Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Mediator 1: Shadowland, Meg Cabot

I used to wish that I was Danielle Steele, especially after driving past her crazy mansion in San Francisco and realizing that those hundreds of books put her in that house. Well I think I'll change that to wishing I was Meg Cabot with her multitude of YA books. How does she possibly write so many books all seemingly at the same time? (Maybe I should save my wishes until I see Meg Cabot's mansion)

This is actually my first Meg Cabot title (but I have, of course, seen The Princess Diaries movies) and it was very cute. It was clever, quick paced, suspenseful.... and I liked how the narrator Suze tells us she isn't going to give us the details of her spells & procedures for getting rid of the crazy ghost haunting her school seeing as we aren't ghost busting professionals like herself. I appreciate that because I don't like when supernatural stories get so dark/evil and I really don't like the idea of young & impressionable tween girls reading all about the occult (that was part of my problem with the Vampire Diaries-a little too much witchiness for my comfort level)

So, I am glad to have found a new relaxing & fun series to read & to recommend. Perfect bathtub reading.

Moonlight, Rachel Hawthorne

After liking Rachel Hawthorne's The Boyfriend League so much I investigated her other books. This one just came out and there are two more in the series coming out this summer. I think it is weird how some YA series books make you wait a year for the next volume and some are staggered over a few months. Being pretty impatient, I loved seeing that I don't have to wait very long for the next books.

This was really good. It really is weird to me that somehow the stars aligned for Stephenie Meyer's books to become so big when there are lots of supernatural, romantic, suspenseful YA series that don't seem to go very far. And I say that as someone who loves Twilight. I just could totally see this book being fawned over, made into a movie, getting its own dolls, etc and Twilight being a book I just picked up at Barnes & Noble that not very many people have read. I don't get what makes one book go so far, especially considering that Rachel Hawthorne is a better writer.

I really enjoyed Moonlight and am excited for the next 2 books!

Lovesick, Jake Coburn

This was really suspenseful and slightly creepy. It had a very interesting premise and thankfully gave me what I always demand: a happy the couple gets together ending. Which is really all I ever demand.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Boyfriend League, Rachel Hawthorne

This was such a rewarding impulse buy. I didn't know anything about this book or what to expect and I was so pleasantly surprised. It's a very cute yet realistic summer story with no skankiness. It is really light but not idiotic and it was just what I needed after this week of getting ready for Open House and surviving Open House. I think that I slept for almost 15 hours last night (I can't be sure since I fell asleep on the couch) in recovery from being at school until 9pm and then staying up till 2am to get everything ready and stressing out the entire time. This book was perfect bathtime reading material & helped me destress.

A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks

I hate movie tie in editions of books but the classier book cover version of this book was 13.99 compared to the Mandy Moore & Dr Ray edition for 7.99. Surprisingly, sometimes even I can be frugal.

I LOVE this movie and have seen it millions and millions of times. I also LOVE the soundtrack and have listened to it also a couple million times. And I am not exaggerating. I realized recently that I had never read the book. And I now love the book more than the movie.

The story takes place in 1958 and is just much more wholesome than the story in the movie. Which is saying something because the movie is pretty wholesome. And of course I cried several times while reading it. It really is one of those stories that makes you wonder why being a teenager makes people turn into such cowards about doing the right thing. Jamie's character is much more believable in the book because you know so much more of her history. And Landon and his friends aren't as rough as they were in the movie.

Flat Belly Diet!, Liz Vaccariello

I bought this in a fitness feeding frenzy last Saturday. I've been eating healthy again and started exercising last week for the first time in eons. So I read this for further inspiration. It's an interesting idea and sounds pretty doable. I need to learn to like some foods I don't like though to be really healthy I guess. We'll see.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Swoon, Nina Malkin

This was well written and had a very clever idea at the center of its plot that I really wanted to figure out. I stayed in bathtub turning into a prune for a good 2 1/2 hours because I didn't want to put it down. In the end I was satisfied with the ending but not so much with the execution. The writing had a lot of watered down smut in it for a book marketed to teens. So if you could delete the skankiness I would like this one a whole lot more.

