In Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era, a white woman stumbles on the idea of writing a book about the black maids of the area and the whIn Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era, a white woman stumbles on the idea of writing a book about the black maids of the area and the white families they work for.
There have been so many great reviews written for this book, that I don't know if I have a whole lot more to add. I was alternately infuriated and then cheering for the characters. Seriously. On page 7, I was thinking, "Did I really just read that? Oh my gosh. What a bitch." On page 9, I was laughing, thinking, "All right! I like this character. I can't believe she said that!" And that's how I went through the book. One extreme to the other. There were even parts that left me misty-eyed, and that doesn't happen often.
The idea behind the book was great, but I think without the characters, I wouldn't have liked it as well as I did. I just loved them all. Aibileen is so calm and wise, but she's taken all she can take. She's the one who left me wondering what part of your soul you have to tamp down or kill in order to put up with this kind of stuff. Miss Skeeter is the white society girl who went to college to actually learn, not to catch a husband. She wants to be a writer and only accidentally stumbled on this firestorm of an idea. She wasn't quite as indoctrinated in this whole racist point of view as most of her friends, but she still didn't know what she was letting herself in for. To her credit, even when she did realize and her world started falling apart, she knew that what she was doing was too important to stop. And then there's Minny. Oh, my gosh, Minny. She's called "every Southern white woman's nightmare," and she is. She just can't make herself fit into a subservient box, so when she sees an injustice, she calls her employers on it. She's also had something like nineteen employers in as many years.
I was surprised by some of the directions the book took. It is mostly the story that I expected. But as the maids are telling Skeeter their stories, they're not all bad. Some have caring employers. Unfortunately, they're the minority. Stockett also did a great job of showing that we aren't born with these ideas, we're taught them. I love the stories Aibileen tells her two-year-old charge to try to counteract the crap she's being taught at home and later at preschool, not just the racist stuff, but even the self-esteem-lowering stuff. Some of these mothers let the maids raise their children, and only interfere to yell at their kids. That continues when they're grown. There's even a tiny little story in here that hits on homosexuality. So think about what side of the gay rights debate you're on as you read this, thinking, "How can people think that way?" It won't be too long before people are asking the same thing when reading about gay rights as a struggle in the past. And then there's the way that we won't let someone "rise" in society. One of Minny's ladies is raised in a poor white area, but she's married a rich man. She tries so hard to join this society, it will break your heart. But the doors stay closed, partly because of her background.
Just read this. It's an important book for more reasons than I expected, but it's also a very readable book with amazing characters. Most of you will love it....more
This sweeping epic portrays life during the Civil War and Reconstruction through the eyes of Scarlett O'Hara, a young Southern belle who has a stubborThis sweeping epic portrays life during the Civil War and Reconstruction through the eyes of Scarlett O'Hara, a young Southern belle who has a stubborn streak a mile wide. She's in love with the wrong man, marries the wrong men, and is irredeemably selfish, but she's a survivor. Through it all, she steadfastly refuses the advances of reprobate blockade runner Rhett Butler. Their story is as timeless as it is turbulent.
I feel like the last Southern woman to read Gone With the Wind. My excuse, such as it is: I did try to read it once before, when I was way too young. I thought Scarlett was mean, Miss Melly was a wimp, and Ashley was just useless. I put it down very early on and never wanted to pick it up again. However, as the host of The Southern Literature Reading Challenge, people were shocked that I'd never read this Southern classic, my aunt perhaps most of all. She has read it multiple times and re-watches the movie religiously. She finally told me last year when we were at the Decatur Book Festival together, "How about we do a read-a-long? It's been years since I re-read it and I would love to get your reactions as you're reading it for the first time." With her shove support, I finally got up the nerve to tackle this beast.
I loved it. I'm more inclined to give it 4.5 stars, but I'll round up to 5 in honor of Pat. I have an ancient old mass market paperback with the tiniest font known to man and I still plowed through. My eyes physically hurt from the strain of reading almost 1000 pages of "ant prints" as I call fonts that small, and I still could not put it down.
