I want this book to have been written from Esther's perspective; then it would have been more like The Girl on the Train, which is what I was lookingI want this book to have been written from Esther's perspective; then it would have been more like The Girl on the Train, which is what I was looking for here. The first fifty pages develop a fair amount of suspense as you're introduced to the perfect couple, and are (loudly) directed to wonder about what they're hiding. There's very little information about what anyone looks like, what they do with their time, or what world they might inhabit where it's common to never see a neighbor outside of her house. Then, what this perfect couple is hiding turns out to be a cartoon villain, and not a very realistic one for a true domestic abuse situation. The ramp-up to awful would be a bit more gradual; this guy goes from 10 to 0 literally overnight. From there, his theatrics are on the scale of, "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!" which left me skipping pages and rolling my eyes. Still: there was enough intrigue and expressed anxiety to take me to the end of the book. I'll be curious to see how this author develops over time, especially if she gives her victims a few more tools to work with, and her villains a few weaknesses. ...more
there are two types of memoirs I see prominently displayed at most bookstores: 1.) A tale of someone who has experienced something extraordinary; 2.)there are two types of memoirs I see prominently displayed at most bookstores: 1.) A tale of someone who has experienced something extraordinary; 2.) A tale of someone who got a book deal to observe something extraordinary. Both options can be totally interesting, but other times they come down to culture vs. cultural tourism. Cultural tourism = We did the food stamp challenge for a year! We totally know what it's like being poor now. (Note: no you don't.) Still, this approach can result in an amazing book. "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich is one example of cultural tourism done right. "Witches of America" by Alex Mar is cultural tourism that needs work. It's a very surface examination of pagans in the United States, with a profound absence of genuine curiosity. She often presents pages and pages of detail about what something looks like (the colors, the objects) without any insight at all as to what any of it means. And the strangest part is: she doesn't ask. She drops one name after the other of people she could ask, and she doesn't ask. She also doesn't seem to consider that some of what she witnesses has been distilled because she is presenting herself as a reporter. There's one scene where she talks about a group of occultists sitting around talking about comic books and movies. This is the exact sort of thing most everyone talks about when they feel awkward. And the people who spoke this way around her were smart, because it seems like at times she attempted to pass herself off as a participant when in reality she was a snarky, shallow observer. I genuinely felt sorry for the people she seemed to latch on to, reporting their private stories instead of conducting in depth exploration and talking to many people to get various view points. This came off as down right exploitative and careless, and her sloppy handling of these personal relationships makes her even less reliable as a narrator. It is neither her own personal experience, or reporting on the experience as a whole. It is spam.
If you haven't read anything at all about the history of the occult in the United States or the origins of the modern pagan movement, you might find some value in her descriptions of the development of this movement. This is the only reason for two stars. However, there are so, so many better books that offer an academic breakdown of their birth and growth, that it would seem silly to start here. Try "Drawing Down the Moon" by Margot Adler instead....more
By page 16, the book is already absurd, and not in a dystopia sci-fi way, but in a sloppy, bad-writing way. EAll I can say about this book is: really?
By page 16, the book is already absurd, and not in a dystopia sci-fi way, but in a sloppy, bad-writing way. Examples:
1.) In this post apocalypse world, once A WEEK a 16 year-old girl walks two miles with an M-16 to bring back all the water she can carry. A loaded M-16 weighs about 9 pounds. A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. The average person uses a gallon of water a day. There is no way in the world she could have carried enough water to last a week for two miles and a loaded M-16.
2.) The survival items she packs for a long trek somewhere else, in a world where there's no other people anywhere, include Tide and deodorant. Seriously. So there's apparently working washing machines, even without people, and Tide is the brand of choice.
3.) The author describes Cassie's greatest worry prior to this event being whether or not anyone thought she was pretty. That's how you know this is written by a male author. Why is the protagonist female then? I have no idea, but it's not clear whether or not he's ever actually spoken to a 16 year old girl.
This is complete garbage, and the praise just makes me distrust reviewers. Try "The Knife of Never Letting Go" instead. ...more
I resisted this book for a long time, because of how it was marketed. It's presented as a Romeo and Juliet story of obsessive teenage love. That's notI resisted this book for a long time, because of how it was marketed. It's presented as a Romeo and Juliet story of obsessive teenage love. That's not what this is; this is very rare insight into love between a girl with childhood trauma-inspired PTSD and a boy who can only save her so much. Without this background, the amount of resistance she presents towards the relationship would be annoying.