The Vampire Diaries, L. J. Smith

I heard about this series when I saw a trailer for the upcoming tv show based on the books. I bought them and read them all but I can't say that I would recommend them to anyone. Even someone with a high threshold for formulaic writing, flat characters, and a heavy dose of faux-occult-creepiness oooooOOOOOooooooOOOOOO (imagine that in my best ghost voice) would get tired after a bit. I liked the first book the best and they go downhill from there. I just kept thinking if Elena is so magical and special why can't the fight just end. The solution to every problem is Elena developing a magical new power that if she had just had in the first place would have prevented all the problems. None of the books give any closure to the storylines; just a temporary calming down. There is always a new creepy supernatural danger out there. I really didn't like that it was neverending. After a while it just feels like the author is looking to make money not to tell a story (I think that is author code for "please buy my next book!"). When I read that the most recent volume in the story was written in the wake of Twimania after a near 10 year hiatus I had that hypothesis confirmed. I came incredibly close to not reading the last one. The books do really start to drag but I am pretty compulsive about finishing things that I start reading (especially things that I spent money on).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Waiting for You, Susane Colasanti

I really liked the last few chapters of this book. It was one of those endings that made me feel warm and happy... and I'm not joking about that. The book was pretty slow going in the middle and I did feel at times like I was reading an afterschool special about divorce & anxiety disorders. But I also feel like Susane Colasanti is a truly nice person who wants to help teens while entertaining them. It comes through in her writing in a sweet way which also makes sense once I realized that she used to be a high school teacher. And I really did love the ending. So far, When It Happens is my favorite of her books.

Major Crush, Jennifer Echols

Jennifer Echols is seriously awesome. I strongly dislike all the covers of her books and it makes her writing all the more impressive when I go into the book feeling prejudiced by the cover art. I really want her to write a book for grownups. She has a way of writing romantic stories with very believable characters that I end up wanting to be friends with. And I have been so sad to get to the end of each of her books. I know she has one more coming out in October but I am really hoping there are more books on the way. I actually reread Going Too Far a few weeks back and I'm so glad I got over my book cover judging to give these books a chance. I stayed up way too late on Sunday night, making for an especially traumatic Monday morning at school, reading Major Crush and it was so worth it! Her books make me happy which is what I am most looking for at this nasty point in the school year.

Accidentally Dead, Dakota Cassidy

All by my lonesome for much too long over the weekend I read this on Sunday afternoon. I liked the continuation of the characters from the The Accidental Werewolf but I felt like there was more skankiness in this one. There was skankiness in the first book but it was easier to just "la, la, la, turn the page" without really reading the icky details. Icky details stood out more in this one but I still enjoyed the characters and the clever storyline. I just wish that these stories could have been written without the ick. But I realize the ick is what some people are reading them for, I'm just not that reader. Also I love the covers and think they are very cute. Clearly an important factor in loneliness inspired weekend chick lit reading.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Boys Next Door, Jennifer Echols

I love Jennifer Echols! After finally finding the right author with the initials JE on a Simon Romantic Comedy I picked this up in my self pity spree. I really really loved Going Too Far and I was excited to read this but also a little worried I wouldn't like it as much as Going Too Far. But I didn't need to worry. This is definitely a lighter, fluffier book but it is very fun to read. It reminded me of the boy-girl dynamics in The Summer I Got Pretty which continued my pining for the summer and a vacation house of some sorts or at least more books with this theme. It also reinforced my 13 year old self's desire to have a twin brother because clearly having a brother with attractive friends that you grow up tagging along with is the key to romantic success. Now I just wish you could search the library catalog by subject for things like that. I'm sure there are more books out there to prove my tween self correct.

