I picked this up on a whim at the library the last time I visited because it looked cute. And it was! It was nothing really special, and some of the dI picked this up on a whim at the library the last time I visited because it looked cute. And it was! It was nothing really special, and some of the dialogue felt stilted or forced. But overall it was cute, and I learned a fair bit about Cambodian culture and a little about its history. I was able to zoom through it in 2 days / 3 reading sessions. (view spoiler)[I was annoyed by all the happy endings all over the place... not realistic. And definitely not realistic how quickly the older women changed their beliefs... (hide spoiler)]...more
This was a pretty solid book. It was a fast read, kept me pulled in. The first chapter was pretty awful, I thought I was really going to dislike the bThis was a pretty solid book. It was a fast read, kept me pulled in. The first chapter was pretty awful, I thought I was really going to dislike the book based on that alone. Thankfully, it improved quickly... so if you start reading and hate the first chapter, keep going! In the end, though, nothing really pushed me into loving the book. I didn't mark a single passage as I went along. I ended up liking the characters, but none of them was really anything special... just ... the kind of people I wouldn't mind being friends with.
One thing that bothered me is the sense of time in this book is all screwed up. The author often makes it seem like many years have gone by, but it turns out to be maybe a few days or weeks. At the beginning of the book, she keeps saying things "always" happen, and it turns out that means "twice". Similarly regarding the number of postcards delivered. And at the end of the book it feels like many more years have gone by than really have. Shelby also changes too quickly for my suspension of disbelief to work properly.
(view spoiler)[ I do love Shelby's relationship with Ben. And also how she interacts with Damien, or whatever that one kid's name is. And how she steals the animals. I only wish we could have learned more about the homeless people. (hide spoiler)]...more
1/17/17 - Giving this another try on the kindle edition.
1/29/17 - Well, the Kindle edition allowed me to finish this book. I was afraid that the audio1/17/17 - Giving this another try on the kindle edition.
1/29/17 - Well, the Kindle edition allowed me to finish this book. I was afraid that the audio narration was so bad that it would have ruined it for me, that I'd hear the narration as I was reading. But thankfully that wasn't the case.
This book wasn't amazing, but it wasn't awful either. A solid 3 stars, I guess. I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second half, although throughout the book there is a lot of interesting historical perspectives. It really made me realize how lucky I am to have been born with all of these modern conveniences! Giving birth in your home, doctor may take hours (or days!) to get to you if needed, and even they are not all educated about things like scarlet fever... raising children with a woodstove and rattlesnakes and people trying to shoot you... wow.
(view spoiler)[The beginning of the book, so many tragedies one on top of the other on top of the other. She loses her father, brother, friends and traveling companions... watches her friend get raped, kills a man... all within the first 10% of the book. What a life! And we're all rooting for her to get with Captain Elliot, and know that it will happen eventually, just not how. I didn't see the depth of Jimmy's betrayal coming, or his gory death, but knew something would happen. But after she married him the book kind of got boring. There were large skips in time, sometimes years between journal entries. And not much happened, really. There were a few interesting episodes... and of course, she started writing again magically 2-3 days before each one! Sometimes the beliefs that she and Captain Elliot held, I think they were too good to be true for this time period. (hide spoiler)]
It's hard to believe there can be a sequel to this!...more