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Search tags: emma-donoghue
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review 2017-05-08 17:53
The Lotterys Plus One - Emma Donoghue, Caroline Hadilaksono  
The Lotterys Plus One - Emma Donoghue,Caroline Hadilaksono

A failure, sadly, not epic. Here's the set up: an enormous, unconventional family living in Toronto epitomizes all the lefty, hippy, green, etc. positions you can imagine, just exactly as if someone had said, hmm, "what's the super liberal family of today?" and proceeded to include every idea that came to mind, starting with Angelina and Brad's kids but with one lesbian and one gay couple co-parenting. Everyone represents some different combination of mixed races/ethnicities. There are an array of disabilities. The kids are homeschooled, each pursuing their own interests. The family home is as green as possible, the food is organic, they have no car, they dumpster-dive like pros. Although they are wealthy due to a lucky lottery win, they do not indulge in traditional status-symbols, and the kids don't get a lot of stuff, especially plastic stuff, to play with, and have no money of their own except from outside jobs. Also, they didn't buy the ticket. You've got the idea. You can see the pitch meeting in your mind's eye. That's the set-up, now here's the drama: one of the four biological grandfathers, previously never introduced to the children because of a vast array of bigoted and hateful attitudes, has developed Alzheimer's. Can the generous, tolerant, loving family find it in them to accept this angry old codger and truly welcome him? Of course they can. And you've guessed that he in turn develops a warm relationship with all of them. Bullshit. Put aside the simplistic, non-combative, hardly ever actually hurtful portrayal of Alzheimer's. The author has made one member of the family into a token exclusively for a plot point, and that nagged at me from the get go. Nine-year-old Sumac is our point of view character. Both of her birth parents were accountants, so I think we're meant to assume she's Asperger-y. Sumac introduces the rest of the family early on, pointing out whatever characteristic it is that the grandfather will mock or abuse at some point. So, Brian is four, and was born Briar, and a year ago he changed his name, and he never wants to be referred to as a girl, although apparently he's never said he is a boy. Sumac will now use female pronouns for the rest of the book, just to be sure the reader knows that Brian used to be Briar and doesn't for a moment forget that Brian, who keeps his head shaved so as not to be mistaken for a girl, is *really* a girl. When the grandfather sees the child naked for the first time, of course he yells that it's a girl! I'm not any sort of paragon of enlightenment. I get things wrong all the time. If I am any good as a human though, I try to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. But seriously? Even I know that the first rule of consideration for other humans is to acknowledge and respect how they choose to present themselves. External genitalia and lack of clear declarations aside, if a child chooses not to be a girl you don't refer to him with feminine pronouns. If Brian wants anyone to know that he used to be Briar that is his information to reveal or not. Emma Donoghue knows this, I imagine. And yet, she created a character and deliberately mistreated that character through half the novel, just so we could feel smugger than the grandfather. Library copy

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review 2017-03-24 02:58
Book 12/100: Room by Emma Donoghue
Room - Emma Donoghue

I rarely give out five-star reviews, and my criteria for a five-star review is fairly straightforward: I give five stars to books that I don't want to end.

I read lots of books every year that I enjoy, but because my TBR list is so long, I very rarely dread a book ending -- I know there will always be plenty more where that came from!

But this book engaged me so much that I felt dismay rather than accomplishment as I watched the end draw nearer and nearer. In the beginning, it was the voice and the introduction of a horrifying situation that captivated me. Then it was whether they would manage to pull off an escape. And then it was seeing the "normal" world through Jack's eyes, which turned it into a strange and fascinating place.

I've heard people criticize this book for infusing Jack with too much maturity, but his voice felt believably childlike to me throughout -- perhaps it helped that I listened to a full-cast audio version (WONDERFUL) that actually used a child's voice, so it was a lot harder for me to layer an adult inflection on top of Jack's words. The characters were all so richly drawn and multi-dimensional -- even Old Nick, as despicable as he was. I loved both that Jack's narration kept this story from feeling too bleak and also that as an adult you could read between the lines. The movie is excellent as well.

I can see now why people who read Donoguhe's other books after reading this one come away disappointed -- this is certainly a tough act to follow.

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review 2017-01-07 13:46
The Wonder
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue

I think I picked this novel up because I wanted to see why it was so popular. I was anticipating an exciting novel and as I read, I really didn’t understand the hype. A child, an eleven- year old girl was entertaining the world with the notion that she was surviving on a mere few drops of water each day. This child was thought to be a Wonder. My thoughts went back to people claiming that they were virgins, never to have sex yet they were pregnant, people who have the image of Christ on their pieces of toast yet they did nothing to create it, all Wonders! I was hoping that the author would throw me a line, that she would reveal something to me before the characters realized the truth behind why Anna was surviving on a few drops of water each day. I wanted to know beforehand and then watch the characters as they discovered the truth because I knew that they were somehow missing something, that they were blind to the facts that had to be staring them right in the face.

 

I thought it slow going as the story unraveled, I wanted instant results just like nurse Lib and Sister Michael who was assigned to Anna. I wanted to know the reason behind this phenomenon. The days passed slowly, I was only reading about them but to experience them had to be a nightmare. As Anna’s health starts to deteriorate, it starts to become a nightmare. How will this all going to end? Who will actually be the winner and what does the winner actually win? For being such a popular novel, I was surprised at the content and the pace of this novel. Did I like it? I was glad that I read it, it was interesting and the story intrigued me and I don’t know if it could have been shorter as you needed that anticipation and mystery to the story but it’s not a favorite of mine.

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text 2016-12-17 10:48
A Compelling Study Of Child Abuse
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue

Set at the beginning of the twentieth century in Ireland, The Wonder is the story of Lib Wright, an English nurse who, having learned her trade in the Crimea under Florence Nightingale, takes up a position in rural Ireland watching over eleven year old Anna O'Donnell, a girl who has supposedly been existing without food for several months and is now being talked of as a saint by the local community.

 

Lib is entirely sceptical of such claims and scathing in her judgement of the Irish and their religion. Determined to unveil a hoax she watches the girl like a hawk but gradually comes to understand that, whether or not Anna was secretly eating before her arrival, she is certainly not doing so now. As a consequence, Lib finds herself presiding over the slow starvation of a child, an atrocity in which the girl's family and her entire community are complicit.

 

Exchanging her scorn for pity, Lib tries desperately to change the girl's mind-set and persuade her to choose life instead of death. But Anna remains resolute and Lib struggles to understand what lies at the root of such implacable religiosity?

 

I wasn't always convinced by Emma Donoghue's portrait of the local Irish Catholic community which sometimes felt one-sided, even allowing for its portrayal through the lens of Lib's self-important Anglophile gaze. Moreover, the end, when it came, felt a little hurried.

 

A detailed chronicle of a young girl's self-inflicted starvation, The Wonder is not an easy book to read. More than once I had to set it aside for a day or two as I struggled with the emotions it evoked. Nevertheless, this is a compelling study of child-abuse so embedded within a community as to be invisible to victim and perpetrator alike.

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review 2016-11-28 00:00
The Wonder
The Wonder - Emma Donoghue 4.5 stars

Wow, this book! I really didn't know what the outcome was going to be. I was so wrapped up in the girl's reasoning and actions. I thought any moment something would happen to change the direction of the story. It's historical, and most of it is just a nurse and a little girl talking or thoughts from the nurse's head, but I was really on edge to find out the girl's fate. I wanted to shake some sense into everyone. Each time the nurse discovered new information in connection to the girl's current state, I felt shock. This isn't an action book at all, so I can see how some may not find it interesting, but I think the writing is excellent. It's a unique read that pulled my heart strings.
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