These characters just came to life for me. Don't ask me if I hated them or loved them because I still couldn't tell you and it's been over 6 months since I finished it. Rhett--I eventually loved him, even though there were times I wanted to smack that smirk off his face. Ashley--I didn't respect him at all. He was a weak excuse of a man. Melanie--I thought she was weak and silly at first, but she's probably the strongest character in the book in a lot of ways. She surprised me. Just when I wrote her off as hopeless, she would do something to make me change my mind. Scarlett--I was all over the place. I loathed her, I respected her. She was selfish, she was a survivor. She's a bitch, she's a forerunner of the women's movement. She is complicated. That's all I know for sure.
I have seen enough of the movie in the past to have a very good idea about the story. I was surprised when these extra kids and marriages suddenly showed up in Scarlett's life. Holy cow, she was a busy woman. Maybe I missed something, but I think they cleaned her up just a little for the movie.
Grab a copy with a readable font (I do not recommend reading until your eyes hurt), and give this a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the epic story you'll find within....more
Eddi McCandry is a rocker with a big heart. She attracts the attention of the Seelie Court and her life is turned upside down.
I absolutely loved this.Eddi McCandry is a rocker with a big heart. She attracts the attention of the Seelie Court and her life is turned upside down.
I absolutely loved this. If you know me, and maybe if you don't, you know that Charles de Lint is my favorite author. This is something very much in the same vein as de Lint's best work. I don't mean that it's a knockoff, it's just something that I enjoyed for a lot of the same reasons that I enjoy de Lint.
These characters were awesome. They're people (or not) that I would love to know in real life. Eddi is a talented, creative musician with a true gift. She's not perfect, but she's big enough to apologize when it's necessary. She can take charge when that's necessary too. She gives her all for her friends and refuses to give up even when everyone else is telling her that what she wants to do is impossible. Her friend Carla is much the same way, except possibly even more loyal and more likely to give her friends a figurative kick in the pants when they need it. Willy, oh Willy. What a heart breaker. And that's all I'll say about him. But the star of the show is the Phouka. Can you say book crush? He's funny, sarcastic, dashing, romantic, a rebel, strong, tough, just enough of a bad boy, and he's learning more about what it means to be human. I adored him. I wasn't too sure about him at first, but he grows throughout the book, and we get to know him better, and I was a fan for life by about the halfway point. Love him.
Even aside from the characters, the story was a page-turner. I was supposed to be training a new employee as I read this, and he just would not stop talking. (Okay, I was not slacking. The guy was in his final week of training and he didn't need it. We had absolutely nothing to do. I had listened to his same stories umpteen times already. I wanted to get on with this story.) I managed to be polite and listen to him, but the whole time I was sitting there wondering what was going to happen next, hoping that the trainee would need a bathroom break soon and I could read a little more about what was going on with Eddi, the Phouka, and the Seelie Court. That's probably terrible to admit, but there you go. Read it when you won't be interrupted. :-)
So, this is a new favorite. If you like fantasy and great characters, pick this up. You'll be sorry if you don't....more
Picking up a few months after the end of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire maintains the same rip-roaring pace established in the first book. In fact,Picking up a few months after the end of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire maintains the same rip-roaring pace established in the first book. In fact, it doesn't take long to bring the action to a whole new level.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is one of those rare books--a second that is actually better than the first. In my humble opinion anyway. I read all 391 pages in two sittings, really in one day. I picked it up, got sucked into Katniss's world, and never looked away. We got to see a little more of Gale in this story, but we got to see even more about Katniss and Peeta and how they're dealing with being victors of The Hunger Games. There is trouble brewing in Panem and Katniss is an unwilling face to the people's discontent. She's trying to deal with that, she's trying to deal with the Capitol's anger, and she's a 17-year-old girl who's trying to deal with her feelings for the two guys in her life. The whole thing is believable and Katniss is believable. And Peeta. He seemed a little too good to be true in the last book. He still does a little bit, but he shows a different side of himself here. He gets to say the one line that had me laughing out loud. Luckily, my husband was the only person around and he's learned to ignore me and my quirks. I don't know if I was supposed to laugh, but man! I have to admire the guy. He certainly knows how to work a crowd.
