful way.
More Good: I thought the overall themes of the book were fascinating. What is it really like for people coming out of prison (wrongly convicted or not?)? Can they ever really gain trust from others again (i.e. Toni being the first suspect when the money went missing from Mike's restaurant)? After such a long time with no physical contact, how easy/hard it is to be intimate with someone again? (Toni mentions that this was something she missed terribly while in prison - not sex itself, but physical contact). Essentially, how does a person go about rebuilding a life? Is she always looking over her shoulder?
So I applaud the book for getting me to think about some of these things.
Overall, I would recommend this book. I thought it was an entertaining ride. I couldn't wait to see what happened and, even though I thought the ending was a little underwhelming, I was still satisfied with the conclusion. ...more
**spoiler alert** I'll be honest, I was prepared to hate this book. Emily Giffin's work and I have a relationship in which I go in expecting absolute**spoiler alert** I'll be honest, I was prepared to hate this book. Emily Giffin's work and I have a relationship in which I go in expecting absolute drivel and she either, a.) surprises the poop out of me and I enjoy the book (Hello, "Something Blue," "Where We Belong" and "Love the One You're With"), or b.) I curse myself for spending the money on exactly what I knew I'd be getting (everything else she's written). It's this sort of question mark that keeps me buying her books. I don't know why. And I read them SO fast because I have to know what happens to these awful, atrocious characters!
This was a new low for Giffin. It's no secret that I am not in the camp of women that LOVE "Something Borrowed." Girls that sleep with their best friends fiances...no, thank you. I don't care how perfect you think they are for each other. It's still not cool. But now, NOW we get a chick that sleeps with her best friend's dad!!! WOW!!!
Let's go over the basic premise first, though. Because it was, you know, oh-so-creative: A college football coach, a LEGEND (as the main character mentions in the book), REVERED in the small town in which he coaches is not the most morally upstanding human to ever grace the planet?!!? He turned a blind eye once upon a time to possible rape, not reporting the allegation to the university officials or law enforcement?!!? I've never heard a story such as this. Oh wait, hello Penn State and Joe Paterno, maybe I have.
All right, so not a creative idea. We can excuse our dear Emily for that, right?
The foreshadowing was there from the beginning as we got the scoop on Lucy - she cuts people off if they cross her. And I thought, "That's my kind of chick." She's got backbone. She's got gravitas.....until, she doesn't.
Lucy loses her mother to a long battle with cancer and the super hot, delicious coach 20+ years Shea (our main character's) senior loses his wife. Terrible, right? But almost immediately, Shea begins questioning where she is in her life. Logically, Coach, rather than just grieving his wife, decides that he is ultra-concerned about Shea's career trajectory himself.
Ok, so tons o' fluff in between as Shea figures out the obvious - she has feelings for Coach, her best friend's dad that has practically raised her and been her only father figure. Can we say GROSS?!?! Look, I will disclose: when I was about 11 or 12, my brother played on a basketball team with a kid who had a super hot dad. So I'm not saying people's Dad's can't be hot. And I'm not saying that this example is even remotely close to the same situation. However, to act on this attraction, in my opinion, is inappropriate when there is an established relationship between the two families. And ESPECIALLY when the man has just lost his wife and the family has treated you like another daughter. GROSS.
So yes, from the 3rd chapter, I was hoping Giffin would take the high road and not allow this relationship to escalate (I knew better, trust me).
In the meantime, Shea manages to snag the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. The ONLY thing I liked about this book was that the description of Ryan James had me picturing Chris Evans the whole time. Yum.
Ok, so Mr. Big-Time Quarterback becomes super obsessed with Shea and is totally in love with her. And she's....just not feeling it. Why? Because she is hot for the 56-year old Coach that addresses her as "Girl."
HE CALLS YOU "GIRL!!!" That might be a sign that he sees you as just that! Until...nope, all of a sudden over some beef tacos, Coach realizes he's hot for Shea, too. But he knows they can't act on it...