The Chosen One, Carol Lynch Williams

I love Gregory Maguire's blurb on the cover of this one:
"The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat"

It is so true. This is such a stressful book to read. I am really glad that it is short because I don't think I could handle any more if had been longer. This is an excellent book and very well written. But incredibly creeptastic. It made my stomach hurt, made me cry, and left me feeling so unsettled.

I was nervous to read this because of the polygamy and felt better when I saw one of the blurbs was from a children's lit professor at BYU and then I put 2 and 2 together and realized that I didn't need to worry, that Carol Lynch Williams, was one of us (hooray for religious solidarity!).
She wasn't going to mess this up and lump us in with the polygamists as so many in the media do. So that made me relieved and I could just get sucked into this very sad story without being ready to pounce about any inaccuracies about my religion which is so very different from Kyra's religion. I think it added to the strength of the story that the location was vague and I do think that a non-LDS author would just have assumed that the story needed to be somewhere near Utah or that they needed to drop Mormons into the mix. I think Kyra's community felt even more isolated and cut off from the world making her flight even more frightening because of this.

{Don't keep reading, Gnorah, if want to read this and you don't want to know the ending}
This is one of those books that is so well done & real that I was physically disturbed. The characters are so real and I was so upset about Joshua. I think that the ending was very appropriate. As a reader I couldn't have handled Kyra losing her battle but it also would have been so fake to have Joshua show up in the last few pages even though that is obviously what I was rooting for. I like that the ending gave Kyra some peace but not everything wrapped up in a pretty bow.

When It Happens, Susan Colasanti

About 5 days ago I promised myself that I wouldn't buy any more books until I had read all of the new ones purchased in recent late night book buying binges (horrifyingly & thrillingly this is probably about 75 books...) or until school gets out in June whichever happened first. But then Mom and Gnorah had to leave me while they roadtripped out of state for the last few days which has left me feeling sorry for myself. So clearly self-pity means that I get to break all vows and indulge myself. So far I have purchased about 25 books from Barnes & Noble (yay for hardback new releases) and the 2 used bookstores around here (indulging myself also means downloading whatever I want from itunes & reading the leaked potentially not accurate new moon script online {guess what Gnorah it's really good! I'm sure you are relieved}. All of which leads me to Susane Colasanti. I bought all 3 of her books last night in my spree.

When It Happens is a satisying read. Susane Colasanti fits in my mind with Sarah Dessen & Deb Caletti. Solid not idiotic realistic fiction about angsty teenage girls who swoon over the wrong boys until they realize the right boys have been there all along (lab partner, boy next door, brother's best friend, etc). I liked it and I'm glad to have her next 2 books waiting for me to read in my ever increasingly to be read stack.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Breathing, Cheryl Renee Herbsman

I am feeling mostly neutral towards this book. I don't think I would have picked it up if I hadn't read some positive reviews that also mentioned the asthma angle of the story. The asthma turned out to be a seriously minor side bar to the story which was a let down for me and my irritable lungs.

I think this book was well written and the main character had a strong voice but I am so not the target audience. It's funny, but with all the teen reading I've done this year I've still really related to many of the characters or at least felt like my former teenage self related to them. But with this one I felt old. Really, really old. The main character, Savannah, is just such a young immature girl which is totally appropriate since she's 15. But I just kept wanting to sit her down and give her one of those lectures that starts out with "Young lady you will understand this when you are older..." and ends with "because I said so". I definitely related to her poor, harried mother more than Savannah.

