I was wary of the hype around The Goldfinch, but I truly enjoyed this book despite its flaws. Donna Tartt is prolific and profound in many ways, but II was wary of the hype around The Goldfinch, but I truly enjoyed this book despite its flaws. Donna Tartt is prolific and profound in many ways, but I was struck most deeply by her varied and detailed ruminations on death and time. Her protagonist, Theo, experiences the loss of four close people during the course of the book, and each loss is experienced very differently and authentically in a way I don't think many other authors could have captured. Donna Tartt also is to be commended by how perfectly she transitions her characters from teens into adults. Her depiction of Boris is brilliant, and one of the great pleasures of the book is too see him grow and change, but at base stay the same.
My main problems with the book stem from the fact that I never really felt like I got to know Theo, despite the 773 pages that he narrates in first person. He is an incredible observer of the world around him, but at intervals I found myself thinking, "I don't think this character would do that." For example, when he is forced to move to Las Vegas with his father, despite knowing it's not at all what he wants, he never utters a word of protest, which didn't ring true to me. He also doesn't seem quite worried enough during the museum blast that ultimately takes his mother--for as accurately Donna Tartt writes a young boy, I just didn't think that is how he would have handled that situation. I was also a bit startled by how abruptly he started down the path of addiction.
Those issues aside, this is still the kind of book that I took pleasure in having the words wash over me. It's a rare story where you can totally succumb to the world the author has created for you, and I felt very much a part of the tale of The Goldfinch. Highly enjoyable. ...more
Super Sad True Love Story definitely lived up to the hype for me. This is surprising given the fact that neither Lenny nor Eunice were characters thatSuper Sad True Love Story definitely lived up to the hype for me. This is surprising given the fact that neither Lenny nor Eunice were characters that I really connected with in any way, but what Gary Shteyngart has produced is a truly meaningful American novel that, like a good wine, will only grow more interesting and complex with age.
Where to begin when there is so much to say about this book? Let's start with the downside, which I find to be a lot shorter than the upside. Try as he might, I just don't think that Shteyngart understands the female brain particularly well. Even after devouring this entire book I still felt like Eunice was an unfinished person for me in the sense that he had not rounded her out. What's odd about this is that I think that the dialogue she carries on with her sister, mother, and friend Jenny in California is very strong, but for whatever reason I still found her to be very flat much of the time.
On the upside, I wish I had read this with a book club because I could talk about it for days. I feel like it's so infrequent that I read contemporary fiction that has an enduring, ripe-for-analysis quality the way that books I would have read in literature classes in high school and college do. While there is of course a lot to be discussed in the future-casting that Shteyngart does about the status of our country in the not-so-distant future, what I enjoyed most was the more thought-provoking and classic theme of a protagonist wrestling with his own mortality in an age where conquering death is perhaps the final frontier. The dovetailing of Lenny's job at Post-Human Services and being surrounded by a relentless pursuit of health and financial success in order to prolong life, against his gnawing feelings of never being able to escape the immigrant struggles of his family is truly brilliant.
Like I said, I could go on about this book for days, but I will resist and simply implore you to read it. I am confident that it will remain culturally significant for years and years to come. ...more
While I am not a parent, nor do I work with children, I found We've Got Issues to be a fascinating analysis of how our society views children with menWhile I am not a parent, nor do I work with children, I found We've Got Issues to be a fascinating analysis of how our society views children with mental health issues, the decisions their parents make, and how this stigma is driving a lot of bad choices that don't allow suffering kids to receive the help they need.
Warner believed, at the start of her writing process, the conventional wisdom that "most kids" these days seem to be medicated for something--whether it be ADHD, autism, or bipolar disorder--and that this was more a product of competitive parenting and anxiety rather than an indication of real troubles. What she found, when she delved deep into research and interviews, was quite the contrary--that in fact children often do not receive the medication or therapy that is recommended for them because parents are terrified of the stigma and of starting their kids on a regimen of pills. And rather than finding kids whose parents were simply trying to get them better grades, she found legions of parents whose worlds had been turned upside down by kids who couldn't function day to day without some type of psychotropic medication to keep them "normal".
