I really liked this book at the beginning, and it was really interesting. But then it lost steam, and I lost interest by the end of the book. Like TI really liked this book at the beginning, and it was really interesting. But then it lost steam, and I lost interest by the end of the book. Like The Handmaid's Tale, the future we see in American War is one I can picture easily. You do get a good look at what a modern war would look like, and it's interesting that climate change is what triggers the issues between north and south. I would have it expected it to be over something else, women's reproductive rights, LGBT rights or something involving religion. I know it's terrible to make an assumption like that, but I do like that climate change is what triggers because it is different than what you might expect. I felt like a lot of things weren't really explained or addressed, and it felt like something was missing regarding the use of fossil fuels. I don't know if maybe Sarat's perspective really limits what we know, since she was 6 when war broke out, but a little more broad of a picture would have been nice. American War gets 3 stars....more
I liked Sing, Unburied, Sing! If you like Toni Morrison, this is the book for you, because Sing, Unburied, Sing is very much a story Toni Morrison woI liked Sing, Unburied, Sing! If you like Toni Morrison, this is the book for you, because Sing, Unburied, Sing is very much a story Toni Morrison would write.
I did find parts of the book confusing- notably with Richie and with Given. It didn't make a lot of sense, and while it didn't feel completely out of place, it did take me out of what was going on. It was jarring to go into their stories, and it's integration into the book could have been better. It is interesting, though, and Jojo's family clearly has their demons (and ghosts), but the way it's done in this book didn't work for me.
I did struggle to get through this book, and I felt like I had to really work at getting through this book. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood for Sing, Unburied, Sing, since I had a hard time paying attention to what was going on. But I do think part of it is the book. You're jumping around between past and present and different narrators, and it was hard for me to connect with any one person or thing that was going on. It made things seem more convoluted than they really were.
It did take away from Jojo's story and even Leonie's story. I can't imagine having one parent in prison, and one who's addicted to drugs and not around a lot. He did have his grandparents, who did everything they could to make sure that he and his sister were okay, and in a loving home. I can relate to growing up and being raised by your grandparents, but I really wanted more with them and Jojo.
The book certainly sounded beautiful, and while I wasn't too interested in the story, there is something about the way that she writes. Basically, the way I feel about Sing, Unburied, Sing is the same way I feel about every Toni Morrison book I've read- not super interested in the story, but way more fascinated and in love with the writing. Morrison is much more...minimal...when it comes to writing, as opposed to Jesmyn Ward, but maybe I'll give this book another read one day. And I might give her other books a try as well, but I'm not too sure about that.
My Rating: 3 stars. I liked but I didn't love it. The magical realism/supernatural elements took me out of the story, but the writing is beautiful, which is why Sing, Unburied, Sing isn't getting a lower rating. I can see why people love it, but it's just not for me....more
I really liked I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. I could relate to Julia, and how she felt like no one accepted her for who she was. I can alsoI really liked I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. I could relate to Julia, and how she felt like no one accepted her for who she was. I can also relate to how everyone wanted to her be someone else, and to live up to the memory of her older sister. Granted, I have no siblings, but there were a lot of times where I really related to Julia.
Her family seemed really different after the death of Julia, which isn't surprising because that's a huge thing to happen. If there was no effect on the characters, I'd be slightly worried. The mom did act like how I thought she would- unable to deal with it by staying in bed all the time, but eventually getting out of bed and turning her attention to her other daughter.
One thing I thought was odd was when Julia ended up in the hospital. One minute, she's taking a walk, and the next thing you know, she's waking up in the hospital. It was really confusing, and I did find myself reading the end of the one chapter and beginning of the other one multiple times to see if I could figure out what was going in. It didn't make sense at first, and I thought maybe part of it somehow didn't end up in the e-book or if I was massively missing something.
We later learn what happened in between those two moments, so it was definitely a decision on the author's part to have things be fine one minute, and the next thing you know, things aren't okay. It does fit with the loss of Olga, and how things are fine and normal until they're not. But everything following the hospital incident seemed sudden and random, and there wasn't any indication that things were that bad for Julia. I know things aren't always obvious, and Julia was having a hard time after Olga's death.
Julia's hospitalization really changed things for her. She really did understand her parents better, and how hard they worked to give her and Olga a good life. One where Julia realizes that she can be herself, and also to take control of her own life.
I wasn't a big fan of the secrets that Olga had- it does seem very much the opposite of the person Julia and her family thought Olga was, and maybe that was the point. That people aren't always who we thought they were. It certainly is true of her parents. I think I was expecting something different from Olga, that's all.
Julia, for some people, might be an unlikeable character. She's confrontational and brash, and fights with her mom a lot. She's very angry, especially in the beginning, but she really does mature and grow and learn how to deal with everything that happened with Olga.
I also really like that there was dialogue in Spanish, and that it wasn't italicized or (if I'm remembering correctly) translated. It wasn't treated any different because it wasn't English.
