The story moves quickly and the writing us clear, bug overall I found the novel predictable. The ending also tied things up too neatly, but as a reade...moreThe story moves quickly and the writing us clear, bug overall I found the novel predictable. The ending also tied things up too neatly, but as a reader, I prefer when authors let me decide what happens. A good beach read.(less)
One of the many challenges for upper elementary and middle school Language Arts teachers is finding timely books with age appropriate characters and t...more
One of the many challenges for upper elementary and middle school Language Arts teachers is finding timely books with age appropriate characters and thought provoking themes, yet won’t spur parents to demand the principal to pull it off the shelf because of graphic violence, profanity or sex. Nest, by Esther Ehrlich, is a book that adults will approve of and young readers will love.
Set in 1972, the story centers on Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein. She and her father, mother and sister Rachel are year-round residents of Cape Cod, and the novel starts at the end of summer. At the beginning of the tale the Orensteins are a happy family; Dr. Orenstein has a therapy practice on the Cape, the girls get along well, and Hannah, the mother, is a former dancer who stays active in local dance recitals. Chirp, who gets her nickname because of her penchant for birds and bird watching, becomes friends with new neighbor and 6th grade classmate Joey Morell, whose parents often lock him out of the house.
Chirp’s idyllic world is soon shattered when her mother ,diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, falls into deep depression, and the story delves into darker themes of betrayal and grief. Yet Ehrlich skillfully balances this novel with resilience and hope while dealing with issues such as bullying, disease, child abuse, and suicide. Levity is provided through Chirp’s authentic voice, her passion for birds and her interactions with others.
Because the story takes place during the Vietnam War era, a time before cell phones and cable TV, it may be classified as historical, yet its themes are timeless. (Random House provides links to teaching tools.) The book stays true to an eleven year-old point of view where life hovers between childhood and adulthood, yet within that child’s lens is Chirp’s growing awareness of the world’s truths.
It would not surprise me to see this debut novel shortlisted for a Newbery or ALA award. I hope Ms. Ehrlich is working on more books for young readers so I can recommend them to my teaching colleagues. Nest is available September 9, 2014, for grades 4-8.
I got my advance copy through Goodreads, and was looking forward to reading Eddie Rickenbacker's biography. This book is more than just a biography, t...moreI got my advance copy through Goodreads, and was looking forward to reading Eddie Rickenbacker's biography. This book is more than just a biography, though; it is also the tale of early 20th Century and how the Industrial Age changed America. Rickenbacker himself seemed to be born with nerves of steel. Always placed on a pedestal as a classic hero, this book reveals some of the dirty truth about Eddie's early life of poverty, particularly after his father is killed after picking a fight with a hungry vagrant. Eddie's family relies heavily on him for support. Interesting that in Rickenbacker's own biography he falsified these facts. Eddie learns leadership and critical thinking by trying to survive. Had he stayed in school he would have developed these qualities anyway, but much later than age fourteen. This tale is a testament to the types of intelligences not measured on standardized tests Asa. Former Columbus resident, I enjoyed reading about places that, while now on the seedier areas of town, had their heh day in the early Twentieth Century.
I recommend this book for anyone who is a dab of aviation, racing, and World War I and II history. I am passing my advance copy on to a Social Studies teacher.(less)
This weird and wonderful novel will infiltrate your life for awhile- partly due to its length- nearly 800 pages, and partly due to its depth. When thi...moreThis weird and wonderful novel will infiltrate your life for awhile- partly due to its length- nearly 800 pages, and partly due to its depth. When thirteen year old Theo Decker survives a museum explosion which claims his mother, his life takes an unpredictable and multilayered course. The characters, even minor ones, are fully developed and the writing is cinematic. I know this review is general, but if I get more specific I will give too much away. If you are a lover of elegant syntax, layered plots, fully realized characters and arts and antiques, with a dollop,of mystery, read his book. Warning for the faint hearted : lots of drug and alcohol use, but it's necessary. There were some areas where the narrative sagged, and credibility waned, but great books , like the painting of the Goldfinch, are imperfect birds.(less)
I had gotten this one as a Goodreads advanced copy, and was anxious to start reading. the writing is crisp and fresh, but I didn't finish this one. I...moreI had gotten this one as a Goodreads advanced copy, and was anxious to start reading. the writing is crisp and fresh, but I didn't finish this one. I just couldn't see the point of taking Tooley, the protagonist, as a child and shuttling her to various places n the world, and later training her to recruit people for some esoteric organization. This is a case where the writing itself is better than the tale.(less)
Auster is a wonderful writer, and this quirky novel was satisfying and somewhat heartbreaking. Since it resides on the literary side, it's not for eve...moreAuster is a wonderful writer, and this quirky novel was satisfying and somewhat heartbreaking. Since it resides on the literary side, it's not for everyone, but it's a full bodied tale.(less)
The tale opens with a body, or rather body parts, of a young woman found in a tree. The victim, Cheri Stoddard, friend of protagonist Lucy Dane, had b...moreThe tale opens with a body, or rather body parts, of a young woman found in a tree. The victim, Cheri Stoddard, friend of protagonist Lucy Dane, had been missing for a year. Where Cheri spent her last few months and how she ended up dead becomes an obsession for Lucy because the circumstances of Cheri’s disappearance echo how Lucy's own mother Lila vanished more than a decade ago. Orphaned Lila, a relative stranger to the small Ozark community of Henbane Missouri, comes to town to work as a farm worker for Crete Dane. Crete has paid for her journey from Iowa and provides room and board on his farm where she is supervised by Ransome Crowley, a weathered woman who maintains a cool distance from the lovely Lila. Meanwhile Lila quickly falls for Crete’s younger brother Carl, but Crete has other plans for lovely Lila. Even though Carl and Lila marry and produce Lucy, Crete maintains a looming presence in her life. One afternoon when Lucy is still a toddler, Lila leaves her child with her friend gabby to run an errand and is never seen again.
Lucy Dane believes there is a connection to Cheri’s murder and her mother’s disappearance, and in her free time from working in her uncle Crete’s cafe and general store, she initiates help from Daniel, her secret crush who is now her co-worker, to help find out what happened to her murdered friend and missing mother. Henbane is a small community, so someone has to know. The narrative weaves between Lucy, Lila, Ransome and other characters' viewpoints, and the reader gradually learns the whole story through their eyes.
The taut, elegant writing and well paced narrative kept me engaged all the way through. The Weight of Blood reinforces the notion that every community and family, no matter how small and seemingly benign, contains dark secrets.
The novel is Gone Girl meets Winter's Bone. This is Laura McHugh’s first novel, and I hope she is working on a second one.
I got the ARC free from the publisher form a Goodreads promo. Thanks!(less)
An enjoyable read about Queenan's curmudgeonly take on books. I particularly enjoyed his loathing of the book Moddlemarch. I'd quote from it, but I'm...moreAn enjoyable read about Queenan's curmudgeonly take on books. I particularly enjoyed his loathing of the book Moddlemarch. I'd quote from it, but I'm on vacation right now. So you will just have to wait for my return.(less)