This is a story about 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia (Callie Vee) Tate. In 1899, being born female would not amount so much until one gets married and...moreThis is a story about 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia (Callie Vee) Tate. In 1899, being born female would not amount so much until one gets married and bears children. The book invites us to get to know this special young lady who is curious about nature and has science on her mind. Fortunately, her grandfather, at first unknown to her since he's always locked up in his 'lab' started to pay attention to her growing curiosity of things around her. He took Callie for nature walks, and encouraged her to read science books. Meanwhile, Callie's mother is exasperated because naturally, she wants to prepare her daughter properly, to bring her up as a lady, fit for marriage and not university. This book follows Callie's adventure through the year, and ends in the eve of the year 1900, much like the modern people like us awaited the year 2000. Honestly, I don't know what to say about the ending, it's supposed to be up to reader's imagination, but as the book falls into the Children's category, I wish the author have written a more creative ending. All in all, this is a perfect book for girls, especially those who are budding scientists!(less)
One thing I know that a book would be one of my favorites is when nearing the end of the book I start feeling like I'm saying goodbye to my best frien...moreOne thing I know that a book would be one of my favorites is when nearing the end of the book I start feeling like I'm saying goodbye to my best friend (or vodka, sometimes..)
Based on other people's reviews, I have no idea why I sided with the Nat'l Book Award panels - I actually gave this book the whole constellation. Nope, it's not perfect, and it's still YA, not one of those heavy tomes I should be reading, but the book deserves the 5 stars. First of all, it's not as sci-fi as I'd like or imagined to be. The author more or less delved into the social aspect of the protagonist, Matt, and his coming-of-age story.
Matt is the clone of El Patron (Matteo Alacran), the greatest Opium producer in the world. His estate is his own country, a heavily-guarded strip between the borders of United States and Aztlan (what used to be Mexico), and everybody fears him. He is King Midas, and he's as ancient as the lore itself. There lies the purpose of Matt as a clone. The story of Matt's survival is the heart of the book. You see, Matt's been kept from the Alacrans' prying eyes by Celia, an old cook who rescued him from birth. When he's 6 y.o., he couldn't help wanting to go out and play with other kids outside, and thus he's introduced to the evil world that would eventually would be his to inherit.
There's somebody worth mentioning in this review other than Celia that show how great characters truly make this book. Matt is not exactly the one I fall for. Matt is like a pawn next to Tam Lin, a father figure that help Matt becomes a man. As Matt grows up, El Patron lets Tam Lin to be Matt's bodyguard, and the man goes beyond his call of duty by teaching Matt how to survive. I especially love the part when he takes Matt hiking to an oasis near the Ajo Mountain. It's also one of the important part in the book that would help Matt to learn about the Alacran clan and escape.
Thi is a wonderful book that conveys childhood innocence, the will to survive whatever life's throwing at you, and the dignity to overcome the badness of people's greedy heart. The author deftly positioned Matt as such that he has to watch his back though it's no fault of his being born a clone. People can readily accept whatever others told them, in Matt's case, a lot of people judge him unfairly just by knowing he's born a clone. Matt does has a soul, and often, he has to fight, just like any other real humans born out of their mothers' wombs, for recognition, and against injustice. Truly I don't know why I like this book while others can give this less than a 3*, but I encourage you to read the author's note - how this book came about.
I think I struggle with the fact that there's a sequel. A great book would leave the conclusion to the readers. Rather than writing a sequel, I'd love to see Ms.Farmer writing another sci-fi, a real hard-core one this time!(less)
I love the first book, and I still think the first is the best of the series, still.. I admire the author for the delicate intricacies she has added t...moreI love the first book, and I still think the first is the best of the series, still.. I admire the author for the delicate intricacies she has added to Dicey's family life with her grandmother. I love the sad ending, and learn that in life, just like in Dicey's, we have to learn to let go of the people of the past, as well as reach out to others in present. Lovely story for all ages :)(less)
New Orleans! YA! At first, I thought it couldn't be done. Contemporary YAs usually involve cute 17-year-old girls with angst/terminal illness/abandonm...moreNew Orleans! YA! At first, I thought it couldn't be done. Contemporary YAs usually involve cute 17-year-old girls with angst/terminal illness/abandonment issues/low self-esteem (pick one or two..) and high aspirations (saving the world, anyone?), while attracting attention of mature 18-year-old boys that seem to be smarter and wiser than Mr.Darcy. Ruta Sepetys proved me wrong. She managed to blend 'ol New Orleans and its gangsters and prostitutes with a coming-of-age story of Josie Moraine, all the while infusing the right mix of book-love to the tale.
Josie Moraine is too smart for New Orleans. It's the 50's, when madams, criminals and honest working guys easily tangled together in the French Quarter. Josie grew up there since she was 8, when her mother returned to the only brothel she has known since her youth, one owned by Willie. Forced to grow up faster among all the prostitutes, Josie went to live in an apartment above a bookstore when she was only 12, all the while cleaning and running errands for Willie, who's been more of a mother to her than her own mother. Willie knows that Josie is smart, and behind her hardened exterior, she makes sure that Josie is well taken care of, including teaching her how to shoot. While working at the bookstore, she met Charlotte, a student at Smith College up North. Charlotte inspires Josie to apply to Smith and leave the comfort of her beloved city.
I've read Ms. Sepetys' first novel, and am amazed on how she's able to write a second novel with an entirely different setting. Book lovers would certainly fall in love with Josie's living situation - what with her staying at an apartment above the bookstore where she's working. The characters around Josie are also interesting; they're not as black-and-white as we like to think. However, what could've been the strength of the book is also its weakness. While I love all the characters (including the gangsters!), they are just too many and this being a YA novel means there's only so much space for the author to write about Willie, Patrick (Josie's 'almost boyfriend'), Charlie (Patrick's father and the owner of the bookstore), Charlotte, and even Jesse (her eventual boyfriend).