There is a tiny, rational part of me that's a little disappointed in the direction the story took. But the reader who just wants to be entertained has informed the rational part that it just needs to shut up. It all worked, I loved it, and that's without mentioning the ending. Oh, the ending. No spoilers here, but oh man. I can't believe I actually have to wait for another book to be written. I never read series books back to back, but let me tell you, if I'd had the third book lying around, I would have started it and finished it today. Yes, I promise it really is that good. Go ahead and pick these up. This did not sound like a series I would like, and yet here I am gushing to the best of my ability. I'll say it again--I loved this....more
This was amazing. There were parts that were hard to read, but overall, just unbelievable (in a good way). This is another book that I think everyoneThis was amazing. There were parts that were hard to read, but overall, just unbelievable (in a good way). This is another book that I think everyone should read, if only to gain some sort of insight into Middle Eastern culture....more
As luck would have it, the very day Dashti enters the service of a lady is the very day said lady is bricked into a tower for seven years to learn obeAs luck would have it, the very day Dashti enters the service of a lady is the very day said lady is bricked into a tower for seven years to learn obedience. Dashti goes along with her to keep her company and take care of her. Between fighting off rats, Lady Saren's torpor, and the unsettling attentions of Saren's two very different suitors, Dashti has her hands full. And that's just the beginning.
I love Dashti. She grows so much in this book! She starts off a simple girl from a simple way of life, unquestioningly following the laws of the land, and she becomes a strong woman, confident in herself and her abilities. The book is really Dashti's diary, so it was interesting to see her thinking and even her writing style change as she grows into herself.
Dashti's is the most obvious transformation, but Lady Saren quietly undergoes some drastic changes. She starts out a weak, irritating, ineffective girl who seems to be nothing but a chain around Dashti's neck, but sometime when you aren't looking she becomes something... more.
This is my first time reading Shannon Hale, and if this is any indication of the rest of her work, it won't be my last. I sat down to get started on this before spending a little time on the computer, and the next thing I knew I was finishing it. Seriously. One sitting. There was one part that started to drag just a little bit, but somehow a book about two girls in a tower became a page turner. I enjoyed how Dashti's "voice" changed as she changed, and I'm very impressed with Hale's skill in pulling that off.
I was thrilled to read a young adult book with a strong female lead and no love triangle in sight! Yay! I know I wrote the bit about two suitors, but believe me, there's no love triangle.
I highly recommend this all the way around....more
I would give it more stars if I could. I love the idea of this novel and I'm surprised that such a thought-provoking idea comes in a such a thin packaI would give it more stars if I could. I love the idea of this novel and I'm surprised that such a thought-provoking idea comes in a such a thin package....more
I have waited entirely too long to write this review and gotten too deeply involved in the world of Ken Follett's World Without End, so this review isI have waited entirely too long to write this review and gotten too deeply involved in the world of Ken Follett's World Without End, so this review is going to suck a little. Which is a pity because I had thought of all kinds of witty things I was going to write and now I've lost them.
Miss Alexia Tarabotti is soulless. When she touches supernatural beings, she neutralizes their abilities and they become human for a moment. That could be useful to the Bureau of Unnatural Registry if she weren't a lady of good breeding. She refuses to be treated as a wilting lily and goes about, wielding her tricked-out parasol and assisting in any way she can, as new vampires who appear to be entirely clueless about supernatural laws go about wreaking havoc on society.
I loved the chemistry between Alexia and Lord Maccon from the moment he threatens to bring her out of a faint with something stronger than smelling salts. He's an Alpha werewolf, but Alexia has enough alpha personality to hold her own against him. Their subtle yet pointed verbal sparring made this book for me. And can you say steamy? It wasn't too graphic, but oh my gosh. *Fanning*
Alexia herself was a fantastic character. At twenty-six, she's firmly on the shelf in Victorian society, but she's okay with that. Better to be on the shelf than married to some half-wit who can't keep up with her own intellect and curiosity. She gets enough of that from her family. They don't know she's soulless and put all of her quirks down to the fact that her father was Italian. But they've left her just a little insecure about her appearance and desirability. Just enough to make her feel real.