There are simply not enough books for teenagers or adults that present life as difficult as it can be without succumbing to melodrama. This is not melodramatic; it's real. ...more
I discovered this book when my sister clued me in that my niece has been reading them, and asked me to pick up a few. She burned through the "Wimpy KiI discovered this book when my sister clued me in that my niece has been reading them, and asked me to pick up a few. She burned through the "Wimpy Kid" series, and I read one of those in the bookstore cafe in a single sitting, openly guffawing at several hilarious lines. It bummed me out that my niece didn't have a similarly cynical, selfish protagonist to root for, and thought that might be the case for Dork Diaries.
First of all, who is the dork in this series, exactly? When I think of a dork, I think of someone with an eccentric personality perpetually rejected by her peers, but who maybe manages to have a blast anyway (with her fellow band/art/ writing dorks). Nikki isn't a dork. She's Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl. She's desperate to be cool, the only not-rich kid in an elite private school, with curious artistic talent that she somehow finds the time to nurture in between thinking exclusively shallow, uninteresting thoughts. In other words, Jenny Humphrey...except Jenny actually got rejected by boys every once in awhile, and it's all a cakewalk for this "dork". Her friends don't seem to suffer much, either, unless you call "looking like Beyonce" suffering. Even the twins from Sweet Valley High were bigger dorks than this. Even "Pretty Little Liars" is dorkier than this. Every character appears to be thin, well-groomed, and immaculately dressed. When was the last time you encountered a middle school kid who met any of those qualifications?
Second, this "dork" is actually mean. She hates the pretty girl for being pretty, draws a number of pictures mocking the people who are actually dorks, constantly gripes about people who are "weird" or "different" and spends a majority of her time pursuing social acceptance from the people she claims to hate. Her primary preoccupation is whether she'll ever be popular, but it's never explained why this is so important to her. Most kids with this ambition don't have much else going on. When was the last time you met an art dork who actually wanted to hang out with the cool kids? Ridiculous.
Third, it's completely unrealistic. And when I say that, I mean middle school kids don't talk like this, act like this, communicate this way, etc. For God's sake, her friends *tape a note to the front of her locker* to tell her where they will be. That's possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard. What's secret and covert about that, exactly? Even before cell phones we still had the sense to fold the note and pass it. Her father picks her up from school to go to a funeral with him...a funeral for someone she doesn't even know, so he can schmooze with other exterminators. Is this a joke? Why would you schmooze with other exterminators, exactly? I suppose it could be, except the book isn't funny -- at all.
A third grader should not read this book. A third grade girl doesn't need to think that all she should think about is boys and popularity. They should not think this is the pink version of the Wimpy Kid books. This is a pink version of pink. Even Strawberry Shortcake hates this book.
Fourth, it's a total rip off. Almost every idea, image, and scene from this book is a rip off of some other teen book or television show. Roach on top of the car of the exterminator? King of the Hill. Snoopy dance? Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Did they select editors for this series that have recently returned from a deserted island where there was no exposure to books, movies, television shows, magazines, or any other facet of pop culture?
Fifth, the writing is terrible. And it isn't funny -- at all. Several of the attempts to be funny are so bad I rolled my eyes and almost stopped reading. It's actually painful to read. When I think of what I want my niece to read, it's funny, rich, interesting books that offer an idea of girlhood that differs from a subscription to Us Weekly. This is likely reading about the perspective of that Barbie Doll that used to say "I Hate Math!" when you turned her head a certain way. The author doesn't seem to know what to make Nikki do, so she strung together a bunch of tropes and cliches, and somehow got a book deal. Even worse: people buy these books.
Not me. I took them back, and exchanged them for some journals to encourage my niece to keep writing her own stories. That seems a way better option than exposing her to this....more
In "Missoula" Krakauer presents, sometimes in agonizing detail, the lasting injuries inflicted upon several women in Montana who were sexually assaultIn "Missoula" Krakauer presents, sometimes in agonizing detail, the lasting injuries inflicted upon several women in Montana who were sexually assaulted, often times by members of the Grizzlies football team. From the assaults themselves, to the invasive post-rape examination, to equally invasive and character defaming trials, to the blowback from a community inclined to support football over all, it's a stunning presentation of our flawed court system, and the manner in which rape victims are treated.
Supported by research, Department of Justice investigations, trial observation, and victim testimony, "Missoula" seeks to underscore that victim status is not tidily resolved at the conclusion of a trial, and justice is hard-won, particularly when the accused struggles to understand their guilt. The level of denial presented by families, in particular -- even when confronted with outright admission of guilt -- shows that the court system begs for crime to not be crime, if the person can make something of themselves eventually. While this book is set in the same town as the title, it is also Any College Town, America -- and is a book that everyone should read.
"Missoula" has heroes, like police detective Guy Baker who encouraged Allison Huguet to report Beau Donaldson, and persuaded Hillary McLaughlin to testify about an attempted rape at Donaldson's trial. It also champions Charles Couture, former University of Montana Dean of Students, who conducted investigations into three of the rape cases presented in this book, and chose not to bow to community pressures to favor football players. The book also has its villains, like Kirsten Pabst, a prosecutor who actually showed up at a college hearing in defense of the accused.
