I am not a big romance reader, but I loved this book and could not put it down. Ultra-optimistic Jess is a single Mum of two (one being her step son)I am not a big romance reader, but I loved this book and could not put it down. Ultra-optimistic Jess is a single Mum of two (one being her step son) doing it tough; house cleaner by day, bar maid by night. She relies on no one and tries not to put too many burdens on others, all the while trying to instill hope and high morals into her kids. They live in a housing estate in a rough neighbourhood, where the boys from one of the local families torments and bashes her step-son (among others) for being "different". The thought of having to send her Maths prodigy daughter, Tanzie, to the same local high school the following year, is weighing heavily on Jess, until Tanzie is offered a 90% scholarship to a highly respected private school, across town. It is a hope and a possibility for Tanzie, but Jess struggles to meet life's financial demands as it is, and the remaining 10% fee and extra costs are just too significant. As all hope starts to fade, Tanzie's teacher suggests she enter a Maths Olympiad, which carries a $5000 prize, the only problems, the competition is in Scotland, over 500 miles away, Jess has not driven for a million years, and the only vehicle in their possession is the clapped out, old, and unregistered Rolls Royce belonging to Jess's estranged husband, that has sat in the garage for over two years waiting for him to restore. Enter Ed Nichols, a wealthy and rarely seen beachfront house owner, and client of Jess and her cleaning partner Natalie. Although Mr Nichols rarely stays in the beachfront home, Jess's opinion of Mr Nichols is not very high - rude and dismissive by day and drunk in the pub by night. After accompanying a passed-out Mr Nichols home in a taxi, Jess notices Mr Nichols' work security tag and large wad of money left on the back seat, she pockets it for him, but later forgets, until the looming deadline for St Annes' registration dawns upon them and they decide, then and there, to try their luck on the Maths Olympiad; Jess using Mr Nichols' money for the registration, with the idea of paying it back later. From there things don't turn out as Jess had planned, but just as they should. I loved the characters in this story, their strengths and their flaws. In one way, the story is predictable, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and just wanted the best for everyone involved. Not a sophisticated read, but extremely enjoyable all the same, and I was sad to come to its final page....more
I enjoyed this book. I found the characters likeable and the content well considered and carefully delivered. The story is about three really good andI enjoyed this book. I found the characters likeable and the content well considered and carefully delivered. The story is about three really good and close friends who have just started year 7 - middle school - Bridge, Tab and Emily (I think the story is set in NYC), although there are a few co-running stories happening together, letters written by Sherm to his Grandfather, and the day-in-the-life of a nameless character struggling with her own friendship issues on Valentine's Day.
The main story sees that middle school brings new opportunities - new friends and possibilities to re-invent oneself; one can do new things- in the form of the compulsory extra-curricular school "clubs"; and then things just naturally change as well, but that is life. When Emily makes a bad decision, in the realms of sharing something inappropriate, electronically, her reputation makes a turn for the worst., but with good friends who know who you really are, you get through.
The three co-running stories can be confusing at times, but there are overlapping themes are about friendship, decisions that affect others and their consequences, and forgiveness and the three stories do tie in together in the end.
I did think the year 7 characters appeared older than they were meant to portray - perhaps year 9s rather than year 7, but the content was more like a middle school level. I read this book because I was contemplating giving it to a twelve year old girl and wasn't sure if it was suitable, having read it, I think it would be completely fine for that age group....more
Loved this book. So relatable for anyone growing up in the 80s in country/rural Australia. Once more, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with natureLoved this book. So relatable for anyone growing up in the 80s in country/rural Australia. Once more, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with nature, which is now expected when reading an Inga Simpson novel. This is the story of Jayne, a girl growing up in rural NSW; an only child, belonging to a close knit community, who prefers to hang out with the boys, her closest friends, and spend time outside, by the river or helping out on the farm. At one point the friends come across a grove containing several aboriginal arborglyphs - tree carvings - which mark the burial place of a significant aboriginal elder. The group don't exactly know what they mean, but they resinate of something sacred and they vow to protect them and keep them secret. This they do, and the grove becomes a special place to them, even more so when the mother of one of the boys, Ian, explains the importance of the grove to her people. But this is a time when white land owners are nervous; land rights are being worked out and debated, and fear and ignorance are weaved into news bulletins, lounge room political discussions and bantered about on talk-back radio. When the group is involved in an accident affecting one of the group of friends, the grove and their idyllic childhood are at once threatened; trusts are broken, and everything changes. As an adult, Jayne is an Australian art historian with the National Gallery in Canberra, with a special interest in aborglyphs and the restoration of justice across time and place. This is an interesting Australian story with a political and restorative justice message that is relevant and in line with the understandings, tolerances and respect many white Australian have come to have for aboriginal issues.
