She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Warning: There are many triggers in this book for victims of many types of abuse, as well as those with mental illnesses. I won’t list the types because I don’t want spoilers, but if you think you are interested but have these types of triggers, please be advised.

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She’s Come Undone is one heck of an emotional roller-coaster. Main character Dolores takes us through her life, from one catastrophic event to the next. First, her parent’s abusive relationship. Then the death of her baby brother. Then her mother goes into a mental hospital. And her father cheats. Then her parents divorce. She eventually is moved to her grandmother’s home, away from the one friend she had made, and is forced to endure the teenage years alone. All of this is just the base of which Dolores builds her life, and as you can guess, it’s a rocky foundation. She’s depressed, she’s consoling herself with food and television, and she’s isolating herself from everyone with harsh defensive mechanisms. Taking place between the 1950’s and 1980’s, there is very little support for the circumstances and situations that Dolores is dealing with, and what support she does find comes with the price of a negative connotation.

It seems like it would be easy to pity or empathize with Dolores, but to me, for most of the book, she is an unlikable main character- which I believe is exactly what Lamb wanted his readers to think. Every time something bad happens to Dolores, she acts or lashes out, sinking into her depression and the mindset that she is alone, unloved, and unworthy. Even when someone helps her and shows her differently, she pushes them away. Parallel with the story, when Dolores lashes out, Lamb pushes away the reader intentionally- but just when you think that you’ve had enough of this book, something else keeps you reading.

It’s complex and I’m not sure if I’m explaining it eloquently enough, but to me, that’s where the power in this book is. It’s an excellent account of someone who has struggled their whole life with mental instability, with abuse, and with self-worth. It’s raw, turbulent, and emotional. Somewhere in the middle of the book, I turned my dislike for Dolores around, and was silently hoping that she would be able to stand up for herself by the book. By the end, I was smiling at the pages, glad that Dolores learns how to love and be loved.

However, I still don’t think I loved this book. Even though it was powerful, I still struggled overall with the read. I personally resent the amount of disgust shown for Dolores’ weight, and the comparisons to a beached whale. I get that that adds to her difficulties and kicks the girl when she’s down, and that it represents a lot of what our culture thinks and says about fatness, and I realized that this book was written way before the body positivity movement- but it still managed to tick me off many times. If you want a reason why, shoot me a message and I’ll get into it there.  I also hated that once she was skinny, it made her more worthy of love. I also know that Dolores’ mental issues, the whole “come undone” part of the title, was a struggle that the reader went along for the ride with, but I just felt so uncomfortable there with her, like I shouldn’t be witnessing what I was.

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In conclusion, I would recommend this book to others, but only if I really knew the person I was recommending it to, and I don’t think I’ll be rereading it. I understand why so many people recommended it, because it is so powerful, but can’t say that it became a new favorite.

Warning: There are many triggers in this book for victims of many types of abuse, as well as those with mental illnesses. I won’t list the types because I don’t want spoilers, but if you think you are interested but have these types of triggers, please be advised.

 

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I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I’m almost at a loss of words when it comes to this book. How could anyone read it without their heart shattering?

I guess to start, I’ll be the first to admit, politics are not my favorite subject. I’ve never liked confrontation, and I rarely paid attention to international conflicts. On September 11, 2001, I was a terrified fourth grader who didn’t understand what was happening in the world- but I was mollified by the promise that American soldiers were going to protect me from the terrorists. Growing up, I realize and confess, I was put in a privileged American bubble and only heard scraps of information about the war on terrorism and the conflict in the Middle East, mostly because I didn’t seek out information.

Now, as an adult (who is still working on adulting) I’d realized that I needed to wake up and pay attention to what is going on in the world. I read the headlines every day from various media outlets (because contrary to popular belief, just because it is on the internet doesn’t mean it must be true), and form educated opinions about current events. I still keep many of those opinions to myself, but I’ve come to enjoy discussing what is happening in the world- although at times (especially under our current administration) it tends to get me down- with family and friends.

At any rate, I Am Malala has been on my TBR for a long time. I knew it was a must read, and I had heard about Malala in the news, so I was somewhat familiar with her story… or so I thought, anyway. Reading Malala’s story in her own words not only educated me on the adversity in Pakistan and it’s turbulent history, but also the culture of a woman’s life under the reign of the Taliban.

Malala introduces herself and her family, starting from the day of her attack and working backwards. Her grandfather was a traditional Islamic man who was known for his ability to give amazing speeches in their community. He raised his son to also be a strong man of faith, and despite troubles with a stammer, helped to make him a renowned public speaker as well. As Malala’s father was also a fierce believer in children’s education, and eventually started his own school despite financial and economic hardships.

