Garry White's fairly short book on his quest to become an adoptive parent for the past 30+ years is oddly gripping, although it is written on about a...moreGarry White's fairly short book on his quest to become an adoptive parent for the past 30+ years is oddly gripping, although it is written on about a 4th grade reading level. The author has a tendency to repeat himself over and over and over again, driving home the same points (his psychiatric episode does not affect his ability to parent, he wants to hike across the Grand Canyon with his sons, his time in scouting, etc etc).
I feel for his plight, although I found myself resenting his characterization of himself as a better parent as a single dad than two parent adoptive families (buddy, I've got an awesome kid to prove how great a parent I am!).
White was certainly battered around by the system, but after 191 pages of intense whining and somewhat child-like wishfulness, I could not find it within myself to care too much about his struggle. I bet if I met him, I'd like him a lot. But reading him made me not so sure.(less)
I was really torn between giving this book 3 and 4 stars--call it 3.5 :-)
The book follows Charlie, a 9th grader who has some mental issues, as he ente...moreI was really torn between giving this book 3 and 4 stars--call it 3.5 :-)
The book follows Charlie, a 9th grader who has some mental issues, as he enters high school. He hears about someone in the community who is a good listener and proceeds to send this person letters detailing what happens during the school year. The events cover his life, his family's lives, and those of his friends.
Charlie is of above-average intelligence, so I don't know if that is to blame for the somewhat stilted language or if the age is to do with the kind of general weirdness of this kid. For a while I even entertained the possibility that he was delayed or autistic.
In all, it was a pretty decent read, very quick. I like that the copy of the book I got had writing in it from its original owner who wrote her thoughts in it. Niki Winning, if you're out there, I've got your book.(less)
The first 300 pages were just kinda there, then it picked up for about 130 pages and the last 20 pages were trying too hard. I enjoyed it, but it wasn...moreThe first 300 pages were just kinda there, then it picked up for about 130 pages and the last 20 pages were trying too hard. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't nearly as good as the first two Robert Langdon books.(less)
Rarely have I had so much fun as reading this book. My copy now has tons of little papers sticking out for my favorite quotes, many of which I plan to...moreRarely have I had so much fun as reading this book. My copy now has tons of little papers sticking out for my favorite quotes, many of which I plan to incorporate on my blog. No subject is taboo, from money to sex, from men to politics, from what women can do to what men think women shouldn't do! Great women from Amelia Earhart to Gypsy Rose Lee to Marie Curie to Queen Victoria to Helen Keller to Gloria Steinum are all quoted. Read, laugh, think, enjoy, and be inspired!(less)
Last night, the General and I had a little Thursday night date night. We've both been a little (lot) tense about the adoption and needed something to...moreLast night, the General and I had a little Thursday night date night. We've both been a little (lot) tense about the adoption and needed something to do together that we could relax and unwind. We had both decided to sort of skip Valentine's Day this year--no need to purchase overpriced flowers and chocolates when we have so many other things to do with our money. But at the same time, we wanted to celebrate somehow.
I've spent the last 8 days of my driving life reading Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road. And of course, Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe for her portrayal of April Wheeler in this film. And although she didn't get an Oscar nod for it, many people thought she should. Well, as I was reading the book, a single thought kept coming to me: how the hell did they turn this into a movie?
So I finished reading it Wednesday (and, coincidentally, started on The Reader by Bernard Schlink, whose main character Kate Winslet did win an Oscar nod for protraying and she better win, darn it!) and decided I just had to see the movie. Now of course, I'm a wee bit behind the eight ball on this one--the movie's been out quite a while. So when I looked at the movie listings, I had exactly one time to choose from in Fredericksburg for Wednesday and Thursday nights before it left the theater: 9pm.
Well, this would have been OK for me, but it's been a long time since we've been to the movies and the General was hot on going with me and so we decided to turn it into a Valentine's Day date. We looked at the listings in Woodbridge and fortunately at Potomac Mills last night, it was showing at 7pm. We decided to kick it off with dinenr at the Silver Diner and then went to the 7pm show--getting home before 10 which allowed me to still do my workout :-)
So, a brief synopsis for anyone who doesn't know what the book is about. The story centers around Frank and April Wheeler (played in the film by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), a young couple who move to the Connecticut suburbs after meeting in post WWII New York, falling hastily in love, and finding themselves expecting a baby. Frank takes a job at the same company where his father worked, while April busies herself as a housewife. Some years after, with two children, the Wheelers come to see their lives as a trap they've fallen into, and start to wonder if there is any kind of meaning in it, or if they can escape before it's too late.
I'm glad I read the book first, but I'm equally glad I saw the movie. The book spends the majority of its life plunged deep inside Frank's head, examining his thoughts and feelings about everything and everyone, and his motives are crystal clear. April's thoughts are clear, but only as an extension of Frank's own. There is very little actual 'action' to the book--Frank goes to work, April visits with the neighbors, Frank and April go dancing with their friends--the majority of it is truly their disappointment in their lives.
I don't know why, but in reading the book, I felt completely disconnected from the Wheelers. I didn't find them sympathetic characters, I didn't love them or hate them, I just felt total apathy. As they did certain things in the book, I was kind of like, "What the hell!?" but not in a way that made me seriously incensed by the fact that they'd done anything--just that in the overall scheme of things, nothing seemed like it was done because either of them thought that it would improve their lives.
This was the beauty of seeing the film. I was able to relate more to the characters and come to have feelings for them. I do quibble with the choice of Kathy Bates as the neighbor, Mrs. Givings, and frankly whenever I look at Leonardo DiCaprio, I see a 12 year old boy (hate him for that! He and Matthew Broderick never seem to age.), but the acting was excellent. I am pleased to note that Michael Shannon is up for an Oscar for his portrayal of John Givings, Mrs. Givings's crazy son. He was jaw-droppingly fantastic in that role. As was Dylan Baker as Frank's obnoxious co-worker, Jack Ordway.
