This was a hard one to rate. Like one of the reviewers, I am between a 2.5 and a 3 star rating. I read this book before the election and right after IThis was a hard one to rate. Like one of the reviewers, I am between a 2.5 and a 3 star rating. I read this book before the election and right after I read Nickle and Dimed, by Barbara Eichenreich. I wanted to get a sense of the "other America". For me, this book was really two parts: the first half was his family's background and his formative years while the other was the author's recounting of his military service, attending college and eventually Yale Law School. His Mamaw and Papaw were indeed rock-solid individuals. You get a sense of the Appalachian community, spirit and strength from his recollections of them and how important they were in his upbringing.
While I did finish the book, I was left with a feeling that something was missing. Namely, what would benefit those who are trapped in this cycle of cultural/economic poverty. What does Vance suggest? There weren't a whole lot of answers in his thesis. Perhaps that is outside the scope of his book. It is a memoir but he does make some overtures to explain their POV....more
I love this series. Frieda Klein is not the most likable of characters but the way the authors write her character and make you root for her is a testI love this series. Frieda Klein is not the most likable of characters but the way the authors write her character and make you root for her is a testament to how much they care about her. After a somewhat of a slow turn in the middle of this series, this book is had me energized and excited to see what happens next. Frieda becomes a fugitive in a race to find out who murdered a dear friend and why they would implicate her. The usual cast of characters are back and it just feels right. It is great to have Frieda around and can't wait until the next book comes out....more
I was so looking forward to reading Maria Semple's new work, Today Will Be Different. I absolutely loved Where'd You Go Bernadette and eagerly grabbedI was so looking forward to reading Maria Semple's new work, Today Will Be Different. I absolutely loved Where'd You Go Bernadette and eagerly grabbed this one off the library shelf. It started off strong but somewhere along the way, I started to fidget; finding myself contemplating skipping ahead. But I stuck with it. Eleanor Flood, is a woman who seems to be at war with herself. Realizing that perhaps she can come off a bit selfish, she announces to herself one morning, that "today will be different". She vows to be more attentive to her son Timby, more loving her to her husband Joe, not wear yoga pants anywhere except to yoga etc. But her new life takes on a life of its own, as soon as she steps out the door. The story takes place in one day with flashbacks to Eleanor's previous life in NY (she is living in Seattle) and other events and people along the way.
There are some very funny parts, but I think it lacked the sparkle of Where's You Go Bernadette. I didn't really much care for Eleanor or her problems. I found the ending to be abrupt and unsatisfying....more
A beautiful, complex story about slavery, freedom, America and what each of these ideas mean. Though the book is not long, it requires close reading.A beautiful, complex story about slavery, freedom, America and what each of these ideas mean. Though the book is not long, it requires close reading. Each chapter unfolds another layer of a fantastical journey and one can become confused or lost, if you are not paying attention. I found myself going back several times because I missed something or found myself wondering what had just happened. There is a noticeable shift from the beginning chapters (plantation in Georgia) to where Cora and Caesar find themselves in South Carolina. The idea of making the underground railroad, a real railroad is inspiring and alerts the reader that this work is something different.
Cora is wonderfully written. She leaps off the page and her story is compelling. With each person she encounters, her character grows. The horrors of slavery are not glossed over. You experience them is a visceral way. The imagery, Mr. Whitehead uses creates a vivid picture in the reader's mind. The slavecatcher, Ridgeway, is one of the most monstrous villains, that I have read in a very long time. Cora and he are adversaries in which only one can emerge the victor.
The Underground Railroad is only the second book of Mr. Whitehead's that I have read; the first was the coming of age novel, Sag Harbor. I am hooked....more
More than a biography - this is a highly readable, though concise account, of the US involvement in Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst unMore than a biography - this is a highly readable, though concise account, of the US involvement in Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and at the RAND Corporation. He was a graduate of Harvard University and served in the Marines, as a Rifle Platoon leader. For most of his government career, Ellsberg worked tirelessly to project the US government's policy on Vietnam has a positive one. It wasn't until he went over to Vietnam for two years, that his views on American involvement in Vietnam changed. But the change was slow. He came to see that no matter what the president, secretary and military men said, the situation in Vietnam was deteriorating rather quickly.
