I expected something different out of this book. The images and photos are incredible and lend the book an appeal that its poor, confusing story wouldI expected something different out of this book. The images and photos are incredible and lend the book an appeal that its poor, confusing story would never have managed. There are some descriptions that, aided by the images, make us feel as if we're in the exotic places mentioned in the journal, but otherwise it's not nearly as interesting as the cover hints at....more
Originally read in English. Re-read on 9 August 2016.
Lido originalmente, em inglês. Relido a 9 de Agosto de 2016. A tradução é muito fraquinha. Vou maOriginally read in English. Re-read on 9 August 2016.
Lido originalmente, em inglês. Relido a 9 de Agosto de 2016. A tradução é muito fraquinha. Vou manter a classificação original do livro apesar desta tradução ter diminuído o meu gosto pela história, que é uma auto-biografia ficcionalizada da vida da autora, e que eu tinha gostado muito de ler da primeira vez....more
The description of this book makes it seem like it begins with a disappearance but it actually only happens a lot latter. This is more like a high 3-sThe description of this book makes it seem like it begins with a disappearance but it actually only happens a lot latter. This is more like a high 3-something than a true four star, mostly because I was kind of slightly underwhelmed once the titular character actually disappears (the story being told beforehand was a lot more interesting than the last third).
I really liked the epistolary format, with use of letters, e-mails, notes and articles in order to convey the story as well as background info into the characters. The story being told is at times fun and frustrating, mostly because you just feel like you need to slap a few people for the decisions they make.
Despite the fact that Bernadette is portrayed as a bit of a mess, I felt like, throughout parts of the story, that the true neurotic people in this story were the other parents and their inability to deal with a less social and soccer-mom-ish Bernadette. Which is actually the point of the book, that works a bit like a low-key satire of suburban parent culture (there's a really fun set of letters and notes between the director of Bee's school and the PTA about trying to attract a certain kind of parents to their school, using car brand examples).
The believability factor of the story jumps a lot from 'that happens a lot' to 'gotta stop and suspend disbelief for a bit here' but otherwise it's a fun, light-hearted story that I actually really enjoyed up until the last third, where it lost the more epistolary format into full narration by Bee, the daughter, and where the search for Bernadette didn't keep my interest half as well as the truly wackiness going on before Bernadette disappears. ...more
3.5 de 5 estrelas. Gostei bastante das primeiras duas histórias mas não tanto das seguintes. Muita imaginação na criação de histórias distintas relaci3.5 de 5 estrelas. Gostei bastante das primeiras duas histórias mas não tanto das seguintes. Muita imaginação na criação de histórias distintas relacionadas com livros e bibliotecas mas as ações das personagens erão algo irreais nalgumas situações....more
This is a hard book to rate for me, mostly because it felt like watching a train wreck in slow motion: you cannot look away, you need to know what wilThis is a hard book to rate for me, mostly because it felt like watching a train wreck in slow motion: you cannot look away, you need to know what will happen at the end, but you don't really like what's happening while it's going on.
This was a really quick read. I went through it in a day plus the last few chapters the next day. Once Megan goes missing, you really cannot put the book down until you reach the end, but it's hard to get through the first chapters because everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in this book either begins as or proves to be complete failures as human beings, either because they're neurotic, obsessed, violent, serial cheaters, psychopathic, alcoholic, whatever. The only people you could possibly identify with were secondary/tertiary characters.
It's really hard to root for any character because being in their POV is just so painful. The thing is, it's painful because some people are like this. Some people are cheaters. Some people find their enjoyment in being the other woman/man in a relationship, some people blame the other woman/man instead of their ex-husband/wife when their marriage ends due to extra-marital relationships, some people just cannot be monogamous for long and will cheat constantly, some people are abusive and controlling, some people enter a deep depression due to divorce or inability to have children or other such reasons, some people do find their post-pregnant wife not attractive anymore and cheat, some people do fall into alcoholism due to life circumstances they find insurmountable, and some people are obsessively stalker-ish of other people (including ex-husbands and wives).
But it's difficult to read about five such miserable characters in one book, especially while tying all these interpersonal interactions up with a missing persons (then murder) investigation where the police hardly makes any appearances throughout it all. I can't say the plot was entirely predictable to me. I only started figuring stuff out when Rachel began remembering the red car, but maybe it's because mystery/thrillers aren't my usual genre. I do think the end was a bit abrupt too. I expected a bit more resolution than just a one month later coda of sorts. I did like that Rachel finally found a way out of her alcoholic depression and found some agency.