But I'd rather have the problem of not relating to a character because of the youthfulness factor than read about a 13 year old channeling a 30 something. But because I didn't relate to Savannah I really wanted this book to end way before it did. It got pretty slow near the end of the book and even though it had a happy ending I kept thinking for sure that this 18 year old guy who never called when he said he would was going to wake up and decide to date a fellow adult instead of a histrionic 15 year old. But I also think I would have thought this book was full of true & deep words of wisdom about love if I had read it when I was 12.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If I Stay, Gayle Forman

This was a really good one even though it made me cry and I wasn’t in a mood to cry. It is so well written- there are no slow parts to skim through. Every memory that Mia has of her family lets you in a little bit more to their world and deepens how much you care about them. And I kept flip flopping about what was coming on the last page. I am pretty good at guessing endings but this one was so well done I really had no clue. On the second to last page I still wasn’t sure which direction the story would go. And I really liked the ending which was also a relief.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how it is almost the half way point in my year of honestly recording every title I’ve read and which books are the stand outs of the bunch. If I Stay would definitely be on my Mid Year Favorite Book List. And I’m so glad that I didn’t read any spoilery reviews of this book because even though I’m already thinking about reading it again I know I won’t have the same tingly feeling of worrying about what is going to happen next. I’m glad that I had it the first time though; I feel like there are so many books that I go into already knowing the big plot twist (Hello Atonement!) and it takes so much away from the reading.

And I really don’t get the Twilight comparisons I read about awhile back in reference to Catherine Hardwicke directing the movie version of If I Stay. Other than the facts that both books are YA with girl protagonists made into movies directed by Catherine Hardwicke there isn’t much in common. Certainly no sparkly vampires.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Swan Maiden, Jules Watson

My thoughts: I really like the girl on the cover's hair; in fact I'm quite jealous of it seeing as how I have been sporting a short lopsided hairdo this spring. Also Deirdre, the magical Irish Helen of Troy Druid Priestess with great hair can inhabit the bodies of animals, plants, & objects at will. At one point she was a inside a boulder feeling quite tragic and all I could think about was Sylvester and the Magic Pebble... how did William Steig come up with that story and to have Sylvester be a donkey too? I love that book and once spent an entire remedial reading group afternoon with 2nd graders attempting to draw Sylvester instead of attempting to slug our way through more phonics (there is only so much slugging through that a group of late reading 8 year olds can take in one day).

So clearly, I'm not the biggest fan of this book since I spent time while reading to ponder William Steig, but as usual, I still felt compelled to finish it. I did like reading the afterward about the actual mythology the story was based on and it sounds a lot more interesting than the book was. I like how Publishers Weekly summed this one up (a lot more tactfully than I could do it):

"This modern retelling of a tragic Irish myth is rich in well-researched detail but moves too slowly and reverently. Deirdre, a young woman prophesied to bring down the kingdom of Ulster, is torn between druidical mysticism and her love for Naisi, a warrior prince who flees with her to protect her from Ulster's covetous king. Watson (The Song of the North) emphasizes the sensuality suggested in the myth and carefully recreates the culture and people of Iron Age Ireland, but the grandeur and elegance of the original are lost in overwriting, clichéd scenes of passion and an interminable build to the inevitable conclusion." via Amazon

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Accidental Werewolf, Dakota Cassidy

This was fluffy and fun and good to read at the end of a day when a little girl in my class accidentally dumped a container of watered down glitter glue all over me and I got to spend the whole day at school with dried glue covering one side of my pants and into my shoe. Not much else to say.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Summer I Turned Pretty, Jenny Han

If I was ranking the YA books that I have read this year The Summer I Turned Pretty would be near the top. It's a quieter book than some of the fantasy stories (Graceling, Wicked Lovely, Lament, etc) or the laugh out loud books (everything by E Lockhart or Audrey, Wait) that I've read but I thought it was very well written with compelling characters who I wanted to be friends with. I like the blurb Sara Dessen has on the front cover, "This book has what every girl wants in a summer." and I completely agree. I want a summer home at the beach with built in friends who all have crushes on me because I have blossomed. I always joke that my prime was sometime back when I was 14 or 15 and that it was completely wasted because I spent the whole time being neurotic and thinking I needed to lose weight. I like that Belly realized that she had arrived with the whole prettiness thing. Not in an arrogant way but in an appreciative way.
Other than wishing for all the things I've already listed this book mostly made me wish it was the summer! 24 more days to teach first grade! Hooray!

