*SPOILER ALERT* So, will everyone hate me if I say I didn't love this book? Yes, I read The Giver years ago and loved it. Yes, the writing in this boo...more*SPOILER ALERT* So, will everyone hate me if I say I didn't love this book? Yes, I read The Giver years ago and loved it. Yes, the writing in this book is amazing--I was totally sucked in and didn't want to stop listening (I listened to an exquisitely done recording by David Morse). Yes, the characters were fascinating. But the ending? Really? A Lucifer character who takes your essential self (=soul) in exchange for material goods, or worse still, the affections of a woman (=Marguerite) for Mentor, the teacher and intellectual (=Faust). Then we have Leader, an all seeing "father" (=God), a spiritual woman, Kira (=Holy Spirit) and the young man who is sacrificed, arms splayed out in the mud, so that the evil in the world and mankind may end (=Jesus Christ)? All set in a village where everyone loves everyone else. Really? Like that hasn't been done? I wanted something so much more, some new insight, some new way of looking at things. The ending just wrecked the story for me. Sorry.(less)
I know I'm supposed to like this. And certainly the writing is fabulous and the characters so well drawn. BUT this is not for everyone. You have to li...moreI know I'm supposed to like this. And certainly the writing is fabulous and the characters so well drawn. BUT this is not for everyone. You have to like the "year in the life" coming-of-age vignette kind of old fashioned children's book to appreciate this. And if you do, you will love this book. Sadly, I like a lot more plot.(less)
Hmmm. This was a bit anticlimatic for me. First, it took halfway through the book before I found it interesting. Perhaps this suffered from what other...moreHmmm. This was a bit anticlimatic for me. First, it took halfway through the book before I found it interesting. Perhaps this suffered from what other bestselling series have suffered from - editorial fear. I think the heart of should have been reached a lot faster. And the ending? Disappointing. I mean, I like the message, the wraning, if you will, for our current society. But it could have come through with a more dramatic finale! Oh well, at least there was a resolution and the second half was interesting.(less)
**spoiler alert** I read this book because my dear friend Beckie gave it to me and because I usually like books she recommends. And to be fair, the wr...more**spoiler alert** I read this book because my dear friend Beckie gave it to me and because I usually like books she recommends. And to be fair, the writing was lyrical - the first line is great: "Mama left her red satin shoes int he middle of the road." Moreover, the world Hoffman created was mesmerizing and her voice captured the genteel south perfectly.
That said, I had some problems. First, the child used language and had thoughts way beyond her years. Second, her mother, (spoiler alert) who neglects her daughter and dies about a third of the way into the story, is a former southern beauty queen who had descends from dysfunctionality to madness. Like that hasn't been done to death? And, frankly, done better by masters like Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.
I also got tired of the overabundance of women. And the two bizarre neighbors who seem bent on hurting each other? A little too hard for me to believe, particularly the cat fight in the end. Eccentric is one thing; these two are almost sociopaths.
There was also a key loose end - we never really see CeeCee function (or fail to function) in a world of her peers after what seems like an endless summer surrounded by a million women. However, the very last page, where she connects with one girl, very briefly, is beautiful, and actually reminded me of my connection with Beckie who gave me the book in the first place. So maybe it was OK after all!!!
I chose this book because I don't remember reading it as a kid (although I read a lot of books about ballet) and it is certainly a classic. It was a g...moreI chose this book because I don't remember reading it as a kid (although I read a lot of books about ballet) and it is certainly a classic. It was a good story with interesting characters and fun bits about backstage life. The writing was a bit old-fashioned - more narrative than showing - and that was distracting at times, but overall, it was a decent read.
Not to be a PITA (pain-in-the-ass), but why is "barre" spelled "bar" throughout the book? She correctly uses French words for the ballet steps but misspells this basic term. What's that about? (less)
I enjoyed this book, but it isn't really my kind of a read. It was sort of a "year-in-the-life" or coming of age story, and I prefer a more structured...moreI enjoyed this book, but it isn't really my kind of a read. It was sort of a "year-in-the-life" or coming of age story, and I prefer a more structured plot. I liked the humor and I liked the Shakespeare references and parallels. And as I was in 8th grade during the time the main character was in 7th grade, I liked recalling the way things were then.