In between all this, it becomes apparent that Chris Evans' hot doppelganger QB has serious anger issues. Shea gets told by his ex-wife that he can be violent. "Nonsense," thinks Shea, "I've gotta keep up this relationship so I don't do it with Coach. So yes, I love him." (Eye roll). He even FREAKS OUT on a night that Shea doesn't call him by 9pm and goes onto have the worst Thanksgiving game of his career. Because she is that powerful! So the relationship is falling apart, even though Shea is fighting to make it work with this super-insanely-jealous-Fatal Attraction-psycho Ryan James...
Until (SHOCKER), Mr. Dallas Cowboys puts his hands on Shea and she ends things with him. (She needed an out for this relationship, so conveniently, he is a domestic abuser.) So convenient is Ryan's tendency to abuse his ladies that Shea invites Coach over right after "the incident" as Ryan is trying to do God-knows-what to Shea (rape her? beat her? scare her?). I'm glad we didn't go further into that sequence, the book was disturbing enough as is. But Coach to the rescue!!! He beats the poop out of the Dallas Cowboys QB...TOTALLY LIKELY, by the way...and Shea is all, "Coach, my hero!"
Then Coach admits to Shea that maybe, this one time...well, maybe Ryan raped a girl.
I'm sorry, WHAT?!
"Well, no, no, I didn't believe her," Coach tells Shea. "Because, you know, she was probably scheming against Ryan for breaking up with her. And you know, she was the loose type." Wow, this just keeps getting better. So obviously, a woman who gets raped and has the courage to come forward about it must have ulterior motives. And if it's not her motives, then, it's her wardrobe. She was asking for it.
Boom, Emily Giffin. As bad as the book was up to this point, you TOTALLY lost me here. I'm sure Emily's husband, assistant and her unwavering fans will tell me that this was to prove a point about college and professional sports. That people look the other way. Ok, so let's elaborate on that...
Interestingly, one storyline throughout the book that was mentioned in passing and never developed was the most interesting one - the NCAA violations investigation. There's mention of the current superstar of the team getting courted by boosters and a player from back in the day having a car bought for him. There's mention of bias in grades and academic violations. And then nothing.... Shea just decides to resign from her job because she doesn't believe she can be objective in reporting about her school or the investigation. And then that's it. We never hear about the resolution to the investigation.
Everything gets tied up in a neat little bow from there. In about 40 pages, Lucy finds out about her Dad and Shea when they make the intelligent decision to share an intimate moment in Lucy's house. Lucy forces Shea to choose between her and her dad. She "chooses" Lucy (but not really), gets into a depressed funk, all of a sudden has a fantastic relationship with the father she started out hating in the beginning of the book, gets into a big fight with her vapid mother. Then Walker wins the National Championship and Lucy decides, "You know what, you two should be together."
I can't believe I finished this thing. And I did so quickly. But don't confuse being curious as to how an author resolves something with the sign of a good book. This wasn't a good book. If you're still going to read this, however, make sure you either get it on clearance, from the library, or borrow it from a friend. I still feel like I need to take another shower the get the skeeve off of me.
So this thing was bad. Really, really bad. Get this from the library. Don't let the good reviews fool you. Now here's th**spoiler alert** SPOILERS!!!
So this thing was bad. Really, really bad. Get this from the library. Don't let the good reviews fool you. Now here's the thing - if you like the Kardashians, you may like this book. In other words, if you like reading/watching people with way too much money do absolutely nothing redeeming with themselves, then you'll definitely like this book.
Unfortunately, the book makes no sense in a variety of ways.
First of all, I can't imagine two intelligent, highly educated individuals dating for two years in a situation where one has disclosed her family history (or what she knew of it) and revealed herself to the point of bringing her partner home for the holidays, yet the other has not said ANYTHING about his family. Two years? Not a Skype video conference? Or a visit? Maybe I'm naive. There, of course, could be people in this world in their 30s that are in relationships and don't care about that stuff. But for me? Red flag if a guy doesn't speak of his family, doesn't visit, nothing. No contact. WEIRD.