Krakauer is not attempting to be unbiased; this book is in defense of rape victims and against the culture that enables rapists to walk free. Still, the book would have been stronger with a one-on-one interview with controversial prosecutor-turned-defense attorney-turned-prosecutor Kirsten Pabst, who appeared to deliberately avoid sexual assault cases during her tenure -- a fact further revealed through Department of Justice investigations. Presented as calculating, narcissistic, and intentionally negligent, hearing her voice respond to these allegations would have added another layer, and offered more information as to the mindset of an individual who appears to prioritize trial victory over justice.
Similarly, the demonization of Gwen Florio, a Missoula journalist, by the community at large comes up repeatedly, but since her articles aren't cited and there isn't extensive examination of her role, it's hard to understand why she was such a polarizing figure, and what kind of impact this might have had on her life. It would have been helpful to better understand the relationship she had with various rape victims and the community itself, as well as what role she thought she played in the tale as it unfolded.
Also missing is insight as to the mindset of the average Missoula citizen, to understand better what informs a culture of enabling. Krakauer describes the passion for football and the tendency of the average citizen to be more educated than average, but this doesn't offer the same insight that candid interviews would provide, or thoughtful observations of daily interactions between men and women, college students and towns people. I found myself wanting Krakauer to wander into a neighborhood bar for a conversation with the men and women seated at tables, instead of reading the comments people tend to post on the internet when they have no fear of the words becoming attached to their faces.
Overall, the book is fast-paced, completely engrossing, and an important testimony about sexual assault in America. It's a dark story that emphasizes that ways rape permanently alters the lives of victims, and how only communities working collectively can change things. ...more
Kim Gordon was every would-be riot grrl's "Girl in a Band" in the 90s. She was talented and gorgeous and amazing without presenting an alienating, unaKim Gordon was every would-be riot grrl's "Girl in a Band" in the 90s. She was talented and gorgeous and amazing without presenting an alienating, unattainable standard. As a girl who desperately needed someone to look up to who was more jeans and t-shirts than slip and makeup, I needed her to exist, to sing, to play an instrument, and most of all, to seem remarkably sane and grounded for someone waist deep in the arts. Is that possible? In an era of heroin overdose and suicide, she would do just fine, thank you.
Suffice it to say, I couldn't wait to read her memoir, especially since it was penned in the aftermath of her divorce from Thurston Moore. While some held up this romance as the be-all, end-all of alternative courtship, I saw them simply as a potent couple with talent for days, and never really smelled what the romantic aspect might have been like. Still, it was hard to not be heartbroken by how generic the end was, how it was too much like your mom and dad's divorce: yet another coddled, narcissistic late-bloomer boomer who thinks his romance with a secretary is somehow more unique than Don Draper's. Yuck.
In terms of the memoir itself, I'd say it's an honest if cautious one, that perhaps tries to do too much to avoid being what it actually is: a long song about divorce. Revelations about her childhood are interesting to build towards noise, as are her early introductions to the people and places that informed the development of her enduring identity. It's in this part of the book where what's *not* discussed is most distracting, where vague language threatens to derail the narrative. Her relationship with Kurt Cobain is described as unique and close, but what does that mean exactly? What did that connection look like? How did they interact, beyond his occasional confessions? What was life like on the road, not in terms of practicality, but in terms of emotion? When did the excitement happen? How did it infect their relationship? Did it electrify them, or was it business that didn't enjoy an infusion of romance? What was her contribution as producer to Hole's first album, and what was it that led her to agree despite initial reservations? It is very hard to see Kim Gordon actually placed in different scenes, as opposed to watching them.
Where it becomes beautiful is when she just lets herself go limp in her own heartbreak, and reveals the stages of her 27 year relationship coming undone. The plain language is just as revealing as the poetic moments, and I appreciate that she didn't force herself to list off the reasons she chose to try very hard to keep this relationship going -- the length of time is reason enough. Her refusal to name the Other Woman reads as more cutting than naming her would have been, as it denies a social climber a link to legacy she likely craves. No one is let off the hook; no one gets a soft, apologetic introduction. Here, Kim Gordon lets herself be as angry as she needs to be, and you feel like a friend listening to someone speaking from the heart. It's graceful and gutting, without being petty.
I'm glad this was written when Kim Gordon was still angry and a bit numb, so that we can experience the raw emotion; too many memoirs try too hard to be controlled/resolved about their experience, which makes it seem like emotions should be experienced and then neatly filed away. This is messy and authentic and it aches. ...more