Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Few Reviews

In the last week or so, I've finished up a few books for challenges and just haven't had the time to blog about them. The time has come where I'm actually going to sit down and attempt to process what I read, so forgive me if my thoughts come all as gobblydegook!

First, I have completed the Spring Reading Thing Challenge! Yay for me! And with almost 2 weeks to spare, which is good considering how many choices I had placed on my challenge list.
My final selection was The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, a beloved favorite of mine. I've read this book many times and have always loved it...surprisingly this time, after completing the final page, I think I'm done with that book for at least 5 years. I'll explain why in a minute.

The Prince of Tides tells the story of Tom Wingo, his twin sister, Savannah, and their older brother, Luke, growing up in the lowlands of South Carolina. The plot begins with the characters as adults, Savannah having made yet another suicide attempt and Tom running to New York to try and help her psychiatrist figure out what is going on in Savannah's head. In order to do so, he starts telling the story of their childhood and the abuse they suffered at the hands of their father, the ridicule they were often subject to by their mother, and the painful experiences all three of them were forced to deal with over they years.

This book is extremely difficult to get through. I am a very fast reader, yet each time I pick up this book it takes me several weeks to get through the 600 or so pages. It's tough. Everything about the story is sad, devastatingly so at points, and it is just depressing. However, that being sad, it is still a fantastic book. I love Savannah's character, as crazy as she is, because I think we can all find some of ourselves in her. Conroy made these characters real , as real as they possibly could be and I believe that's why I am always so sad throughout the telling of their lives.

I would definitely recommend this book for high schoolers and adults. Those of you doing the Southern Reading Challenge, this would be an excellent pick. Be prepared for this book though, it's not easy in the least. I have now told myself that because of the effect it always has on me, I'm going to put it away for at least 5 years, allowing myself to forget some of the images that have again been placed in my head. I love this book and it will always hold a top spot on my All Time Favorite Books.
I finished two books on my Summer Reading Challenge list, but being that it is comprised of mainly juvenile and young adult books, that isn't exactly a feat. I really enjoyed one of them, the other, not so much.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson was great. It is labeled a YA book, as it should be, and I really enjoyed the story. The plot line was unique and the characters refreshing. Definitely a good "light" book.

Ginny's favorite aunt, who happened to be the most eccentric women Ginny knew, passes away and shortly after, a package arrives for Ginny containing 13 blue envelopes. In the first envelope, Ginny is instructed to purchase a plane ticket to London and then open her second envelope. The reader proceeds to follow Ginny on a spontaneous journey around Europe that interlopes her with people in her aunt's life, resulting in a love interest, the meeting of a new family member, scary hostels, and loads of interesting adventures.

Ginny shows the reader that even when we are frightened, it's still ok to take risks, simply because you never can tell what you'll find out when you're finished. Ginny was not only able to tour Europe and meet interesting people, she also overcame a lot of her fears and learned a lot about her aunt in the process. A really great book for teens or even mature middle schoolers.

Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse is the selection I really didn't enjoy, which is surprising because I love Karen Hesse. Basically, this short juvenile fiction novel tells the story of a family from the Aleutian Islands, that is forced to relocate to a camp after the Japanese attack. Hesse writes of the manner in which the family adapts to their new surroundings and the new hardships they are forced to live with. The book is written in unrhymed, very short vignettes, about 3 lines to a page, which I think is the part I disliked the most. I felt that it was ineffective and didn't allow the reader to get as close to the main character as possible, leaving a distance that turned me off. I didn't think the historical basis was very strong either and that a lot more could have been told within the story pertaining to this event in history.
The concept of this book was very good and I still think middle schoolers could benefit from the writing, even if I personally didn't care for it very much. Not to mention, the appeal to kids could go up simply because of the short pages. :-) Kids love that!

Have a great Tuesday!


Deena said...

I saw the movie with Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand...it brings back VERY bad memories...but I'm glad you enjoy the book.

On the YA title you mentioned (something about envelopes--my brain is such a sieve these days:-), how "mature" is it? My daughter might like that title...

Maggie said...

Hey, thanks for reccomeending it for the Southern Reading Challenge. I bookmark the entry with bloglines and will try to use it in my next reading round-up. Thanks again, oh, and I'm going to try an read The Great Santini this summer.

Cee Cee said...

Amanda I really like your mixture of books. Thanks! Thanks also for introducing us to some really good challenges. Drats, I couldn't do the one for the last weekend!

AND...you won a copy of GONE WITH THE GROOM!!! Yaaay!!

Murf said...

Funny that we both read this book but had such diverse opinions on it. I'm glad I picked it and spent the 4 days reading it but I found it incredibly aggravating to fully enjoy.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

13 Little Blue Envelopes is one of my recent faves!