Monday, March 10, 2008

Maybe a Miracle

First thought: pleasant surprise. As I was reading: Way too far-fetched to be believable. Once I was finished: a funny, heart-warming tale that doesn't need to be "real" to be convincing.

The story takes place in Columbus, Ohio at the home of the Anderson family. Monroe, 18, is headed off to his senior prom when he finds his 11-year old sister (with whom he is very close) face down in the pool. He saves her life, but she unfortunately still ends up in a coma. After his mother thinks that the doctors can do nothing more for Annika, they bring her home to live in a "perpetual vegetative state." The father, a lawyer, does not like this idea and turns to the bottle. Monroe would much rather stay under the radar; he does not want to be considered a hero, but is now forced to allow believers into his home after a series of "miracles" occur. That's when his mother turns to the Bible. The novel continues on in both a humorous and heartbreaking manner. The characters are actually believable, and Monroe becomes quite the philosopher.

I recommend Maybe a Miracle by Brian Strause as a fast-paced, easy beach read. You'll definitely finish it with a smile on your face.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Life of Pi

This one has been on my radar since it was released in the U.S. in 2003. I can't say that it was at the top of my list, but it was one that I eventually wanted to read. I checked Life of Pi out of my library as an audiobook, and I was thankful that I listened to it because it took me many weeks to finally finish the nine CDs.

Pi Patel is the son of a zookeeper in southern India. His father teaches him great lessons about the animals, as well as how to respect these ferocious creatures. This introductory part of the story spans about a third of the book, and I found myself just wanting to get on with the heart of the tale. That's when the Patel family decides to emigrate to Canada with all the animals. Pi's mother, father, older brother and the entire zoo board a Japanese cargo ship and head out into the Pacific Ocean. Not long into the voyage the ship sinks, leaving only Pi, a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger named Richard Parker. How the tiger was named along with several other quirky anecdotes helped to keep my attention throughout a story that seemed to drag on endlessly. (However, I am much more patient when listening to a book as opposed to turning page after page.) Eventually, all the animals die except for Richard Parker, and the story then follows the 227 days Pi and the tiger are stranded together on a life raft. I found certain parts of their journey very entertaining, but I also felt that I was waiting for a fantastic climax; unfortunately I never got one.

From the reviews that I have read, I seem to be in the minority of people who found this tale too lengthy and lacking in excitement. Yann Martel is described as an "emerging master" with "tremendous storytelling skills." Life of Pi is assessed as a "richly patterned work." I happened to like the story overall, but wished it was more succinct and thrilling. For the amount of reading I do, I feel I'm allowed to be so hard on the books I read. When they really stand out and I think about them long after I've finished the last chapter, that's when I know I've found a true winner.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Book Recommendation – March 4

This little calendar makes some pretty lofty claims. "The most evil character in all of literature???" So of course I have to add this to my list. And since it's by The Road's Cormac McCarthy, I think it deserves a nod. Anyone out there ever read it?