And Lord Maccon. Yum. That's all there is to say about him. But you know I can't leave it at that. Sexy, Alpha, protective, strong, and with a Scottish burr, who can resist him? I kept having an internal battle over his name. There's a Macon County near where I live and Lord Maccon kept sounding like bacon. As a carnivore, I'm sure he wouldn't object, but it kept distracting me.
I liked the way that some curious turns in history can be put down to supernatural intervention. I won't give anything away, and it was only a very small part of the book, but it amused me.
I really liked the cover until I read the book. I kept picturing Alexia as Nia Vardalos and that bony female on the cover just didn't cut it anymore.
I don't think I've read any steampunk before, but if this book is at all indicative of the genre, I am hooked. I'll be actively searching out more of this kind of thing as I eagerly await the sequel, Changeless.
Honestly, if you think that the only way The Pink Carnation series could be improved is by throwing in some supernatural beings, you will love this. If you don't know what I'm talking about but you would like a new take on the whole vampire thing, you'll probably like it too. It was just a hugely fun novel that I read with a smile on my face....more
Just finished a re-read for my book club. I didn't fall quite as head-over-heels in love with these characters, but I stand by my 5-star rating. AbsolJust finished a re-read for my book club. I didn't fall quite as head-over-heels in love with these characters, but I stand by my 5-star rating. Absolutely wonderful book....more
Charles Vess's fantasy artwork has been collected in a beautiful volume.
I love just about every piece of art in this book. The few that I don't like aCharles Vess's fantasy artwork has been collected in a beautiful volume.
I love just about every piece of art in this book. The few that I don't like are probably the few that are science fiction. I am not at all knowledgeable about art so I can't write in any kind of meaningful way about it. I do know what I like and I most definitely like this.
I tried hard to take my time poring over this book. I can flip way too fast through illustrated books, focusing too much on the words. I knew that Vess hides a lot of details in his work and it would be worth the time to look carefully at every page. It was. The vibrant colors, the classic fantasy elements with the occasional modern twist thrown in, this collection was all that I expected it to be and more.
The problem is that now I want to add all of the books he's worked on to my wishlist! He's been a busy man! I already own quite a few of them because he tends to collaborate with authors I love in their own right, such as Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman. I did not realize that Vess had worked on an illustrated edition of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series but now that I do, I feel the burning need to own it. Unfortunately, it was apparently a limited edition and is now pretty much unavailable or way beyond my means. Here's hoping for a wider release.
Fans of fantasy art and/or writing will love this collection. It will be displayed proudly in my home....more
This is Neil Gaiman's poem, "Instructions" bound as a picture book and illustrated by Charles Vess.
I love this.
I have to admit that when I first cameThis is Neil Gaiman's poem, "Instructions" bound as a picture book and illustrated by Charles Vess.
I love this.
I have to admit that when I first came across Gaiman's poem in Fragile Things, I read it, thought it was pretty cool, and moved on, both in the book and in my head. It wasn't until I met Charles Vess at a book signing for Drawing Down the Moon and he told us about this project that I really got excited about the whole thing. He had prints of his artwork for us to look at. As I flipped through them, I knew this was going to be something special.
And it is.
Basically instructions for surviving a fairy tale, Gaiman weaves many themes into this short-ish poem. Help who you can. Don't trust those who seem untrustworthy. Trust yourself. Come home at the end.
And suddenly you realize that he could be (is?) talking about how to live your life well. And you are reminded again what a master Gaiman is.
As for the illustrations--perfection.
I love Vess's artwork. It has such a perfect fairy tale feel to it. And when you sit down to really look at just one of these illustrations, you are blown away by the amount of subtle detail worked in.
