Well, some of my most trusted teen readers love this book, so it might just be that I'm old. Parts of the book felt dated to me, and that's okay sometWell, some of my most trusted teen readers love this book, so it might just be that I'm old. Parts of the book felt dated to me, and that's okay sometimes. Somehow, though, in this book it just felt clunky, and worse, some parts sounded like an after-school special. Given how popular R & J is with my students, I imagine this will still fly off the shelves in spite of my lackluster feelings. ...more
Growing up in a small New York town in 1968, Doug is surrounded by bullies, including his father, brother, and gym teacher to name just a few. When hiGrowing up in a small New York town in 1968, Doug is surrounded by bullies, including his father, brother, and gym teacher to name just a few. When his family moves to a new town because his father has lost a job, Doug initially fronts like a tough guy, trying to hide his many vulnerabilities. He survives his toxic home environment when he makes a friend, sassy Lil, the daughter of the town grocer, and realizes his passion for drawing. The book is a testament to the transformative power of art, friendship and a few caring adults in the life of a troubled kid.
I would give this a five but felt that the plot got a little too busy in places, and a few of the personal transformations felt a little too easy. Also, who on earth designed the book cover? I don't think it does justice to the book at all! ...more
I first started reading The Fault in Our Stars last year but then put it down because a book with terminally ill characters hit a little too close toI first started reading The Fault in Our Stars last year but then put it down because a book with terminally ill characters hit a little too close to home. (I lost my dad to esophageal cancer in 2011.) Now that I've read it, I can say that I love how John Green makes nerdiness so very cool and sexy. I love that he creates dynamic teen characters who are smart, sassy, irreverant, and kind--and, oh yeah, have cancer. I did not love the soliloquizing of the main characters at the beginning of the novel--this felt heavy-handed and unrealistic to me. However, I couldn't get too irritated because right after one of these long, heady speeches, our narrator Hazel would make a joke about the cancer support group that takes place in the church basement, and it would be really, really funny. Once the romance began in earnest and Augustus & Hazel got their wish, I was totally hooked in and rooting for them both. I really appreciate that in this novel John Green was able to create a little levity amidst tragedy AND remind us of the fragility & gorgeousness of each day. ...more
Kate Atkinson takes 100 or so "what ifs?" and changes the outcome of our heroine Ursula's life trajectory each time. How might one small gesture--theKate Atkinson takes 100 or so "what ifs?" and changes the outcome of our heroine Ursula's life trajectory each time. How might one small gesture--the rebuff or acceptance of a romantic advance, a fall, a chance encounter with a stranger--change the course of an entire lifetime? The backdrop of the novel includes major events that shaped 20th century western history, including the flu epidemic of 1918, WWI, and WWII and its lingering effects in Europe. The novel provides an immersion into each time period and offers a blistering account of the horrors of war, even for a well-to-do English young lady. As usual, Atkinson's fantastic, noir-ish sense of humor keeps the pages turning. I'm impressed by the author's ability to seamlessly switch genres--I'm a huge fan of her mystery novels, but also loved this one which is harder to categorize. ...more
I so appreciate that Cain has opened dialogue on what it means to be an introvert in an extrovert-oriented society. As one who regularly wants to go fI so appreciate that Cain has opened dialogue on what it means to be an introvert in an extrovert-oriented society. As one who regularly wants to go for a walk by myself or curl up with a book amidst a gregarious, group-oriented crowd, I found it refreshing to read research on others like me. That said, I disliked the corporate angle to so many of the case studies that Cain discussed. So many of the people that she profiled were corporate lawyers, hedge fund managers or Harvard Business School graduate students. I get that these professions are typically oriented towards aggressive, ambitious types but would have appreciated some profiles of public school teachers, small business owners, nurses and others who navigate their introverted tendencies in socially demanding work environments....more
I wanted to love this book because it takes place (supposedly) in my neighborhood, the flatlands on the Oakland/ Berkeley border. However, the writingI wanted to love this book because it takes place (supposedly) in my neighborhood, the flatlands on the Oakland/ Berkeley border. However, the writing feels narcissistic, like Chabon is in love with the sound of his convoluted sentences with all of their arcane pop culture references. Here he introduces the character Archy, "Moonfaced, mountainous, moderately stoned, Archy Stallings manned the front counter of Brokeland records, holding a random baby, wearing a tan corduroy suit over a pumpkin-bright turtleneck that reinforced his noted not yet disadvantageous resemblance to Gamera, the giant mutant flying tortoise of Japanese cinema." I quickly lost the thread of the novel because I got mired in just this kind of bloated sentence. Also, the setting didn't resonate with me at all--it felt detached and out of touch with this part of town, more like a trip into Chabon's imagination than anything grounded in the actual place. (I know it's supposed to take place in 2004, but have things really changed that much?) Worst of all, I disliked that all of the black characters I met in the beginning of the novel were stereotypes. I hope that the book gets better over time and the characters get more nuanced.
I know I should do the right thing and finish this book, but I don't think that's going to happen. Extra star because Chabon IS really clever, subtracting stars for all of the reasons stated above.