Secondly, how about the Ph.D. that has never asked questions about her OWN family? In our book club meeting, someone mentioned maybe Rachel's mother made things up to cover up the fact that, who the world thought was her father was actually in jail, but instead the real father was just out there somewhere and she was conceived out of an affair. It's possible. But again, Rachel believed that that side of the family never wanted to see their granddaughter? We're led to believe the Asian families in this book are so tight that they can demand who their kids can and can not marry, but no one knows their family trees or cares to see each other?
Third, I'm also perplexed by the Ph.D. in Economics that knows nothing about Singapore and how it's one of the banking capitals of the world with an outrageously high cost of living. Did she think her Oxford-educated, Ph.D. boyfriend came from the slums?
So overall, you can tell that the utter stupidity of Rachel is what bugged me the most about the book. She was so utterly helpless in the face of everything that came her way that I found it ludicrous. Any self-respecting woman would've handled everything about the whole Singapore trip very differently. And Nick's excuse of, "I just thought you'd charm the pants off everyone! I had no idea my family was this crazy!" was completely unbelievable. When your family is THAT crazy, you know it. Trust me. ;-)
Nick wasn't a well-developed character at all. I was never rooting for him. All of his "friends" were complete tools, including the one that married the supermodel girl. I didn't care if he and Rachel ended up together. In fact, in some ways I hoped they didn't. And in other ways, I thought, "These two are so ridiculous that they SHOULD be together." Again, another Ph.D. who figures, "I need to get this woman away from my family." So he goes TO HIS FAMILY'S VACATION HOME. And by gosh, THE FAMILY SHOWS UP! However did they find them!? Look, I'm not saying all of us with doctorates are rocket scientists, but COME ON! Think, much???
I still have absolutely no idea (or recollection) of what happened at the end. I know it wasn't clear to me, but at that point, I just needed this book out of my life.
**spoiler alert** As usual, I am not part of the masses that LOVE this book. But I did like it. It sucked me in and had me reading frantically because**spoiler alert** As usual, I am not part of the masses that LOVE this book. But I did like it. It sucked me in and had me reading frantically because I needed to know what happened. I enjoyed the author's ability to bring us back and forth in time. Normally, this gimmick can get on my nerves, but in this case, it worked for me. Here are my musings on various points:
1.) I both liked and disliked Victoria. I don't know if I liked her so much as felt very sorry for her (definitely not the same thing). But I know that if I knew her, I would try to help her in any way I could. That being said, I didn't like that she initially had no interest in helping herself. She wasted the time that she spent in the home after she turned 18. But, of course, I see this as a function of feeling listless. And, as with many things she did throughout the book, I do think it's a reflection of her self-worth.
2.) I still sort of want to slap Elizabeth for the adoption day freak out. There is no amount of peanut butter chip-banana muffins that could make up for that (although, they are delicious, by the way!).
3.) I couldn't quite discern why Grant remained so interested in Victoria. From his perspective, I would think he's see a woman that acted super disinterested 90% of the time they were together, then tells her they can never be together, then takes off with no explanation. If Grant was this tall drink of water (and a man that knows his way around some flowers), how was he not beating the women off with a stick?
4.) I found the most gripping part of the book to be when Victoria had her daughter. I thought Diffenbaugh did a great job of expressing the feelings of inadequacy a woman may have in even the best of circumstances. I thought it was particularly heartbreaking, though, that Victoria didn't capitalize on the help being offered (and didn't ask for more - didn't contact Grant but rather just left her daughter in his water tower). It both disturbed and saddened me.
