Sunday, March 16, 2008

I love books. . .

I like to write once in awhile about what I've been reading lately. Maybe for the other book lovers out there, you can get some ideas about something to look for next time you're at the library. . .I'll call it my blog book club.

My mom sent me two books that I was a bit skeptical I would enjoy. Both were written by Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

The Kite Runner is about friendships of two boys from different religious backgrounds growing up in Afghanistan and the turmoil they encounter as Afghanistan goes from an almost idyllic setting to a war zone.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a similar story, but this time a story of two Afghani women from two different generations who are thrown together by circumstances and find a friendship in the midst of strife.

These aren't my typical choice of books I would pick up to enjoy, but I found that I couldn't put them down and I am eager to see The Kite Runner movie that was made last year. After reading those two books, I now take more notice of the articles in the newspaper involving Afghanistan. Although both books are works of fiction, they provided me with a history lesson of the country from the past 50 years.

A few months ago I read The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney and really enjoyed it. Since that time I have checked out three other books she has written.

The Goodbye Summer is about Caddie, a single 30 something piano teacher who lives with her elderly grandmother who is beginning to show signs of dementia. The grandmother falls and breaks a leg and requires more care than Caddie can manage, so she sends her to a rest home (not really a nursing home - more upscale). There they both meet many interesting people and it's about their journeys through some life changing events. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to read. Working with this population in my own profession made the dialogue between Caddie and the other rest home residents poignant and true.

Flight Lessons is about a woman who has to return to her hometown and face a family disagreement head on with her aunt when she becomes manager for her aunt's restaurant. I didn't enjoy this book as much as her other two I had read - the main character being so stubborn and selfish it was frustrating at times, but I guess without that selfishness there wouldn't have been a story there.

Mad Dash is about a woman named Dash who is a portrait photographer (interesting!) who is facing middle age, the loss of her mother and a daughter going off to college all at once. She suddenly finds herself irritated with her OCD husband's every move and ends up leaving him over a silly fight. I enjoyed it, but I probably should have waited 10-12 years (when my girls move out) before I read it to really grasp the truth of it all. . .

I still have one more Patricia Gaffney book to read - Circle of Three. The library has been out of it lately, so I went for a Jodi Picoult book next. Jodi Picoult is a popular author locally. I see moms around town always carrying one of her books and she had a big book signing here last year at the high school that was very heavily attended. Jodi Picout writes about families and relationships. I read one of her books last year (around the time of all the hype) and had a hard time enjoying it. I mean the writing is excellent, don't get me wrong, but the story line of that book The Tenth Circle involved a teenage girl who was date raped, but throughout the story you really don't know whether to believe she's telling the truth or not. And the parents are of course on a rampage to bring this boy to justice and it ends tragically.

So, tragic endings don't sit well with me and that's probably why it's taken me over a year to read something else by this author. The book I read this time - My Sister's Keeper - is being made into a movie, so it must be a good one, right?

My Sister's Keeper is about a girl with a rare form of leukemia who needs an exact blood match to be kept alive, so the parents "create" a sibling that will be an exact match and use that little girl every time the older daughter needs anything - cord blood, bone marrow, transfusions, etc. When the younger daughter is 13, her sister needs a kidney to stay alive, but the 13 year old puts her foot down and brings a lawsuit against her parents. Throughout the book you think how selfish all the characters are being (the mom for not seeing her younger daughter's turmoil, the younger daughter for not seeming to care her sister is going to die and the oldest son who sets arson fires around the town just to get some of his own attention). The side story of the attorney she chooses is the best part of the book - he and the appointed guardian have their own little history that makes the book fun. Again it has an unexpected tragic ending that Ms. Picoult seems to enjoy throwing at you.

I think it will be awhile before I can pick up another Jodi Picoult novel. I have to let the memory of this one go away first. I will hold out for the last Patricia Gaffney book. So far my favorite of hers is still Saving Graces with The Goodbye Summer coming in second.

But once I finish reading her last novel, I will need something else to read. Any suggestions? I enjoyed the movie feedback I got and now I need book feedback. Leave a comment of a favorite book you've read lately.


Wireless said...
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Amy Young said...

If you haven't read it yet, The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory was incredible. I read it a couple of years ago, and just saw the movie last month. As is usually the case, the movie didn't hold a candle to the book. I have yet to read any of her other novels, but she tends to write mostly about Tudor England, which I enjoy. Her line between fact and fiction is practically invisible; I found myself researching so much after reading it wondering what actually DID happen during that time!