The way this collection deals with the father/daughter relationship dynamic is incredibly powerful. Though this specifically addresses the relationshi...moreThe way this collection deals with the father/daughter relationship dynamic is incredibly powerful. Though this specifically addresses the relationship between a white father and a black daughter, the themes and insights supersede racial barriers, but they also brought me a deeper understanding of the challenges multiracial children face, even within their own families. The last few poems were so beautiful and poignant that they had me fighting back tears--and not very successfully. As always, Trethewey's use of diverse poetic forms to covey high emotion impresses me beyond all expectations.(less)
This is one of those books that you stare at the last page and can't believe you just finished something so amazing. Yes, it's moving and beautiful, b...moreThis is one of those books that you stare at the last page and can't believe you just finished something so amazing. Yes, it's moving and beautiful, but the history it reflects upon should also make you deeply uncomfortable--in a good, growing-pains sort of why. It will make you question what you thought you knew about the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, and you should walk away wondering what kind of self-view you have left your children with.
As for the poetry itself, I thought I understood poetic repetition until I read this collection. Trethewey ties in the historical poems with the biographical poems with the use of a single word: phalanx. In the title poem, she moves you forward through time and place by repeating a line from the last stanza of one battle in the first stanza of the next battle. And she uses what I have recently heard called a "reverso poem" in "MYTH" as a visual reminder of internal reflection--a literal usage of this form that I have never seen before. The simplistic language is almost necessary to let the imagery that drives then narrative shine as it does in "AGAIN, THE FIELDS." I loved the use of color and the transition in narrative from distant third to first-person as in "MISCEGENATION." She gives new meaning to "found poetry" with her use of historical documents and classic literature as with "Scenes From A Documentary History of Mississippi."
I could gush about this collection all night, but then you wouldn't have time to go out and get a copy of this book. Seriously, what are you doing still reading this?(less)
One of my favorite parts about this nonfiction picture book is the use of real quotations to create dialogue within the story. It’s also a great subje...moreOne of my favorite parts about this nonfiction picture book is the use of real quotations to create dialogue within the story. It’s also a great subject matter that holds a cross-generational appeal. What really held this book back for me was that I couldn't keep Joe and Jerry straight--I really wish the illustrator had given me a better visual clue as to which was whom.(less)
We all know I'm a sucker for Sara Zarr's books, but there's a reason for that. It doesn't matter what kind of character she's writing--a girl with a b...moreWe all know I'm a sucker for Sara Zarr's books, but there's a reason for that. It doesn't matter what kind of character she's writing--a girl with a bad reputation, a hidden secret, a sick mother, a baby on the way or a musical genius--I can relate to them on a deeply personal level. There's a quality of realness that you can't help but connect with.(less)
Cancer may be fatal, but it’s not a flaw. This book annoyed me to no end. Talk about a manic-pixy-fairy girl and a tall-dark-and-handsome boy who say...moreCancer may be fatal, but it’s not a flaw. This book annoyed me to no end. Talk about a manic-pixy-fairy girl and a tall-dark-and-handsome boy who say all the right things and feel all the right emotions and are just quirky enough to be endearing and totally unrealistic. Hazel talks about a character’s “fatal flaw,” and unfortunately, the main character and romantic interest’s fatal flaws are completely superficial. Gus’s biggest flaw is that he’s a terrible driver with a hero complex, and Hazel’s flaw is that she can’t see her own beauty and won’t let herself love a guy who loves her because she thinks she’s “a grenade.” Sure, these kids have to deal with huge issues, such as their own mortality and living with constant pain, but I’ve known kids with terminal diseases before—deeply loved them and been torn apart by their deaths—but I’m also hyper aware of what pain and stress does to a teenager’s personality—and it’s not a pretty thing. The irony is that Green actually has the main characters talk about the postmortem saintly status of children who die young, but he himself is horribly guilty of reinforcing the same view. I felt like this book was doing a total disservice to teens with terminal illness by not allowing the characters to be real kids. And I don’t care how intelligent you are, missing three years of school because you’re receiving medical treatment will not make you some kind of literary savant. If you look past the emotional manipulation that is this book, you find hipster adults stuck inside teenagers’ bodies (see the dinner in Amsterdam scene) without any real substance who are completely defined by their circumstances rather than who they become in the end. Green’s a great writer, there’s no doubt about that, but can’t authors create beautiful sentences and substantive characters at the same time?(less)
There comes a point when everyone needs saving. When the grief and the loneliness and the struggles become to much for you t...moreTry a little tenderness...
