19 February 2008

10: Are You There God, it's me Margaret

TITLE: Are You There God, it's me Margaret
AUTHOR: Judy Blume
PAGES: 128
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, because it is a classic.

I suspect this book is only interesting to those of us who came of age in the 1960s or 1970s. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. But today's young people are exposed to so much, so early that I am not sure the topics which probably landed this book on the Top 100 Challenged Books 1990-2000 are really that interesting! But for me, I remember the first time I saw an ad on television for Tampax - I thought I would die of embarrassment. This book brought back that memory. For today's young person, that is mild compared to what they see on television. At any rate, you might try to use this book as the starting point of a discussion about how television and society have changed.

18 February 2008

9. Case Histories

It is quite difficult to say what I think about this book. First two chapters, I loved it. Until the end, I assumed there was something wrong with me because I could not keep up. I made charts, I borrowed a friend's chart and notes, and I backed up a few times hoping to gain some insight into what the devil was going on. I mean, I love a mystery - and this book has at least three. Jackson, the middle-aged detevtive, was delightfully sympathetic. So what was my problem?

I think I know. It was just too much. I was never going to figure out who these people were and how they were all related, much less figured out who murdered Laura or snatched Olivia. And the other story - I am not sure at which point I even knew what happened. So the only mystery was why I could not get to the end.

And then, in the end, I rather liked the book. It was not your typical mystery. It was more a character study. It had human interest, sex, lunacy, devotion, and the good guy does win. I think I realized that I liked the book at my book group meeting. We could not stop talking about the people and what we had thought about them and their stories along the way. It really didn't matter that we were somehow disappointed. We all knew these people.

TITLE: Case Histories

AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson
PAGES: 312
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Maybe, it depends on why you think you want to read it.


13 February 2008

8. My Enemy's Cradle

TITLE: My Enemy's Cradle
AUTHOR: Sara Young
COPYRIGHT: to be published Jan 2008
PAGES: 361
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, if for no other reason, it is a good story.

I read the uncorrected copy of this work by Sara Young, who has written a number of children's books undet the name of Sara Pennypacker. The copy I have has no cover picture, so I will not include one. I loved this book.

This is the story of a young Polish girl who was half Jewish. She was sent by her father to live with Dutch relatives, including a cousin she resembles in almost every way except perhaps temperment. It was her father's hope that she would stay safe during World War II. It is also the story of the Nazi machine and policies which encouraged young Aryan women to become pregnant, often by married soldiers, and give their babies to the Nazis to help populate Europe. The young girls' experiences and her understanding of how her safety and future were dictated by circumstances often beyond her control provide the reader with a somewhat different, and decidedly female, picture of the Holocaust.

I read this book very quickly and loved every minute of it. I think it would be appropriate for a wide age range and hope that it will be used in History classes at multiple levels. Thank you to the publisher for providing these copies at ALA.

04 February 2008

7. The Break-up Diet

TITLE: The Break-up Diet
AUTHOR: Annette Fix
COPYRIGHT: to be published Feb 2008
PAGES: 279
TYPE: Non-Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, anyone who has ever been on the down side of a break-up would relate to and enjoy this book.

Annette Fix found herself on the bad side of a breakup. She was raised believing in the “kiss a frog, marry a prince” and “happily ever after” theories of relationships. A single mother trying to raise her son and pursue her dream of becoming a writer, Annette finds Mr. Right at her night job at a strip club. He is in the process of divorcing his wife and they move in together. Then it happens – he breaks up with her. This memoir is her journey of recovery. Written in diary form, Annette outlines her pain and slow steps toward a new life. The writing is very candid and sometimes even graphic. The reader empathizes with the author and rallies as Annette sorts out her emotions and day-to-day challenges.

I read this book very quickly and found it to be entertaining although I suspect a younger crowd will better appreciate the circumstances and lifestyle portrayed. To tie in with the title, the author provided recipes of disaster throughout the book. I read the first few and found them amusing, but I must admit after three or four, I stopped looking at them. Still, I thought the writing was sound and wanted to finish the book with hopes of a happy ending. The Disney desire does not fade easily!

Other nice touches, and ones I have not seen in other Early Reviewer books, were a letter from the author and her signing the front of the book. She clearly wants to connect with her readers and I think she just might be successful at that aspiration.
Flusi Cat