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review 2018-12-10 00:49
Compelling, with a Caveat
Gone Too Soon - Carlson, Melody

Whew. This is a tough one to review, because of the subject matter itself and because it’s difficult to discuss without giving spoilers. The first half of this book is very dark. Although there are important peripheral characters, the main characters are sixteen-year-old Kiera, her mom Moira, and her recently-deceased older sister Hannah. Kiera’s part of the story is told in the first person and Moira’s in third-person limited point of view; Hannah’s story is told through diary entries. As such, the reader is really placed into the mind of each character, and let me reiterate: it’s very dark, especially for the first half of this novel. On the one hand, this really makes the experience realistic and enables the characters to come alive and evoke sympathy, but…maybe it’s a bit too much for too long.

The target audience for “Gone Too Soon” is young adult, and as an adult reading this, I would categorize it as mature young adult or even adult. I loved that this became a story about redemption and coming to terms with grief, with all of the baggage that involves: shame, guilt, anger, depression, etc. However, I feel the need to add a major caveat here. A large percentage of this book is not a feel-good story, and it’s not meant to be. This is about a family truly coming apart at the seams, and it is anything but pretty. It is raw and real, and the first two-thirds or so of the story could be included in a manual about how not to deal with grief. There are plenty of unhealthy coping mechanisms, and for this reason I would issue a trigger warning for suicide, rape, and drug and alcohol abuse. There are no graphic details, but the mindset of the characters are described thoroughly. Given this, I would only recommend this book to those who are looking to help people who are dealing with grief and/or those who are looking for a heartfelt read but who are approaching it from a stable mental health perspective. The later part of this book, about the resolution of the plot, could be helpful as a Christian approach to grief. My main bone of contention with the book as a whole is that while I found it to be an absolutely compelling read and loved that it dealt with real-life issues and brought in a Christian perspective in a realistic, non-preachy manner, I feel that the darkness was too heavy without any whispers of hope for too long before any relief entered the narrative.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.

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text 2016-02-24 22:44
Rain is Obnoxious...

So I finally not only get motivated but remember what I wanted to get around to - posting some links in here - and just as I sit down to it the rain decides to really let go. Oh it's been pouring on and off all day, but this is the real downpour type where you hear thunder rumbling closer and closer. And since we're good at having the occasional power outage when we get a lightning strike at the nearby power station - yeah, I shouldn't dawdle much before hitting the save button.

 

For now, just one link and a list!

 

Eight Classic Female Bildungsromane You Should Know About If You Don’t Already
Anne Boyd Rioux, The Toast, February 18, 2016

 

"The female Bildungsroman (or novel of development) is, in some ways, a contradiction in terms. Novels about the transition from girlhood to womanhood have historically been more about “growing down,” in Annis Pratt’s famous phrase, than growing up; they show their heroines learning to conform to gender norms rather than discovering themselves as individuals.
... While the following examples of the female Bildungsroman might be encountered in a college course, they are not widely known, and it is entirely possible to receive a degree in English without reading a single one. The movement to recover women’s voices of the past has waned somewhat in recent years, and thus each of these texts (although almost all are currently in print) are in danger of being forgotten again."

 

And even with that English degree I'd only heard of one of these in passing - that I remember. Sadly. All the more reason to make a booklikes list in hopes that I'll get around to reading a few:

 

Female Bildungsroman

 

I should add that several of them are available free on kindle, which means they'll be on gutenberg and other places as well. Only one was just in paper format - that I could find at the moment.

 

And bam, massive thunder, we're having the lights go dimmer and I hear hail. Time to save and perhaps get offline? Seems a better idea to be reading rather than on the computer!

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review 2014-06-12 03:15
Those Were the Days
Wild Grapes - William Zink

Come on in and set a spell in Riverton, Ohio. Grab a soda pop and pull up a chair as you listen to Squid Flower Pants narrate the story of her summer of youth. A self-proclaimed “red-blooded American vagabond-wannabe,” Squid and her sister Amanda enjoy the escapades and misadventures of a magical childhood summer with their friends. Whether they’re saving a possum from being “deep-sixed,” experiencing the joy of the carnival, or ruminating on the possibility of ghosts haunting the nearby Indian Mounds, one thing is for certain: the days are long and the fun never ends.

 

For those seeking a nostalgic trip back to the halcyon days of youth or for those still enjoying those happy golden years, “Wild Grapes” by Will Zink is sure to satisfy. The old-fashioned atmosphere of the story belies its contemporary setting, evoking sentimental nostalgia with which every reader can identify. “Wild Grapes” reads like a diary as Squid’s first-person account presents the musings of a 12-year-old girl coming of age and beginning to feel the first pangs of young womanhood. Parts of her story are hyperbolized and made into tall tales, which are more humorous given the Beverly Hillbillies dialect that continues throughout. The only obvious drawback is the general lack of conflict and the use of “‘em” (abbreviated from “them”) for “‘im” (him), as well as a few spelling errors. By and large, however, “Wild Grapes” is a sweetly innocent yet at times startlingly clear depiction of a small-town country childhood on the cusp of maturity.

I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2014-04-05 23:04
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel - Carol Rifka Brunt

For some reason it has been increasingly difficult for me to find books where the main relationship for the teenage female protagonist is not a goddamn all-consuming romance. Not that I'm saying that romance is bad, because it can be wonderful, but I was just getting sick of that type of book, especially after hearing old classmates exasperating about their publishers forcing them to shoehorn it in their manuscripts (like what happened with The Hunger Games trilogy). Thankfully, Tell the Wolves I'm Home fell into my lap.
 
Tell the Wolves I'm Home tells the story of fourteen year old June Elbus, a girl who just wants to wear her boots in the woods and pretend she is in the middle ages, and how her life is altered once her favorite person, her Uncle Finn, succumbs from AIDS in 1987. After Finn dies June meets Toby, her uncle's boyfriend of nearly ten years that she never knew he had, and tries to keep their growing friendship clandestine from her family. Carol Rifka Brunt brilliantly tackles the complexities of the relationships June has with the people in her life, how they can change in equally wonderful and terrible ways. For me, the stand out relationship examined is the one between June and her big sister Greta, who is hurting just as much as June, but for different reasons. It is a testament to Brunt that she never shied away from letting Greta be just as complicated as June, instead of just staying the flat "Mean Big Sister" trope, which as the older sister in my own family I deeply appreciate.

This book made me ache with nostalgia, not for the setting (I wasn't even born yet) but at the memory of losing certain parts of yourself that happens with growing up, or how learning one thing about a person can change the way you view her forever. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a stunning read, and if you can deal with the aches, you'll find yourself seeing the beauty through the pain, just like sunshine after the rain. 5 out of 5 stars.

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text 2014-01-20 21:23
Reading progress update: I've read 222 out of 222 pages.
Der Hals der Giraffe - Judith Schalansky

Don't trust professional reviews

Don't trust Book Blurbs

Don't trust the first page

 

and don't trust an author to represent evolution correctly, if it isn't written by a biologist.

Some books are just out there to make me angry.

 

Still nice cover ;)

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