There comes a point when everyone needs saving. When the grief and the loneliness and the struggles become to much for you to bare. But letting someone help you--love you--is almost as hard as finding your way on your own.
When Jill MacSweeney's father died, she lost her best friend, her greatest supporter and her inspiration. She's alienated her friends, kept her boyfriend at arms-length and made sure her mother knows that nothing can ever make up for her father's absence.
Mandy Kalinowski has never had a home. Sure, her mother always had some boyfriend or another who was willing to put a roof over their heads, but she doesn't know what it feels like to belong, to have a place your heart can reside. When she finds out she's pregnant, she wants to make sure her child has all the love she needs, which is why she's depending on Robin MacSweeney to provide for her baby.
While this story is told from two perspectives, it's really the story of four women who are lost and hurting and looking for home. It might have been Mac who died in a car accident eight months ago, but it's Jill and Robin and Mandy and an unborn baby who need to be saved. And somehow, as they work to save each other, they might just save the most important life of all--their own.
Every word is beautiful and every character is real. I wanted to read this book with a highlighter so I could mark all my favorite passages, and I wanted to hug and cry for and laugh with and talk to all of these women.
No one understands losing yourself and finding home again like Zarr. She writes with such a raw emotion that you come to understand every character and see yourself within the pages of all of her books. Yet this book is different from her others in that it's a little more romantic, a little more hopeful, a little more lighthearted. It still deals with powerful and sad issues (death, abuse, adoption, unfaithfulness), but it's done in such a way that every tear you want to shed is happy. It just keeps getting better and better with Zarr.(less)
Geez, I can’t read this book without hearing Kathi’s voice in my head, more so than with any of her picture books or poetry collections that I’ve read...moreGeez, I can’t read this book without hearing Kathi’s voice in my head, more so than with any of her picture books or poetry collections that I’ve read. (It also helps that I used to live on the Louisiana bayou.) While I don’t really care for books told from an animal’s perspective, the mystical quality and folk origins of this novel make the animal perspective work for me.
P.S. I started this novel by listening to the audiobook version, and it was simply awful. While I'm sure the narrator is generally skilled, her voice was completely wrong for this novel.(less)
I thoutght I have loved fantasy series before, but they have nothing on The Seven Realms. More engaging, not to mention reasonably lengthened, than Th...moreI thoutght I have loved fantasy series before, but they have nothing on The Seven Realms. More engaging, not to mention reasonably lengthened, than The Wheel of Time. Fuller characters with a more adventurous plot than Graceling. Better dialogue and more contemporary themes than Bekka Cooper. And more intricate and, well, hot than Poison Study. As a hopeless lover of all the afore mentioned books, that is no small praise.
While I didn't like this book as much as the first two in this series (there was a little too much belly-aching from Raisa and not enough progression in the overall storyline), I still enjoyed every moment of reading. It also helped that though there's still one more book in the series yet to come, I didn't throw this book down in disgust because of an unsatisfying ending. There's nothing I hate more than a series where an individual book can't stand on it's own and I spend the next year totally frustrated while waiting for the next book. Instead, I am eagerly anticipating the conclusion of this amazing series.(less)
This book is part mystery, part coming-of-age novel and part spiritual awakening saga. It has elements of a family drama and glimpses of romance, but...moreThis book is part mystery, part coming-of-age novel and part spiritual awakening saga. It has elements of a family drama and glimpses of romance, but it's really just a quiet novel about finding peace within yourself while everything else is falling apart around you.
Samara Taylor is a pastors daughter. But she's also the daughter of a drunk, and a teenager struggling to hold onto her faith. Yet she's painfully shy and lives on the outskirts of society despite having one of the most visible positions in her small community. Simply, she feels lost. And when a younger girl from her father's congregation goes missing, she doesn't know how to talk to anyone about her fears and heartache when it's Judy who needs their full attention.
While I'm not quiet by any stretch of the imagination, nor did I grow up in a small town or have an alcoholic parent, I connected with Sam. Not being able to talk about important things and being unsettled by a changing future...those are all issues I've faced. Some people refer to it as a "crisis of faith," but to me it's more of a rite of passage into adulthood. Only a lot of people doesn't come out the other side still holding fast to their belief in God.
There is the internal quality to Zarr's books that I love. I can feel the essence of the narrators without being forced into their heads, like I can put myself inside of them rather than having them jump onto the page, fully formed. It's like being able to see an entirely new side of myself in each new character. And that's something that no other author has ever been able to do for me.(less)