Aaaahhhh, The Wedding is a beautiful story of a couple's embracing a second chance at love. Sparks is a master at writing about multi-faceted love (fa...moreAaaahhhh, The Wedding is a beautiful story of a couple's embracing a second chance at love. Sparks is a master at writing about multi-faceted love (far beyond the physical) that runs deep and true and lasts a lifetime.(less)
** Spoilers--do not read if you do not want to know the gist of the plot **
Based on outward appearances, sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon has an envi...more** Spoilers--do not read if you do not want to know the gist of the plot **
Based on outward appearances, sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon has an enviable life. He lives in an upscale Chicago neighborhood with his homemaker mother and his respected father, Judge Witherspoon. Only Jace and his mother know that inside the house Judge Witherspoon turns into an abusive and controlling monster.
As Split begins, Jace has split from everything he knows and has arrived at his brother Christian's door--a brother who split long time ago, a brother who Jace has not seen in many years. Christian fled voluntarily; Jace was kicked out after fighting back while attempting to defend his mother.
Split follows Jace as he attempts to make a new home for himself with Christian, attempts to reconcile with who he has become as the result of many years of abuse, and attempts to heal from his physical and emotional scars. Jace learns that one cannot move into the future without reconciling with one's past. Split is one of the most compelling works of fiction about effects of domestic violence on all those involved that I have ever read, and I highly recommend it. Strong characters, believable plot, realistic ending, and more await all reader willing to give this one a go. (less)
I'm a sucker for novels portraying fully-developed friendships between man and beast (in this case, one man and a mixed breed pitbull). Adam March and...moreI'm a sucker for novels portraying fully-developed friendships between man and beast (in this case, one man and a mixed breed pitbull). Adam March and Chance have both been cast off by society. Following a momentary lapse of self-control and all-around good judgment, Adam has fallen a long way from the corporate office to community service. Chance has fallen from king of the dog fighting ring to unwanted dog. Then, they find each other.
It ended too quickly for me; I wanted to keep following Adam and Chance's stories. One Good Dog alternates between the two character's perspectives; cumulatively, One Good Dog offers a powerful story of friendship, loyalty, and second chances.(less)
Carla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofia are the eponymous Garcia girls and this book tells stories from each of their perspectives working in reverse chronol...moreCarla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofia are the eponymous Garcia girls and this book tells stories from each of their perspectives working in reverse chronological order from their adult life in America back towards their childhood in the Dominican Republic during Trujillo's dictatorship. Each of the girl's unique personality and identity struggles are manifest throughout the book.
I found How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents to be an enjoyable read. Readers who enjoy family stories, multicultural fiction, or short stories (the entire book consists of fifteen complementary short stories). It will be a good read for anyone willing to step into a world that might not be familiar (Dominican Republic) while at the same time enter into a world that is likely more familiar (America) through the eyes of four sisters who are trying to make sense of both.(less)
Sarah's Key tells the stories of two women in two time periods and how their stories interact. Sarah's story begins in 1942 during the French police's...moreSarah's Key tells the stories of two women in two time periods and how their stories interact. Sarah's story begins in 1942 during the French police's Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup. In 2002, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to investigate this piece of France's past.
Like many others who reviewed this book, I feel this would have been a stronger book if more of the book had been spent covering Sarah's narrative in the past and less of the book spent in the present showing Julia investigating Sarah's past. Nonetheless, the book brings to light an oft-overlooked historical event and its ripple effect, and, as such, it is worth delving into both Sarah and Julia's stories.(less)
Olive Kitteridge is a novel rendered through the combination of thirteen linked short stories. The stories introduce the eponymous and unforgettable O...moreOlive Kitteridge is a novel rendered through the combination of thirteen linked short stories. The stories introduce the eponymous and unforgettable Olive Kitteridge and cover the gamut of the human condition. Throughout her life, Olive plays many roles--wife of Henry, mother of Christopher, math teacher, and resident of Crosby, Maine. While she interacts with many others in these roles, she tends to maintain an emotional distance and a gruff exterior that makes her seem cold and difficult to understand.
The stories told revolve around Olive's relationships with other denizens of the town and with her husband and son as she ages and attempts to make sense of life and the changing world. The stories show people struggling to make meaningful connections. Some of Olive's final revelations remind me of the same conclusions drawn in Thornton Wilder's Our Town about the value of the ordinary and appreciating the small moments that make up our lives.
Towards the end, Strout writes of Olive, "And if her platter had been full with the goodness of Henry and she had found it burdensome, had flicked it off crumbs at a time, it was because she had not known what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered." Olive Kitteridge contains much sadness but also many salient reminders for us about seizing the day and not taking the moments or the people in our lives for granted.(less)
Alice of Wonderland's story--both her actual existence and Carroll's created existence--makes for fascinating fiction. In Benjamin's historical novel,...moreAlice of Wonderland's story--both her actual existence and Carroll's created existence--makes for fascinating fiction. In Benjamin's historical novel, readers are invited inside the mind of Alice of Wonderland, or rather, of Alice Pleasance Liddell (later Alice Hargreaves). As Alice looks back on her early years from her current viewpoint as a woman in her eighth decade, she reflects, "But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?"
Alice has some pretty fair justification for being tired; throughout her life, she plays many roles--some simultaneously, some indelible. She is eternal child, gypsy girl, young woman in love, wife, and mother. All of these roles are inextricably intertwined with and effected by her being THE Alice of Wonderland.
When she urged her friend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pseudonym Lewis Carroll) to write down the fanciful tale he told of her one day during an outing on the river with her sisters, she hardly could have imagined the story would become a beloved literary classic. She just knew that Dodgson told a story for her, and she wanted it written down.