5.) I didn't like the way the book ended. I don't mean overall - I mean, specifically, the way the last paragraph was written. It was so over-the-top cheesy, I was nauseous (and I like cheese!). It seemed to me Diffenbaugh couldn't figure out how to finish the book up and came up with a sentiment that was expressed in - no pun intended - very flowery language. It almost didn't fit the style of the book.
I thought the flower dictionary was fun and it's something I found informative and that I'll probably refer back to from time-to-time. We had orange spray roses in mason jars for our book club meeting: fascination...and, of course, peanut butter chip-banana muffins and LOTS of wine (Elizabeth's vineyards) and cheese. For book club inspiration alone, this was a great pick however, I didn't find that we had a whole lot to talk about with this book. It just sort of is what it is...what it is. A rose is a rose is a rose......more
**spoiler alert** Full disclosure: I am in the category of readers that hated Fifty Shades of Grey. So why on Earth would I pick up this book, let alo**spoiler alert** Full disclosure: I am in the category of readers that hated Fifty Shades of Grey. So why on Earth would I pick up this book, let alone suggest it for a book club selection?? Well, you had me at "professor/student affair". I've never had a sexy professor in my life (although I have had the privilege of being taught by some brilliant professors), so I needed to live in this fantasy world, even for just a little bit. I thought this would be a sexy indulgence.
There were a few things I had to get over since "Gabriel's Inferno" was not what I expected. First of all, a 30-something tenured and very rich Italian studies professor?? Ok, we're definitely in fantasy world here (Later, the backstory of Gabriel's money came up. But I enjoyed toying with the idea of packing up and heading to Toronto for a job!). I also needed to get past the way Gabriel spoke to his students. Granted, I did not go to grad school in the Arts and Humanities, but the way it goes in Science is students often call profs by their first names. And I have never, ever seen a professor publicly berate or embarrass a student for no reason. Maybe I've just been lucky, but to me, Gabriel was totally out of control at the beginning of this book.
It did annoy me that he was SO horrendous to Julia...or Julianne...or Beatrice, or whatever the heck her name was (ok, this was SUPER strange to me) and that she just remembered the "boy in the orchard" and that made it ok. Come on, now. If Julia and I were friends, I would have needed to slap some sense into this girl.
There were a few other things that were bizarre. The whole Simon angle. I HATE when an author is vague the whole way through a book in a glaringly obvious way. Was Reynard trying to build suspense with the constant italicizing of the pronoun, "him"? It was actually making me angry. Just tell me who "him" is and get on with it. Sheesh. When we finally got the deal on what happened with "him", I wanted to slap everyone involved - including Gabriel for taking it so seriously. If someone said to me, "Well, I was dating a Senator's son for 4 years, he constantly told me how frigid I was and what a crappy lay I'd be because I wouldn't put out for him. Then I was SHOCKED to find him banging my roommate!!!! The nerve!!!". What?!?! You were shocked??!?! HOW?!?!? I'm shocked that anyone would find that shocking!!!
And what were these pictures he was talking about??? Did I miss that part?? Did she snap pictures of him while he was on top of her roomie?? That storyline was never tied up - was he released from jail? We know the lawyer was trying to get him released...did he ever contact Julia again? And why was Julia's Dad such a giant dick??
Ok...so, after all those issues, I STILL liked this book! Why?? I found it romantic. I have no idea why. None. I can not justify this to anyone. I wish I could. But the way that he kissed her, the way everything was described...I just really enjoyed it. I didn't think it was cheap. Fifty Shades of Grey for me was the opposite of sexy - that was just super incredibly dysfunctional. Granted, both of the characters in this book are broken in some way or another, but that contributes to them being suited for each other in a way that they're able to nurture each other.