This realization, prompted Ellsberg to photocopy highly classified papers -The Pentagon Papers - which outlined the historical involvement of US in Vietnam over 3 decades. Ellsberg was working at RAND at the time of his pilfering of the documents. What ensued - while highly desirable (in Ellsberg's opinion) left the country reeling.
A terrific read for YAs and for adults. With the use of an epilogue, the author ties today's most famous whistleblower to Ellsberg. This makes what Ellsberg did, highly relatable to today's audience....more
Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorites - so I was a bit hesitant to read anything that messes with my love of the original. I was howeverPride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorites - so I was a bit hesitant to read anything that messes with my love of the original. I was however pleasantly surprised to discover just how well done the retelling was. Curtis Sittenfeld strikes the right balance between updating the story while paying homage to the original. Of course the setting and language is updated, but the characterizations are wonderfully drawn. Liz and Darcy's eventual hookup gets a modern makeover but the Bennet family is just as dysfunctional as ever. For those who find the original story a struggle to get through (yes, there are some who find the classics a bore), this is a refreshing summer read. Next read - Emma - by Alexander McCall Smith ...more
Making history accessible to today's YA audience is tricky. You want to make it vibrant and immediate. Engaging them is not an easy feat especially whMaking history accessible to today's YA audience is tricky. You want to make it vibrant and immediate. Engaging them is not an easy feat especially when that engagement is perceived as being 'Bookish". Russell Freedman has been writing great non-fiction for this audience for many years. This book is another winner. We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler, tells the story of the Scholl family. Specifically siblings: Hans and Sophie Scholl. They lived a very middle class life in Ulm Germany. Their father made a comfortable living as an attorney and was critical of National Socialism but both Hans and Sophie joined the Youth Movement voluntarily (Hitler Youth for Boys) (League of German Girls). As the pre-war years went by, and war became imminent, both Hans and Sophie realized that something had to be done to make the German people aware of the dangerous path that lay before them. Hans, a medical student at Munich University and some of his closest friends started the White Rose Movement. When Sophie joined him at University, she became a vibrant part of it. Although, their personal history is tragic, the movement they began lived on after them.
This work is totally accessible, using photos, personal letters, and diaries of those involved to excellent use. The writing is crisp and compelling. It's a story that needs to be told. To go against almost everyone around you and do what they won't do or are afraid of doing is not easy. However, the danger of not doing anything is even greater. I only wish the book had been a bit longer. It is my hope that this work becomes widely used in middle school and even read for its own value. ...more
Bill Clegg has written a fine book. It has complex characters, tragedy, splashes of happiness and ultimately renewal. This work is told in alternatingBill Clegg has written a fine book. It has complex characters, tragedy, splashes of happiness and ultimately renewal. This work is told in alternating chapters which gives voice to the different characters involved. We are let into their lives and are even given a glimpse into the lives of characters on the periphery. An house explosion forever alters the lives of June and Lydia. How did it occur, was it deliberate or a horrible accident? And even though I figured out where the story was heading, I was still surprised by the ending. This work is great for book clubs because of the depth of the characters and the motives employed by some of them. Very moving, richly drawn and deeply felt. Some of themes explored are: Can you escape your past in a small town? Should you even try? What you wish and want you want are very different things....more
Having read and enjoyed Me Before You, I was a little hesitant to read this sequel. The first book was a lovely story about finding love when you leasHaving read and enjoyed Me Before You, I was a little hesitant to read this sequel. The first book was a lovely story about finding love when you least expect it. It explored themes of responsibility, honesty and loyalty. How do you cope when someone you love, has wishes that are contrary to what you want? What do you do? This book picks up about one and a half years after the end of Me Before You. Lou is in a dead end job, her relationship with her mother is strained and she is determined not to let Will down. Some of the story is contrived, I don't want to get away too much, but we are introduced to a new character who frankly is extremely unlikable and this person's transformation, is a bit too abrupt. The other issue is with Lou. I liked her in the first book but in this book, she doesn't seem to have grown into her experience. She seemed flat....more
I loved the story. The setting and scenes were described in rich detail. The main plot started off brilliantly but then ...I don't want to spoil it foI loved the story. The setting and scenes were described in rich detail. The main plot started off brilliantly but then ...I don't want to spoil it for readers. At mid- way I thought - wait I think the author went a bit too far. It veered off from the plausible, to the implausible. Still it was a good read ...more