Re-read this, a year and a half later, and I bumped it to my all time favorites shelf. It was even more stunning the second time around; I had fUpdate
Re-read this, a year and a half later, and I bumped it to my all time favorites shelf. It was even more stunning the second time around; I had forgotten parts of it, I think I read other parts too quickly before, and paying even more careful attention, I'm amazed by both the emotional weight and the little pieces of the intellectual puzzle. It's a spy game in the form of a book starring two young women, but there is some patient unromanticizing of war stories and, in fact, the very spy story its telling.
I also ruminated a bit about why this book is marketed and understood as YA, aside from the author already being a YA author. My current thought is that because it's, so deeply, the story of a friendship between two young women. "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend." Are there books marketed toward adults, with the development of a friendship--and a friendship that remains a friendship--as the central force? I don't think I see it often.
And, yeah, I sobbed my way through this book AGAIN. Another thing that struck me, this reread, was just how often Maddie cried, and even though she was self-deprecating about it, the narrative didn't deprecate her for it, and it never took away from how brave she was. (view spoiler)[And how, y'know, Maddie's crying turned out to be the linchpin for how the story resolves and omg now I'm crying again. (hide spoiler)] More extra bonus points for complicating the typical association of women's tears with weakness.
FLY THE PLANE, MADDIE.
I read this a few weeks ago but have kept delaying writing a review; my hesitation was a combination of struggling to write about the story while avoiding spoilers (the twists are not the point, but still!) and while trying to avoid triggering my own waterworks, again. (Long story short: I read this book while lying in bed, and by the time I was finished, my pillow and my hair were both soaked from all my sobbing.)
Non-spoiler-y summary: During WWII, two young women become friends. One is a pilot, one is a spy. The spy is caught by the Nazis in occupied France, and the book begins with the account of her work that she writes under duress for her captors, in exchange for delaying her inevitable execution.
I had a couple small problems with the book. My belief in this amazing friendship was impeded by how little of the friendship development was shown--which is understandable, given how the book was structured and the conceit of the book (what we're initially reading is one girl's written record for her captors), but it still left me feeling pulled along rather than taking each step of discovery myself. The latter is the sort of reading experience I prefer.
But the characters WERE great, the writing was thoughtful and careful but never boring or plodding, the depiction of flying was quite beautiful, and the plot and narrative structure were fabulous. To top it all off, the author's notes at the end provided plenty of additional insight and dropped the awe-inspiring information about the amazingness of the real women who shared details and qualities with these fictional characters.
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A fantasy in three parts, The Anvil of the World was my first foray into the very incisive Kage Baker's work beyond her Company series, and this novelA fantasy in three parts, The Anvil of the World was my first foray into the very incisive Kage Baker's work beyond her Company series, and this novel was an absolute treat. As always with Baker, culture clash, light-handed morals, and charmingly dark humor kept me turning the pages. I'm not finished thinking over the book's structure and why it worked for me (the sections built on one another and focused on the same characters, but the plot of each was rather self-contained: a caravan journey while chased by assassins, a murder mystery amid a orgiastic city festival, and a reluctant hero quest, sorta), but I can say I quite enjoyed the characters, the world, the different mythologies at play (and the range of believers and non-believers), and the lovely, cinematic ending....more
So basically, this book was perfect (for me). I only wish that I could have had the opportunity to read it when I was Miranda's age. I also probably sSo basically, this book was perfect (for me). I only wish that I could have had the opportunity to read it when I was Miranda's age. I also probably should have read this sooner, because time travel is one of my very favorite things to read about, but the time period (1979) didn't sound that appealing to me. My mistake! When You Reach Me was complicated and juicy while being accessible (well, if you're up for some thinking about time travel, that is, which is not admittedly always the case). The characters were interesting and seemed like authentic middle-schoolers, and Miranda's thoughts and feelings were very grounded. The details included in the book were numerous but never overbearing, each adding to the illuminative realness. It was so easy to put myself in her shoes. Julia, however, was my favorite character, ever since she turned up determined to add a UFO to the class project.
I last read this nearly a decade ago, and I really enjoyed picking this up for a reread. Wodehouse's humor and talent for characters remain unparallelI last read this nearly a decade ago, and I really enjoyed picking this up for a reread. Wodehouse's humor and talent for characters remain unparalleled, but what really struck me with this reread was how much this book teaches about writing conflict. Every step Bertie takes to secure his goal of ensuring his aunt's cook's employment brings him maddeningly further from securing that goal. Each new plot development requires finds him between a rock and a hard place, and unexpected consequences cascade from every decision he makes. It's screwball fun, and it's an excellent lesson in how to have your character's attempts at problem-solving to unleash further conflict that drives the plot forward....more