This book contains thirty short stories. I think I was probably not the best Goodreads member to win this book. While I was reading I thought that perThis book contains thirty short stories. I think I was probably not the best Goodreads member to win this book. While I was reading I thought that perhaps some men might enjoy this more as well as those whose taste runs to the avant-garde. I found myself getting depressed or repulsed at times, but was emotionally involved during certain stories.
One thing that drove me nuts (that has nothing to do with the stories themselves) was that throughout the entire book, both sides of the page had the book’s title, which is the title of the last story in the book; one side of the page I’d have liked to have seen the title of the current short story.
These stories are extremely dark and are about people living on the edge and often with despair. They’re drug addicts, alcoholics, prisoners, assassins etc. There’s a plethora of violence and kinky sex. Many are told first person and all are told from one character’s point of view. These characters are widely disparate. There are men and women and children, multi-racial and multi-cultural, etc. Somehow, the author pulls this off with a few exceptions.
I like to read dark books about people in difficult circumstances but with very few exceptions (often the children) I didn’t feel familiar with these characters, and there were a few I didn’t even slightly understand which is unusual for me.
I enjoyed the first three stories, the last four stories, and one or a couple in the middle. The other stories I either thought were just ok or thought that at least in part they were kind of a mess, but I’m the first to admit that my discomfort with some of the subject matter could have influenced my opinion. I wanted to win this book because of the title story: The President’s Parasite. As with many of the other stories I liked and disliked parts although I did think the premise of the story being told from the point of view of a parasite occupying a human was inspired, and interesting.
Readers who do not enjoy literature that contains sex and violence will not enjoy these stories. Those who like avant-garde and unusual literature will want to check out this book. ...more
I wasn’t sure how the back and forth chapters between one girl in 1942 and a different woman in 2002 were going to work for me, but this story is so wI wasn’t sure how the back and forth chapters between one girl in 1942 and a different woman in 2002 were going to work for me, but this story is so well told.
I thought I’d be interested in the 1942 story but wasn’t sure how much I’d become involved with the 2002 story, but much to my relief I enjoyed both stories, although I did think Sarah’s 1942 story was slightly stronger than Julia’s 2002 story. However, I do think my favorite character might be Zoe from the 2002 story.
Reading this was chilling, suspenseful, devastating, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. It’s about loss and the destructive power of secrets, both of which are subjects close to my heart, so it was very emotionally powerful for me.
I thought that the author created perfect cadence in her writing style; I loved it. I read it in two days as I was loathe to put it down.
The tale seemed mostly authentic, occasionally something rang slightly off but I didn’t take note and those moments were ones I forgot because the story as a whole rang true. It’s one of those tales made as vivid by fiction as by a non-fiction account, not diluted at all by the parallel story lines.
There were a couple of plot points that I think were meant to be subtle mysteries and that were glaringly obvious to me ahead of the reveal but, even though I noticed them and could tell the author was not being as clever as she meant to be, they did not really diminish my enjoyment of the book, but they did almost cause me to deduct a star from my rating.
I was ignorant of the specific event that took place in Paris in Nazi occupied France that’s the center of this story and I’ve read a lot of non-fiction and fiction holocaust books; I really appreciated this one because I do always enjoy learning new things, however disturbing.
The back of this paperback (advance readers’) edition has an author interview, historical perspective notes, recommended reading (many of the listed books will now go on my to-read shelf) and reading group questions.
This is now one of my treasured books. I am so grateful that I won it at Goodreads’ First Reads program. As soon as I saw it listed there, it went on my to-read list, but given the length of that list I’m not sure when I’d have actually read it; I am so glad that I did. ...more
At the beginning of every folktale there’s a brief blurb with some backgFor informative brief descriptions of each tale, please see Abigail’s review.
At the beginning of every folktale there’s a brief blurb with some background information relating to Jewish history, tradition, and the “moral” of the tale. I relished these little summaries because I was not familiar with many of the tales and I welcomed knowing a bit about each tale I was about to read.
I really enjoyed most of the included folktales. I chose to read only one or only a few at a time rather than reading them one right after another with no other books in-between, and I think I appreciated each tale more reading them in this way. Every tale is the perfect length for a read aloud story for children belonging to a wide age range, and they are all basically parables and all are good for eliciting discussion.
I appreciated the included illustrations although, if I’d seen them out of context, I would not have found them particularly aesthetically pleasing. There are pretty multi-colored tale/chapter titles and page borders. There’s a wonderful glossary, and I was gratified to see that I knew many of the words, but not all of them. The sources listed were just as fascinating as the notes that start each tale. This book is worth reading cover to cover.
This is a lovely book and would make a thoughtful gift. ...more