I spent 1967-68 in a NYC junior high, not a Long Island one, and my school was apparently a lot rougher than Holling's was. Not only that, Holling was just a little too good for me - sure, he had some struggles, but they seemed all just accidental and he always overcame them like a super-hero! I also had trouble with the parents being so disconnected - I mean, the father didn't even call the police when his 16-year old daughter ran off with her boyfriend? Really?
Still, the writing was excellent and it was a pleasant read.(less)
Well, this is a cute premise and would probably create some hysterics in 3rd grade boys. I thought that it could have been faster paced. I would have...moreWell, this is a cute premise and would probably create some hysterics in 3rd grade boys. I thought that it could have been faster paced. I would have liked more action... It had a nice moral, though and the wisecracking supernatural rubber chicken was pretty funny.(less)
Well, this was a nice book - a story about a girl trying to come to grips with her autistic brother (and her parents who do everything for him and not...moreWell, this was a nice book - a story about a girl trying to come to grips with her autistic brother (and her parents who do everything for him and nothing for her) and her friendship with a boy with cerebral palsy. It kept my interest. But it seemed artifical - I mean, she is driven crazy by the brother, but she chooses to befriend the boy who is even more challenged? And the voice is that of a girl MUCH younger than the main character is supposed to be. Further, nothing is all that resolved, except that she is able to admit she is friends with this boy. A little lame, really, especially as there isn't any real resolution of the other problems. And Lord never paints a picture of the brother to make makes me think of him as anything other than an annoyance. I can't help but think of works-in-progress by two author friends that deal with similarly limited kids, but that have so much heart that you can't help but fall in love with the characters - something Lord doesn't come close to accomplishing. A Newbery honor? Hmmmmm - perhaps because it was a novel concept. (less)
Well, I know it's a Newbery and who am I to criticize it, and I heard Susan Patron speak at the SCBWI conference in NYC and she really is brilliant. B...moreWell, I know it's a Newbery and who am I to criticize it, and I heard Susan Patron speak at the SCBWI conference in NYC and she really is brilliant. But really, this just didn't do it for me. The writing seemed too precious, too contrived, too intended to make brilliant metaphors rather than real. And gee, another orphaned kid running away from the guardian/foster/step/fill-in-the-blank home? Not exactly a novel idea there. The last quarter of the book was at somewhat exciting, but it would have been nice to have more excitement throughout! And why was Lucky so mean to Miles all of a sudden? That seemed to come out of nowhere. And did she ever really find her "higher power"? A little vague for me.
I know the "scrotum" thing was a big deal, and I totally hate the notion of people being so offended and wanting it off the library shelves. But perhaps, just perhaps, it worked to Patron's advantage - it certainly got the book more attention than the pleasant but quiet, unoriginal book really deserved. (Or perhaps I'm just a jealous, unrecognized children's writer!) (less)
Hmm, I guess I'm missing something here. I couldn't get into the choppy chapters and changing POV's in this book. And (view spoiler)[ I just didn't ge...moreHmm, I guess I'm missing something here. I couldn't get into the choppy chapters and changing POV's in this book. And (view spoiler)[ I just didn't get the ending--this poor boy who has a facial deformity and has to deal with a lot of insensitive and mean behavior on the part of other students gets the big award at the end of the year for that. But he never did anything especially kind or brave or heroic other than just not react to the teasing. Maybe that's enough. But not for me--to me, it feels like the participation trophy syndrome that ruined an entire generation. (hide spoiler)](less)
OK, I know I'm SUPPOSED to really like this book. But, well, I thought the writing was stilted and didactic which was surprising, given all the editor...moreOK, I know I'm SUPPOSED to really like this book. But, well, I thought the writing was stilted and didactic which was surprising, given all the editorial hands it was in. And the story? Well, it didn't really move me.
