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review 2014-10-04 16:04
I laughed, I cried. Mostly I cried. Like, a lot.
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is an improbable story, but it doesn't feel like one when you're reading it. It feels exactly right.

 

Maybe it resonates so strongly because of my life as a sick child and then a sick adult who lost most of her sick friends in childhood. Our lives were more predictable because we didn't have cancer, which is unpredictable pretty much all the time, but we were still surprised sometimes. We loved each other and sometimes we fell in love and once in a while the person who died was the one who wasn't supposed to.

 

What I'm getting at is that it's really weird being a kid and having a mental list of which friends are supposed to die first. Green captures that feeling, all of those feelings, better than anyone I've read who wasn't somehow one of us. I was sure that he had lost a child or a sibling to cancer, right up the point in the acknowledgements where he says he didn't. It's that good.

 

So it's also that bad. I felt Hazel's pain and joy and fear so completely it was frightening, even as I was jealous of her strength. Hazel is a beautiful creature, as is Augustus, and their love is a privilege to witness. 

 

Bonus points to Green for making up a book for them to bond over rather than using an existing one and turning it into a half-assed lit class. That was a real stroke of genius and made their world all the more real for being wholly fictional.

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review 2014-10-04 00:04
Spoiler: It sucks to be gay in Iran
If You Could Be Mine - Sara Farizan

This book wasn't what I expected, which isn't a bad thing. It slowed down my reading a bit--that and being hardcover--but once I got the swing of the story it worked pretty well.

 

I thought it was going to be a fairly simple story of young lesbian love overcoming all obstacles. Well, I won't spoil it, but there was a lot more going on. Farizan uses the basis of two girls in love to explore the secret lives of LGBT people in Iran, a world of payoffs, corruption, and the ever-present possibility of a police sanctioned stoning. Or just a random police-inflicted torture/beating.

 

Knowing that this is the way whole countries operate--because I read Daily Kos; I know what's going on--somehow didn't prepare me for experiencing it from another's POV the way Farizan enables us to do.

 

Although ***Mild Spoiler Alert*** it has a happy enough ending, there's just no substitute for a country where freedom is technically legal, often achievable, and most of all expected. 

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text 2014-07-25 22:54
Sia, wouldn't wanna be ya
Sia - Josh Grayson

I'm just going to start off by saying that this book is terrible. In pretty much every way. But it's the kind of terrible where, after a hard week of challenging reading (and, you know, actual work), you can just sort of shut down your brain and skim through it.

 

Like everyone else, I was sucked in by the premise of spoiled rich girl turned good after losing her memory. But it was all so trite and pat and perfectly pointless. The characters where one dimensional, and though they changed, they never gained depth. They just went from one dimensionally awful to one dimensionally good. Except for the requisite Magical Negroes, Carol the homeless guru, and Beatriz, the technically Mexican housekeeper. Between the two of them it takes about 2 weeks to transform Sia from queen of the bitches to queen of the fundraisers, but not one word of it was believable.

 

I got it on special from Amazon for less than a dollar, but I still returned it. My day, however, I will never get back. 

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