While Dodgson's story of Alice's adventures is firmly set in the fantasy world of Wonderland, their real life story is a bit more difficult to illuminate with any certainty. Alice and Dodgson's close relationship and subsequent rift in relationship is shrouded in mystery. The letters and diaries of those involved from that time period have not survived. This makes Benjamin's re-imagining of what might have happened all the more admirable. All those who love Alice and/or speculative historical fiction will find Alice I Have Been to be a riveting, provocative, and enjoyable read.(less)
For Abbe Deighton it is her three-year-old daughter Cleo who makes Abbe's otherwise banal life worth living. When Cleo dies in a tragic accident, Abbe...moreFor Abbe Deighton it is her three-year-old daughter Cleo who makes Abbe's otherwise banal life worth living. When Cleo dies in a tragic accident, Abbe no longer sees the point in living. Come Sunday captures the raw grief of a mother whose identity as a mother has been irrevocably shattered. Cleo's death forces Abbe to reexamine the source of her identity when her role as mother is nullified, her increasingly shaky relationship with her pastor husband Greg, and her nominal faith in God.
Chronologically, come Sunday is told through a mixture of Abbe's present heartache and flashbacks to her troubled childhood. Geographically, it traverses the terrain from Hawaii to South Africa.
Guilt and blame factor heavily into Abbe's mode of survival following Cleo's death. Forgiveness and freedom factor heavily into her road to peace. The road is long and at many points seemingly too dark and hopeless to bear, but Abbe comes to embrace life once again largely by reaching out to others. As her grandmother once told her, "Mending the world is the only way we are mended ourselves."
Come Sunday is not a feel good novel, but, for those who can dive into it's sadness, it speaks genuinely to the deep pain of loss and to finding the will to carry on living. Come Sunday is Morley's debut novel.
It's time for Marcelo Sandoval to learn to live in the "real world." Or at least that's the reason Marcelo's father, Arturo, gives Marcelo for forcing...moreIt's time for Marcelo Sandoval to learn to live in the "real world." Or at least that's the reason Marcelo's father, Arturo, gives Marcelo for forcing him to forgo his safe, comfortable, familiar job working with the ponies he loves at his special school Paterson to take an unfamiliar, uncomfortable job in the mail room at Arturo's law firm. Arturo has worked hard for his success--graduating as a Mexican-American at the top of his class at Harvard law and building his law firm from the ground up, and he wants Marcelo to succeed in the "real world" as well.
Marcelo agrees to take the mail room job because of Arturo's ultimatum--if Marcelo succeeds at the job in the mail room, then he can go to the school of his choice for his senior year (Paterson, the special school Marcelo loves). But if he fails to go or fails at the job, then he will be sent for further real world education at the local public school.
Marcelo loves his safe world at Paterson in part because he is on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum. As Marcelo puts it, “The closest description of my condition is Asperger’s syndrome”. Due to his condition, Marcelo processes situations in the real world at his own pace, a pace which frequently leads others to label him as a slow-witted moron. He also has limited natural capacity to grasp others' emotions, and he has to constantly work to come to an understanding of what other people are thinking and feeling.
Yet, while Marcelo may process things more slowly, he also processes them deeply. And there's much more to Marcelo than meets the eye if one only takes a moment to stop and look--he loves music, he has insatiable curiosity and depth of knowledge about spiritual matters, and he is gifted with horses. In the mail room, Marcelo meets Jasmine, a young woman who is willing to take the time to get to know Marcelo. Her own life experiences have created within her a depth of empathy and maturity well beyond her years.
Marcelo quickly learns that the real world is messy. He finds relationships difficult (except for with Jasmine) and people's actions and words confusing. When he uncovers a disturbing photo of a girl who has been disfigured due to the negligence of his father's firm's biggest client, his previously unshakable faith in his father is irrevocably rattled. The photo haunts Marcelo and prompts him to action.
Marcelo learns that living in the "real world" often involves making difficult choices and that making these choices, even when it's the right decision, can lead to hurting one's loved ones. In the process, Marcelo comes to a different understanding of what success in this world looks like than his father's view of success, and he formulates a plan for his future.
There's a lot more than that packed into this well-written book and, just like Marcelo's thought processes, none of the content is gratuitous. Instead, each word, each scene, each subplot is carefully drawn such that the cumulative effect is an extremely satisfying YA novel--a novel about a courageous young man's summer of learning to exist in the "real world" and of locating his place within that world. If you choose to dive into this book, and thus into Marcelo's head, you'll surely come away with keener insight into some aspect of the human condition. (less)
Falsely imprisoned Edmund Dantes breaks free of his cell, reinvents himself (with the help of a treasure and a new title as the Count of Monte Cristo)...moreFalsely imprisoned Edmund Dantes breaks free of his cell, reinvents himself (with the help of a treasure and a new title as the Count of Monte Cristo), and carries out his vengeful plans towards all who wronged him. Eventually, he recognizes the it is not through vengeance but instead it is through forgiveness and mercy that he will find peace.
I read this mainly to see how it compares to the movie version that I enjoyed so much. Given the length of this classic, it didn't come as any surprise to see that much had to be expurgated in order to condense the book into movie form.
The book contains numerous characters that are omitted from the movie, myriad stories recounted within the main story that all eventually tie into Dante's in some way, and a much more intricately plotted and enacted vengeance (the ending is also quite in variance to the movie).
It's not a quick or light read. There were times when Dumas would throw in yet another character or side story for the purposes of building his complicated plot when I'd have preferred him to get a move on and stick with Dantes' character (by far my favorite character of the book). Still, for the most part, this work is worthy of its classification as a classic for its intricate plotting and its instructive insights regarding human behavior and morality.(less)