I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I guess I was expecting too much. The description sounded a lot like A Man Called Ove, which I absoluteI didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I guess I was expecting too much. The description sounded a lot like A Man Called Ove, which I absolutely loved. Ove had a gruff exterior, but was a decent human being. Ferdinand had the same gruff exterior, but he could also be very vindictive. And while his dealings with one particular neighbor might have been justified, especially after we learn how devious she was, sometimes he was just plain mean for no good reason.
And while he does come around in the end, it didn't leave me all warm and fuzzy. We are meant to feel that the positive influences of Juliette and Beatrice caused him to soften, I can't help feeling that he was still being vindictive, trying to reclaim what he feels the mailman stole from him (which he - the mailman - totally didn't. He just filled in a void left wide open by Ferdinand himself).
(view spoiler)[ In the end, it was "the mailman" I felt sorry for. He was the one who truly loved those who were cast aside by Ferdinand, and he was the one who lost a beloved wife and companion, and a family when his late wife's daughter and grandson chose to move in with Ferdinand. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I really waffled between 3 and 4 stars, and in the end gave it the benefit of the doubt and went with the higher rating.
Libby takes a while to warm upI really waffled between 3 and 4 stars, and in the end gave it the benefit of the doubt and went with the higher rating.
Libby takes a while to warm up to. She's described as being bubbly and looking at the world through rose colored glasses, but I initially found her incredibly selfish. However, it's just a matter of perspective when measured against her husband, Tom's selfishness.
Ms. Pagan does a good job of taking a very serious subject (a very rare and especially aggressive form of cancer) and infusing it with humor to give us an enjoyable and highly readable story. In fact, that's probably what kept me from liking it more: it was too light for the subject matter.
But the thing that bothered me most about this book is that I wanted Tom to suffer more. Oh, how I wanted him to suffer. Because in the end, the Libby I had initially though so selfish let him off easy. I wanted him to be incapacitated by guilt....more
Totally predictable. I wish I could say there was one revelation that I didn't see coming, but there wasn't. I pretty much had it all figured out by 1Totally predictable. I wish I could say there was one revelation that I didn't see coming, but there wasn't. I pretty much had it all figured out by 1/3 of the way through the book. The only reason I kept reading was because I liked the characters (except for Ed - I absolutely loathed him) and I wanted to see how each characters' fate would be revealed.
Also, the whole prayer/faith aspect of the story was a little too heavy handed....more
Outstanding! If you watch The History Channel, you've probably had your fill of WWII documentaries and may think you've glanced on just about every asOutstanding! If you watch The History Channel, you've probably had your fill of WWII documentaries and may think you've glanced on just about every aspect of the war. Well, this book went into areas I never even thought of. How overnight Poles suddenly became Ukranians. What life was like in Moscow if you were a foreigner. How veterans from both sides of the Spanish revolution fared during the war.
It's a story of survival, and sacrifice, as in the parts of ourselves we need to sacrifice to maintain our sense of self in the face of unimaginable hardship and privation. In this story, we meet two Jewish Poles and follow them through their very different wartime experiences. Many reviewers have disliked Rita, and while I understand why, I also understand why she was the way she was. Up until very recently, there was no realistic way for an intelligent self-aware woman to live life on her terms. After being her parents' daughter for 18 years, Rita grasped at straws to become her own woman by going to law school, but could not fool herself into believing she would be allowed to be independent. So she did what just about all women did - sacrificed her "self" and went from being someone's daughter to being someone's wife. By today's standards, I am somewhat of a shrinking violet, but even I cannot fathom the despair so many women must have felt at knowing they'll never be anything more than someone's wife and someone's mother.
Then comes war, and she must forsake all she thought she would ever have just to survive. No one goes through war unchanged, certainly not Rita. She finds herself in a situation that many might find easy to condemn, (view spoiler)[and I'm not entirely certain the lesbian relationship really added anything to the story (hide spoiler)], but again, you do what you need to to keep your sanity.
And this book managed to do something no book that I can recall reading recently has done: it got me thinking philosophically. This book discussed themes of not just right and wrong/good and evil, but why is something right or good, and why is something wrong or evil - just the sort of thing that creates immense discomfort in the small-minded who believe what they believe and never bother wondering why.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more