There’s a reason All the Light We Cannot See won a Pulitzer Prize. It took me a few weeks to work my way through this one. In early January, one afternoon it was a surprise waiting for me in the mailbox from one of my favorite teachers. Over the weekend I was bound and determined to find out how this story wrapped up. Sometimes while reading, I had to take breaks because my stomach was in knots and my thoughts would wander (not out of boredom, quite the opposite – this book gave me so much to think about.) The story alternates view points, and points in time throughout the novel, later adding on to the character’s perspectives you’re seeing through, and eventually (as may have been expected), intertwining these character’s lives. There is so much to digest here, so much to take away. We have Marie-Laure a young blind girl living in occupied France during WWII. Marie-Laure’s father Daniel LeBlanc is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. You have orphan Werner Pfennig living in a children’s home in Germany with his sister Jutta, with their kind care taker Frau Elena. As you can imagine in war-time, all of these character’s locations change and their stories expand and they encounter more people who become essential to their stories. I’m intentionally being vague because I would hate to ruin the beautiful way this story unravels. I think some of the key points I was reminded of is the way art, music, books, and imagination can be threads of hope in the darkest of times. I was reminded that although we know what’s right and wrong, people who do bad things, are still capable of doing good things. Recently, I saw a tweet that said “Historically, ‘I was only following orders’ has not been a solid defense.” How true this is, and some people only come to the realization after so much damage is done. Friendship can sprout from curious places. Fear makes people do evil things. It’s never wrong to do the right thing, even if it means you’re going against the current. Doing the right thing takes a tremendous amount of courage sometimes. People can be very impressionable, it’s important to remember to think for yourself and not be a follower. We have a responsibility to maintain a knowledge of the past, so we don’t repeat history’s mistakes. This story tugged on my heart strings, and these characters will stay with me for years to come. If you haven’t read this novel yet, I highly recommend you do so immediately.
The Hopefuls tells the story of Beth and Matt who’s relationship started after a fateful meeting in NYC. The beginning clues us in that Matt worked on the Obama campaign in 2008 and was absolutely captivated by the magic energy of being involved. (I’ll admit I was amused from the first page – in a totally good way.) While Beth doesn’t echo the same sentiments, she definitely understands that it’s Matt’s passion. Eventually the young newlyweds found themselves right smack dab in the hub bub of Washington D.C. Matt with dreams of running for office, and Beth having left everything she knew behind in NYC, (only after losing her job at Vanity Fair.) Matt instantly warms to the city of politics, while Beth takes much longer to find a comfortable place there. A blossoming friendship with another couple in a similar position, having moved from Texas – Ashley and Jimmy bring a sense of belonging and ease to the niche they’ve created in D.C. Basically the story follows Matt’s slow climb up the ladder (not always up, sometimes just lateral much to his frustration.) And Beth’s struggle to pinpoint her true aspirations and goals in life, in both her career and her ideas about a future family. It follows their transitions geographically and emotionally.
I know this might not sound like the most exciting story right off hand, but let me tell you: the way Jennifer Close writes, it feels like you’re on the couch and your best friend is just spilling her guts about the mess of everything going on in her life and in her head. That’s how close you feel to all the anguish, and roller coaster of emotions and events Beth is experiencing on their journey. I also think this is one of the most honest depictions of a relationship I’ve ever read about. Even beautiful relationships still come with their own struggles, and Beth notices them even when she can’t pin point the source. While she supports Matt, she also knows even in his disappoints she still deserves to be treated with respect and as a teammate in their marriage. That sacrifice goes both ways. That one person can’t put in all the effort to make a relationship work. It was almost painful at times to read about their struggles, but I think they’re also relatable and in a way, readers can find comfort in that.
Some books get so much buzz when they first come out, that by the time I read them I’m disappointed they don’t live up to the hype. This isn’t one of them. If you haven’t gotten your hands on a copy of Jennifer Close’s The Hopefuls I suggest you get on that now!
I lucked out on a recent trip to the public library last Friday and was able to pick up three new titles I’ve been excited to read! Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s Fire with Fire (follow up to Burn for Burn,) Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More and Tera Elan McVoy’s Criminal. As I mentioned earlier this week, I haven’t been reading for pleasure in a while. Actually, if you check out my reading log on my Tumblr account, it’s been quite some time. (Let me add though, that list is for books I finish reading. I can’t tell you the number of books I’ve picked up and read fifty or so pages of, but my attention span just couldn’t last this summer.) From these three choices I picked Fire with Fire to start. It’s pretty lengthy, (which is exciting when you’re a bit addicted to the author team – these BFFs to do great work together!) but I’m sure you’ll fly through it because it’s a great page-turner, leaving you on the edge of your seat, dying to find out what happens next!
Honestly, if you haven’t read Burn for Burn go ahead, do yourself a favor and start there. Then when that’s finished, go ahead and read this one. Fire with Fire had some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting, and some I was anticipating. The psychological game, and how easy it is to get wrapped up in the story reminds me of my (perhaps a little bit unhealthy) fascination with Pretty Little Liars.
