It's like Markus Zusak's shy, younger brother wrote this! Definitely a starter book, but even back then, Markus's feelings about foreshadowing ("MysteIt's like Markus Zusak's shy, younger brother wrote this! Definitely a starter book, but even back then, Markus's feelings about foreshadowing ("Mystery bores me, it chores me.") is obvious....more
I just wanted to test the update for my Kindle Touch that predicts how long it will take to finish a book, and I somehow ended up reading the entire bI just wanted to test the update for my Kindle Touch that predicts how long it will take to finish a book, and I somehow ended up reading the entire book. Review to come....more
The first Marchetta. The only one I hadn't read. It was as precious to me as a last born in Charyn and I kept it hidden away for as long as I could. AThe first Marchetta. The only one I hadn't read. It was as precious to me as a last born in Charyn and I kept it hidden away for as long as I could. And then Carla declared that it was time to break the emergency glass on this book.
Josephine Alibrandi had me from the beginning. I knew I was dealing with a kindred spirit when on page 5 she says,
"Believe me, I could write a book about problems. Yet my mother says that as long as we have a roof over our head we have nothing to worry about. Her naivete really scares me."
Josie is whip smart, a scholarship student at a fancy private school who dreams about being a lawyer. She's been raised in the loving bosom of her single mother, Christina, who got pregnant at 16, and the suffocating bosom of her grandmother, Nonna Katia, who moved to Australia from Italy at 17. She knows her father is Michael Andretti, the boy next door, but she's never met him. Then one day, Michael Andretti shows up to visit her grandmother. Suddenly, the HSC (High School Certificate), mean girls, and her overbearing Nonna are the least of her problems. And then there's Jacob Coote, the boy from Cook High who caught her attention with a speech about voting and who dances pretty well too.
Guys, I never realized I was Italian-Australian. Okay, all joking aside, I know it's Marchetta and she speaks to me as few authors do, but still, imagine my surprise that as an ethnic Korean born and raised in the US, Josie Alibrandi is a character I related to on such a personal level. I can't even think of another character who comes close. Growing up, I remember thinking how much easier it would be if my family was European instead of Asian. It's not that I disliked who I was, but oh, to not have to prove my Americanness or my ability to speak English, to not have to worry about people pulling their eyes back and telling me to "go back to my country." I knew other immigrants and minorities dealt with their own prejudices, but I was convinced that Europeans, who didn't look so obviously foreign, had an easier time. Actually, scratch that. I was convinced they had an easy time, period. Josie's opinion of rich students like Ivy Lloyd and John Barton reminded me of that. She was sure their privilege cocooned them from her harsh reality. As a young girl, she was ostracized for being a bastard child by other Italians. As a student, she was called out for being on scholarship by other wealthy students. However, when someone says they would hate to be Italian after listening to her, she says,
"No. You can't hate what you're part of. What you are. I resent it most of the time, curse it always, but it'll be part of me till the day I die."
This. A thousand times this. I don't think you can sum up the immigrant experience in a few words, but this is pretty damn close.
I know I'm making it sound like an issue book because I was so impressed with Marchetta's portrayal of it, but it's not -- or it's not just that. I'm not surprised it's considered a modern classic in Australia and studied in school. Josie actually reminded me of another classic character. Remember when I was talking about gumption?
"I'm not ready for heaven yet and I don't think heaven is ready for me."
Josie, the spitfire, reminded me so much of Anne Shirley. They're both dreamers who won't settle for the status quo. Or personal attacks. Slates are nothing compared to modern science books. Jacob Coote, though, is no Gilbert Blythe. Still, Josie's interactions with Jacob, and her decision whether or not to sleep with him, and her regret at said decision, and her regret at her regret were so honest.
Started off strongly (kids yelling, "Shoot the baby!") and ended predictably (I'll have a When Harry Met Sally reference for $200, Alex), with a ton oStarted off strongly (kids yelling, "Shoot the baby!") and ended predictably (I'll have a When Harry Met Sally reference for $200, Alex), with a ton of hilarious moments in between. Can't wait to see the movie version....more
One of my Top 5 Foreign Language Films (subgenre: drama) is Mostly Martha from Germany. Martha is a sought after, highly regarded chef with exactingOne of my Top 5 Foreign Language Films (subgenre: drama) is Mostly Martha from Germany. Martha is a sought after, highly regarded chef with exacting standards. (I would call her the female Soup Nazi but Germans + Nazi reference... Let's not go there.) In the beginning of the movie, she talks about how the simplest dishes, like salmon in a light basil sauce, are the hardest because there's nothing to disguise or distract from the flavor. It's all about proper seasoning and precise cooking. These basic dishes are how to judge the quality of a chef. Likewise with books, I think the simple, slice of life stories are the hardest. Without big issues or fantastical situations or death, the story comes down to the characters.
Life in Outer Space is about Sam Kinnison and his group of friends as they navigate a year of high school. Sam is a movie obsessed, World of Warcraft playing geek with dreams of being a screenwriter. He's like Dawson Leery minus the giant head and ugly crying. His best friend, Mike, is a black belt in karate. Mike is also a disco dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy, know what I'm saying? When Mike first came out to the group, which also includes Adrian and Allison, they did what any self-respecting nerd would do -- they googled. Based on search results, they ended up watching Xanadu, Lesbian Vampire Killers, and Dirty Dancing. Sam narrates,
"We watched Dirty Dancing. Mike fell asleep, but I had to admit I kind of liked it, which made me question my own sexuality, raising a whole heap of other questions I chose not to examine."
Their routine of avoiding jock/terrorist Justin Zigoni and his crew by hiding out in the IT office is compromised when Camilla Carter comes to town. Camilla is Australian by birth but has spent most of her life bouncing around the world with her famous music critic father. Camilla ends up in the IT office her first day because her laptop won't connect to the school's WiFi. Sam, the IT assistant, can't avoid her, especially when she notices his WoW screensaver and writes down her WoW name.
I want to hug this book. If you've read any of my reviews, you know I talk in movie. Sam, with his Top 5 lists, is a kindred spirit. He's also smart, funny, and totally clueless. He reminds me of two of my favorite YA boys: Ed from Graffiti Moon and Sam from Hold Me Closer Necromancer. Camilla is who Zooey Deschanel and Olivia Munn pretend to be. Hell, she's who I want to be! I mean, anyone who can use Sweeney Todd and Dirty Dancing to taunt is my hero. Adrian steals every scene he's in.
This book is about the little victories in life. Nothing earth shattering, just the times when you say yes instead of no. Do you reply back? Do you risk the dining hall? Do you give in to John Cusack??
Melissa Keil writes with a deftness that shows why she won the Ampersand Project. She gets the right mix of heart and humor and uses little details, like the fact that Sam downloads a movie using torrents, to add to the authenticity of the story. Like I said before, I think these types of stories are the hardest to write. However, when done well, they just make you happy that you read them. Life in Outer Space is done well. I can't guarantee that you'll be blown away, but I can say that you'll be glad you said yes instead of no to this.
Favorite quote: "I will shelve this insanity and store away the memory of her in the hope that one day it'll be distant enough to be useful for a screenplay."
Things you can expect from a Lili Wilkinson book: intelligence, humor, awkwardness, and HIJINKS. The Zigzag Effect is no exception. There are photograThings you can expect from a Lili Wilkinson book: intelligence, humor, awkwardness, and HIJINKS. The Zigzag Effect is no exception. There are photographs that lie, theater ghosts and curses, and the best worst first date since Gracie Faltrain stuck her tongue in Martin Knight's ear. Oh, there's also a Magician's League.
Basically, Lili Wilkinson delivers the goods again.