here's my original review from my blog back in 2007:
What a GREAT book. OK, let's backtrack. I read "Ghostwritten" in 2004. It was...morelovelovelovelove LOVE
here's my original review from my blog back in 2007:
What a GREAT book. OK, let's backtrack. I read "Ghostwritten" in 2004. It was a good book, but I didn't wholeheartedly love it. Each chapter was about a new/different person (with some very tenuous connections scattered across the book) and while some chapters were wonderful, some chapters, in laymen's terms, I really didn't like; or, in more academic terms, I didn't find the narrator sympathetic and thus could not find a way "in" to that particular section. In "Cloud Atlas" which I read last year, Mitchell continued to use the hodge-podge "each story is a different chapter" approach, but in that book, he circled back to each primary character - each setup got a couple chapters rather than one. And the connections between the variant plots were much more apparent. Really well written, really enjoyable. In "Black Swan Green", Mitchell has gone in a completely different direction. He's been joking with reporters that he's finally written "his first novel", as it is the semi-biographical look back at childhood that so many authors start out with. It follows one character, Jason, a 13 year old living on the edge between popular kids and the beat-on kids. Each chapter is a month in his 13th year. While reviewers have called it a bildungsroman, Mitchell has also been pointing out in interviews that in fact, his character does not "come of age" in the novel, but is still stuck in his teens, still very much the boy he was at the beginning of the book. Grown, perhaps yes. Come of age, perhaps no.
Here's a quote from an article in the Book Standard: Mitchell knows that Black Swan Green will be tagged as a coming-of-age novel, but rejects the moniker: "Jason becomes aware that there is a thing of coming-of-age but it's not happening to him yet. It's an in-between year, where the tantrums of being a kid don't work but you're not adept at lying and you can't manipulate adults. You're stuck in the middle."
It's always really interesting to watch a writer's skills advance from book to book (and sadly, it's not the case with every writer, is it), and in Mitchell's case it's quite breathtaking. Ghostwritten I liked, but not wholeheartedly; Cloud Atlas I thought was really good, but although it made my top 10, it wasn't my favorite book of the year; Black Swan Green is the best book I've read this year. Poignant, sad, funny, gross, cruel, yet sweet. Just like your typical 13 year old.
Since I didn't read it before, I'm going to go back ad read Mitchell's actual first novel, "Number9Dream." And then I'm going to sit around waiting not-very-patiently for his next work... He's definitely become a "must read" in my book. (less)
This is a truly beautiful, lyrically written book. Malouf is also a poet and it's quite obvious. The sanctuary of nature juxtaposed against the mud an...moreThis is a truly beautiful, lyrically written book. Malouf is also a poet and it's quite obvious. The sanctuary of nature juxtaposed against the mud and death of World War I. This book blew me away. I've got a lot of Malouf left to read and I can't wait. "A life wasn't for anything. It just was."(less)
themes: friendship,...more(re-read of a very favorite book from childhood)
wide reading for CI 546
grade level: elementary to middle school.
genre: high fantasy
themes: friendship, courage, good vs evil.
school use: I might use this book in a language arts curriculum.
review: I cannot in any way be objective about Lloyd Alexander. My parents read these books out loud to us as kids--I can't really remember a time when they weren't part of my literary history. As an adult re-reading them--sure, they're derivative. They've got glimpses of Tolkien and glimpses of Narnia and they follow a lot of very specific fantasy conventions. But they're still really inventive, they've got great dialogue, and you really get to see the hero reflect and grow throughout the storyline. (less)
What a gorgeous, gorgeous book. A crazy, sprawling epic of two down-on-their-luck families sharing a house and struggling to make a way of it. The boo...moreWhat a gorgeous, gorgeous book. A crazy, sprawling epic of two down-on-their-luck families sharing a house and struggling to make a way of it. The book spans 20 years. It wasn't long enough! I want to know more! I didn't want to put it down... Winton did an amazing job of both giving all these many characters their own individual voices and of doing it so authentically.(less)
This is really the odd book in the series, with half the characters either not or barely appearing. But I loved all t...morere-reading this many years later.
This is really the odd book in the series, with half the characters either not or barely appearing. But I loved all the allusions to greek myth, and the idea of Taran becoming quite competent (if not skilled) at all these things one by one, yet never having any of them be just right, has a very fairy tale (goldilocks!) quality to it. Would that we all could be smiths and weavers and potters...and yet have something else that is really what we are.(less)
After I used the first chapter of this with my students this summer, it seemed like a great time for a re-read. B...more(multiple re-reads and again in 2012)
After I used the first chapter of this with my students this summer, it seemed like a great time for a re-read. But once I start reading these books I can't put them down AT ALL (oh hello 2 a.m., I just need to finish one more chapter...). They're such beloved friends. (less)
My very very very very favorite Ludlum book. I read these over and over again in high school and college, raiding my parents' library. I eventually ha...moreMy very very very very favorite Ludlum book. I read these over and over again in high school and college, raiding my parents' library. I eventually had to start buying my own copies. This is definitely my favorite.(less)
But I read it this afternoon and it made me both laugh AND cry... Both over stories I had heard before and tho...moreThe author is my dad so YES I AM BIASED.
But I read it this afternoon and it made me both laugh AND cry... Both over stories I had heard before and those I hadn't. Maybe even moreso those, especially anecdotes that show what my dad was thinking behind the scenes of situations I knew from another side.
Really, really wonderful. Sniff.
If you are AT ALL interested in the life of a pastor OR the lives of small towns OR quirky Minnesotans OR just a hyperintelligent, well-educated, caring person telling the story of a part of their life, then get thee to Amazon and order this up.