Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book review

Go Set a Watchman. (Long review alert) I loved this book. It's getting a bad rap because of the way Atticus seems to have changed and the fact that maybe Harper Lee didn't want it published and that it would never stand alone as its own work without the help of Mockingbird BUT in light of all of that, I enjoy a coming of age book and that is what I think is at the heart of this book more than any kind of racial message. At the age of 26 Jean Louise is still coming into her own, she finally sees her father for what he is, a flawed human. On her yearly trip back to her small southern town, she sees her city, in the height of racial tension brought on by recent Supreme court decisions, in a much different light and she's trying to come to terms with how she can be from this place that seems so foreign to her beliefs. Who can't relate to that feeling? Surely I'm not alone in that! Granted I am from a small southern town so maybe it rings a little more true for me, but I would imagine most 20-somethings who have moved away go through similar feelings when visiting home and forming their own opinions that may be in contrast to their parents.

Spoiler alert: I disagree with some of the viewpoints that hold Atticus has become a racist or that by the end of the book Scout agrees to see things his way. I think what the author was trying to say is that there were many complicated views in the 50s on how best to proceed with new civil rights laws. She's not agreeing with one or the other (although I tend to think Scout is a representation closely to herself) she's just presenting that this is how it was. Atticus is representing the population that felt change would best come slowly and Jean Louise represented the people saying slow change is still oppression. In the end they made up because they agreed they could each hold their own opinions and still love each other and have a relationship. He was proud that she stood up for her beliefs and either he or her uncle (I can't remember which) was persuading her to move back because they felt Maycomb needed people with her mindset. And like I said before I really feel overall this book was about a girls' disillusionment with her hometown and her idealized father more than anything else. I doubt I would've enjoyed it as much had I not had the background story of Mockingbird, but I do, so I'm very thankful I read it and I give it a 9.5.

Not That Kind of Girl is a memoir of short stories by Lena Dunham (maybe a long lost relative on my maternal grandmother's side?) who has risen to fame rather quickly at a young age. I guess it would be in the coming of age genre too but I would def not compare it to Watchman! I enjoyed it and appreciate her candor, sense of humor, and the way she can depict the dichotomy of feelings inside a young girl's head! Her writing and humor reminds me of a friend I once had and I think it'd be fun to discuss it with her if she were still here. It is rather crass at times though so reader be warned. I give it a 7.

Girl on a Train. This is one of those hard to put down books which helped me get out of my reading funk! How many times do you make up stories about people you see in a restaurant or shopping center? Well this woman has done it with people she sees from her seat on the train every day except her memories are blurred because of her alcoholism and so when she sees something from the train one day that shocks her, she gets involved but maybe too much. It's told through her distorted memories and will have you guessing until the end pretty much! I give it an 8.

The Storyteller. It's been awhile since I read this one but I did enjoy it. My only beef with it was there was a little TOO much going on with the various storylines which I hear is typical of a Picoult book but this was the first one I've read. There's nazi hunting, a love story, a mystery, and vampires all rolled into one. I did become fascinated briefly with learning more about people who still hunt for nazi war criminals today...something I'd never even thought about before. There are some still alive and still in hiding and there is a great documentary series on Netflix called The Last Nazis which I think does a great job of presenting the topic from the viewpoint of a nazi hunter, a former nazi, and children who were raised in Lebensborn, hospitals for Hitler's Aryan race of fatherless children (another topic I knew nothing about). I give the book a 7.

Books I Couldn't Finish
Pride and Prejudice. Sorry all of you classic lit lovers. I think this is my third attempt at this book. I cannot follow who is speaking in the dialogue and although it's witty at times I just can't stay interested. People keep telling me to watch the movie FIRST and then I'll like the book. But I don't think I'll want to read the book if I watch the movie. I dunno. The best part for me was finding out who all of my sister in law's pets are named after!

Dear Life. I read half of these short stories for book club. None of us were that enthused with them. We had great hopes as the author has won a Nobel award for her writings. All of these stories seemed to just jump into the middle of something like we already knew the characters and what was going on and they were kind of hard to follow and get any meaning out of. Probably just over my head. There was one I kind of enjoyed but that was it.

Rules of rating seen here. What are you reading?

(We took a break from chapter books for awhile with Liv. She is reading much better on her own and likes to read out loud often at bedtime so we've been keepin' it simple so she can practice! I'm sure I'll have some children's books reviews soon though)


GmaakaMom said...

I've never read the book (Pride and...) but I LOVE the movie. We'll have a movie watching party next year ar our reunion.

Jana + Ryan said...

I LOVE Pride & Prejudice... the movie. I'm a sucker for a good love story. I tried to read the book twice with years in between & couldn't make it through either time. I was pretty disappointed.

Your first 3 have been on my list to read. I'm starting to get back into reading regularly so hopefully I'll actually get to them fairly soon.

kmom said...

Thank you for your review of the newly out Harper Lee novel. Dad and I recently saw TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD movie for my first time. I thought it was excellent (I had seen the play.) Then I read the hoopla about the new novel. You gave the best review I've read about the novel. Most stuff is about the controversy. I had decided I didn't want to read it, but now I think I might, along with A GIRL ON A TRAIN. Recently I finished reading a novel you recommended, WHERE ARE YOU, BERNADETTE? by Maria Semple. It was a hoot. I thought I knew how it was going to end after reading less than 1/4 of the book, but I was so wrong. I plan to start reading THE THORNBIRDS, which I have never read. I was surprised our library had to send off for it.

Ryan and Katie said...

I can't believe you didn't read The Thornbirds back in the day! Let me know what you think of it mom!

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