Plot summary These two books are compilations of Runyon's finer short stories. Each story is different but all of them feature some type of criminal acPlot summary These two books are compilations of Runyon's finer short stories. Each story is different but all of them feature some type of criminal activity, figures of the underworld, and other "citizens" of Broadway. The stories are unique in several ways. First, Runyon describes his wrong-doing characters in a very compassionate manner, portraying both their cruelty and violence but also their humanity, sensitivity, and even tenderness. Also, somewhat similar to O'Henry, each story ends with a twist that surprises and reveals an unknown fact or point of view, which shows the entire story in a different light. Finally, the language that Runyon uses is simply extraordinary. This is an American slang that is probably unfamiliar to the modern ear, consisting of gambling and criminal terms from the 1920s and 1930s. Thus a "doll" is a girl, a "shiv" is a knife, and the odds are six to five that you will need a dictionary to understand every colloquialism, although the odds of you enjoying and savoring every sentence are better: I put them at three to one.
My opinion These are the kind of books I like to read when I'm tired and I need something completely different, entertaining, and refreshing. Runyon's world is engrossing, amusing, and always delightful. The language is a treat, and if you know English I think you will be able to overcome the slang terms, which tend to repeat themselves and are pretty clear just by understanding the context, in most cases. I also love that Runyon manages to portray his underworld figures in a positive light, through their own eyes and in their own terms, yet also doesn't lose sight of the fact that they are criminals engaging in unlawful behavior. It's a balancing act that Runyon pulls off very well.
Pros: engrossing stories, amazing use of language, a piece of American history.
Cons: language may be somewhat archaic.
Who should read it: lovers of Americana and the English language, short story aficionados
Bottom line: The kind of books you'll read over and over again
Plot summary: Annabel is a 13-year old adolescent who wakes up in her mother's body, following another fierce argument between the two. Annabel takesPlot summary: Annabel is a 13-year old adolescent who wakes up in her mother's body, following another fierce argument between the two. Annabel takes her surprising situation in stride and endeavors to have as much fun as a grown-up possibly can. Things get a little complicated as Annabel gets to see and experience the world – and herself in particular – from a completely different point of view. Her adventures throughout the day are hilarious, scary, romantic, and endearing, until the conclusion, which does not disappoint.
My opinion: I know this is just a middle-grade book but I think it is perfect. The prose is fantastic and the plot moves along seamlessly. Everything occurs at the right time in the right way. It seems to me that almost every part of the book, every sentence, every word are just where they need to be, with nothing left out and nothing overdone. It's just right, and writing doesn’t get much better than that, I believe, no matter the genre.
Pros: Funny, excellent pace, and insightful. Cons: Can't think of any. I'll give myself an F on this part…
Movie vs. Book: The movie (from 2003) takes two ideas from the book, namely the mom-daughter mind switch and the sibling rivalry, but nearly everything else is completely different. I think the book is much better than the movie, though I like the movie a lot too. If you've seen the movie but haven’t read the book, then I highly recommend you do so.
Who should read it: I think anyone interested in human relationships, family dynamics, and especially the bond between mothers and- (teen age) daughters will enjoy this one.
Bottom line: The kind of book that you can read over and over again.
Excerpt: This is how the book starts:
You are not going to believe me, nobody in their right minds could possibly believe me but it's true, it really is! When I woke up this morning I found I'd turned into my mother. There I was, in my mother's bed, with my feet reaching all the way to the bottom, and my father sleeping in the other bed. I had on my mother's nightgown and a ring on my left hand, I mean her left hand, and lumps and pins all over my head. "I think that must be the rollers," I said to myself, "and if I have my mother's hair, I probably have her face, too." I decided to take a look at myself in the bathroom mirror.
For me this opening was irresistible and continues to be so even after so many readings. What do you think?...more