Room is the only place that five year old Jack has ever known. He was born in the soundproofed, fortified, eleven by eleven foot room, the son of a ki...moreRoom is the only place that five year old Jack has ever known. He was born in the soundproofed, fortified, eleven by eleven foot room, the son of a kidnapped mother. Ma devises an escape plan from Old Nick, a plan in which Jack plays a major role. But how will they adjust to the outside world if they manage to get away from their captor?
The book was a real pageturner, and I finished it in one evening. I felt like Ma was a real person, and a loving mother that tried to create a good learning environment for her young son. But Jack, the narrator of the book, never seemed like a real five-year-old to me. In spite of hearing normal conversation on the television and from his mother, he called the parts of his isolated world by proper names, such as "Wardrobe" instead of "the wardrobe" in a sentence, so it was annoying to read. Later, his dialogue kept switching back and forth from the toddler speech to sophisticated speech. However, the author did a good job with the emotions that both Jack and Ma were feeling both inside and outside the Room. She also showed that the Outside could be extremely scary--and even more scary than the Room--to someone that had lived in a totally isolated environment. Unfortunately, this type of story has been reality in the news several times over the past few years.(less)
Elizabeth Strout has written a book of stories about Olive Kitteridge, her family, and the people that live in a small town near the coast of Maine. O...moreElizabeth Strout has written a book of stories about Olive Kitteridge, her family, and the people that live in a small town near the coast of Maine. Olive is a large woman, a former schoolteacher who is opinionated, lonely, tough, and haunted by the suicide of her father. But she also has a soft side, especially for the less fortunate. She has a hard time expressing her love to her family members and is very hard on her sensitive son, but she cares for them deeply inside. Olive is not easy to like especially when she is hurtful to her son and husband, but she can surprise us with a caring remark to someone who is lonely or grieving.
The other people in the town are also realistically drawn complex characters, facing problems and trying to get through life the best they can. Some contemplate ending their lives. Elizabeth Strout made her characters so real that I would love to read more about several of them. It was a thought-provoking book about relationships, and the effect one person can have on other people.(less)
The head of a pharmaceutical company sends Dr Marina Singh to Brazil to search for a research scientist, Dr Swenson, who is working on a secret new dr...moreThe head of a pharmaceutical company sends Dr Marina Singh to Brazil to search for a research scientist, Dr Swenson, who is working on a secret new drug. The company had already sent Marina's research associate to Brazil to meet with the cold, rigid Dr Swenson, and he was reported to have died after he made contact in the Amazon region.
I had a mixed reaction to this book, mainly because I did not find it very believable. I could not imagine a pharmaceutical company sending out two valuable employees to the Amazon region without any kind of plan in place or arranging for guides. I also could not believe that a company would fund a scientist like Dr Swenson without regular progress reports. They didn't even know where she was located.
I liked the wonderful atmospheric descriptions with the dense vegetation, insects, and snakes that made the Amazon come alive. Both Marina, and a young deaf boy, Easter, were especially engaging characters. The Lakashi tribe was being studied because the women were fertile into old age, and that was an interesting scientific investigation. I also felt that there were several ethical problems that would warrant a good book group discussion. Although the book kept my interest, I never felt that it was a very believable story.(less)
Peter Webster, an EMT, rescues Sheila from her wrecked car. Sheila is beautiful, tough--and an alcoholic. Webster is very attracted to her, and soon f...morePeter Webster, an EMT, rescues Sheila from her wrecked car. Sheila is beautiful, tough--and an alcoholic. Webster is very attracted to her, and soon finds himself marrying the pregnant Sheila.
His daughter is the apple of his eye. When Sheila puts his daughter in danger due to her alcoholism, Webster needs to rescue his family.
Years later, his daughter is a senior in high school and Webster wonders if Rowan is following in her mother's footsteps and he struggles to send her down the right path. He feels that he rescues other people in his role as an EMT, but is powerless to rescue his daughter.
This is a story about a family, about tensions and redemption. It is obvious that the author has done a lot of research into EMT work. But I'm not so sure that someone would be recovering so quickly from a traumatic head injury as a character does late in the book. I also think that a very drunk character would have dialogue that is more slurred, tough, combative, or confused to be truly realistic.
I liked the book, but not as well as two other books that I've read by Anita Shreve. I think "Rescue" deserves 3 stars. (less)
Dr Jennifer White, a retired orthopedic surgeon specializing in hands, is horrified to learn that her best friend, Amanda, was killed and four fingers...moreDr Jennifer White, a retired orthopedic surgeon specializing in hands, is horrified to learn that her best friend, Amanda, was killed and four fingers were surgically removed postmortem. She is questioned repeatedly by the Chicago police, and reacts with the same surprise and sorrow each time. Jennifer has Alzheimer's Disease and has no recollection of the event.
The reader is inside Jennifer's head for much of the book as the Alzheimer's Disease progresses. Jennifer has a complicated, difficult relationship with her children, and they must increasingly take on the role of caregivers. They also have their own demons to deal with. We learn about the family through the entries in the journal that Jennifer keeps to help herself remember her days, as well as through conversations and Jennifer's memories.
Jennifer was a brilliant doctor, and she still has lucid moments when she diagnoses people she meets, sometimes just taking notice of their symptoms in her mind. She is very proud of her professional credentials, and constantly corrects her caregiving aides to call her Dr White. Her sense of humor about her situation still comes through the haze of Alzheimers.
Amanda was both her best friend and neighbor. But there were times when they had strong disagreements, or when Amanda betrayed Jennifer's trust by divulging her secrets. Amanda had a strong sense of morality, and the two women did not always view the world in the same way.
One of the police detectives had lost her partner to early-onset Alzheimers, so she is especially sensitive when questioning Jennifer about Amanda's death. Although the mystery of Amanda's demise runs through the book, it is not the main point of the story. It is primarily an engaging character study of a woman with Alzheimers as the disease progresses.(less)
Kimberly Chang and her widowed mother emigrate from Hong Kong, and do not receive the help they had been promised when they reach New York City. They...moreKimberly Chang and her widowed mother emigrate from Hong Kong, and do not receive the help they had been promised when they reach New York City. They are located to an unheated apartment, and must work in a Chinatown sweatshop doing piecework. The eleven-year-old girl, who is exceptionally intelligent, decides to get the best schooling possible while she continues to help her mother in the sweatshop after school. This is a coming-of-age book as well as a book about the immigrant experience. Kimberly feels she must choose between college which is a door to a good future, or love with a boy she cares for in Chinatown. This would be a good book for a discussion group because the choice she must make is not an easy one. (October 20, 2011)
I reread this book for a library bookgroup, and found the book very engaging the second time too. After reading about the author's background where she lived in an unheated apartment and worked in a sweatshop to help her parents, but eventually went on to Harvard, I felt the impact of the book even more. (January 9, 2013)(less)