Chapbook Entry: The Housekeeper and the Professor

I looked at the food I had just finished preparing and then at my hands. Sauteed pork garnished with lemon, a salad, and a soft, yellow omelet. I studied the dishes, one by one. They were all perfectly ordinary, but they looked delicious- satisfying food at the end of a long day. I looked at my palms again, filled suddenly with an absurd sense of satisfaction, as though I had just solved Fermat's Last Theorem. (p.135)

"I feel empty when Root isn't here," I said.
I hadn't really been speaking to him, but the Professor murmured in reply, "So, you're saying that there's a zero in you?" (p.140 continues on into the passage about the discovery of zero)

In my imagination, I saw the creator of the universe sitting in some distant corner of the sky, weaving a pattern of delicate lace so fine that even the faintest light would shine through it. The lace stretches out infinitely in every direction, billowing gently in the cosmic breeze. You want desperately to touch it, hold it up to the light, rub it against your cheek. And all we ask is to be able to re-create the pattern, weave it again with numbers, somehow, in our own language; to make even the tiniest fragment our own, to bring it back to earth. (p.124)

The Housekeeper and the Professor, Yoko Ogawa

"This is one of those books written in such lucid, unpretentious language that reading it is like looking into a deep pool of clear water. But even in the clearest waters can lurk currents you don’t see until you are in them."
-from the New York Times review

When I read a book like this I am so frustrated by my inability to adequately describe why I loved it. This book was beautiful and thought provoking and tender. One of the reasons I shy away from contemporary fiction is that so often what starts out as a promising story is hiding something really disgusting or graphic that I just don't want to read. This book was not like that.

I loved the relationships that the Professor forms with the Housekeeper and Root and I also loved reading about the math. I loved when Root said he felt smarter in the Professor's study- the reviewer in the NY Times mentioned that we would all be smarter if we had had a teacher like the Professor. I can't help but agree.

"The Professor never really seemed to care whether we figured out the right answer to a problem. He preferred our wild, desperate guesses to silence, and he was even more delighted when those guesses led to new problems that took us beyond the original one. He had a special feeling for what he called the "correct miscalculation," for he believed that mistakes were often as revealing as the right answers. This gave us confidence even when our best efforts came to nothing." (p.2)

"But the Professor didn't always insist on being the teacher. He had enormous respect for matters about which he had no knowledge, and he was as humble in such cases as the square root of negative one itself." (p.3)

"His tone was kind and full of expectation, and it didn't seem as though he were testing me. On the contrary, he made me feel as though I were on an important mission, that I was the only one who could lead us out of this puzzle and find the correct answer." (p.18)

"Only a few people know the mystery concealed in this formula, and the rest of us go to our graves without even suspecting there is a secret to be revealed. But by some whim of fate, I had found it, and now knocked at the door, asking to be let in. Though I had never suspected it, from the moment I'd been dispatched by the Akebono Housekeeping Agency, I had been on a mission toward that door..."(p.52)

"I wondered why ordinary words seemed so exotic when they were used in relation to numbers. Amicable numbers or twin primes had a precise quality about them, and yet they sounded as though they'd been taken out of a poem. In my mind, the twins had matching outfits and stood holding hands as they waited in the number line." (p.63)

"Among the many things that made the Professor an excellent teacher was the fact that he wasn't afraid to say "we don't know." For the Professor, there was no shame in admitting you didn't have the answer, it was a necessary step toward the truth. It was as important to teach us about the unknown or the unknowable as it was to teach us what had already been safely proven." (p.63)

"There is nothing more shameful for a housekeeper than to rummage through her employer's personal property." (p.82)