My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked seeing how much Julia changed and matured throughout the book. There was one moment that was really confusing, and I wasn't completely thrilled about Olga's secret, but overall, I think I think this book is a really great one to read....more
I really liked American Born Chinese! After reading his Boxers And Saints series, I knew I wanted to read this book, since I've heard a lot of reallyI really liked American Born Chinese! After reading his Boxers And Saints series, I knew I wanted to read this book, since I've heard a lot of really good things about it.
We see three different stories in this graphic novel- Jin, Danny, and The Monkey King. I really liked The Monkey King's story, and I also really liked Jin's. I felt so bad for Jin when we first meet him in American Born Chinese, and how his classmates and teachers made assumptions about him. I also loved the story of The Monkey King, and I really want to know more about that story, because I really liked it.
Danny's story was my least favorite of the three. I still liked it, but...I'm not sure what it is about his story, but it just didn't appeal to me the way the others did. I wasn't sure how Danny fit into the book at first, because he seemed really entitled and I wasn't sure why his story was included for most of the book. It did become clear at the end, and I honestly didn't see it coming. Now that I think about it, I might re-read it, because knowing how all three stories connect would definitely help me see Danny's story in a completely different way.
One of my favorite things was how it all tied together, and I really liked how the book was about liking yourself and being true to yourself, no matter what. And I loved how well-plotted the book had to be, because everything was so detailed and thought out so well for everything to work together so well. I can't imagine American Born Chinese being told in any other format, and I think, if it were told more traditionally (i.e., a novel) it would lose something. Somehow, it works beautifully as a graphic novel. I think the illustrations are what really bring the book to life.
My Rating: 4 stars. Unfortunately, my initial dislike of Danny's story is what is lowering my rating of the book. Even though his story made more sense at the end of the book, it didn't work for me at the beginning. Still, American Born Chinese is a great read because it's a really good starting point for talking about a lot of different issues....more
I first heard about Human Acts from my friend Mollie, and since I liked The Vegetarian, I figured I'd pick up this book.
I'm actually going to do sometI first heard about Human Acts from my friend Mollie, and since I liked The Vegetarian, I figured I'd pick up this book.
I'm actually going to do something a little different for this novel: each chapter is told from a different perspective, so I'm doing a chapter-by-chapter review, and then I'll sum up my feelings about the book.
The Intro By The Translator:
I really liked the intro, since it talked about the real life event that inspired the book. I especially liked that the author had a personal connection to the event we see in the book, and it made me feeling the author had a personal investment in seeing the story told.
Chapter One, The Boy, 1980:
This chapter is told in second person, and that's really different, since novels are usually told in first person or third person. I have such mixed feelings about it: I felt like we were really, truly seeing things first hand, and you really experience the horror of what happened. At the same time, it was really off-putting, and I was really close to putting it down and not finishing it at all because of it. You're there, experiencing everything the boy is experiencing, but at the same time, I felt so distant and disconnected from everything. I think, in a way, it made me feel like I was being told what happened, even though you're experiencing everything as though it's happening to you. It is a strong start to the book, and I cannot say enough that this chapter, as horrifying and off-putting as it was, makes me want to learn more about what really happened.
Chapter Two, The Boy's Friend, 1980:
I was really confused reading this chapter at first, because I didn't realize it was a different narrator. It took a couple of reads to realize it was a different person narrating. This chapter is told in first person, and it felt very personal. It's just as horrifying as the first chapter, but in a very different way. It's also a very powerful chapter, because you really see how it rippled out to so many different people. And through the boy's friend, you really see a different side of it.
Chapter Three, The Editor, 1985:
I had a lot of trouble understanding why we were seeing things from the editor's point of view. Third person was interesting, and it somehow made the chapter feel neutral. It didn't have the same horror that the first two chapters did, and it didn't have the same effect those chapters did. Looking back, this chapter was the beginning of me starting to lose a lot of interesting in the book, and how much this event changed things. Thinking about it now, I suppose the editor's chapter is supposed to show how things are very much censored? And the point of forgetting the slaps...I'm not sure what the point of it is. I am so fuzzy about what it had to do with the student uprising, because it seemed like it was the least connected to it.
Chapter Four, The Prisoner, 1990:
At first, I was curious about why he was in prison, because it wasn't clear to me. At least at first. It did offer a different perspective on the student uprising, and what happened after. Especially for those who lived through the uprising. It really stayed with him, and you really see how it haunts him. It's not one of my favorite chapters, but it's up there with the first two chapters.
Chapter 5, The Factory Girl, 2002:
So, we're back to 2nd person for this chapter. It felt very distant in the way the first chapter did. Partially because we're so far removed from the original uprising, but also because of how this chapter is told. I was pretty bored reading this chapter, and it jumped around a lot in terms of time. It really muddled her story, and even though, like the previous chapter, was a different perspective on what happened, I just didn't care.