If you’re looking for a fun, intense, suspenseful, maybe even a little bit super-natural on top of the regular perils of high school friendship and romance? Definitely give Fire with Fire a read! Lillia, Kat, and Mary are back at it again…now having to deal with the consequences of the plot twist of their plan from the first in this trilogy. But just wait until you find out what happens next…
The last several times my family has gotten together, The Great Gatsby has come up in conversation. The first time I read it was the summer before eleventh grade. It was required reading for Mr.Harper’s AP English class. You know how much I love to read? I almost equally despise required reading. I could pick the same book up off the shelf myself, but if someone else is demanding I read it – in their timeline, and write about it only as they see it? Oh, it makes my insides cringe. I remember the end of summers where I would have to like bar myself in my room for days on end to try and get through the stack of books I’d put off. (Sometimes, my friends would even read them a loud to me, in an effort to get the process over with so we could reconvene our normal hang out routine (which mostly consisted of laying on the floor listening to awesome music, going thrifting, or swimming, or eating ice cream – you know, important stuff.) I remember sitting in my high school cafeteria, the first week of school where all of the students enrolled in AP English for the year had to take our summer reading test at the same time. I remember staring at that piece of paper thinking, the symbolism behind the green light on the dock?!?! (My other problem with required reading is that typically I speed read and I’m just waiting for the pages I’m holding in my left hand to be a great number more than the ones in my right.) I should interject here and tell you that I’m not THAT horrible with required reading. I absolutely adored To Kill a Mockingbird and The Poisonwood Bible. (Other novels I had an EXTREMELY difficult time with? Heart of Darkness and All the Pretty Horses were some of my hardest ever. I tried to talk to my 9th grade English teacher about Horses and what the heck was going on? But she was at a loss too, and I wondered why the book was even on the list…HOD came back to haunt me in college but then I wasn’t intentionally called upon to talk about something I didn’t know about.)
I gave you all that back story because I felt it’d be dishonest of me to act like I just loved this book the first time around. You should know it was more of an acquired taste. And actually, I can clearly remember the conversation now that I had with Jacki back in the Phi Mu house and she told me, just wait you are going to LOVE IT the second time you read it. Guess what? She was right. (Of course she was right. She was an English major and definitely knows her stuff.) Anyway, the thing is The Great Gatsby has come up in conversation so much lately, it feels like it’s constantly on my mind. From the incredible trailer they’re playing in the theatres now, to flapper fashion shoots, to Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris – it feels like it’s everywhere. Everyone does some deep thinking in the shower right? This morning I was half awake, and I was thinking about the glitzy parties Gatsby threw. (I don’t know why?) I was thinking about how I’d love to dress up, and drink champagne, and frolic in a grass backyard with jazzy music blasting. But then I thought again, there’s a facade to all of that. (Um, hello – did you read the book?) And I really wouldn’t enjoy the pretentious conversations I’d have to suffer through in order to enjoy the other parts. The grass is always greener right?
The Great Gatsby is so classic, it shouldn’t even be in a “throwback” category, it stands alone in its own space. This product description describes it well, without giving things away or you getting lost in my convoluted memories and rambling:
This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s. (Amazon.)
How long have we been waiting for this movie? Seriously, it feels like forever. It was slated for release last year, but postponed (I read somewhere so that it wouldn’t be contending for last year’s Academy Awards? But you can’t believe everything you read.) Either way – it’s finally coming. You don’t have to ask where I’m gonna be come May! Luckily, you have a few months so if this novel wasn’t ever on your required reading list, or you didn’t pick it up on your own – check it out!
Hi there, reader! It’s Throwback Thursday and it also happens to be Valentine’s Day. I’m never too crazy about this holiday, but I’m not a complete hater on it either. (I just think we’d all be better off if we shared our feelings and wore our hearts on our sleeves a little more, instead of confining it to one day.) Annnnnyway, with all that being said I think it’s a fine day to share with you one of my favorite fictional gentleman, and heartbreakingly beautiful love stories of all time: God Shaped Hole by Tiffanie Debartolo. Thanks to Tree at Moore with the Most I was introduced to this fabulous novel in about tenth grade I think? So of course, I’ve held Jacob Grace up on a mental pedestal ever since.
Trixie Jordan was twelve when a fortune teller told her, her one true love would die at a young age. Do you believe a fortune teller at age twelve? I don’t know, but I know if I answered a personal ad like this:
“If your intentions are pure
I am seeking a friend
for the end of the world.”
and found Jacob Grace, I wouldn’t want to believe anything of the sort. Except for the one true love part. Jacob is a vibrant soul, marches to the beat of his own drum. He’s smart, intelligent, handsome. He and Trixie have a magnetic relationship, they bring out a beauty in one another, together their love is a passionate romance. If you haven’t read this novel yet, seriously get to it! I promise this story of the amazing highs and heart-wrenching lows of an incredible relationship is worth it even if you sob a little. (Just me? I don’t think so.) I’m not guaranteeing you any happy endings, but I will tell you that I read this like ten years ago and it has stuck with me all this time. It’s one of those. It’s epic. It’s unforgettable. And you’ll know why I got so excited (and then disappointed) when I saw Keira Knightley and Steve Carrel were making a film called Seeking a Friend For the End Of the World. (It wasn’t about this, unfortunately.) I’m leaving this short and sweet because honestly I don’t want to spoil another single word of this book.
Have you read God Shaped Hole? Does Jacob Grace have a special place in your heart? Tell me about it!