Friday, September 20, 2013

September Book Club -- The End of Your Life Book Club

The End of Your Life Book Club
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 2
Source:  Personal copy
Genre:  Memoir/Biography
Objectionable material:  None

In a tender tribute to his mother, Will Schwalbe writes of the final two years of his mother's life and their shared love books. In waiting rooms, pharmacies, car rides, vacations -- Will and Mary Anne discussed the many books they read together -- their very own two person book club, minus the refreshments.

Will's mother was an amazing woman: Radcliffe- educated, theatre trained, she went on to direct auditions for the London Academy of Music and Drama, was an educational administrator at Harvard, volunteered for months in a Thai refugee camp, founded the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and in her final years, raised funds for traveling libraries in Afghanistan.

I was a bit surprised I'd never heard of her.

I appreciated the author raising my awareness of his mother's accomplishments, her charity work, her friends, her love of literature and a life well lived.

However, I'm not sure if the author was trying to write a book club book, a biography, a family history. Or what exactly. In many ways this book was, as my friend Becca mentioned, a 300 page obituary with an attached reading list. There was no clear narrative, no clear direction, no clear focus. The books almost seemed an afterthought.

But my main issue with his memoir/tribute was its tone: Between the name dropping (they lived next to Julia Child), the overseas travel (we all could be so lucky to visit London and Geneva whilst undergoing chemo), the political slant, and overall affluence, the entire story was laden with pretension. My take -- if you get cancer it's better if you're rich, because you can still vacation in Vero Beach, and upstate New York, and have your townhome in Manhattan. Oh and lots of books too.

Ultimately though, in a world where mother's are berated in print by their offspring, this book was a generous outpouring of love for a beloved mother.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Review -- Fortunately, the Milk

Fortunately, the Milk
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 4 (I'm still grinning)
Source:  Copy at Barnes & Noble
Genre:  Juvenile Fiction (chapter book)
Objectionable material: None

Only Neil Gaiman could send a father out for groceries and have him encounter aliens, pirates, dinosaurs, vampires, and a host of other creatures, only to return from his time travels with his necessary item -- milk -- for his children's breakfast cereal.

Read in only about 25 minutes in the middle of the Barnes & Noble children's area -- I must have been grinning because the salesman noticed and asked, "it must be funny?" I responded, "I will read anything by Gaiman, even if written for an 8 yr old."

A rollicking adventure -- with amazing illustrations.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review -- Eleanor & Park

Eleanor and Park
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 4
Source: Personal copy
Genre: YA fiction
Objectionable material: strong language, sexual innuendo

Park rides the bus.

Eleanor is new to riding the bus.

The only place to sit on the bus is next to Park because Steve, Tina and their posse refuse to let Eleanor sit anywhere else.

With Park's quick slide toward the window, Eleanor finds a seat -- and what will turn out to be, her salvation.

Rainbow Rowell has written the pitch perfect novel of outcasts, bullying, dysfunction, abuse and frenetic, impassioned young love.

She is flawless in encapsulating Park and Eleanor's relationship -- two teens who have nowhere else to turn except to each other.

The danger and peril that exists in Eleanor's home and with her siblings is heartbreaking. But with Park's bravery they find a way to...survive.

This is a book that will linger with you a long time.
I will certainly be reading Rainbow Rowell's other novels!