Wow! This book was simultaneously devastating and fascinating for me. Overall, I found it to be a downer, a huge one.
I had hoped I’d see Laura’s lifeWow! This book was simultaneously devastating and fascinating for me. Overall, I found it to be a downer, a huge one.
I had hoped I’d see Laura’s life as one well worth living and uplifting, and that I’d find strength and inspiration there, despite her extreme sensory deprivation (she’d lost 4 senses, all but touch) but I didn’t, not as much as I’d have liked anyway. I found the book and Laura’s life very depressing, but I also found myself laughing a lot. Thank goodness for humor.
It didn’t help that I didn’t like these people. I did love Asa (though I might not have in real life) and at least some of these people were abolitionists which helped me dislike them a lot less, that and the simple fact of life’s difficulties helped me feel empathy for them, especially Laura, but most of them. What a world they were all trapped in. I guess I had the most problems with Doctor and Laura’s father, but really while I could sort of understand everyone, it was hard for me to like them. Given that, it’s amazing how much I enjoyed the book.
I found it interesting to see miscommunications magnified even more than usual, due to Laura’s limitations and isolation, severe even in the best of times, which was sometimes funny and often tragic.
At first I was disappointed when I found that every chapter wouldn’t be in Laura’s voice, and I’d assumed I’d be most interested in the young Laura, but it turned out I was able to get engaged with everyone’s voices and with Laura throughout her lifetime.
I enjoyed the Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller short portions. I’d been interested in Laura perhaps because of my longstanding interest in Helen and Annie.
I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I kept reading this as non-fiction, but it’s a novel. I think I might have to read a biography of her, with a lot of “in her own words.” I’m really grateful that at the end of the book the author cleared up some things about what was fictionalized and what actually happened.
I came away really enjoying the book but feeling horrified and sad about Laura’s life, and others’ lives too. It wasn’t only Laura’s sensory deprivation, though that was most of it, but the heartbreaking ways in which she was treated, educated, and how clear communication was gravely impacted, and how helpless in the world she so often was, how dependent she was, by necessity. I could 100% forgive and understand Laura’s religiosity. The whole story was difficult to read, but hard to forget, and very enjoyable in its own way.
I actually won this at GR First Reads but it came about a month after publication, which would have been fine if it was the hardcover edition I was expecting, but it was a very unattractive uncorrected proof edition, which would have been fine only if it had truly been an advance copy. So, I read a borrowed library edition, and didn’t touch the received uncorrected proof. I felt a bit blackmailed into reading the book. I wanted to read it, but with all the books on my to-read shelf, I’m not sure I’d have gotten to it, and doubt would have gotten to it as quickly as I did. I’m glad I did though so I can’t be that irked about how I came to read it now....more
This is a book I’d love to own; it’s one I’d probably reread, and I’d love to be able to review all the wonderful literary and other quotes. It’s notThis is a book I’d love to own; it’s one I’d probably reread, and I’d love to be able to review all the wonderful literary and other quotes. It’s not that it’s a beautifully written book, but it’s well written and very quotable. There are many good quotes, most of them related to reading.
From reading the book’s descriptions (that I saw) and the cover, it wasn’t what I was expecting, and that’s good as I’m glad I came to it without too much information – the book’s cover does a good job of not giving too much away but I’ve since read descriptions that have given away more of the story than I’d have wanted to know.
One thing came toward the beginning that I didn’t expect and I’m glad I didn’t know and one thing came toward the end which I kind of suspected, but I didn’t guess the specifics; that came as the last line at the bottom of a page and I immediately knew what that meant, but not everybody might until they turn the page and keep reading. So, two sort of plot twists. Well, one sudden turn of events and one thing a reader could surmise as coming but the details aren’t revealed until toward the end. Oh, actually there’s a third major reveal that came into the mix, and I wish that more had been done with it.
There is lots of foreshadowing throughout, especially in the book titles and mini reviews and notes by the title character that appear at the start of every chapter. I really enjoyed those. I thought it was very clever.
The story is amusing and sweet. There was one chapter I sobbed my way through and a couple others that were very sad. Otherwise, I mostly laughed my way through the book, or at least smiled. I do appreciate how all the humor is tinged with sadness and even the sad parts (except for maybe that one chapter) had some humor.
I particularly enjoyed all the book and literary references. The book is a loving homage to readers and while I suppose its execution is gimmicky and somewhat sentimental, I didn’t care because I loved it and enjoyed it.
I think the way people were depicted was smart. I loved the main character’s attitudes toward certain books and genres and I loved how he changed over time. I got attached to many characters, and cared about them, and I think I’ll remember them.
I got a feel for what small bookstore selling is all about. Some of the early on events in particular could be right out of those humor books about things you hear people say in bookstores.
One medium quibble I have is that the ending, and even some of the middle, seemed too rushed, and I wish more had been revealed about certain characters’ futures, one character in particular, though I think readers are supposed to be able to surmise probable scenarios. Another quibble is that a few important things were kind of glossed over and I wanted more depth and wanted to know what would happen. In that way the book is more lightweight than I wanted. What is there though I found delightful and memorable.
The book is a bit more chick lit than most of the books I read. I’ve enjoyed quite a few books in the genre but I don’t consider it to be one of “my” genres. Maybe in part because of the books and reading theme, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Luckily the romance never ended up being a huge part of the book; books and reading and family love and community was always central. It’s a very optimistic story, especially regarding people’s ability to change and to love.