I highly, highly recommend this. Children will love it, and so will readers of any age who understand that the truest advice can be found in "children's books."...more
My much-younger cousins introduced me to these. I don't actually remember reading them until I bought them for two little boys I know. So my husband aMy much-younger cousins introduced me to these. I don't actually remember reading them until I bought them for two little boys I know. So my husband and I are sitting in the living room floor, wrapping Christmas presents, and I pick this one up and start reading aloud. No more wrapping from me! I had to read both of them out loud, complete with claps and my very best Spanish accent! Tons of fun and highly recommended for family read alongs....more
Strange things start happening around best friends Zanna and Deeba. A fox appears on the edge of the playground, watching Zanna. They come across grafStrange things start happening around best friends Zanna and Deeba. A fox appears on the edge of the playground, watching Zanna. They come across graffiti saying “Zanna For Ever!” A woman they don’t know approaches Zanna in a café and tells her what an honor it is to meet her. It all culminates one night when the girls are having a sleepover and notice a broken umbrella hanging off a window, spying on them. They follow the umbrella and eventually find themselves in a place…not London. UnLondon, in fact.
This mostly reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, with a little side of Neverwhere. The sense of totally unpredictable fun that pervades Alice was alive and well in Un Lun Dun. There was crazy word play (Binjas! Gotta love ‘em!), fantastical creatures, and a world where the impossible has become the everyday. But underneath all the fun, there were subtle messages about loyalty, friendship, doing your best, having faith in yourself, standing up for what’s right, and even a little dash of environmentalism. None of this is at all heavy-handed though, so it really can be read as a fun adventure story.
Miéville illustrated the book himself, and I loved the illustrations. They added a perfect note of whimsy to an already-whimsical book. My favorite picture is probably the one of UnLondon’s giraffes. You’ll have to read it to find out why.
I also liked that they didn’t “dumb down” the American edition. Sure, there are plenty of British words that the average American 12-year-old isn’t going to understand, but give little readers some credit—they can understand a lot in context. And if they can’t, there’s a glossary at the back.
This is a tiny little thing, but I’ll mention it anyway. The section headings always made me blink a little because the big, heavy Roman numerals always reminded me of those Saw movies. I haven’t seen any and I have no desire to see any, so that association always took me aback for a second.
If you want to read a book that takes you back to the first amazing time you read Alice, pick this up. Those feelings are all within these pages. If you know any younger readers, do them a favor and make sure they read this. It’s just magic....more
Lucía Álvarez is your typical teenage girl. She has a crush on cute Manuel, she and her best friend Ivette are interested in all the latest fashions aLucía Álvarez is your typical teenage girl. She has a crush on cute Manuel, she and her best friend Ivette are interested in all the latest fashions and movies, and she's trying to fit in at school. So when Fidel Castro cancels classes, her only thought is enjoying her unexpected freedom. She slowly realizes how dangerous things are becoming in her country. Finally, her parents break the news that Lucía and her younger brother Frankie are being sent to America, where they don't know anyone, all alone.
My father-in-law is Cuban and he was about Lucía's age when he left Cuba on one of the so-called Pedro Pan flights. He was fortunate to have family waiting for him in America. Because of him, I am fascinated by this country's history. To think that my father-in-law lived through a revolution and is part of a community that still in large part considers themselves to be exiles 50 years later. It just blows my mind. So when I came across this book, I knew I had to read it.
I loved it. It works precisely because Lucía is the girl next door. There's nothing that really stands out about her, and I don't mean that in a bad way at all. She's a nice girl just trying to grow up and worrying about her first dance. Most of us can probably relate. As the revolution insidiously intrudes on her life, she is horrified and terrified. She sees things that no 14-year-old girl should see.
And then she's in America alone with her seven-year-old brother. She speaks very little English and doesn't know anyone. So now there's the immigrant experience as she learns about a new culture and new people and tries her best to fit in at a new school. And she's still trying to grow up the best she can. She's also worried about her parents back home in Cuba, who are standing out because they aren't supporting the revolution. Dangerous choices.
