We’re back, with the second half of what I read over the past few months. As ever, these are my real reactions to what I’ve been reading, so feel free to disregard whatever you don’t agree with 🙂
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This book, my friends, is well worth the time that it takes to read it (which is not inconsiderable, considering that it’s over 700 pages long). The book starts out with really heartbreaking story of a terrorist plot that left Theo without a mother. The rest of the book chronicles the various stages of his life that follow: temporarily living with a classmate’s family, moving to his Dad’s in Vegas, leaving Vegas, and then life as an adult. Each section of Theo’s life is a story unto itself, and is relatively engaging. There were a few portions that I sort of zoned out in, but in a book this long, I wasn’t particularly surprised or upset. Overall, I absolutely loved it, and really felt that Donna Tartt did Theo’s life story justice- the length allowed her to tell an entire story, and I really appreciate that in a book.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. You know, this was a sweet book, but I think that I’m about over my YA fiction phase. I dipped back into YA for the Hunger Games, and kept reading because of the Fault in Our Stars, but this book let me know that it’s just about time to move on to other genres again. Eleanor and Park is the story of two teenagers who don’t fit in particularly well. They grow together in their ‘outcast’ status, and fall in love. Eleanor comes from a rough family situation, which provides most of the conflict in the story, and is endearingly melodramatic in her feelings for Park: “I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together.” The end was pretty abrupt and unsatisfying. Many people like this book, and I’ll probably read something else by the author, but I didn’t love it.
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard. I just found out this is going to be a movie, and I’m actually really looking forward to seeing it- I think the story will lend itself really well to film! So as not to ruin anything for anyone, I won’t go into the plot, but will say that I enjoyed the book and, even if it weren’t gaining popularity, would recommend it to others. There were several parts of the book where my loyalty was torn between two characters, and I was really rooting for everyone. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, but I was satisfied with the sense of closure. Overall, a great read, and I highly recommend that you read it before you see the movie!
Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Sisterland is the story of two sisters with ESP, so it had the potential to be very mystical, but chose not to take that direction. Rather, Sittenfeld really just told the story of twin sisters who took very different paths in life, and how their relationship fared through various life changes. I really enjoy reading Curtis Sittenfeld, and this book was no exception. This is a book about women, about sisters, about their lives and real choices that each made and how they coped with them. The plot line is well woven into these themes, and I think it was a great read- I highly recommend it.
Life as We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Yep, we’re keeping it real with these recaps: Life as We Knew It was the final nail in the YA coffin for me. The idea of the book is interesting- there’s a meteor that knocks to moon out of alignment, causing a number of catastrophic changes in nature, and eventually leads to the downfall of a good portion of the population. I’m not much for doomsday stories, but it was an interesting premise. The problem is that the book is written largely as a diary of a girl who might be fifteen…and I found the immature voice of the narrator to be less than engaging. On the other hand, as YA fiction, this is geared towards young adults- and I’m sure that it’s perfect for that audience! Just maybe not for me, for right now. So, take that as you will.
Flat Water Tuesday, by Ron Irwin. My sister recommended this book to me, but I feel like it came completely out of nowhere- I’d never heard to title or the author, and it was just something she picked up by chance. What a serendipitous choice, because I adored this book! Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I rowed in college, so the subject matter was already endeared to me, but I had a hard time putting this book down. Flat Water Tuesday is the story of Rob, a young guy who kind of taught himself to row, and was on scholarship with a boarding school. He struggled to fit in, both with the school culture and with the rowing team, but earned a spot on the prestigious ‘God Four’. I’ll let you read for itself, but this was a great story of growing and adapting, embracing challenges, and of devastating tragedy. The last quarter of the book was awkward, but in an interesting way. Overall, it’s a highly recommended book on my part- I’ll probably read it again in the winter, and several more times beyond that.
I know I asked for recommendations in my recaps last week, but I’ll still take any new title or author suggestions- I need to fill up my Over Drive queue for the rest of the summer!