Che and his sister Rosa are Australian, but they move everywhere for their parents' work. They've now moved from Hong Kong to New York. Che, who is seChe and his sister Rosa are Australian, but they move everywhere for their parents' work. They've now moved from Hong Kong to New York. Che, who is seventeen, really wants a girlfriend, and he wants to box. But mostly he wants to not have to be responsible for ten-year-old Rosa all the time. And I don't mean that his parents make him babysit--no, Che fears Rosa is a psychopath and will hurt someone. He's trying to protect everyone else from Rosa.
This book was slow going for me, because it's not pleasant to read about an adorable, manipulative, dangerous psychopath. I was nervous the whole time I was reading it. There was certainly a convincing feel of ominousness and danger. I could feel a big twist coming on, but it was not what I expected at all (the red herrings were effective.) This book was chilling and disturbing and slightly evil. But that's what the author was going for, so it was also pretty darn good. It you like dark YA, this book is right up your alley....more
The perfect entrance to a long-time series is a prequel like this one, explaining how Aimee Leduc became a private investigator. I have not read any oThe perfect entrance to a long-time series is a prequel like this one, explaining how Aimee Leduc became a private investigator. I have not read any other books in the series so this was just right for me. Aimee is a university student who picks up some side work for her father, a private investigator himself, in between classes, but when he doesn't return quickly from his sudden trip to Germany, Aimee continues to look into the mysterious circumstances, even though they might not be able to bill for her time, and she could be in real trouble if she gets caught out anywhere, as her PI license is a forgery.
The action moved forward quickly and we are taken on a whip-fast trip around Paris and beyond, with multiple narrative threads to follow, and a few items that seemed unnecessary or given uneven weight, but I am pretty sure those are parts explaining the introduction of characters who are more important in the series generally, and so those scenes mean more to people already familiar to her world. She takes foolish risks but I suppose that's a character trait almost necessary in a private investigator. And while a part of this book involved flashbacks to WWII, and I do have a moratorium on WWII this year, those were handled well and didn't annoy me or feel like I've read them a hundred times before. They also didn't take over the book as WWII often does.
Overall, a solid mystery where I felt like I almost had all the clues and if I just sat down and thought about it, I could probably figure it out, but I didn't which was also nice (I hate when I figure out the twist early on or easily and the book feels like a waste of time. And the characters seem dumb for not figuring it out. Or the author is being unfair by giving readers too much information beyond what the main character has.) Well done. ...more
I have mixed feelings about The Girls. In it Evie, a fourteen-year-old living near San Francisco and spending a boring summer at home with her newly dI have mixed feelings about The Girls. In it Evie, a fourteen-year-old living near San Francisco and spending a boring summer at home with her newly divorced--and dating--mother in 1969, meets a hypnotic group of slightly older girls. She hangs out with them at their commune of sorts, steals for them, eventually meets the man who is their de facto leader, and at some point when you're reading this, you realize this novel is based on Charles Manson and his cult.
I found it brilliantly written. Ms. Cline's turns of phrase are often crystalline and perfect. It was also very easy and a fast read—I zipped through it in just about 3 days. I felt completely immersed in the atmosphere of the place and time. However, when I reflected on it further, some issues came up for me. I found the framework not really necessary, and jarring each and every time it came back into the story. I found Evie to be a convenient character who easily became an insider in the cult, while remaining an outsider. I found the descriptions of the cult rather sanitized, where the worst things were neglect of children, bad food, and filthiness (I’m pretty sure most cults are in situations much, much worse, although a lot of the badness of them is going to be somewhat hidden to the casual interloper). Evie stepped up to the edge of going on the murder spree, and then conveniently was shoved out. She didn’t make that decision, which I know was part of Ms. Cline’s point—that many of us actually could have ended up in the shoes of the murderers if we’d experienced what they had—but at the same time, it was a cop-out to not have her think it through, not have her make the hard choice, have it foisted upon her. She was a pretty bland character without much personality. And then I felt like the leap from being used sexually with some minor drug use, on to murder was too much of a leap. There should have been a more gradual escalation of the final insanity. But I think that would have been hard to write, not to mention hard to pull off with Evie still going home to her mother and the contrast she’s see there, given that as the avatar for the reader, she likely would never be put in a position of fully drinking the Kool-aid. It felt to me like Emma Cline, like Evie, walked up to the edge of a great novel, but then backed away.
Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. But it’s sad to see something that could have been amazing and instead is just really good. That said, if you don't think about it too much afterwards, I'm sure most readers will love it, which makes for a terrific summer read....more
Rosalie Watson deserves to be every bit as famous as her husband, Dr. John Watson (some might even argue moreso because while she did subscribe to a lRosalie Watson deserves to be every bit as famous as her husband, Dr. John Watson (some might even argue moreso because while she did subscribe to a lot of his nutty beliefs about behaviorism, she wasn't as hardcore as he was.) And in this novel, she finally gets her due.
Dr. Watson was a professor at Johns Hopkins, where Rosalie was doing graduate work after graduating from Vassar. She assisted with his studies, particularly his most famous study about "Baby Albert." while he was married at the time, rumor began to circulate about them, and eventually it all came to a head and he had to get divorced and they had to get married quickly to try to tamp down the scandal. It didn't work, and John ended up working in advertising. Rosalie ended up raising their two sons, working as John's secretary and co-author on papers and eventually on their best-selling parenting books.
What was most intriguing to me about this book was simply trying to imagine who could be married to this man and raise his children? He firmly believed that parents did nothing but mess up their kids. He advocating removing all children from their parents at birth to be raised on "baby farms." He believed everything good was nature and everything bad was nurture. How do you raise this man's children?
What I truly found fascinating was how enlightened Rosalie and her family were--how whether she was going to go to grad school was never a question, and how much she wanted to go back to work even if it was impractical (and therefore she didn't for a long time, although she sure kept her hand in, assisting John.) It's rare in that era. Also unusual was reading a book that went right through the 1930s, without the people involved being terribly affected by the Depression. They stayed employed and didn't become impoverished. That's how the majority of Americans did experience the Depression--as hard but not catastrophic--but it's a perspective rarely depicted in literature of that decade.
If you like historical fiction, particularly of women who have been overlooked by history, this is a captivating read....more