The title The Red Umbrella is absolutely perfect. I thought it was kind of odd at first, but it's quickly explained and becomes one of the book's major themes. Its symbolism almost had me in tears a few times.
It was scary to see how Castro indoctrinated the children of Cuba so quickly. Seven-year-old Frankie already had some unusual ideas from his teachers at school. Parents were pressured into sending their children to volunteer to teach other children out in the country. This was really just an excuse to teach Castro's ideals to impressionable children/teens away from their parents for the first time. Lucía's friend Ivette has a difficult story arc to read. She's so young, how is she supposed to stand against this ideology being pushed at her on all sides?
I read Carlos Eire's memoir, Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy several years ago and enjoyed that look into Cuban life. I related to The Red Umbrella a little easier because it's told from Lucía's point of view. I'm all about the girl next door, but I don't have much in common with overly-rambunctious boys telling the same story.
Still, I loved this and highly recommend it. Not only for the history, but to meet likable Lucía and to see how she deals with her new home....more
"My name is Calpurnia Virginia Tate, but back then everybody called me Callie Vee. That summer, I was eleven years old and the only girl out of seven"My name is Calpurnia Virginia Tate, but back then everybody called me Callie Vee. That summer, I was eleven years old and the only girl out of seven children. Can you imagine a worse situation?" "That summer" is the summer of 1899 and it is a scorcher. Amid the heat and the drought though, Callie is finding out who she is. She is a born scientist. She is a little lost in the shuffle of all those brothers, but one day, desperate for an answer to a scientific question, she bravely goes out to confront her eccentric grandfather in his "laboratory." The rest is history. The two recognize a "kindred spirit" in each other and set out on scientific pursuits together. Granddaddy encourages Callie in all her experiments and dreams, seeing past her gender to her brilliant mind, but slowly Callie realizes that she is destined for a life of embroidery and children and cooking. She is not happy.
I love Calpurnia Tate. She is a childhood heroine for the ages, joining the likes of Anne Shirley in my heart. I do not say that lightly. I have loved Anne for about 20 years, but now she has good company with Callie.
Calpurnia is a thinker and a quiet fighter. When her mother tells her she can't cut her hair, she does it an inch at a time. I have utmost faith that her fighting spirit will help her get what she wants and prepare the way for women who follow. She is funny and honest and she tries so hard to make her family happy with her. She is far from perfect and gets into some hilarious scrapes. She has a gigantic heart and tries to help those she loves any way she can. I wish I could know her in real life.
I love Granddaddy too. There's a line that I can't find now that says something about how Calpurnia and Granddaddy almost missed each other even though they live under the same roof. Callie wouldn't be the girl she is without Granddaddy encouraging her. One person who believes in you can make all the difference in the world, and Granddaddy was that person for Callie. He is pretty funny too. He doesn't have much patience for Callie's long-suffering mom and will occasionally put her in her place with a perfect one-liner.
This book is pretty much perfect. I was lost in Callie's world as I read along, flipping pages quickly to find out what she would get up to next, but not wanting to finish either. I wasn't ready to be done with Callie's story.
The ending was absolutely perfect. It's a quiet moment, but it foretells big things in Calpurnia's future. I was beaming as I finished.
I can't recommend this highly enough. Everyone should read it, but little girls with big dreams will find a kindred spirit in Miss Calpurnia Virginia Tate....more
Frank Locke is the son of an opium addict in the 1920s in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. He's quit school to work in a cotton mill and taFrank Locke is the son of an opium addict in the 1920s in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. He's quit school to work in a cotton mill and take care of his parents' and grandparents' farms. He's bitter about his father, but he's found a good woman to love. Then some big family drama hits the fan and he discovers a world whose existence he'd never even dreamed of.
First of all, I received this from the publicist in exchange for my unbiased review. Also, I don't know Michael Cogdill, but he is one of my sort-of-local news anchors.
Now that that's out of the way, let me try to tell you how much I loved this book. Why are the five-star reviews always harder to write than the two-star reviews?
