I was delighted with this newest selection for our book club–I’ve read many Alice Hoffman books in the past and liked them and, as it turns out, I had read this one before. Curiously, I didn’t remember what happened in the book, just remembered as I read along. Hoffman’s books always have some magical type quality to them and that’s one of the things I like about them. Continue reading
I was very interested in this book when it came out, so was glad when one of my book club members chose it as our reading selection this month. I thought it was a great choice because there were certainly a lot of things to talk about it, even if what we talked about were issues and values more than plot and character development.
As a book I liked the construction of this–a readable story, supported by informational footnotes full of statistics and factoids. Curiously, one of my friends wanted more of the stats and the other wanted more of the story, but I thought it was a good blend and probably helped account for its massive popularity. I also liked it that was broken up into each of the jobs she held, followed by an overall evaluation.
I couldn’t help but feel an awkward blend of guilt, good luck, and comfort knowing as I read this that I am in the fortunate position of holding a master’s degree, employable, and yet having the choice for the past two years to not work. When my husband and I discuss whether or not we can afford something, it’s not groceries or a car repair, it’s whether or not we can each get a new laptop, or if we should just get one. (We each did and we love them.) It seems awful to me that there is such a disparity between the rich and the poor (and I wouldn’t call us rich, even) in our country and, while I didn’t need to read this to know it, I find myself feeling more frustrated that there’s probably nothing I, as an individual, can do about it. (except vote, people! Always vote!!) Continue reading
Today was my book club day. It was my turn to host and my choice was Speak. I knew I wanted to get the group to try a YA book and a YA friend suggested this as a good choice. I totally agreed because I think this is not only a really well written book, but for adults not used to reading YA fiction, it is a pretty easy one to get into and relate to.
And that’s the beauty of this novel. You don’t have to be in Melinda’s predicament to relate to her feelings of isolation, to understand not being seen or heard, to understand the heartbreak of losing friends. Anyone who was ever an adolescent understands that. One of the interesting things we talked a lot about, that I don’t think I’ve ever talked about when discussing this with younger teens, was the idea that many of the friends Melinda lost when she started high school may not entirely have been due to the party incident. We all remembered the transition to high school as a time when we found new friends and drifted right away from old friends. So, while Melinda sees everyone deserting her as only related to the incident, we all saw it as only part of the reason. As observers looking in we also felt that a couple of her old friends would have been willing to be friendly to her, but she had just shut down so much. It was also interesting to us that the only person to say to her “you are depressed and need help”, Heather, was outsider and not really a close friend. Although Heather turned out to be fickle and shallow, she was certainly accurate in assessing Melinda.
I had read this book when it came out and I’ve heard the author speak as well as had the good fortune to meet her. This is a title I also booktalked frequently. It’s been quite a few years though since I read it, and it was very interesting to reread it and compare the actual book to what it had become in my head. I had forgotten:
how funny it is: Anderson’s writing style has a wonderful sarcastic wit, present in her other novels as well and useful here for keeping the story from getting too dark
how the school teachers are described: Mr. Neck is so vividly realized in my mind, as are the English teacher and the principal. These secondary characters bring humor to the story and also show off Melinda’s powers of observation
how well written it is: the structure of the story–divided into marking periods, and then into small sections–suits the novel so well. Also, I just think she’s an overall great writer, using words ever so well, and drawing the story out at just the right pace.
I’m so glad for myself that I reread this, and for my book club that I brought some YA lit into it. I’m hoping we’ll read more in the future. Another friend pointed out that they probably haven’t read The Giver. Unheard of to me as a librarian, but if you’re not in the library world and don’t have older children reading it in school, how would you have come across it? And that is a book that surely we could discuss for days on end…
I just finished this last night for my book club this morning. It’s another Oprah Book Club selection and I’m noticing a pattern in all the books she chooses–they are all depressing and tragic. Can she not find a well written book that’s a bit more uplifting? I’m sure I could recommend many for her. Anyway, this was a well written book, with a compelling story teased out over the chapters so that is has quite a sense of mystery to it, with the full story never being fully revealed until the very last page. Continue reading
Ugh. So many things I disliked about this book. I’ll start by saying that though this wasn’t a book I would have chosen for myself, I was looking forward to reading it for that reason (good to try new things!) and also because I do like the post-apocalyptic concept. This book was this month’s selection for my book club. The book is basically about a man and his little boy traveling on a road in a post-apocalyptic world, trying not to starve to death or get killed and eaten by roving marauders. Here are some of my many quibbles:
- In a book that is 240 pages long, it should not take me to literally page 200 before I actually care about the characters. Seriously. There are only 2 main characters and I really didn’t care about them at all.
This book has left me feeling like the limp tissue that was in my hand after mopping up all the tears I shed over the final ten pages. Seriously, I’m all soggy and weepy here. I could go on and on, but will try to be brief and save my long-windedness for my book club discussion of this next week. The plot in a nutshell is simply a doctor in 1964 delivers his own twins-a son and a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. He sends the daughter away the nurse to an institution and tells his wife the baby died. That decision affects the lives of his daughter, his son, his wife, himself, the nurse, and the nurse’s husband. Continue reading