I tried to forgive this book its many faults. I can be a nit-picky reader at times. When Annie describes watching Detroit fade away as she flies out oI tried to forgive this book its many faults. I can be a nit-picky reader at times. When Annie describes watching Detroit fade away as she flies out of DTW and I thought, "I've flown in and out of that airport dozens of times heading to or coming from the west and have never seen the city from the airplane," I try to forget that. And when Annie is surprised to read "The Yellow Wallpaper" in the feminist literature section of her lit survey as though it is not the starter short story for reading feminist literature, I tried to forget that too. And again when the story really heavy-hands it with the yellow wallpaper parallel. But...
The Ruining had a shaky start, but it did have an interesting middle. By chapter thirteen, I had figured out what turned out to be the big reveal, but was still interested in Libby, the mom that Annie nannies for. She obviously is trying to control Annie, but to what end? If she is making her go crazy, how exactly is that? I thought she must be drugging her in someway. After Annie is poisoned by the nutmeg in the banana bread, I think the story goes off the deep end (PUN INTENDED). Annie has moments of lucidity as she spirals toward the crazy house, but none of it makes sense or is even emotionally believable. We are told that she works long hours, has to skip class, doesn't get enough sleep, but also that Libby is great and is the only person who cares about Annie. None of this is actually shown in the story's action. And how is Libby controlling Annie's phone? That part is never explained.
I also found the love interest compelling through the first half of the book, but after that he seems to exist for a kind deus ex machina. He will save you Annie! He doesn't have to move after all! He's rich and you can live with him! He loves you! He will talk to the shrink and the shrink will suddenly become not-a-villain! And he can computer hack away all your plot problems!
"'You're forgetting that I'm an expert when it comes to computers,' Owen said. 'I can hack into almost any system.'"...more
Oh, Izzy. I just want to give her a big hug, despite the fact that I know she'd feel awkward and stiff and try to pull away.
In The Last Word we find IOh, Izzy. I just want to give her a big hug, despite the fact that I know she'd feel awkward and stiff and try to pull away.
In The Last Word we find Isabel Spellman at her most vulnerable, confused, and messy. I always remember and recommend the Spellman books as being funny, which obviously they are, so I am surprised every time when they also make me cry. Isabel, who never tells us how she feels, tells us early on that news from Henry feels like "that time I stole my brother's LSAT prep book and he sat on my chest until I gave it back. Actually, it felt worse than that." I always feel for Izzy and her Avoidance Method, which is, of course, why I love these books so much. And I really relate to her constant efforts to grow up, even though she doesn't exactly know what that means.
I think in The Last Word, she does actually get there, as much as any Spellman can. Which is why, as far as I can tell, this book really is the last word (I've thought other Spellman books were the last ones though, so maybe I'm not the best judge of this).
Lisa Lutz ends her acknowledgments, which I read even though she recommended I didn't, with this, which I love: "Finally, I'd like to thank my reader for staying with me all these years. I especially want to thank the ones who understand that the world isn't made up of happy endings, but messy, complicated, and untidy ones." ...more
Eight months ago teenage pianist Lucy Beck-Moreau walked off the stage in Prague, and she hasn't touched the keys since. But when her younger brotherEight months ago teenage pianist Lucy Beck-Moreau walked off the stage in Prague, and she hasn't touched the keys since. But when her younger brother Gus's piano teacher dies suddenly and the family hires young, handsome Will to replace her, Lucy starts getting an itch to sit down at the piano bench again.
The Lucy Variations takes on the myriad ways in which a former child prodigy must now adapt to life as a semi-normal person. Lucy is relinquishing the spotlight to her brother, she is attending school and learning to be responsible to someone else's schedule, she is trying to support her friend's crisis instead of just her own, and, ultimately, she is trying to decide if she can be a pianist at all if she's not the kind of pianist her grandfather wanted her to be. And Lucy is pretty bad at all of these things.
Her friend Reyna describes her problems as her "needing an audience," and maybe that's part of it, but Lucy has also never spent much time with her peers; she has been living in an adult world, and her often inappropriate behavior reflects that. She allows - even craves - adults around her to use her talents to boost their confidence, because that's all she's ever done. Thus, we get her relationship with her English teacher, one of her few "friends" at high school, who lets her flirt with him and hang around after school because she makes him feel like a good teacher. Ditto with her brother's piano teacher Will, who takes her out to coffee, texts with her constantly, and raises eyebrows among those paying attention, namely Gus, Rayna, and Will's wife Aruna, because he wants to be the one that gets Lucy Beck-Moreau back in front of a piano.
I read this book in one sitting. All of the characters, even Grandpa Beck who is rough and hard to know, have depth, and I liked how Lucy comes to empathize with all the members of her family. I do wish that Lucy's fight with Rayna had been more resolved in the the end of the book; I think in the beginning of the book we're supposed to get the sense that there is this history of Lucy being supportive of Rayna through her parents' divorce, but overall I felt that Lucy mistreated her friend, and I would have liked her to have realized that more.
Lucy grew up in a competitive world where prizes are limited and everyone is compared to each other, and this plays out a lot in the book. So I like this note at the end, after the performance with Lucy and the old man who is still playing:
"I want to be like you," she replied. He laughed. "No. Keep being like you."...more
There was a point in the middle of this book where it dragged a bit and I started wondering if Robin Sloan worked for Google, and if this novel wasn'tThere was a point in the middle of this book where it dragged a bit and I started wondering if Robin Sloan worked for Google, and if this novel wasn't a bit of Google propaganda worked up as a quirky novel. I looked at the LC cataloging in the front and was surprised that Google wasn't listed as a subject term. But then I supposed the Google cult was part of the idea of this book, that there are little cults everywhere. Even if it was a bit much.
Despite all the Google, I really enjoyed Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. I even teared up a bit at the end and was like, "oh, Clay, I love books too!"...more
I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. I don't get what's so great about Bev. She's not even really cool, like Alaska or Margo Roth SpiI didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. I don't get what's so great about Bev. She's not even really cool, like Alaska or Margo Roth Spiegelman, or her friend Meg, from this same book. I did like that the band wasn't any good though. You never read novels about teen bands that, you know, kind of suck....more
It is rare that I agree with a blurb on a book, but I have nothing to add to Laura Lippman's blurb on the back of Trail of the Spellmans, except maybeIt is rare that I agree with a blurb on a book, but I have nothing to add to Laura Lippman's blurb on the back of Trail of the Spellmans, except maybe, "Izzy, why are you using the Avoidance Method (TM) on US?"
"Lisa Lutz's Spellman books are always hilarious, but Trail of the Spellmans reminded me how serious funny books can be. As precocious as the Spellman kids have always been, they're only now really coming of age and the result is, yes, hilarious, but also tender and melancholy and full of hard-won wisdom. This one's going to stay with readers for a long time." - Laura Lippman...more
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I was bored by this book. I had trouble keeping the characters separate. I kept forgettingzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I was bored by this book. I had trouble keeping the characters separate. I kept forgetting as I read what was back story and what was taking place in real time. I'm not sure why I finished; it was a chore....more