I'm a Blue Ridge mountain girl, so I'm a little predisposed to love books set at home anyway. But this was just gorgeous, both the writing and the story. It's not a book to rush through; it's a book to take your time over, savor, and wring every last bit of meaning out of. Here, this paragraph that explains both the title and very basic premise of the book will show you what I'm talking about.
"In the rise of crickets and peep frogs, Granny spread out her mountain mystic view of things again, and the whole wagon treated it as sacred for a moment. She'd often speak of how a little scrap of fog tears from a rain cloud. Floats on the waves of blue ridge as if a wisp off a bride. Granny and others called it she-rain, I suppose for its womanly drape, white as a wedding gown. Common legend, though Granny took the vision further. Said she-rain was like us all--little scraps torn off into the world, given to the wind, and meant to find a paradise. As she saw things, no human scrap of this life is made for the trash. Even the most ragged are fit to beautify somewhere. Fit for some quilting into the finery of creation."
And that's the hope. No matter your background, no matter what you've done, its never too late to redeem yourself. When one character finally redeems himself, I was truly almost in tears.
I feel like the synopsis does this book a little bit of a disservice. I was expecting a straight-up story of a love triangle. When Frank finally meets the second woman, the story took a turn that added unbelievable depth and richness. I won't say more.
One of the many layers of this novel is about Frank becoming more than just a semi-literate farm boy living a hard life. I am so glad that some of his best teachers were natives of his community. They showed him that just because you're illiterate in letters doesn't mean that you can't be literate in love and a life well-lived.
There are so many good, true messages in here that I just sat still, mulling them over for about fifteen minutes in the lobby where I finished it. That's a huge deal because I usually finish one book and immediately reach for the next. Considering that I finished the book in goosebumps, reading through a haze of tears, I obviously had a lot to think about. One of the biggest messages was about helping each other. The author shows that we should never be afraid to ask for help when we need it, and we should always be willing to accept help when it's offered. We should also be on the lookout for people that we can help. How much better would this world be if we just looked out for opportunities to help each other, no matter how small? Whether it's money, a meal, an ear to listen, or even just a hug on a hard day, everyone has something to offer. I'm left wondering if Cogdill chose his publisher on purpose because they donate a portion of their proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.
The speech is written in our mountain accent, and the author did an amazing job pulling that off. Not an easy feat. It all flowed for me, but because that is truly the language of my heart, I can't say if it's hard for someone else to read.
Parts were emotionally difficult to read, but in a "story of hope," an author has to give their characters a reason to need hope. As you read through the darkness, keep in mind that there will ultimately be light.
I loved the simple faith that was a common thread throughout the book. The characters come from wildly different backgrounds, different Christian denominations, or maybe even no religion at all, but they all had an earnest faith in God. They had faith that if we have faith in each other, we'll help each other be all that we can.
I loved these characters. Sophia was a woman way, way ahead of her time. Mary L. has struggled through things I can't imagine and come out stronger and wiser on the other side. Preacher Lew is hilarious, blustery, and amazingly caring. Frank is open to all that anyone wants to show him. Granny may have been my very favorite though. Her time in the book is short, but her lessons are long and lasting. She reminds me of my own little Granny with her great big heart.
This is another book that I highly recommend. I have been on a roll with these lately, haven't I? Read this when you have the time to really think it over and let the important lessons sink in. You'll be so glad you did. Oh, and there's a giveaway for this going on through April 2, 2010 here on GoodReads. Go ahead and enter....more
The Postmistress is a novel of if. "If I tell this story in exactly the right way, people will hear it and act on it," thinks the reporter. "If I don'The Postmistress is a novel of if. "If I tell this story in exactly the right way, people will hear it and act on it," thinks the reporter. "If I don't make mistakes, the system will be perfect and chaos and random chance will be kept at bay," thinks the postmistress. "If I think hard enough about my husband being safe, he will be," thinks the woman left at home as her husband goes off to London during the Blitz. But if is a double-edged word and sometimes it falls the other way, and we're left thinking, "If only I had done this or hadn't done that, then this other thing would never have happened."