Ms. Sepetys should have considered writing a grown-up novel on Josie so that readers can lap up all the exciting tidbits about NOLA. Just like The Help has done to Alabama.. :)(less)
Is a 5-star rating for this book too much? I don't have the heart to give it any less since I can connect myself to the story.
First of all, I was Elea...moreIs a 5-star rating for this book too much? I don't have the heart to give it any less since I can connect myself to the story.
First of all, I was Eleanor... the Asian version of Eleanor. I've met the Persian version of Park. He was not my boyfriend, as much as Park was not Eleanor's.
I don't know why they don't make this kind of book more often. Thank you so much Ms. Rowell for penning this - you're a geek at heart! And to put this among all those YA books is just a disgrace, IMHO. The setting is 1986, when Eleanor and Park were 16. In 2013, that meant they would be in their mid-40s. See, they're actually in my age bracket!
Eleanor and Park met in a school bus. They shared the same seat. The romance started from there. It's sweet and refreshing to see two people from different races and backgrounds connected through comics and mixtapes. If you aren't GenX, you'd probably lift one of your eyebrows when you see the word 'mixtape' - but I guess it's retro enough now to admit you're a fan of U2, back when Bono was just one of the cool guys, not the humanitarian one.
Park Sheridan comes from a happy and well-adjusted family. His parents are still in love after all these years, heck, even his Korean mom still comes over to his grandparents next door for dinner. In contrast, Eleanor was kicked out of her mom's house by her stepdad. She finally moved to Park's high school after her mom asked her to come back live with her and her stepdad at his house.
Much of the story involves how the two got to know each other. How they started talking was hilarious. It's good that the author made the two of them a bit more introverted compared to their peers. Park was not exactly an outcast. He can kick ass b/c of his taekwondo training, and he dated the school's queen bee back when they were in elementary school. It gives him enough street cred for the jocks to leave him alone. However, Eleanor's appearance begs to differ - it was like she had it coming. Not until halfway thru did I learn that is because her mom never had enough money to buy a decent outfit for Eleanor.
This is not only a romantic story. It's actually a coming-of-age story set for any GenX readers. I wonder if the iPhone generation would experience something like described in the book - with personal gadgets and social media everywhere, it's like this generation is groomed to be distant but narcissistic. Not that I don't enjoy social media.. I still need my Facebook!
One scene I particularly love is when Park finally decided to stand up for Eleanor. It's very charming, to have the one you love finally proclaim to the world that you're his girlfriend :)
I would definitely set out for more of Ms. Rowell's books - but I don't think any would compare to this, er.. masterpiece. I don't want to sound bombastic, really. See, I know what Eleanor would say!
Have you ever bought a book only to read it years later? When I bought this more than 3 years ago, it's a clean paperback soon tucked away between she...moreHave you ever bought a book only to read it years later? When I bought this more than 3 years ago, it's a clean paperback soon tucked away between shelves and moving to a newer home, and I just discovered it again 3 days ago. It was getting moldy and musty, and everything I want not for a book collection. Almost threw it with the rest of my 'giveaway' books to donate to Goodreads Indonesia!
Then I started reading.. There are 3 stories of 3 different characters set in 3 different lifetimes. The only thing that glue these stories together is the Holocaust taken from the perspective of ordinary Germans - the so-called perpetrators of the Jewish genocide.
The first story is set in the 1940s, with the character Helmut, a young man left behind by his generation because he's a cripple and thus cannot join the army of the Fuhrer. Helmut, in his own way, managed to survive by developing a keen eye in photographing the changing times in his city, but still resented his deformed body that prevented him from being a soldier like other normal Germans. Even when he was not aware of the holocaust, he's still proud to have the Fuhrer as his (fallen) leader because being German turned out to be the only thing he can identify with other (normal) Germans.
The second story has been loosely adapted into a movie with the same title "Lore" in 2012. It was a story of 5 siblings making a journey from the countryside south to the north, just after Hitler lost the war and Germany was being divided by the Americans, British, and Russians. Lore is the eldest of the five, and her mother entrusted her with her brothers and sister to make a dangerous journey so they can have a safer place to grow up after the war, as both Lore's parents were Nazis. As they journeyed together, they met Thomas, a young man who was passing himself as a Jew so that he can travel to better place, and in the end became the protector of the bunch along the way. During their travel, Lore learned how the average Germans who never knew about the death camps set up by Hitler to exterminate the Jews, told themselves that the pictures taken of the death camps were fakes, set up by the Americans to make Germany responsible for Hitler's action.
The last story is set in the 2000, when a young German who has a Turkish-German girlfriend and loving memories of his grandfather. Apparently, the grandfather had been a Waffen SS officer during the war and was released as prisoner-of-war by the Russian. He set himself to look for truth, as he's now an English teacher and would like to see his students learn more about Germany's past and involvement in the holocaust. At one time, he was struck by how most of his students identify with the Jewish victims and cried for them instead of crying because their country was the cause of the killing.
I'd like to applaud the author for the writing - it's flowing and engaging, not to mention thought-provoking. I was drawn by the history, and the subtle droppings of details. You would either love this book, or hate it for I bet it'd appear too slow for some. I can also see why the author doesn't go too deep into the background of each character. It's meant for the readers to conjure the images out of each story - like looking at an old photograph and create your own story - and think up of how it ends. Beautiful work indeed!(less)