"Every time I see the Professor writing a note with that little pencil, I feel like crying," Root said.
"Because it's sad!" he said. He was almost angry now." (p.85)

"I remembered something the Professor had said: "The mathematical order is beautiful precisely because it has no effect on the real world. Life isn't going to be easier, nor is anyone going to make a fortune, just because they know something about prime numbers. Of course, lots of mathematical discoveries have practical applications, no matter how esoteric they may seem... The only goal is to discover the truth." (p.115)

"All I knew for sure was that they were math books. As I looked at them, their contents seemed beyond the comprehension of human beings. The pages and pages of complex, impenetrable calculations might have contained the secrets of the universe, copied out of God's notebook." (p.124)

"The mathematics stacks were as silent and empty as ever- apparently no one suspected the riches hidden there." (p.127)

"He treated Root exactly how he treated prime numbers. For him, primes were the base on which all other natural numbers relied; and children were the foundation of everything in the adult world." (p.130)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Middle Place, Kelly Corrigan

A mom of a little boy in my class invited me to a school fundraiser featuring Kelly Corrigan reading from her book and answering questions. I don't know that I would have read this book without it being given to me as a gift but I am so glad that I did. It is wonderful. I keep talking about it with my mom and want her (and Gnorah & my aunts) to read it so we can bookclub it up.

I also really loved going to the reading. I had never been to one before and wasn't quite sure what to expect but this woman is hilarious for starters so it was very entertaining to listen to her speak. But it also made her writing so much more meaningful to me hearing her talk about her family and answer questions.

There is a lot in this book I could write about, I certainly cried my way through reading it, but I think this is one of my favorite parts:

"I asked her what the worst time in her life was.
"Sixth grade was pretty bad," she said, thinking out loud.
"Wow, me too."
"Not my sixth grade, Kelly, your sixth grade."
"Why?" I asked, wondering if I had forgotten something terrible that had happened to her that year.
"You'll see. When you're a mother and your kid's in pain and you can't stop it- it's hell. Absolute hell." (p.67)

Wings, Aprilynne Pike

I really liked this book (And I pretty much had to since I am in thrall to Stephenie Meyer and she told me it was a remarkable debut so really what else could I think?). It is a clever story with an engaging romance. My issue with this book was how short it was. I felt like it was all over too quickly and not in that way of loving a book so much that you don't want to have your reading experience end. This book had me hooked but it still felt like it ended before it really found it's sure footing. But since it is the first of 4 planned books I'm hoping that the books that come next will be more satisfying. Kind of like how once you knew that Kristy was a bossy tomboy, Claudia was an artsy Asian, Dawn was the California girl, and Stacey the awesome diabetic you could skip the first chapter that was identical in every installment of the Baby Sitters Club and get right into the real story & ponder the tough questions (like how did Mary Anne get that dreamy boyfriend Logan if she is so boring that I didn't remember her for my character summary? Explain that Ann M. Martin)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Impossible, Nancy Werlin

I was surprised by how interesting this book turned out to be. The premise is admittedly weird (and more than a smidgen creepy) but I really liked the romance storyline, I thought the whole Scarborough Fair riddle was clever, and I cheered for the traditional gender roles running rampant throughout the story (Yay for a young man who wants to act like a man and take care of the girl he loves and for a girl who respects the sanctity of life!). I also really liked that Lucy's best friend, a minor character, was such a real friend to her when things got freaky.

I had been expecting that the solutions to the riddles would be more out there and not so literal. Probably because I am horrible at riddles and never can come up with answers so I was prepared to be blown away by the cleverness of them and then wasn't. But overall I was really happy with the ending and with the story. I'm also impressed because I picked this up at the bookstore for full price knowing nothing about it which always has the potential to lead to some serious book shopper's remorse. Happily that is not the case with Impossible.