4 ½ stars
recommended for those who enjoy reading, books, writing, bookstores, book discussions, quirky communities, atypical family stories, coming of age stories...more
Apologies to those who have been waiting for my review of this book. I’m not up for writing a thorough review, but I hope my impressions are useful toApologies to those who have been waiting for my review of this book. I’m not up for writing a thorough review, but I hope my impressions are useful to you, especially regarding deciding whether or not this book is for you.
I found the account gripping and suspenseful, even though the reader knows from the very start pretty much what is going to happen.
From previous reading, I knew most of what was going on during the period and yet the details told still managed to shock me at times – great examples including excerpts from the NY Times, State Dept. memos, and the memories of those involved with this rescue.
I get more and more angry at the U.S. the more I learn. I get so exasperated with human beings. Luckily, this story is mostly about the bravery, heroism, and empathy expressed by some very good people.
I was particularly grateful for the details given of what happened with everyone, and surprised that there were so many children that couldn’t be currently tracked re what happened to them. I hope they or their significant others see the plea at the end of the book, and come forward with information. I had to smile because so many of the personalities/behaviors of certain children left me not at all surprised by the adults they became. I was very touched to read about some of their post rescue lives and accomplishments.
There is an exceptionally fine and informative Afterword by Paul A. Shapiro of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
There is no gorgeous language but it is a well written straightforward account.
The photos of the children, others involved, documents, the times & places of the era were so important to me, especially the family portraits of the children and their families.
The last year I’ve had a reading dry spell, but this book was easy for me to read, and very enjoyable.
(view spoiler)[ I was very surprised that so many of the parents and siblings got out and how so many of them also got out before the worst of the Holocaust, in 1939 and 1940. The relatively few exceptions were so heartbreaking, more so because of how many were able to escape the worst of the Holocaust. (hide spoiler)]...more
As I was reading this, most of the way through, no matter how much I was enjoying it, and I was, particularly my 10 year old self, I was thinking howAs I was reading this, most of the way through, no matter how much I was enjoying it, and I was, particularly my 10 year old self, I was thinking how I couldn’t give the book 5 stars. Unlike some middle grade books, it felt very middle grade, so I had to suspend disbelief quite a few times, and there were just too many unbelievable coincidences, but the story and characters are great, the writing is very good, the reader is likely to learn a lot about the Holocaust and art history and art, and it’s such a unique NYC story, taking place in NYC but with some highly unusual lifestyle details for that location. Also, everything came together so nicely by the end, which was very satisfying for my 9-12 year old self. So, I’m deducting only ½ star for its flaws. 4 ½ stars
Theo is a delightful character, and most of the characters are very interesting. I really enjoyed the historical parts of the story, and the non-fiction information about art, and I found it interesting how some of the events covered have been the subject of recent (for adults and teens, not kids) movies.
This would have probably been a favorite of mine if I’d read it between the ages of 9 and 12. I highly recommend this book to girls ages 9 or 10 through 12, especially those interested in art, art history, history, the Holocaust, WWII, and NYC. It’s great fun, poignant, and suspenseful. ...more
It’s been months since I’ve read much, unfortunately, and even though I keep adding books to my to read list, most languish there. My friend ChrissieIt’s been months since I’ve read much, unfortunately, and even though I keep adding books to my to read list, most languish there. My friend Chrissie has given me some wonderful book suggestions. The books I’ve read, I’ve liked a lot. Many of her recommendations remain on my to read shelf. This one, I read almost as soon as I learned of it, and I’m so glad that I did.
This book contains two short novellas. I borrowed the book to read the second one “Oscar and the Lady in Pink” but since the book came with the other novella, I decided to read that too, especially after Chrissie said it was an even better book, and I also liked that story slightly more, so I feel very lucky both were in one book.
As an lifelong atheist, I wouldn’t have thought I’d have liked these stories, because they basically ask the reader to believe in god, but I found them enchanting, maybe because even more, they ask the reader to believe in life, with all its suffering and its pleasures, and all told with a perspicacious sense of humor. They’re among the most life affirming stories I’ve ever read. I wasn’t 100% wild about the very ending of the second novella but my displeasure wasn’t enough reduce my star rating.
I’m so mad at myself that I didn’t note and mark down quotes as I read. There are so many beautifully communicated lines.
“Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran”:
This is incredibly special. I found it delightful and so sad and so very hilarious too. In its relatively small number of pages it somehow is able to look deeply into a friendship and into other relationships as well, and do so over many years. It’s a skillfully and beautifully told story. At times it broke my heart, it touched me throughout, and ultimately I found it incredibly uplifting. I’m so glad I came upon it in the same book as the novella I wanted to read. There are so many layers to this story. It’s a real gem.
“Oscar and the Lady in Pink”:
Great idea! Great minor twist at the end. As with the first novella, it’s very sad and very funny. Sometimes at the most somber times there would appear a line that had me burst into laughter. Another gem, and I love cancer stories so this one was right up my alley.
I don’t want to say too much about either book. I’m glad I knew very little about the stories before I read the book, just enough of each one to whet my desire to read them.
This book would be an excellent choice for my read world book club. We’re often looking for shorter books and always looking for books of substance. I read quickly, one novella one day and the other one the next day, and yet I was able to fully savor both....more