Yeah, Greg Mortensen's successes in building schools are praiseworthy. But Greg himself? Well, all I could think of was "why didn't someone give him ritalin - he's so clearly ADHD?" And while I agree that educating girls is of critical importance, the cultures he is dealing with are really scary to me in that they are so dangerous for women.
Sure, the specific villages he dealt with had lovely people. But there's a lot to overcome and I'm not sure education is going to do it. I know that's not the right way to think. But even his success story only takes the girl to the point of being able to interrupt a meeting of men in an already somewhat forward-thinking village. I think that more than just education is needed to change ideas that are so embedded in the culture and defended with violence. Maybe I'm just an Eeyore.(less)
This is the second graphic novel I have tried. While I thought the writing was smoother than Coraline (perhaps because that was an adaptation from a b...moreThis is the second graphic novel I have tried. While I thought the writing was smoother than Coraline (perhaps because that was an adaptation from a book and this was written as a graphic novel), I guess I just don't get it. The subject matter seems ridiculous, the tiny foray into character is so overshadowed by hard-to-by gods masquerading as one human masquerading as another human, etc that I was just relieved to be done with it. I understand this form of writing is the rage and young adults love it, but I'm sorry, they need to read real books - this is not even entertaining. (less)
Well, I really wanted to like this book, particularly because I'd heard such good things about it and because I like Neil Gaiman's writing. But I wasn...moreWell, I really wanted to like this book, particularly because I'd heard such good things about it and because I like Neil Gaiman's writing. But I wasn't crazy about it. I found it confusing, creepy (but not in a good way),and not compelling. While I liked the idea of souls in marbles and theme of the girl who's not getting enough attention, some of it seemed to come out of nowhere, like the button eyes (which were really creepy), and some of it seemed like it had been done before. It's the first graphic novel I've read. Perhaps I don't like the format, perhaps I just didn't like this story or perhaps this wasn't a good adaptation of the original story. I am going to try another. And I will try to read the original mid-grade novel as well.(less)
Well, I finally finished it, thank God (or Mrs. Whatsit etc, the "Holy" trinity).
My apologies to those who love this book - please stop reading this...moreWell, I finally finished it, thank God (or Mrs. Whatsit etc, the "Holy" trinity).
My apologies to those who love this book - please stop reading this review now, cuz I am going to vent. I am thankful that I hadn't finished this when KidLit met last week, because I would not have kept my mouth shut about how much I disliked it. And I'm glad Madeleine L'Engle is no longer around, so I can slam it without feeling bad about giving a bad review to a fellow children's author.
But really - was she seriously ADHD and unmedicated when she wrote this? Did she leave ANY theme out? Or was this, perhaps, written tongue-in-cheek? Was it a parody? No, I don't think so. I was trying to think of a log line - Wizard of Oz on steriods? Christianity for Dummies? No, I think a true log line would actually stretch into a couple of paragraphs.
Some may excuse the atrocious writing on the fact that this book was the first of its kind and therefore notable for making a change. But I was raised on Star Trek and Twilight Zone and Harlan Elison and Lost in Space (OK, Lost in Space was NOT science fiction, just fun), which were written/aired around the same time. And from those I learned that good science fiction takes a theme or an issue and flips it upside down and out into space so we can look at it with a fresh eye. One or maybe two issues. But not 100. Because in this book we see issues of:
being different, being alone, conformity (Stepford Wives), life on other planets, life in many forms (how many different forms did Mrs. Whatsit, etc, take?), time travel, coming of age, growing away from parents, romance, good v. evil, God as the the special geniuses that have graced the earth free will, the Holy Trinity of Christianity and, just when you think it's going to end in a "Love conquers all" theme, it turns into "she knew it all along, but she had to find it for herself," and "there's no place like home."
Each of these themes deserves its own story, its own special treatment. But throwing them all into one short, superficially written book? A disaster, as far as I am concerned.
I'm sure some will comment that I misunderstood this book. Perhaps I did - misread the symbolism, etc. But even so, it's still way too cluttered to give any of its very important themes the attention they deserve, and thus, it trivializes them all.(less)