I liked it. Do I wish there was more sex? Sure. But I guess that's why there's a book 2.......more
This book was perfect...until there was a twist, then another, then another, then another. Oy. I think I know what happened, but I may make a flow chaThis book was perfect...until there was a twist, then another, then another, then another. Oy. I think I know what happened, but I may make a flow chart so I don't forget before book club!...more
I'm not quite certain how I feel about this book, hence, the 3-star review (which I then changed to 2, then back to 3). I'll try to map out my thoughtI'm not quite certain how I feel about this book, hence, the 3-star review (which I then changed to 2, then back to 3). I'll try to map out my thoughts as clearly as possible, but I'm not even entirely sure where this review is going to go. Here goes nothing!
1.) I liked the premise immediately. As someone who moved after college to a new city for grad school, made plenty of friends only to have them pick up and leave following the completion of their degrees, I can relate. Why? Because I'm one of the few that stayed behind. I also think in a person's 20s, a move is almost inevitable, so if you make friends with a girl before she's made the move, be prepared to say goodbye to her later on down the line. Not goodbye forever - but you'll be saying hello via Skype from different locations.
2.) I do think it's VERY tough to match the intimacy of friendships "from home" (in the book, I believe this was Sara and Callie). So I could also relate to some of the disappointment that Rachel feels in terms of comparing friendships. If you're looking for someone who relates to you the same way that your friends from home do, I think it takes a VERY long time to get to that level. I don't think it happens in a year, but that's just my experience.
I was confused, however, at the sheer number of people that the author seemed to know upon returning to Chicago. In this respect, I think she had a huge leg up on people that move into a new city not knowing ANYONE. The first series of dates were people she had either known in college or got set up with via friends from college. I don't get why she wouldn't focus her energy on people with whom she shares connections rather than taking on 52 dates in year. But this brings me to my next point....
3.) I got the feeling through most of the book that, well, no one really likes the author (except Sara, Callie, and her Mom). I can't tell if this is because maybe on some of her friend dates she came off WAY too desperate? Or if because the amount of self-absorption that possesses her isn't appealing? My hypothesis is that she comes off as judgmental. Case in point: the woman who was 40ish that had children. Well, certainly SHE'S not qualified to be anyone's friend! The author wrote the lady off quite quickly. Interestingly, the author was jumping at the chance to hang out with 22-year olds. I don't know about anyone else, but at 22, I was drunk....pretty much all the time. Not sure how great of a BFF I was, but I know I was FUN!
4.) And P.S. Rachel's husband sounds like he sucks. But at the same time, I don't understand going out with chicks 6 nights a week and leaving your husband at home. Don't get me wrong, I am ALL FOR girl time! But basically never seeing your husband during your first year of marriage because you'd rather go out and make friends is crazy to me. More alarming? Her husband said he didn't mind her leaving him behind because then he "doesn't have to listen to her complain". Wow. This is a healthy union (and yes, I realize I'm being just as judgmental as Miss Rachel). I also was flabbergasted at some of the squabbles these two had. The sea urchin incident was ridiculous. If I were in a foreign country and had unidentified black spikes in my dang foot, my husband would CARRY me to the nearest hospital - not tell me that it must be fibers from my sandals that are embedded in my foot (What?!?!?). And the author justifying his behavior by saying that "oh yeah, all couples fight on their honeymoon"....huh??? I don't know who you've talked to that's come back from a honeymoon, but all couples certainly do NOT fight on their honeymoons. Your husband doesn't like you, I'm sorry.
That about sums it up for me. The friend dates to me were unremarkable. Some of the instances definitely made me laugh out loud. I liked all the psycho-babble, too. That's right up my alley, so I enjoyed the analyses of why some people click and others don't. Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend this book unless you're just flat out of things to read and if someone has it for you to borrow. But I will reiterate that I did find the premise interesting and some parts of the book truly funny....more
I tore through this book in 24 hours because I wanted to get back to reading a real book. I am also hoping that my reward for finishing this piece ofI tore through this book in 24 hours because I wanted to get back to reading a real book. I am also hoping that my reward for finishing this piece of garbage is a full refund from the Amazon.com Kindle store. I will say the horrendous writing provided quite a few (unintentional on the authors part?) laughs, but overall, this has to be one of the worst books I've ever read. It's in 'Precious' territory for me. ...more
**spoiler alert** Ok, first of all, if you're in my Book Club, please don't read this until after our meeting next Sunday (the 24th of October)!!! But**spoiler alert** Ok, first of all, if you're in my Book Club, please don't read this until after our meeting next Sunday (the 24th of October)!!! But I couldn't resist posting my review since I wanted to get my thoughts down immediately after finishing this book.
