Overall, I enjoyed this book. I thought the language was lovely. However, the faults in the premise kept niggling me, even in the best parts of the boOverall, I enjoyed this book. I thought the language was lovely. However, the faults in the premise kept niggling me, even in the best parts of the book. The premise that bothered me was not the magical realism. I actually thought that was beautiful.
What bothered me was the idea that there's an old (old) man living alone on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, who starts getting dementia, and someone notices. The man has no car. There's nothing to indicate that he has any contact with anyone off the ranch. But somehow there's a doctor who is so concerned that he calls the man's son (who hasn't spoken to his father in 12 years, since his mother died), and says that the old man must be moved to a nursing home immediately. And then the son decides that he has to uproot his entire family (including his two children, who have never met their grandfather) and they're all going to spend the summer on the ranch caring for the grandfather and fixing up the ranch house. In the middle of nowhere. In a drought. Except it turns out that no-one is surprised when the buyers are just going to tear the building down anyway, because who wants a who-knows-how-old ranch house in the middle of nowhere, no matter how clean it is, anyway?
So yeah, that bothered me. In the few moments that I was able to ignore that, I found the story of a tween girl getting to know her grandfather and listening to his stories of love and magic and really coming to care about him (and the ranch) quite nice. Niggle niggle....more
I don't know how to rate or review this book. I feel like I started at least three separate books between the same covers. One book was a fairly normaI don't know how to rate or review this book. I feel like I started at least three separate books between the same covers. One book was a fairly normal story of a family broken by tragedy. Another took place somewhere outside of reality. And the third took place in a very contained world populated by a single person. Although all of these stories came together well, I couldn't decide whether I was supposed to be reading "normal" fiction with a touch of fantasy, or the other way around.
The writing itself is lovely, at least in 2/3 of the stories I was reading. Gurley's descriptions are vivid, and the pace of the novel is very well done. I think my ultimate problem with this book was that I didn't get the story I wanted. The bulk of the book is taken up with the idea that Eleanor's ultimate mission is to unravel the tragedy that happened to her family, which she ultimately does. But I found myself not overwhelmingly compelled by the lead-up to the reversal (i.e. the entire book), because I wanted to know what happened next. Maybe Gurley will write that story, along with 2 or 3 others, in his next book....more
Although a little too inspirational for my tastes, these vignettes about the childhoods of famous athletes are also interesting stories about the famiAlthough a little too inspirational for my tastes, these vignettes about the childhoods of famous athletes are also interesting stories about the families and educations of the athletes. Young sports fans will enjoy learning more about their heroes, and the short format of each story will also appeal to reluctant readers....more