"We formed the Fellowship of the Ring when we should've all just gone on medication." (p.193)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick

I first read about this on the Library Things Early Reviewers page and then kept seeing it compared to Wuthering Heights & Rebecca. That was enough to make me want to read it. I went into it expecting shades of gothic novels with some romance thrown in. What I got was mostly characters thinking about sex, wishing they were having sex, or actually having sex. Which just isn't what I want to read about.

Things I liked: the cover design, the premise (I'm always interested in mail order bride stories), and the following quote:

"Love and money. She could not believe that her life, as barren and as aimless as it had been, would end without either love or money. She could not, would not accept that as a fact, because to accept it now would mean that the end had already come and gone.

She was determined, cold as steel. She would not live without at least some portion of the two things she knew were necessary as a minimum to sustain life. She had spent her years believing that they would come, in time. She believed an angel would come down from heaven and bless her with riches as she had been blessed with beauty. She believed in the miraculous. Or she had, until she reached an age when, all of a sudden, she realized that the life she was living was, in fact, her life." (p.19)

Overall I was disappointed in this book but I think it was because I went in with such high expectations. Comparisons to Wuthering Heights and Rebecca are way over the top for this one. I was also reminded of The Thirteenth Tale which I did enjoy tremendously. The Thirteenth Tale fulfilled my expectations and the many gothic comparisons it received in reviews. I wonder if there are any other modern gothic books out there that aren't super creep/graphic/etc.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Goldengrove, Francine Prose

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?

It was interesting to read this book so soon after reading A Map of the Known World. It felt a little like doing a school report comparing and contrasting such similarly themed stories, especially when one is so much stronger than the other (hint: Goldengrove, you win!).

I had a lot of issues with Map and feel like it is a text book example of an unrealistic voice for a young narrator. Francine Prose's portrayal of Nico is the complete opposite of Cora's character. Nico is completely unique but still realistic. This is the book that A Map of the Known World was hoping to be.

Goldengrove is one of those books that I didn't really didn't want to end. The characters were so real and the writing was clear, beautiful, and to hammer it home- believable. I think this kept popping into my head because I was so used to not believing anything about Cora and both books had the same younger sibling dealing with the death of older sibling theme going on. I kept marking passages to remember and revisit. This book is sad and amazing. I definitely plan to buy my own copy.

"I hated it when my mother talked about her parents. It depressed me that she still missed them. It was worse now, because it made me realize that missing someone could last an entire lifetime." (p.73)

Here was the quote that made me sit up and really notice the difference between the writing in Goldengrove and A Map of the Known World. I believe Nico would actually have said the following quote unlike that twaddle Cora was spouting about breath leading us through life.

"I looked like Jean Seburg in Joan of Arc, lit so that the heavenly radiance shone on her upturned forehead even as her cheeks were shadowed by the silhouettes of the flames dancing up to kill her." (p.74)

I love this quote about Nico's 4th grade teacher. That is exactly how I feel about myself on my bad days- like a teacher doll with no outside life or feelings other than keeping a classroom of babies happy.

"I'd liked Mrs. Atkins, though to me she was just another teacher doll that wound itself up when school began and ran down at three...I'd never imagined her having a mother, let alone one who could die. I'd never dreamed she could have been grieving even as she'd ordered us to play." (p.79)

"Margaret had been born too late. She'd meant too late for the jazz standards, the screwball comedies, the satin gowns. But she'd been off by the centuries. Too late for the lifeguard saint." (p.98)

"Nico, how are you? Really."
I said, "I'm okay. Not great."
"Great would be bizarre," she said. "No one's expecting great. Getting out of bed is the new great. Which you seem to be doing." (p.127)

"It used to be my studio," he said. "When I was pretending to paint."
"And now?"
"Now it's where I bake little children into gingerbread." (p.139)

"...the crisp Bach preludes that made me think of prairie dogs popping in and out of their burrows." (p.169)

Interview with Francine Prose at Book Page

Terry Teachout on Goldengrove

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