Whoa...this is considered Christian Fiction? Really? Well, huh...just goes to show how much I know. Anyway, Barnes and Noble sucked me in by giving me...moreWhoa...this is considered Christian Fiction? Really? Well, huh...just goes to show how much I know. Anyway, Barnes and Noble sucked me in by giving me the free sample (the Prologue, which is deceptively, darkly wonderful) and with the super-cheap price on the Nookbook version of "Listen", I foolishly dropped the dollars for the rest of it. The book was founded on some really great ideas, and suffers from terrible development and delivery. No worries though, it was a great way to waste my time for the holiday.
Overall, it reminds me of a novel I tried writing when I was in my early twenties. I took a convoluted true story involving a lot of my friends and a plot that was dubious at best in real life, unbelievable in fiction. I changed the names of the players to reflect their real names/faces but conceal their true identity and then I did my best at rendering each person's viewpoint in painful detail. I stayed true to the story, cramming in as much of the truth as I'd understood it. When I re-read the text later in life, it was horrible. Nothing flowed. It was stilted, stuttering, awkward. And "Listen", much to my dismay, reminds me of my painful experiment in authorship.
Generally, I dislike giving low reviews without any greatly detailed reasoning, but this novel doesn't stir up any energy with which to rant and rave at the disappointment that this book created. I can muster the energy to explain just a couple low points for this novel.
One, when we are introduced to the characters, they each are transforming themselves. We get a tiny peek at who they used to be and a great big look at their current state of flux. Instead of telling us that a character used to be a certain way and that their current state is just "so" unusual for their character, show us. Show us who they are, and then guide us through their transformation, so that we can see they are acting out of character. (Examples: Kay going all chameleon to fit in with the cheer moms, Damien transforming from op-ed to investigative reporter, etc.)
Point Two is personal preference and nothing that can be quantified solidly; the names drove me up a wall. Principal MaLue, Gavin and Damien are WRETCHED names for adults; I didn't buy them at all. Especially Damien, as a thoughtful, intelligent, responsible adult. Now, the Caydance and other kids' names, yeah, I get that; lots of parents my age are giving their kids "naymes" that make us all cringe. I just had a really hard time remembering which character was which, especially when the author was throwing names around; one paragraph was full of names (Eddy, Lou, Damien, Frank, wait, which one's Eddy again?) that I had to stop reading, go back a page or two to try to grasp some sense of identity for each character. Maybe it's because there were a lot of characters with lots of intimate details for whom I had no fondness/investment?
And yet, I didn't hate it. It was okay. I won't tell all my friends about it. I just wish it'd been handled MUCH BETTER and developed in a way that it really made me think about the obvious (and overstated) message from the author.(less)
I understand that I'll be in the minority at book club this month when I admit I didn't enjoy The Last (Never Ending) Lecture. I'm sure it was picked...moreI understand that I'll be in the minority at book club this month when I admit I didn't enjoy The Last (Never Ending) Lecture. I'm sure it was picked for our book club to be inspiring and also to give insights to the women who lost parents young...I can understand if they relished it and I don't want to diminish any inspirational value it holds for them.
Maybe you could rightly accuse me of being bitter. The tag line for this book was "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." Well, duh...that's common enough! This tome carried the more banal brand of inspiration, imho. I can get those bits of wisdom just by speaking with one of my girlfriends and have more fun in the process. I didn't have any dreams as a child, let alone painted them on my trailer house walls. So yeah, I'm jealous of him and his miracle-working parents.
Despite his obvious efforts to the contrary, his know-it-all nature was revealed repeatedly. I can appreciate the constraint he showed...but not appreciative enough of his efforts to actually enjoy reading it.
There was a vibe throughout the book that screamed to me, "You are not the intended audience!" It was really hard to miss. Additionally, his never-ending name-dropping was wearing severely on my patience. And Disney references? I've had it up to *here* with them. Nearing the end of the book, Mr. Pausch pointed out that he'd been told many children prefer to have tangible reasons to be proud of their deceased parents, and it finally clicked: I was eavesdropping on his dissertation TO his children and wife. This explained the odd phrasing that was used when speaking of his family members...it felt mangled in the editing from private dissertation to public lecture, like he was trying to hold them at arms' lengths. Not cool. Also not cool? Exploiting his unique intelligence, cranial responses to this impending death in such a way as to financially provide for his family after his death. The invitation to Oprah should've been his wakeup call that he was a sell-out. Sorry, I said it and I mean it. He should have kept this personal between him and his family and friends. But again, that's just my ignorant, jealous opinion.
I'd really recommend "The Four Agreements" more highly over the Last Lecture. At least with The Four Agreements you're supposed to suspend a certain amount of disbelief up front.(less)
I liked the main character, Mattie. She's what I want to be in my old age. Except grandchild-less...that I do NOT want to be. I love her spunky attitu...moreI liked the main character, Mattie. She's what I want to be in my old age. Except grandchild-less...that I do NOT want to be. I love her spunky attitude and her inner conflict. I enjoyed that she was a flawed product of her generation. I was most uncomfortable with the use of the "n" word, and I suppose that's because I'm a product of my generation's values. I have to admit that I got a little tiny bit panicked, seeing the (small) number of pages left and not knowing if the author was going to give Mattie a stroke or have her tossed in a nursing home since she's getting rid of so much stuff for the yard sale...but the ending instead opened up the possibilities, that she went into a life-altering choice with her eyes wide open to some of the difficulties and still chose the hard-but-right way.(less)
I suppose I'll have to re-read this book. Someday, far off in the future when I'm no longer in such a snit over it.
You see, in its first pages the nar...moreI suppose I'll have to re-read this book. Someday, far off in the future when I'm no longer in such a snit over it.
You see, in its first pages the narrator tells us she's a liar as if that's some sort of excuse or warning. I've read books like that before, and it's exhausting. I would spend so much time trying to root out the lies and read between the lines as I went and it just got so cumbersome that I hated the book. So this time around, I just went with it, taking the narrator to have at least a couple shards of truth, basic plot lines to be true but that the details were wrong. Nope. Not this book. All the plot lines were absolutely false, in many many ways. Congratulations, Brunonia Barry (as if that's an actual name, hmph), you have managed to pull the wool over my eyes. Mission accomplished, take a bow, yadda yadda. But guess what? I'm just going to file this main character away as schizophrenic and I'm not going to waste another moment of my day wondering about the intricacies...was she really schizophrenic or did she have an imaginary friend or multiple personalities or whatever.
Because guess what? I don't care enough about this character to give any more energy to it. That, and I've spent enough time BTH dealing with my own Cal and more than enough time ATH trying to get away from the fallout.(less)
Well, I had this huge stack of books to read for this past week's Book Talks and had to decide what to cram in at the last minute. I had to choose bet...moreWell, I had this huge stack of books to read for this past week's Book Talks and had to decide what to cram in at the last minute. I had to choose between three very interesting possibilities, and decided to dive into this one, The Hunt For The Seventh. I actually enjoyed it and once I'd started it I couldn't give up on it, because I wanted to sell it to the 6th grade guys.
I ended up buying the copy I'd previewed. Maybe my little guy, when he's old enough, will want to read it. Yeah, that's sad...I liked it 3 stars out of 5 and bought it just in case. I think I have a problem! :)
Disclaimer: I read this book with the intent of previewing it for a booktalk for our upcoming book fair at our K-6 school. My opinions would perhaps differ on this and the other books I read if I had read them with some other intent. /disclaimer (less)