Beautiful. I opened this novel, already in love with the cover, and fell in love with the writing contained within. It's not a beauty that keeps you at arm's distance. It's a beauty that seductively whispers, "Come closer. Read what I have to say. See what I'm showing you." And then it shows you the chaos of war, and how helpless we are before it. It shows you how it's human nature to avoid seeing what we don't want to see, or to avoid acting when it's easier to stay safely at home with our heads in the sand.
Haunting. I am going to be haunted by Frankie's story for a long time. I should perhaps relate more to the wife than the reporter, but Frankie's stories have left a mark on my soul. She's in London, and then she's in Europe in the refugee trains, and all the time she is beating against the world's indifference, shouting, "This is happening, and it's happening in numbers you can't imagine. And it's getting worse every day. Pay attention! Please, just pay attention." And the world doesn't pay attention, and the horror worsens.
Read it. It's not always easy; war stories never are. But we still have a duty to pay attention, even--or perhaps especially--to the past....more
Mattie Gokey is an intelligent high school senior living in rural New York in 1906. As this book unfolds, we are following two different, intertwinedMattie Gokey is an intelligent high school senior living in rural New York in 1906. As this book unfolds, we are following two different, intertwined arcs of Mattie's life: the earlier months when she is desperate to get to college and the later months when she's working at a summer lake resort where a young couple has just gone missing.
I have neglected writing this review for about two weeks now. I loved this book, and I know that I'm never going to do it justice.
First of all, there's Mattie herself. Do all readers adore books where the main character is reader also, or is it just me? Mattie is a beautiful writer; a voracious, hungry reader; and a word collector. I just loved her. The book is written in first person, and her voice is authentic and beautiful. The edge of my book is a flurry of post-it flags marking quotes that I loved. You know I'm going to quote them at you at the end of this review, right?
She's at that age when the world is open before her, but she has ties tugging her back. You know that feeling that your soul is bigger than your body and you just have to stretch your wings? Mattie describes it perfectly.
A lot of the book centers around the choice that Mattie must make between what she wants and what's expected of her. She's torn and I was so worried about her, all the way through. I desperately wanted her to choose what would make her happy. I just love characters that do that to me.
As Mattie is making her decision, she's reading letters left behind by the lady who is missing. These are real letters from a real crime committed in NY. The contrast between the letters and Mattie's story is just perfect. I loved having this backdrop for Mattie's fictional story to unfold against. They played off each other beautifully.
My one tiny complaint is that I loved the book so much, I had high hopes for a last line that would knock me back in my chair. The last lines were very strong, but they were a tiny bit cliched. My socks weren't knocked off. But, like I said, it was definitely a strong ending.
I guess you've got the point by now, but I highly, highly recommend this book. Don't be put off by the fact that it's labeled as a young adult book. These authors have a lot to say that people of all ages can relate to. Put aside any pre-conceived notions you might have of young adult novels and give this a try. I really don't think you'll regret it.
My favorite quotes: "Right now I want a word that describes the feeling you get--a cold, sick feeling deep down inside--when you know something is happening that will change you, and you don't want it to, but you can't stop it. And you know, for the first time, for the very first time, that there will now be a before and an after, a was, and a will be. And that you will never again be quite the same person you were."
"A new word. Bright with possibilities. A flawless pearl to turn over and over in my hand, then put away for safekeeping."
"What I saw next stopped me dead in my tracks. Books. Not just one or two dozen, but hundreds of them. In crates. In piles on the floor. In bookcases that stretched from floor to ceiling and lined the entire room. I turned around and around in a slow circle, feeling as if I'd just stumbled into Ali Baba's cave. I was breathless, close to tears, and positively dizzy with greed."
"There were lives in those books, and deaths. Families and friends and lovers and enemies. Joy and despair, jealousy, envy, madness, and rage. All there... I could almost hear the characters inside, murmuring and jostling, impatient for me to open the cover and let them out."
"I know it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you."...more