Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Light Between Oceans

by M.L. Stedman
April 13-23, 2013

Have I mentioned how happy I am that my book slump seems to be behind me? Well, hooray! I've been on a nice run of good words as of late, which is also encouraging me to read longer into the night, and losing some sleep. It's worth it though if the books remain as good as this one: The Light Between Oceans.

Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia after WWI an emotionally damaged man. He shoulders guilt for not being physically injured; having seen his fellow soldiers wounded beyond repair. He finds solace in a job on Janus Rock as the keeper of its lighthouse. On a rare shore leave, he meets and marries Isabel. She in content on the island and with the life they have built together. But after two miscarriages and a stillbirth, she is on the verge a breakdown; until the day when a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a two-month old baby girl, who is very much alive. Isabel does everything in her power to convince Tom that they should keep the baby. As a man who is comforted by rules and procedures, he is adamantly against this idea. But when faced with a distraught wife who truly deserves children, he reluctantly gives in. They live with their new daughter, Lucy, for nearly four years until the guilt is more than Tom can bear.

“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”

I tore through this novel with great interest and fascination. At times I found it so heartbreaking to read, but I didn't stop. Although the idea of keeping the child may seem completely unbelievable, Stedman makes you believe. This being her debut novel, I look forward to much more from her.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

She's Come Undone

by Wally Lamb
February-April, 2013

No book has ever stayed with me the way this one has. Not for this long anyway. I was obsessed with The Road for a long time, but it has since fallen off my radar. And, as a late reader of the Harry Potter series, I already know that only a year later I want to read them all again. But this, this one; it finds its way into my life over and over.

Like everyone else, I read She's Come Undone when it was first published in 1997, thanks to the launch of Oprah's Book Club. I know that Wally Lamb is forever in her debt for choosing this book and starting a craze that lives on today. It wasn't long after I finished the last page that I recommended the book to everyone I knew. Then I had to read it again a few years later. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Shortly after that, I picked up the audiobook (on cassette!) and listened. And although 1997 doesn't seem like that long ago, alas, it was, and here I am finding myself "needing" to read the story of Dolores Price again. (I also read it again in 2009, as evidenced by this post ... I had almost forgotten about it!)

Once again, I was immediately drawn in. There were parts I had truly forgotten about, but the words came rushing back to spark my emotions. I honestly cannot say enough about how much I love this book. The accuracy in which Lamb writes as a female, through 35+ years of her life, is pure poetry. The themes that repeat over and over in my head remain the same, but also keep this book in the front of my mind: obesity, loss, rape, toll booth, jukebox, AIDS, whales, truth.

My favorite line in the book is also by my favorite character, Mr. Pucci, Dolores's high school guidance counselor. It comes very near the end, but it resonates louder than any other:

"Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love."

Without a doubt, I predict I will read She's Come Undone again in a few year's time. For now I have the release of Lamb's newest book, We Are Water, to look forward to in October 2013.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

by Carol Rifka Brunt
March 21-April 10, 2013

I don't quite remember how I discovered this book, but I will always be thankful that I did. This one hit close to home. I lost my godfather in the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1989. At the time I'm not sure I fully understood the impact of the disease, but since then I find myself in instant tears the moment I hear of another person's struggle.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is the author's debut novel. Kudos to Carol, because I was drawn in from the first page. June is a 14-year old girl whose world revolves around her uncle, a famous painter, Finn. It's tax season and her accountant parents have left June and her sister Greta "tax season orphans." But every Sunday, June, her mother and sister head to Finn's mysterious apartment and sit for a portrait he is trying to paint before he dies. Once the painting is finished, it's not long before Finn is gone too. June is empty without him and her sister is horribly mean and spiteful to her. Then she makes an unlikely friend, learns more of her uncle's past, and struggles with her grief.

Brunt writes a beautiful sentence. Her metaphors are like magic. I absorbed every single word with such emotion that they had me weeping for the last few chapters  Even though it was completely relatable to me, I don't think that's the only reason I enjoyed this book so much. I would find myself stopping in the middle of the day to read a quick chapter. The night I finished it, it was nearly 1am, but I couldn't put it down.

“But maybe I am. Maybe that’s exactly what I am. Maybe all I wanted was for Toby to hear the wolves that lived in the dark forest of my heart. And maybe that’s what it meant. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Maybe Finn understood everything, as usual. You may as well tell them where you live, because they’ll find you anyway. They always do.”

People may contend that this fits in the Young Adult genre. But I need to argue that, just because the protagonist is teenager, does not make it YA. The themes are so adult in nature, and although June may be wise beyond her years, people of all ages will easily relate to the subject matter. This book will be in my heart for a long time.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dark Places

by Gillian Flynn
Feb. 27-March 20, 2013

And so rounds out my literary kick on Gillian Flynn.

Wow, Flynn has one sick and twisted mind. And she admits it! Lucky for us, that translates perfectly into pages and pages of tense scenes, crazy characters and heart-pounding plots.

Dark Places is Flynn's second novel, and my least favorite. That's hardly a bad thing, though, since it's the least favorite in a trio of really good books. Libby Day is the only survivor of her family; all of whom were murdered 25 years ago. Her father doesn't count and her brother sits in jail, convicted of the murders. Libby was seven when the massacre occurred and she was the one who testified against her brother. Now she lives a lonely life, is mean and nasty, and profits off of the tragedy. She's contacted by a group called the Kill Club, in which members obsess about infamous crimes, and is asked to help prove her brother's innocence. Libby opens old wounds and brings long-forgotten people back into her life as she agrees to help the Club. Of course the agreement comes with a price; literally and figuratively.

Flynn is a master at keeping her readers on the edges of their seats. I devoured this book almost as quickly as the others and again was completely surprised by the ending. I will be eagerly awaiting her next novel.

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