Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Oh, dear.  It's not as though I wasn't expecting a book about teenagers with cancer to make me cry.  Come on, we all know I'm a huge cry baby, and I don't hide from that.  And yet, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green wiped me out last night.  I climbed in bed early about halfway through the book expecting to read a little, but as I literally read it and wept, I couldn't put it down.  I stayed up much too late to finish, but it was totally worth it.  A re-read will most certainly be in my future.

Hazel is a sixteen-year-old girl with a terminal form of lung cancer.  Her parents are worried that she doesn't have enough friends and so they force her to attend a support group with other teenage cancer patients.  She would much rather stay home, hang out with her parents and watch endless episodes of America's Next Top Model, but her parents want more for her.  At one meeting, Hazel is introduced to Augustus who is a cancer survivor.  He survived and his odds of recurrence are very low, but he did lose one of his legs to the disease.  And since this is a Young Adult novel, the two begin a relationship.  But don't forget, it's a book about teenagers with cancer.  Teenagers.  With cancer.  Of course, I'm not going to spoil it for you, but I do want you to remember the premise of the book before you get too invested.  Not that you shouldn't read it, you should just be sure you have stocked up on the tissues.  And Gatorade- it's a good idea to hydrate.

I loved this book.  I loved the characters.  One of my big complaints about a lot of YA fiction is that it is so superficial, so light with so little meat.  This was not like that.  These teenagers are smart and aware of the world and their place in it.  And perhaps that is part of the fiction, but I'll take it because I far prefer it to some of the characters I've read it other books.  There are so many quotes I would love to share with you, but as my Kindle informs me I have thirty-four highlights, I won't.  It would be too much and I wouldn't want to ruin the book for you.  There are so many things that I can't wait to discuss with someone who has read this.  So, Smart Girl, hurry up and read it so we can talk about it!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

It would be far too easy to compare the main character in The Rosie Project  by Graeme Simsion to Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, but it is also nearly impossible not to picture that tall, odd character when reading about Professor Don Tillman.  Don describes himself as weird and "incompatible with other people".  He knows that he is socially awkward and that his mannerisms and brain function are outside the norm.  He appears not to have a problem with this fact, but instead works with it.  When he decides that it is time he should find a wife, Don commences The Wife Project.  He builds a questionnaire that will weed out all of the inappropriate or undesirable candidates.  The project doesn't go exactly as planned, but it does introduce him to Rosie.  He knows immediately that she is  unsuitable as a partner, but he finds himself creating a project to help Rosie identify her biological father.  Logically, he should not want to spend more time with her, but he is surprised to see how much he enjoys her company.  

I adored this book.  Don is awful and sweet and maddening and lovable at the same time.  I really enjoy smart characters and I'm not sure they get smarter than Don.  When he was worried he might be becoming a "typical computer geek", he decided he should switch his focus of study to genetics where he rose to the top ranks of his field.  He has a brilliant mind, but he struggles in all social situations.  Rosie has so many of her own difficulties, but the more the reader learns about her, the more wonderful she becomes.  I have read criticism of this book that it makes light of people living on the Autism spectrum, but I feel like the humor in this book is aimed at Don specifically, not at anyone else.  You will love Don.  You will hope for these characters.  Lately I have felt as though I have been in a reading funk, but these last two books just may be pulling me out of it.  Read them both- you won't regret it!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

Occasionally I come across a book that makes me wonder what kind of magic this writer must posses.   And I do believe it is a form of magic, this architecture of language into something so beautiful that I feel I must read bits of it aloud just to better savor the author's words.   The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow  by Rita Leganski is one such gem.  The way Ms. Leganski frames the thoughts she presents is magical.  Bonaventure Arrow is a boy born without speech, but with incomparable hearing.  At first his hearing only extends to his mother's heart beat across the room.  Soon he can hear across the house, across town and eventually across space and time.  "They didn't know that through his remarkable hearing he would bring salvation to the souls of those who loved him."

This book begins with a sweet whirlwind romance which then turns to explore the themes of loss, guilt, love and grief.  "They lay entwined and thought themselves alone.  But that is one thing they most definitely were not, for Bonaventure had begun.  The cells of his body were doubling and doubling again..."  It is so difficult to not give away any little bit, but I don't want to take anything away from this story.  I love this book and it will most certainly need to be reread.  It is only the first book I've read this year, but it will be a tough one to top.