I have neglected my book reviews over the past few weeks and thought I'd do a round up here to get me caught up all at once. But first, as a side note I have to speak in defense of Twilight, for a moment after some conversations I've had recently.
I love a book to move me emotionally, to be thought provoking, to challenge me, and provide beautiful imagery or an alternate point of view. I love all of that in the world of words, but there is something to be said for an escape. A bit of light reading that takes you for a ride and sends you back in time or to an imaginary world. It's like a roller coaster, you don't want to live there, but the ride sure is fun.
Twilight was like that for me, a palette cleanser, a fun ride that pulled me along. So, to all the critics who bash the writing, the juvenile publisher, the far fetched premise, jump on and enjoy the ride. It isn't going to change your life, but it will be fun and sweep you away. **stepping down off my soap box**
Night by Elie Wiesel
This tiny book affected me deeply. This true story of a twelve year old boy's journey through the holocaust told from his perspective, was moving and brought me to tears. It is so small, yet powerful with the dark imagery it evokes from a dark part of history. This book is a must read, you can finish it in a matter of hours but the story will stay with you for years.
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
I had some inward struggle with this book about the affair of Frank Lloyd Write and Mamah Cheney. This is considered a book of fiction based on fact. I struggled with this book as my instinct was to judge these two adults who abandoned their spouses and children to carry on a love affair in a time when divorce was unheard of. The author was able to make me understand their struggle and understand their actions, though I wanted to damn them. Nancy Horan reconstructed conversations and interactions that made you feel you could relate and accept the relationship as inevitable.
I remember setting down the book one night and telling my husband "This author is pissing me off by making me understand this woman and feel for her. She abandoned her children for years, for God's sake!" I had this feeling of unease throughout the book as I struggled with my morals and getting caught up in the love story. I would recommend it as it stretched my idea of right and wrong and gave me another point of view while showing me the secret life of one of America's most famous architects.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Again, this book left me perplexed. I was caught up immediately in the true story of an emotionally ravaging decision to divorce. The imagery of the author laying on the bathroom floor, wracked by sobs as she struggled with the biggest decision of her life was compelling in a "rubbernecking at an accident on the side of the road" kind of way, and I was drawn in.
She determines a course of healing that involves eating, praying, loving over the next pages to fulfill all parts of her mind, body, and soul before he can start over. The trip to Rome and descriptions of pasta and pizza are mouth watering and hell for my diet when reading at night. I could feel her frustration as she struggled to learn to speak Italian, such a beautiful complex language.
She moved on to India to live the life of a monk and pray to a higher being and center herself. All of the abundance she'd indulged in Rome were long gone and she found a deeper meaning to her life through meditation and sacrifice.
Finally, ending her journey in Indonesia she finds the love she is searching for.
I guess the underlying thought I had while reading this book was her overwhelming selfishness. As a mother, I cannot fathom spending that amount of time and money to repair/build up myself. The theory was good, but I found myself thinking throughout the book, "Lady, people get divorced all the time! Get over it already!" But, since she wasn't a mother she was operating on a totally different set of rules. I think the self sacrifice aspect of motherhood becomes second nature once that first child enters this world, and it's something a parent-less, single woman could never fathom. So, good for her, but this book seemed out of touch with my reality and was hard to plow through.
I did, however, come away with the name of a fantastic pizza place I must try if ever in Italy.
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Another book about the holocaust told from a teen-aged boy's perspective in respect to his realization of what had gone on around him and changed the way he looked at life and those he loved.
A whirlwind affair with a woman 20 years his senior taught him about love, sex, and intimacy. It was uncomfortable to think about the age of the boy and the way this affair changed/damaged him later in life, as I have my own sons. This was a different time and formed the course of his life forever.
Again, it took a character who had committed morally reprehensible acts in love and life and made her human. It gave me and understanding of her actions and the reasons behind them and filled me with pity rather than anger.
I've heard that the movie is sexually explicit, but the book is glossed over without too many gory details regarding their sexual relationship.
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb is my next book and I'm midway through it now. So far, I'm engrossed in this story of a teacher from Columbine High School at the time of the shootings. I will try to remember to give you my final impressions when I finish.
Oh, and I'm not going to lie...I'm a sucker for cover art on a book. It's the first thing I notice and I've found myself on many occasions hoping the book was a good one because the cover was so beautiful. I love to carry around a beautiful book.