220 pages, but could be read in a couple of hours. This is a clever book offering a view of life via snippet notes left on the fridge door; snapshot c220 pages, but could be read in a couple of hours. This is a clever book offering a view of life via snippet notes left on the fridge door; snapshot conversations between mother and daughter. The story shows how we can get caught up with the little things in life, though they don't seem to be little until something bigger, more important and with greater long term consequences comes along and we are forced to change, adapt and be present. ...more
This is the story of The O'Brien family - a Huntington's Disease family. Joe, the family patriarch, is a Boston Police Officer; a passionate Red Sox fThis is the story of The O'Brien family - a Huntington's Disease family. Joe, the family patriarch, is a Boston Police Officer; a passionate Red Sox fan and of the old Irish Catholic neighbourhood of Charlestown. He is married to Rosie and they have four grown children. They are a close family, all living in the one house, across its three separate levels, and they always spend Sunday lunch together. Joe starts noticing some behaviour changes in himself and though he tries to dismiss them, others notice them too - his temper and his clumsiness and his jitters. He is confronted by his work colleagues and then his wife - is he using? Is he an alcoholic? Rather than appease, his assurance that he is not using drugs or has a problem with alcohol raises further concerns that something more sinister is going on, and Joe promises Rosie that he will visit a doctor. Eventually Joe is diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, an incurable genetic disease for which there is a 50% chance of inheriting from a gene positive parent.
Inside the O'Brien's shows the devastating spiral of HD, not only for the affected, but for their entire family who have to watch their father's deterioration, and come to terms with the possibility that this may one day be their own fate.
This story was enlightening and teaching; shining a spotlight on a largely unknown disease. At times this story was extremely depressing. The cruel fate of someone affected with HD is laid out bare, there is no happy ending, there is no escape from its clutches. What I did enjoy about this book were the characters, the family banter; this is a family you can imagine - imperfect and real. I also appreciated the careful look at Huntington's Disease. I also found Joe's understanding of his mother, who he has always believed had lived shamefully as a drunk, having spent her final 7 years in a mental institution - unbearably sad - an understanding that came too late. My heart broke for that mother.
This is not a happy tale. Read it if you are interested in psychology and brain disorders or living with a terminal illness, or even for the pleasure of Lisa Genova's ridiculously fine penmanship. ...more
Alice has just turned 50. She is a brilliant, and very much revered, linguistics professor at Harvard University. She has had a highly successful careAlice has just turned 50. She is a brilliant, and very much revered, linguistics professor at Harvard University. She has had a highly successful career, and is an esteemed member of the Harvard Psychology faculty and student population. She has enjoyed a wonderful marriage to John, a fellow academic at Harvard, and has three successful, grown children. For Alice, her diagnosis is devastating and we view its cruel progression through her eyes. Lisa Genova offers great insight into a horrifying disease - Early onset Alzheimer's Disease. ...more
I almost gave up on this book because the characters were so very unconvincing. I just could not imagine them speaking as they did in the book. I am gI almost gave up on this book because the characters were so very unconvincing. I just could not imagine them speaking as they did in the book. I am glad I persisted with the book to the end, because I was interested to read the historical aspects of the time and feel it important to communicate and preserve these darker times in a nations history. To grow as a nation, mistakes, injustices and the mistreatment of large groups need to be acknowledged and understood so we can all learn from them and try to prevent such occurrences from happening again. it is for this, in recounting aspects of life, as experienced by Chinese people, Japanese people, people who were in love with someone not of their own race and forbidden to marry, or the perceived tarnish extended to a mixed race child; the feeling among those at home, while a war rallied on overseas, which involved loved ones, and even the perception of an unmarried woman walking, unchaperoned by a man, at night, gathers insight into what those times may have been like, how far we have come, the reparation required in the face of past injustice or how far we are yet to travel. For these reasons the historical content within China Dolls has merit, despite the unlikable and unconvincing characters in this story. ...more
This is a classic black American novel originally published in the 1930s. The story is about the life of Janie who was married off early to an older mThis is a classic black American novel originally published in the 1930s. The story is about the life of Janie who was married off early to an older man, by her Grandmother, only to fall for an ambitious black man determined to improve the lot of other black Americans in the south, by organising the advancement and infrastructure of Eatonville an all black town. There Janie had status as Mrs Mayor, but her life was emotionally lonely and she longed for the love of a man. After her husband died, presumably from cancer, Janie meets Tea Cake, a charismatic man who sweeps her off her feet and gives her the love she always wanted, though the residents of Eatonville are suspicious that Tea Cake is only after her money. Janie is a strong woman who lives her life as she pleases and doesn't take to bending to the social norms of outsiders. I enjoyed the beginning and the end of this book, interestingly the middle section, about her life of money and status is as boring as Janie herself feels it to be. I did enjoy the black dialect in which it was written....more
A little slow to start, but what a treat to get into. I do love a story that connects with nature and the elements, but that is not all. Kate journeysA little slow to start, but what a treat to get into. I do love a story that connects with nature and the elements, but that is not all. Kate journeys along some of the UK's river systems on a quest to locate their source. This part memoir/part travel narrative reads like an allegory, and through Kate's journey, the reader learns more about her and her land, while accompanying her as she unravels a much larger, innate yearning, one that niggles in the very heart of so many of us - who.am.I. Extremely well written, gentle and insightful. ...more