Warner has bravely stepped away from her original hypothesis in order to challenge the misinformation that has been created by generations of suspicion of psychiatry and a storyline that has played well in the media in our anxious times. It's a book that should be discussed because it challenges us to think more critically and be more compassionate when it comes to the issue of mental health--both for kids and adults. ...more
Despite my initial trepidation at investing time and energy into the Hunger Games hype, I am completely hooked. I enjoyed the second book more than thDespite my initial trepidation at investing time and energy into the Hunger Games hype, I am completely hooked. I enjoyed the second book more than the first because they story became much more layered and interesting with the introduction of new characters, a variety of new settings for the action, and greater emphasis on the larger purpose of inciting rebellion against the Capitol.
I will not say anymore except that Suzanne Collins is brilliant for crafting a series that has men and women, young and old, salivating over the next detail. She has managed to do what JK Rowling did--to create a story that people do not see as gendered, even in a society that relentlessly seeks to categorize everything we read and watch in this way. I think that the publishers at Scholastic really have a great eye for good content that keeps readers engaged without always trying to adhere to a rigid formula. I am so glad that I started reading this series! ...more
This is easily the best book I've read in months and would truly recommend it to anyone.
Colum McCann is to writing what Meryl Streep is to acting--inThis is easily the best book I've read in months and would truly recommend it to anyone.
Colum McCann is to writing what Meryl Streep is to acting--in Let the Great World Spin he can effortlessly move from one very different character to the next without ever reminding you that it's the same person creating the voice. He manages to weave together separate plots seamlessly, and in a way that reminds you that the people you see for only a moment on the street or just have passing interactions with have lives and stories all their own. That every one of us lives in a great world that is spinning differently from the one of the person beside us.
And I'm not a big re-reader, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if I chose to pick this one up again someday. ...more
I was really apprehensive to read this book as I grew up in Littleton and was a sophomore in high school just 20 minutes from Columbine when the trageI was really apprehensive to read this book as I grew up in Littleton and was a sophomore in high school just 20 minutes from Columbine when the tragedy occurred. Even though it's been 10 years and much more has been learned about the case, I was nervous that the author wouldn't represent my community in the way that it felt to live there. I was worried it'd feel too sensationalized. And I guess the most basic reason is that I was scared for what I'd learn.
But Dave Cullen has really done a great service to anyone affected by this tragedy locally or otherwise, by taking great care to understand Littleton and invest a good deal of his life to learning as much as possible about what could lead two seemingly-normal kids to commit such an act of hatred. Every inch of this book, from the gruesome moments, to emotionally wrenching scenes, to careful analysis is presented with clarity and shows great respect towards the conflicted feelings and interests that still exist surrounding the tragedy even a decade after it has occurred.
From a literary standpoint, if you are a fan of Capote's "In Cold Blood", I think you'll find "Columbine" captivating for the same reasons. It is meticulous in its research but also finds a place for understanding and a reasonable amount of empathy for the perpetrators. (This is mostly in reference to Dylan Klebold, as Eric Harris is clearly determined to have been a psychopath.) ...more
I am not surprised if you have not heard of this book, but please, please read it. It's one of the most incredible pieces of literature I have ever piI am not surprised if you have not heard of this book, but please, please read it. It's one of the most incredible pieces of literature I have ever picked up. It is the archives of a man named Noach Levinson who lived through the Warsaw ghetto and chronicled in minute detail his experiences and the lives of those around him. It is both fascinating and terribly heartbreaking to see the way in which the Jews in Warsaw were systematically destroyed through the eyes of one of their own. I have never read a book on the subject that even comes close to the depth of knowledge and feeling in The Wall. ...more