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review 2018-08-05 18:24
Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller
What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal] - Zoë Heller

This is indeed a literary page-turner, as described in the cover blurb. Barbara Covett, a lonely high school history teacher on the cusp of retirement and aching for meaningful human connections, fixates on a younger, wealthy art teacher, Sheba Hart. Sheba is a wife and mother with a busy social schedule who becomes sexually involved with a teenage boy at the school, leading to the eponymous scandal. The story is narrated by Barbara, in an engaging, perceptive, sometimes vicious voice; as is not uncommon for isolated people, especially intelligent ones, Barbara tends to look down on everyone.

 

As many others have said, this is an excellent novel: intense, insightful, clever, well-written. This could be a good novel for those who are leery of “literary fiction,” because it is also a very readable page-turner. Though of course it is not a novel for those only interested in reading about moral paragons; it presents its very flawed characters as they are, in all their complexity, not as we might want people to be. And the ambiguous, creepy ending does not tie up all plot threads.

 

A couple of points on interpretation:

 

First, a lot of people seem to want to read a homoerotic subtext into Barbara’s obsession with her female friends. To me this is just an example of modern culture wanting to see sex in everything, and tending to devalue platonic relationships, assuming that a high level of emotional investment must mean sexual desire is involved. There are indications throughout the book that Barbara is heterosexual (her envy of the young French woman who dances on a bar and captures all the men’s attention; her willingness to become romantically involved with a male teacher even though she finds him ridiculous). For someone as isolated as Barbara, the quest for emotional fulfillment and to be important to someone else is every bit as meaningful as the quest for sexual fulfillment is for others; sex just doesn’t seem to be high on her list of priorities, perhaps because she has more fundamental unmet needs.

 

Second, the takeaway from this book for many people seems to be “sexual abuse isn’t always clear-cut because sometimes the child can be the initiator!” To which I say, first of all, keep in mind that Barbara is an unreliable narrator; she is telling the story of Sheba’s “affair” with a teenager secondhand, based on what Sheba has told her, and then coloring Sheba’s self-serving account with her own opinions; she cares for Sheba and seems to detest Steven Connelly, who’s portrayed as a rough-hewn, vulgar lower-class boy. But Sheba’s sketchy behavior is still evident, for instance, in her threatening Steven to keep quiet about their relationship, claiming he too would get in trouble if found out even though she knows this not to be true. And more importantly, getting sexually involved with someone across that kind of power imbalance – someone so much younger over whom she is an authority figure – is wrong and lends itself to abuse even if the young person seems enthusiastic. Teenagers have crushes and fantasies about teachers – Barbara comments on this herself – but that isn’t license for adults to act on them for their own sexual gratification; teenagers aren’t emotionally ready for adult relationships, and those fantasies should remain fantasies.

 

Reading between the lines, it makes sense that Sheba doesn’t understand this boundary; she began dating her husband, a professor 20 years her senior, when she was a young college student (and there’s some indication in the book that 20 years on, he’s still angling for college students). And she seems oblivious to the power imbalance in her own marriage – the way the housework all falls on her shoulders, for instance. So it’s no wonder that her boundaries would be skewed. But her flawed perceptions shouldn’t justify this behavior in readers’ minds.

 

At any rate, this is definitely a book I recommend, as a work of literary entertainment that lived up to the hype. It didn’t change my life, but it’s absolutely worth the read.

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text 2018-07-31 16:02
Monthly Run Down - July 2018
Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life - Bill Engvall,Alan Eisenstock
Kevin Kwan A Novel Crazy Rich Asians (Paperback) - Common - by Kevin Kwan
Harry Potter: The Prequel - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
When It's Real - Erin Watt
Killman Creek - Rachel Caine
Improper English - Katie MacAlister

 



Books I Read:

 

Crazy Rich Asians - 3.5 Stars - The first half bordered on boring but the second half made it worth the wait.

 

Harry Potter: The Prequel - 3 Stars - Super short and did not add or take anything away from the series.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  - 4 Stars - This series is really holding up to the test of time. I can see more re-reads in my future as the world still manages to surprise me.

 

When It’s Real  - 4 Stars - I liked watching Oakley and Vaughn’s relationship blossom.  

 

Killman Creek   - 3.5 Stars - Rachel Caine does a great thriller.

 

Improper English  - 3 Stars - Alix and Alex entertained me, made me chuckle and made me want more.

 

Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life  - 4 Stars - Bill is the most “all american” guy there is and he makes it entertaining.




DNF:

 

None for July - Nobody - No explanation



Currently Reading:



Creative Quest - Questlove - a class on creativity I think is an accurate way to describe this

 

Too Late  - Colleen Hoover- Intense





Year to Date Totals:



January: 9 books

February: 10 books

March: 9 books

April: 6 books

May: 10 books

June: 6 books

July: 7 books

 

2018: 57 books

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review 2018-07-06 17:54
Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life
Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life - Bill Engvall,Alan Eisenstock

 

I Picked Up This Book Because: Curiosity.

The Story:

Bill seems to be the definition of an all american guy. He grew up in a great time when kids went out to play and tv and movies were a treat. He had his bumps and bruises along the way, both literally and figuratively. I enjoyed hearing his story. From the time in the little league dugout to the frat parties to the beginning of his family.

The Random Thoughts:



The Score Card:

description

4 Stars

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review 2018-04-08 15:43
Notes From The Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Notes From Underground - Fyodor Dostoyevsky,George Guidall

Interesting and humorous.
This guy sits alone and decides to write down all his vents and vexations against every one and every thing under the sun. I actually laughed at his ramblings, and nodded in agreement as I found it ironic to be happening still today. I even became baffled at one point by what exactly his problem was. Still I was pretty enthralled. For being written in the 1860's, I was amazed at how drawn into the writing I was. 
It may not be the most magical read I have ever read, but it was so far from what I usually read. Still, I am glad to have read it.

 

 

Source: www.fredasvoice.com/2018/04/notes-from-underground-by-fyodor.html
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review 2018-03-28 00:54
Murder Notes (Lilah Love) - Lisa Renee Jones

Holy cow!  I could not put this book down.  I just had to keep reading to find out answers.  Imagine my surprise when I realized this book ends on a cliffhanger.  Ugh....I want, no, I NEED to know the answers to this mystery and it is killing me having to wait.

Lilah Love works as an FBI profiler.  She understands how killer's think and is really good at her job.  Lilah is now living in California after running away from her past in the Hamptons, NY.  Imagine her surprise when her latest case is dragging her back into the past she has been trying to run from.

Back in the Hamptons, Lilah finds herself immersed into another murder and having to deal with her father, the mayor, her brother, the police chief, and her ex, now the head of the local crime family after his father was murdered.  As Lilah is investigating things in New York, someone else is leaving her notes taunting her.  Just when you think you have something figured out, the story takes a hard left turn.

Overall I love this story and I really love Lilah.  She is a total bad a$$ type of girl with such a foul mouth, but she really knows her job.  I love this ride Lilah is taking me on and I can't wait to see how it ends.

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