I don't tend to do plot summaries in my reviews, so I'll assume you've either read it or don't mind spoilers if you're continuing to read...here goes:
1.) I admit, this book was hard for me to put down. Even on my 1-year anniversary vacation with my husband, I found myself carrying my Kindle everywhere and taking any opportunity I had to sneak in a few pages of reading. The book overall is a super-fast, easy read and it is a page-turner. That being said...
2.) I found some things hard to believe. Honestly, the Science of her memory loss held up for me (based on my limited knowledge of the literature on memory...I'm a hypothalamus girl, myself), so I didn't find too much flaw in that. I know, I know, it's FICTION! But here are a few holes, in my opinion: a.) I'll be honest, from Page 1, as soon as the words, "It's me, Ben, I'm your husband" were uttered, I was thinking, "Proof??" Honey, I get that you claim there was a fire, but last I checked you could get a copy of a marriage certificate. b.) So you start writing a journal, and all of a sudden, this fixes things??? Come on....this whole transition just seemed horribly quick for me. If I'm remembering correctly, all these events go down within the month of November. c.) Speaking of the eventfulness of Christine Lucas' November, she's piecing all this crazy poop together and NOT ONCE is like, "Wow, this bitch (meaning "Ben" is shady"???
3.) The book loses stars for me because I DESPISE weak, female protagonists. I don't dig the Damsel-in-Distress thing. I would've preferred girlfriend cracked this "Ben" over the head with something, or dropped the TV on his head Sidney Prescott-style. Fire?? Super Lame. I get the "coming full circle" thing with the Fire - yes, now they REALLY DID have a fire...that makes it even MORE LAME in my opinion. And P.S. how did he die in the fire, but she didn't?? Did I miss something??
4.) The cell phone battery was bothering me. She mentions the cell phone being dead at one point...you're telling me she has a SUPER phone?? That NEVER needs charging??? The phone Dr. Nash gave her is also one of these phones, obviously because Ben doesn't know she has it and she wouldn't remember it was being charged anyways. Come on, now.
5.) Ok, so back to point #1a. I also dislike when I can see a book's ending coming from a mile away. I wanted a better twist. I wanted some bizarre "Dr. Nash was the attacker" thing to happen, but this fake Ben was just too easy. The ending was Too Perfect for me. Back in the room in Brighton. Duh.
Maybe I spent too much time thinking about the Scott Peterson and O.J. trials in my lifetime, but if I see my husband acting the way this dude ever did (obligatory disclaimer: he would never lay a hand on me...cause he'd know he'd lose it), there is NO WAY I'd ever be in a situation with him in a CAR overlooking a CLIFF...I was definitely expecting the psycho to drive right off of it.
So would i recommend this book?? My recommendation goes like this: "Do you have a lot of time on your hands?? Do you want a mindless read?? Then the book IS a fun book - and I don't mean that sarcastically. It really draws you in, it's well-written. But if you don't like books with stupid, helpless protagonists, go read the Millennium series."
Ok, now I prepare to vocally express my rant at Book Club next Sunday! :-)...more
Christine, if you read this, know that I love you and I usually like your suggestions but my review of "Never Let Me Go" is: I want the hours of my liChristine, if you read this, know that I love you and I usually like your suggestions but my review of "Never Let Me Go" is: I want the hours of my life back that I spent reading this book. I think I'll go watch the same exact concept but with more dynamic characters and a much better climax (plus Ewan McGregor!)...The Island - rent that one. ...more