I will say that the writers stayed as true as I think would be possible in bringing the book to the big screen. There were 2 scenes in particular that I had some issues with their changing, one of which was the very last 20 minutes, and the other which was when April and her neighbor Shep are in the car after a dance. The things that they left out were central to the very core of who April was, in my opinion and had they left in a couple of things, you would have gotten a much better sense of what was going on in her head.
That being said, seeing it acted out did make it all the better. There were times in the book when I would think, "They did what?!" But seeing it made a bit more sense. For instance, in the beginning of both the book and the film (and I'm not giving anything away here), Frank and April are driving home from a play in which April has acted and they start to argue. Frank pulls the car over on the side of the road and April jumps out of the car and the two of them proceed to scream at each other in a big dust up on the side of the road. And I remember the whole time thinking, "Seriously? People actually do this type of thing?" But actually, in the film, it doesn't really seem so weird.
The movie ended and the General said, "On the way home, you're going to have to explain a few things to me." And in fact, I did and to him that made the movie make a whole lot more sense. But because I had the novel's picture of what was going on in their heads, I was able to make sense of it for him and now he's interested in reading the book. So I think that will be a new project for him--I gave him the CD's to read.
If you haven't already seen the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book first. Despite my apathy towards the characters, I really, really enjoyed reading the book, and consequently, I really, really enjoyed the movie.
I'll have to see The Reader on DVD, as it doesn't appear to be playing around here any more. And I will probably miss the Oscars telecast as we'll be driving home from WV that day, but I'll be rooting for Kate all the way. She deserves it!
This book discusses the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, who at 9 years old was kidnapped and raised by the Comanches from her white parents. As an a...moreThis book discusses the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, who at 9 years old was kidnapped and raised by the Comanches from her white parents. As an adult, Cynthia Ann is returned to her blood family after the Comanches are raided by the Texas Rangers. This much is known. What happens in the intervening years and what happened afterward until Cythia Ann's death are up in the air. Not many historical records of her exist.
Carolyn Meyer has imagined a story of Cynthia Ann's return to her family, told in journal entries by a fictional cousin as well as in a narrative told from Cynthia Ann's point of view. The book deals with a struggle for identity--who we are, who we are raised to be, and other people's perceptions about us. Cynthia Ann came to see herselve as a Comanche. To her family, she was still a kidnapping victim of the savages. Their struggle to understand each other makes for compelling reading indeed.(less)
I really learned a lot about OCD from reading this book and about some of my own OCD behaviors. Reading this made me a feel a whole lot better about m...moreI really learned a lot about OCD from reading this book and about some of my own OCD behaviors. Reading this made me a feel a whole lot better about my life with OCD. (less)
I found the ending EXTREMELY disappointing. Rather than a real "up yours" attitude to the kids who were absolutely rotten to her, she inquires why the...moreI found the ending EXTREMELY disappointing. Rather than a real "up yours" attitude to the kids who were absolutely rotten to her, she inquires why they were mean to her, they all say, "oh, we weren't that bad, we were just kids" and she's like, "ok, yeah" and they're all chummy. What a sell out. I would no sooner speak to the kids who were mean to me in high school than I would jump off a cliff, much less forgive them without so much as a true apology.(less)
This story of an autistic boy, who is sole witness to the murder of a classmate, is riveting. The story does sometimes meander away from the main plot...moreThis story of an autistic boy, who is sole witness to the murder of a classmate, is riveting. The story does sometimes meander away from the main plot, delving into the life of Adam's mother and her past and the lives of her friends, but overall, a very satisfying read.(less)
This book was not as good as the two previous books, How to Be Happy Dammit! and Enough Dammit! I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.
The idea behind thi...moreThis book was not as good as the two previous books, How to Be Happy Dammit! and Enough Dammit! I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.
The idea behind this book is that the seven deadly sins can actually be a path to inner fulfillment and help you get what you want. There are 7 other sins that are much deadly, among them worry and apathy, which rob us of our joy for living.
The book was as colorful and graphic and easy to read as the previous 2 installments, but didn't speak to me as loudly as they did.(less)
The beauty of swapping books on line is that I don't have to pay for books I've been interested in reading but not interested enough in to go purchase...moreThe beauty of swapping books on line is that I don't have to pay for books I've been interested in reading but not interested enough in to go purchase or get from the library. This was one of those books. I read A Child Called It ages ago, which details the horrifying abuse Dave Pelzer suffered at the hands of his mother. The Lost Boy is the follow up to that book, in which Dave details his struggles to find a home in the foster care system. Dave's first taste of freedom from fear, hunger, cold, and hurt send him on a headlong path to crazy-little-boy-dom as he just goes off the wall for a while. He switches families a good amount, as he gets into serious trouble while trying to learn how to behave in a world he doesn't understand. Eventually he finds a place where the people understand him and are willing to work with him to help him become a healthy and productive teenager.
I have thought often of becoming a foster parent, although I know it's a difficult journey to follow, and reading this makes me question my own patience even more. It's sad to know there are children out there like Dave was, who need a good home and a place to feel safe as their own families either cannot or will not care from them appropriately. I am currently an on-line mentor to two such youth and it's nice to know that I am doing my part to try and give them a little guidance. (If you think you'd like to become an online "vMentor" to a youth aging out of foster care, please visit www.orphan.org and click on vMentor today.) I enjoyed reading The Lost Boy and learning what it took for Dave and his family to get his act together and help him clean up after years of unbelievable abuse. (less)