What can I say about this novel? I came across it while browsing the “new book” shelves at my local library. I think I picked it up because the brightWhat can I say about this novel? I came across it while browsing the “new book” shelves at my local library. I think I picked it up because the bright orange cover caught my eye, it’s not too big (good for carrying around and for holding in one hand while I eat) and the title intrigued me. I read the back cover and debated putting it back. I wasn’t in the mood to read a book about the struggles of two sisters after one of them attempts suicide. But after a moment’s reflection, I decided to give it a try.
As one of seven sisters, I was interested in the relationship between Elf and Yoli, which is described as “fiercely close”. The dichotomy between their adult lives was intriguing; Elf is a happily married world-renowned pianist while Yoli is a struggling twice-divorced mother of two. And yet, it’s Elf who feels the overwhelming desire to end her own life. Of course, if I’m being honest, my decision to read this novel comes down to two things: one, there is a protagonist named Elf (anything that reminds me of elves, faeries and magic makes me happy) and two, the sisters were raised in a Mennonite household (I’m enthralled by certain subcultures – the Amish, Mennonites, polygamists and gypsies to name a few).
This book made me cry but it also made me laugh. Parts of it were luminous and parts made me want to scrub myself clean. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys sifting through layers of words to find the meaning in what I read. I find it pretentious and annoying and quite simply, I lack the patience. The writing of this novel does rely heavily on the kinds of literature I can’t stand to read but often still find beautiful on the surface, because Elf clearly has a much more deeply philosophical mind than I do. And yet, the overall style of Toews’ writing is refreshingly straightforward, sometimes to the point of abruptness. More than anything, I would have to say that this book is real in all its beauty and grime, complexity and directness, humor and heartache.
I learned less about the Mennonite lifestyle than I was hoping for, I would probably never re-read this book and I might not ever read anything else Toews has written, yet I’m deeply glad that I read All My Puny Sorrows and I highly recommend it....more
I really struggled with how to rate this book. For the most part, I enjoyed reading it and was interested in the story line. Parts of the writing wereI really struggled with how to rate this book. For the most part, I enjoyed reading it and was interested in the story line. Parts of the writing were really excellent but overall it felt really disjointed. I struggled to understand why some of the characters acted the way they did sometimes.
Cat often repeated information we'd already been given previously in the book, almost as though Green forgot what she had written. And the lead-up to the ending was a mess...Cat says Annie can sleep over at Trudy's house when Ellie's not there but somehow, after the accident, we're supposed to think that Annie and Trudy were staying at Julia's house and Cat didn't know that Julia was going to leave them alone. Also, just because Ellie's out drinking one night, we're supposed to infer that she has a massive drinking problem and is negligent mother?
There were just too many holes in the story and too many times when the characters' behavior didn't make sense for me to give this a higher rating. I always want to like Jane Green's books, but maybe she needs a better editor?...more
Another one I got off the new release shelf at the library. I probably wouldn't have read it except that I recently read Pioneer Girl (Laura Ingalls WAnother one I got off the new release shelf at the library. I probably wouldn't have read it except that I recently read Pioneer Girl (Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography) and the setting of this novel is similar to that time and place. I found it interesting, enjoyable and well written. It's not my favorite type of book or I would have given it 4 stars....more
I grabbed this out of the new book section in the library without really paying attention to who the author was. Just read the back cover and thoughtI grabbed this out of the new book section in the library without really paying attention to who the author was. Just read the back cover and thought it looked interesting. At first I thought it was a good book. Interesting plot line, well written. The farther into it I got though, the worse the writing got and the more the political agenda took over the plot. Too bad. Could have been a good book. Instead I was ANNOYED and sort of disturbed by the political rhetoric and fear-mongering. Ugh....more
I actually read this book in spite of the plot line, not because of it. Generally the kind of quasi-realistic novels where something fantastic happensI actually read this book in spite of the plot line, not because of it. Generally the kind of quasi-realistic novels where something fantastic happens (when it's along the lines of people switching bodies, people having the option to live out two different lives based on a choice they make or something similar) don't appeal to me. I guess this book must have had good enough reviews that I changed my mind.
For at least the first half of the book I was intrigued by the plot, interested in what would happen and curious how Reid would wrap things up but finding the writing a little bit lacking. Nothing really wrong with it, but I wouldn't say the book was well written, just okay. By the end of the book, I didn't care. I was liked the characters (generally), was interested in their lives and really enjoyed the way the book wrapped up, even though...
...normally I hate an ending with more than one option and I'm not into the whole "alternate universe" concept. Also, I know the book was from Hannah's point of view, but I would have loved to get a little bit deeper into the other characters' lives and their motivations. Overall, I'd say this book is an enjoyable read that can make you really think if you want it to. ...more
I enjoyed this book. A really engrossing read. I was planning on rating it 4 stars but did not enjoy the ending quite as much as I enjoyed the rest ofI enjoyed this book. A really engrossing read. I was planning on rating it 4 stars but did not enjoy the ending quite as much as I enjoyed the rest of it....more