Book Riot Read Harder Reading Challenge Item: A Food Memoir
THIS BOOK WAS ABRIDGED AND IT DID NOT ANNOUNCE THIS FACT UNTIL THE END CREDITS. I LISTENED TO AN ABRIDGED BOOK. I DO NOT DO THAT. I FEEL SO VIOLATED. GR.
OK, so I took a long time to finish this review because I was having a meltdown over the fact that the book was abridged. Because my thought about the audiobook, overall, was that it seemed a little "disjointed" -- and that didn't seem like a fair criticism after learning that parts of it had ACTUALLY been chopped out. So I felt like I should find the actual book and read the deleted bits before I made that criticism. Of course, even after doing so the book still feels a bit disjointed in my mind, since I skipped all the stuff in the audiobook version when I read the cut bits in the paper book ... so, yeah, let's just say my experience was totally RUINED by the abridgement even though I got the whole book piecemeal in the end.
So, with that said, I think the complete book is better than the abridged version (no surprise there), especially since the abridged one leaves out some sexual content that makes it feel "censored." Yuck.
From what I could tell, I liked Julie's "voice" and didn't find her to be "obnoxious" like some reviewers did (it's a memoir! Just let people be themselves as they tell their story!) What was interesting to me was not the food experiment, but the real-life drama of Julie and her husband's relationship, her coping with PCOS, her friends' sexual indiscretions, etc. And I often felt that these stories did not get the sort of arc or "closure" or attention that I wanted them to. Meanwhile, the food descriptions were extensive (and included in the abridged version in their entirety), and often were more of a turn-off than anything to this vegetarian reader (killing lobsters? Cooking calves feet? No thanks ...) So I feel like I really only enjoyed "half" this book -- the people half. The cooking details were pretty much lost on me, and I sometimes daydreamed during them (another reason this book might have felt "disjointed.")
I didn't really like the imaginary scenes about Julia Child in the unabridged book, although the movie pretty much builds itself around these snippets. The movie gives more attention to Julia than to Julie, so that it feels like a bio-pic with a random storyline thrown in there, but what remains of Julie's story is pretty true to the general feel of the book -- except that they had to make her husband a total drama queen for the screen, when IRL he seems to have been a LOT more chill. But, that's Hollywood for you.
Although good and suspenseful story overall, I didn't like the approach to the theme. Younger readers - if this book was intended for them - won't understand much - if they are not familiar with the subject matter - because many things were left unsaid or misspelled. That's oftentimes alright to do for older readers and adults, they can easily read between the lines what was going on, but in this case I found it annoying, because I didn't understand the point of it. It was really hard to believe that Bruno would have been so oblivious of everything, that no one would tell him what was really going on, even Shmuel. And was it so necessary to hide and misspell everything? Maybe I misunderstood the intentions of the author, maybe it wasn't for the well-being of the younger readers, but to show how Bruno was sensitive and naive child, that much that he didn't want to repeat what he witnessed. The story will surely haunt me long after reading it, but I didn't like the style nonetheless.
I liked this novella, it reminded me of my own childhood, without internet and with not so tight supervision of the children. Now it is shocking, but then it was commonplace, something for kids to casually talk about without doing much about it - because kids rarely had any say in these matters - domestic violence, abuse of authority and bullying. I truly felt sorry for Chris, he really tried hard to beat the system that was totally prejudiced against him. The movie was not so harsh as the novella was.
I really liked how novella made us to see those boys how they all grew up in those three days off the home turf. They have all seen of what material they were made of. I liked the movie more though. The boys were really fun to watch, especially good was the performance of River Phoenix, but I liked it more mainly because it smoothed the edges. There were no beatings (at least not on screen, suggestions were mild), relationship between Gordie and Dennys was better, and their paths later in life weren't so depressing. There was also one digression in novella that in my opinion really didn't suit the story - Stud City, Gordie's first story in the novella. The second, about Lard Ass Hogan, was great, and somewhat fitting their mentality - that's why it is amusing to watch in the movie too.