Sunday, April 29, 2012

The History of Love

Fifty pages in, I hated this book.  By the last page I was in love with this book. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is one of my new favorites.  It is about an old man, Leo Gursky who many years earlier wrote a book about a woman he loved, Alma.  The book he wrote was published without his knowledge and was able to touch the lives of a few people whom we meet along the way.

There is a parallel story about a sixteen year old girl who was named after Alma.  She takes it upon herself to find out who the first Alma is and ends up finding Leo.  Her relationship with her mother and her little brother are examined, and an uncle gives her some insight which helps her understand her mother and helps her open her eyes to the possibility of having a stronger relationship with her.  Her mom is living for her dead husband and Alma must learn to accept the parameters in which her mother is living her life.

Leo, also, is living his life for people who are no longer accessible to him, Alma, and their son who doesn't know he exists.  He's built his entire life around them.  He gets up in the morning, writes, eats, breathes for these people. When he learns that they are both dead he loses his motivation for living.  He has always been obsessed with death and believes that he will die 'maybe tomorrow or the next day', but now feels that it is even more real that he no longer belongs in the living world.  Amla, the younger one, finds him at this point.

Leo becomes overwhelmed by learning that someone was named after his love, and we can assume that Alma continues to tell him about how many lives he has touched.  Leo, who has spent his life obsessing about death and needing people to know he exists, has found that he has in fact touched lives and nurtured love between others.  His life's purpose is fulfilled.  

In this book, we are forced to look at how we are living our lives, and how we want to spend that time.  Love is what drove these two characters through their lives and death is unavoidable.  Maybe I am a romantic at heart, but this was amazing for me to read.  The way in which Krauss tells the story is beautiful; it reads like poetry.  Some of the passages made me cry.  The last two pages of the book alone made the entire thing worth it.    Leo was in love, and Leo started dying the day he was born.  Death is unavoidable, and love is why we live.  


Monday, April 23, 2012

You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations

For my third read in April, I read You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by Michael Ian Black. I stumbled upon this book while scoping out some other memoirs I wanted to read. If you are thinking that the author's name sounds familiar, you might have seen him on VH1's "I Love The ..." series. He's done other tv work as well but that's what I know him from. Anywho, he seemed funny on the show and so I thought perhaps his book might be worth was!

I could be biased (okay I probably am) since I really enjoy humorous memoirs, but I really liked this book. It's funny, happy, sad, sarcastic and most importantly relatable. Black talks about growing up with his lesbian mom and her partner along with his two siblings, meeting his now wife, his two children, growing up, becoming who tried not to be and much more. Different parts of this book had me laughing out loud, angry and on the verge of tears. This is what I look for in a memoir, something that entertains me on many levels but also makes me think and reflect.

Even if you are unfamiliar with Black (which basically I was) you should check out his book. I think many people would enjoy it since it deals with such varying subject matter and emotions. He has another book out as well which I might read too one day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On The Island

For my second April read, I read On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves. This book is part action/adventure and part romance. As one who does not usually read "romance" novels, I was a bit surprised to find I actually really enjoyed this book.

The story is about a thirty year old teacher named Emma who is hired to tutor seventeen year old T.J. over the summer. Emma is looking forward to working on a beautiful island, while T.J. is bummed he won't be spending the summer with his friends, especially since his cancer just went into remission. T.J.'s family is on vacation in the Maldives and he and Emma fly to meet them there, only to have their plane crash before they reach their destination. The story is about how they survive on the island, how their relationship changes over time and how their bond will continue in the future.

Though the crash landing and survival aspect of the story isn't all that new, the characters and their relationship take the story in a new and interesting direction. Something I also thought was unique about this story was that the characters take turns telling the story from their perspective. Chapter one is from Anna's perspective, chapter two is from T.J.'s and so on for the entire book. The author does this but chooses not to have the characters describe the same situation twice, or if she does it's just a mention and not a rehash, which is nice. I also haven't read many books that show the perspective of a seventeen year old boy, so it was interesting to see things from his point of view.

Overall I would recommend this book to those who like action, adventure or romance novels. I think this is another author where I would look to see what they write in the future.

Interpreter of Maladies

I LOVE this book.  It's a collection of short stories about Indian people and their experiences with the US and with India.  Some are second generation US citizens who return to India, some are Indian citizens visiting or moving to the United States, and some are from other perspectives besides the two obvious ones.  They are all touching and relate-able.

The stories are simple and easy to process.  The diction is clear and concise.  It's an easy read and well worth the effort (or lack there of...) and is available for lending if you have a Nook or Nook App ;)


Thursday, April 5, 2012

1Q84 - Part Three

I'm finished!!!  And so happy about it.

Part three is more repetitive than parts one and two.  The same story is being told from three different view points as before, however now that their lives are so entwined the same events are happening.  In one chapter character A makes a phone call.  In the next chapter character B receives a phone call.  It's interesting to see how each character reacts differently to the events and how they gain more knowledge around Sagikaki, however I wonder what the story would have been had Murakami chosen to write it from one perspective.  If Aomamae was the main character and Tengo was merely a side story, something small and mentioned in a paragraph here or there, would I have enjoyed the book just as much?  I would have appreciated cutting the length down, that's for sure, but would the story still hold?  Would lacking the character developments of Tengo and members of Sagikaki have hurt the impact of the book?  Maybe...

Though the book in itself was far too long, I feel like the ending lacked originality, was extremely predictable and happened very quickly.  The entire novel was leading up to an ending that took less than forty pages to play out.  I wanted it to end; maybe Murakami was tired of writing it too...


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Partner

For my first April read I read The Partner by John Grisham. Back in the day (about 13ish years ago) I had a Grisham phase and read many of his popular books at the time, such as A Time To Kill, The Client, The Pelican Brief and The Firm. I enjoy a good mystery or law novel so I thought, why not revisit a former favorite author? My husband is a big Grisham fan, so I asked him to recommend one he really enjoyed, thus my reading The Partner.

The story is about Patrick Lanigan, a former lawyer who supposedly died in a car accident four years earlier but is found living in Brazil under the name Danilo Silva. Shortly after his alleged death, the law firm where he had been a partner, was robbed of ninety million dollars. The story is about Patrick's capture, what he's been up to for the last four years and what he is going to do about those pesky criminal charges.

This was a really enjoyable read. Grisham writes swift moving and engaging stories and this one doesn't disappoint. The story is intriguing and you keep reading to see what is going to happen to Patrick.

My favorite thing about this book is how it goes back and forth between characters. It's written from the perspective of about six or so characters and skips back and forth between them in a very fluid way. If I had read this from the perspective of only one character I could have easily found myself bored, but the switching of speakers keeps this story fresh and entertaining. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or law novel, or just anyone looking for a fast paced and intriguing story.