So despite having read this so quickly, unable to put it down, the only way I can really describe the feeling of reading it is my analogy of a train wreck mentioned at the beginning. I liked it, I was enthusiastic in a way while reading it, to get to the end, but I hated everyone in it until the very end. Maybe it's because they're just too real and not the idealized human beings that we like our heroes to be. Or even the idealized anti-hero with the heart of gold. They're flawed characters and that is sometimes hard to read.
I'm not quite sure what to think about this book. I think I had very high expectations going into it, but in the end I think I was disappointed but alI'm not quite sure what to think about this book. I think I had very high expectations going into it, but in the end I think I was disappointed but also kind of numb. I didn't like it nearly as much as I was expecting to, and I'm not sure if it was the writing, the concept or the sheer weirdness and disturbing aspects of the first two parts.
The story started out weird, with Yeong-hye swearing off meat after her nightmare but what can be a perfectly valid and healthy choice was taken into extremes that were not at all healthy. Her behaviour and that of her family was confusing, in a way, and I thought maybe this story would have some sort of paranormal component, because of those dreams. By the time we reach the second part, it goes from weird to deeply disturbing and the third part, which dwells into the effects of Yeong-hye's deteriorating condition due to her mental illness, it just becomes sad and hopeless.
A part of me understands why this is such a lauded book, because of the rollercoster of emotions you do feel when you read it (more than once I wanted to strangle the men in this story), but at the same time I didn't really enjoy my reading experience of it. I didn't feel compelled to read it in one sitting, which I would have expected out of such a short book. And the second part was something I really kind of hated because of everything that occurred.
In the end, I'm not quite sure how to rate this. It's possible some of the things that disturbed me and frustrated me the most are somewhat cultural (the inability to understand how to have a healthy vegetarian diet), it's possibly part of it was the writing, which I felt had a lot of repetition in certain word usage (superfluity anyone?) and part of it was just me being confused, but my enjoyment of the book was not as high as I had expected, so I guess I'm giving this about 3.5 out of 5 stars. ...more
There were things I really loved about this sweet, lovely story, especially the perspective from Ari, who is such a compelling you3.5 out of 5 stars.
There were things I really loved about this sweet, lovely story, especially the perspective from Ari, who is such a compelling young man trying to find himself, his identity, trying to connect with the world around him and finding himself at odds with it.
I loved the friendship between Ari and Dante, and I even loved and understood the times when they were at disjointed points within it and didn't meet in the middle. I loved the relationships they had with their families and their need to understand their parents better -- particularly Ari's when it came to his father, a war veteran.
The thing is, despite really enjoying this story for a variety of reasons other people have explained better than I have (the relationships, the sweetness of such a happy ending, the exploration of self), there are some things that made me lower the rating that would have otherwise been higher.
For example, I didn't really love the dialogue writing. Sáenz's prose is lovely when it comes to Ari's inner thoughts and descriptions - there are so many quotable sentences! - but some of the dialogue repetition jarred me. The constant repeating of names, for example, made me cringe a little (we don't call each other constantly by name when having conversations in real life).
Although I understand this is a young adult book, these were really innocent, cry-happy fifteen-to-eighteen year old boys. I guess this is a matter of perspective - being set in 1987, there wasn't the internet yet so I imagine boys of that age could indeed be a little less knowledgeable of stuff.
And then there was the ending. I'm not going to raise an issue with how easily the parents accepted everything, because I wish this was what happened in real life more often, parents actually being parents and loving their children despite their sexual orientations, but there were some things that bothered me about the last conversation between Ari and his parents before he went to find Dante.
Slightly spoilery from here on out.
1. This would have been a lot more powerful if it hadn't been his parents telling him what he felt instead of his admitting it to himself. It's like his parents decided they knew better and had to explain Ari's own feelings to himself. 2. Nothing Ari did (re: the saving Dante from the car or the punching of the boy who hurt Dante) was outside of the range of friendship. There was no reason his parents had to go and interpret it that way, even if it was true. You can love your friends and be loyal to them without needing to be in love with them and you can go and punch out someone who hurt your friend. There really was no reason to have his parents assume something that I doubt parents would assume now, let alone 1987) just because of Ari's actions. 3. Hell, Ari himself didn't even act as if he had higher feelings for Dante in his own thoughts. His perspective is entirely devoid of any open wondering. He reads more asexual than anything. Which is why I really hated that the end wasn't him discovering for himself, really thinking about it and his feelings for Dante. Because I needed that from him, from his own words in his own mind. I loved the ending and how these two stupid boys found love together at last, but I wanted to have SEEN Ari's progression towards that point. And we didn't. We saw his progression towards friendship, not romantic love. ...more