Chapter 6, The Boy's Mother, 2010:
This chapter felt very personal, like the chapters we saw with the first two chapters. And since it focuses on the boy's mom, it felt even more personal. I liked seeing how little she knows of some of the people she knows, and also how she dealt with the loss of her son. It really brought it back to the horror of the student uprising. It was hard chapter to get through- at this point, I lost a lot of the interesting I had at the beginning, and I just wanted to get through it.
Epilogue, The Writer, 2013:
I don't have a lot to say about this chapter. You really see the effect the student uprising had decades later, and on so many different people. By this point, you were so far removed from it, and yet, it still lingers haunts people.
I thought the chapters were really uneven. It started off so strong and horrifying, and the passage of time, as well as some of the narrators, lessened it for me. The chapters told in 2nd person were the hardest to get through, and I didn't like the choose-your-own-adventure feel they had. I definitely lost interest the further you got from the uprising, and I definitely didn't like it as much as the The Vegetarian.
My Rating: 2 stars. I had to read each chapter 2 or 3 times to get a sense of what was going on, and I could only handle a chapter at a time....more
I really liked Just Like Us. We see 4 girls who are very much affected by immigration policies- 2 are legal citizens, and 2 are undocumented. It higI really liked Just Like Us. We see 4 girls who are very much affected by immigration policies- 2 are legal citizens, and 2 are undocumented. It highlights how hard it is to become a citizen, and how hard it is to come here legally. It doesn't go into a lot of depth the entire process, but you get a glimpse of what it's like to be undocumented, and how difficult it is to become a citizen.
All 4 girls were in limbo, and they all have one foot in each world. I felt for them, because they never asked to come. They worked so hard in school, because they wanted better opportunities and didn't want to end up being stuck, like their parents, even though it was a possibility.
There is a lot how to become a legal citizen that I don't know, and it's because I never had to think about it. I doubt I'd be willing to do some of the jobs they (and their parents) took just to get by.
I also felt like the author was very sympathetic towards the girls. It's hard not to be, and she spent a lot of time with them, so it makes sense. She does try to show all of the different sides of immigration, but it did feel uneven to a certain extent. Almost everything relating to those opposing illegal immigration felt very technical and not emotional. It did get bogged down in the legislative stuff. It was a huge force for all four girls, and I understand why it comes up, but part of me wishes the book had completely focused on the girls.
They had a lot of opportunities, and there is no doubt these girls are hardworking and intelligent and deserve every bit of success they get. But I wonder if maybe some of the opportunities the girls had are because of Thorpe's involvement in their lives.
It was hard to get into at first, because it wasn't linear at first, but once everything is set up, it settles is, and has a definite timeline. Not only that, but once they get to college, we only see 3 of the girls, since one of them went off to college in California, and we don't hear much about her once they all finish high school. I get they were all best friends, and that she went her own way after high school, but I almost wish we didn't learn more about her, because we got almost no updates after high school.
It did give a face to what it's like to be an illegal immigrant, and that it's so much more complicated than I thought it would be. Their families were so willing to do whatever they could to survive, and the girls in particular wanted to change the world. Their story made it personal.
My Rating: 3 stars. I liked it, but I wish we saw all 4 girls through college, instead of 3 of them. I do wonder how they're doing, and how much their lives have changed since the book came out....more
I really liked this book! I've heard really good things about her books, and I happened to be browsing e-books on Overdrive, and knew I had to read iI really liked this book! I've heard really good things about her books, and I happened to be browsing e-books on Overdrive, and knew I had to read it when I saw it.
I really liked seeing how connected all three generations of women were. The multi-generational aspect shows up more in adult fictions, at least in my experience. I really liked seeing it in YA, and I'm hoping we'll see more multi-generational stories in YA in the future.
I really liked seeing how different all of them were, but being family really connected them in a way that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. I thought Ranee was the most interesting- she really embraced American culture while still holding on to her Indian culture. I really liked Anna as well, especially with her relationship with Ranee. Anna really seemed disappointed that Ranee became an American citizen, and started adopting American customs and dress, but she still loves Ranee no matter what.
Something else that I absolutely loved was that they all identified as Bengali, but that there was no one way to be Bengali. Each woman had their flaws but also their strengths, and they all had their own experiences with who they were and their own place in the world.
I will admit that the shift to Ranee was sudden, when the book, to that point, focused more on her daughters. But I also liked that the book shifted to her because seeing more of her story really brought the stories of her daughters and granddaughters into focus.
I really appreciated the look at how to blend two different cultures- holding onto the culture of the place you grew up in while also trying to blend in and assimilate to a new culture. I really liked seeing this aspect of immigration, and how moving to a different country can really change things.
I didn't enjoy Chantal and Anna's chapters as much as Sonia and Tara's chapters, but I still liked them a lot, and how they still dealt with some of the things their mothers and grandmother did. I loved the focus on family and family relationships and how much those family relationships can change over decades.
My Rating: 4 stars. I didn't love You Bring The Distant Near, but I did really enjoy it, and I think it offers something you don't see a lot of in YA. I loved the family and their relationships with each other....more