(2 out of 5 stars)
I think a more appropriate title would have been “Yes, Life Can Get Shittier”. Talk about one lousy situation after another, goodness gracious. When we meet the main character in She’s Come Undone, Dolores Price, Dolores is a young girl that has witnessed her father abuse her mother on multiple occasions, both mentally and physically. Shortly after, her parents divorce, her mother is sent to a depression clinic, and Dolores ends up living with her strict and very devout Catholic grandmother in her mother’s childhood home. And that is only the beginning. We are with Dolores as she is raped by her upstairs neighbor, is mocked at school, and as she battles the stigma that comes with being obese. We are with her when her mother is killed in a freak accident, as she struggles to be accepted by her peers in college, when she quits college, considers suicide, spends a decade in a mental institution, and eventually gets married to the wrong (WRONG) guy. There are a number of other tragedies along the way, and surprise, surprise — Dolores is still depressed. Depressed for 95% of this 550+ page novel. I am wiped out just writing that summary,not to mention reading the darn thing. And since I’ve given the entire plot away, I hope I have saved you hours and hours of frustration as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a depressing book every now and then. Heck, I just wrote about how much I loved Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You last week and that one was a real tearjerker. The biggest difference between Me Before You and She’s Come Undone is that I truly connected with the main character in Me Before You. I cried because I felt emotionally attached and could feel the pain the characters were feeling. I did not cry once in She’s Come Undone. Not when Dolores’ mother died, not when her grandmother died, not even when she had her abortion (okay, now I’ve really given away everything!). Connectedness, that is the difference, and that is what She’s Come Undone lacked.
(5 out of 5 stars)
Tears, lots and lots of tears. That is my warning to you before I say, READ THIS BOOK! It was wonderful. I thought it was a tad slow to start, and I’m not sure why, but I’m always initially weary of novels that take place in England. It mostly has to do with all the “mums” and “cheers” that seem forced and out of-place, as if the novel were written by (gasp) an American trying to pull a fast one on me. (I digress…)
Me Before You is about Lou Clark, a twenty-something year old British girl, who loses her coffee shop job, and is forced to accept another position as a home aid to a physically disabled patient. She is surprised to learn on her first day of work that the patient is not a senior citizen but a thirty-something year-old man, Will Traynor, who has lost all feeling below his waist, as well as most of the movement in his arms. Lou and Will get off to a rough start - Will wants nothing to do with Lou and oscillates between ignoring her and berating her. Their friendship slowly blossoms, however, as Lou, a girl that has never even been out of the country, tries to bring life to a man who once lived a fuller life than she could even dream.
I loved this book so much. It was sweet and tender, and much more than just a typical love story. Sure, I cried through the last hundred pages or so, but it was because the emotions running through me were so real. There’s also a twist mid-way through the novel that is completely unexpected and takes the book on a real spin. Could not recommend it more, just make sure you have some tissues!
(2.5 out of 5 stars)
A Hologram for the King is the latest novel from American writer Dave Eggers, who I’ve had a big literary crush on since Zeitoun and What is the What. The book is about an American business man, Alan Clay, who travels to Saudi Arabia to pitch a hologram teleconferencing service to the king (King Abdullah if you really want to know), in a last ditch effort to pay off his mounting debt, his daughter’s college education, and ultimately prove to himself that he is capable of something extraordinary. Beyond the personal story of Clay, A Hologram also touches on the modern day themes of global industrialization, outsourcing, technology and the ramifications of those events on society, namely the people who have lost their jobs as a result.
I thought the book was just okay – not good and not bad. It felt as if I were reading someone’s stream of consciousness, wandering around with no clear resolution or end in sight. I think Eggers did a wonderful job describing the main character’s constant internal battle, ruminating over what the “right” thing to do was/is. But overall, I much preferred Zeitoun and What is the What.
(3 out of 5 stars)
I had high expectations for this book, I really did. A book about books? META. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is about a young man in his mid-twenties (Clay Jannon) living in San Francisco. After losing his job as a web designer (for a bagel shop!), Clay lands a gig working the night shift at a book store that is, you guessed it, open 24 hours a day. After a few nights on the job it becomes clear that this is no ordinary bookstore - the customers are few and far between, and the ones that do arrive in the middle of the night are all very strange and seem to have a peculiar agreement with Mr. Penumbra where they borrow instead of buy their books books. Clay decides to figure out what is going on with the help of some curious friends.
Perhaps my expectations for the book were too high, but the novel just fell flat for me. I was never terribly engaged, especially after (SPOILER ALERT) I found out that all the customers were trying to solve a mystery in the borrowed volumes that… dun dun dun: would reveal the secret to immortality. IMMORTALITY. Guys, I knew I was reading a fiction book. I just didn’t realize it was THAT kind of fiction. Also, the article goes into excruciating detail about all the “geniuses” at Google, which I didn’t enjoy. It felt like I was talking to an entitled douchebag at a bar that loved to brag about his job at Google. Yes, I’ve met your type before, no need to meet you again. (No offense to the many non-douche-y Googlers out there!)
Overall, not amazing but not terrible either. If you do plan on reading this book, word of advice straight from the novel: borrow, don’t buy. You will not be re-reading it.
Well at least it has for the past 5 days. I’ve been obsessed with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube. I just finished the last episode (100 in the series total) and I loved all of it. Please go watch! The acting is superb, the characters perfectly cast, and there are enough “modern day” re-writes of the story line to keep any P&P reader on their toes.
In this modern day version, Lizzie is a mass communications grad student who starts a vlog. The whole story is told through first-person videos, and is charming through-and-through. And each episode is only 4-6 minutes long on average, so very easy to watch in bits and pieces (or 2-hour sittings as I have been doing.)
So what are you still doing, start watching!