When Malala was born, her father rejoiced despite the common belief that boys were more prized than girls. Malala grew up in her father’s school and loved the educational environment. She would listen to the teachers tell stories, and when old enough, became a devoted pupil. She was interested in politics and history of her country, and intrigued by human rights. In Pakistan, females were not encouraged to go to school for both religious and economic reasons, with the common mentality being that education was meant for males, and a waste of resources and money on females. There was also the traditional belief to practice purdah, where the females of the household are completely covered and hidden from males that aren’t close family. Malala’s family was more modern in this context. Her father wanted education available to girls, allowed Malala to not cover her face, and encouraged her to speak out for the right of female education.

When the Taliban took over Swat (the area where Malala lived), extreme politics overturned the government, and Malala and her father became a target for speaking out against them. Their school was repeatedly told to shut down and disallow girls, and fined for absurd reasons. The town was terrorized by militant groups raiding homes in search of forbidden property like DVDs, CDs, and TVs- anything that could counter the propaganda being promoted by the leader of the Taliban. Anyone found- or accused- of speaking against the Taliban was targeted and either killed or flogged in public and left to die in the streets. Everything was done in the name of Islam, stating that the reasoning could be found in the Quran- yet many were uneducated and couldn’t read the original Arabic text, therefore relying on the translations and interpretations. Eventually, war came to the area, displacing millions of people in Swat- including Malala and her family. Through the tragedy, Malala and her father stayed true to their beliefs that peace, not violence, was the answer, and that education should be available to everyone.

When the Taliban was driven out of Swat and Malala’s family returned home, normalcy was still difficult to find, and everyone was still living in fear. However, Malala put on a brave face and continued to speak out- reaching locally and internationally- advocating for female education, ignoring the threats on her life. Though she was only fifteen, she was wise beyond her years and had faith in the Islam she knew, not the one projected by extremists. Then, one seemingly normal afternoon, Malala was shot.

As Malala tells her own story, I struggled to fight the heartbreak. This teenager lived in a paradise that she watched transform into a living hell, and survived the nightmare of it all, not losing an ounce of her faith or giving an inch in her beliefs. She is an absolute inspiration, and I was both in awe and shock as she recounted her short 16 years on earth. I personally would go to bed at night after reading a few chapters and have nightmares just from what I had read. As I said before, I live a privileged life, and even my imagination can’t handle what Malala went through.

I absolutely think I Am Malala is a must-read. We owe it to her, and to those who went through, and continue to go through, the fight on terrorism and the fight for basic human rights.

One Lovely Blog Award & A Giveaway!

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I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! Malanie at Malanie Loves Fiction nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award, and I’m seriously blushing guys! I’m seriously feeling the love! Coming from a blogger whose posts always make me giggle or want to read something, I am blown away! Thank you so much Malanie, I truly appreciate it!!

Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award
  2. Display the banner/sticker/logo on your blog
  3. Share 7 facts or things about yourself
  4. Nominate up to 15 bloggers that you admire and inform the nominees

So, funny thing about the timing of this nomination- the day before I was nominated, I was challenged by my wonderful bookish friend Megan at What Megan Reads to join in on the Get To Know The Bookstagrammer tag. So, I put together some photos with some fun facts- so I’ll share them here!

My Seven Fun Facts!

  1. I love horses! As if you didn’t know already, haha. I don’t own my own horse (they’re expensive fur-children), but I’ve worked with and ridden them since I was fourteen.
  2. I love going to live concerts- the louder, the better! Since I’ve moved to Kentucky, I try to make it to at least one concert a year because where I grew up, you had to drive a minimum of 2 hours away to see anyone of note perform. Here, I can get to three different venues in less than 1 hour!
  3. I enjoy hunting. I come from a long line of hunters, and I passed my hunter’s safety course when I was ten, and got my first deer when I was eleven. I love spending time in the woods with my father, grandfather, uncles, and siblings, and I really love being able to fill my freezer! Also, for anyone who is anti-hunting, I respect your position, but I don’t want any debates here. This is just me sharing a bit of myself.
  4. I’m a total cat lady. I have two of my own, Junior and Millie, and I grew up with three cats- Hootie, Hazel, and Penny.
  5. I love to travel! I have only left the USA once (Oh, Canadaaa), but I love roadtrips and exploring new places. I’ve been to 24 states so far, and want to see the other 26! Also, my wanderlust dream is to venture off to Europe someday.
  6. I hate cooking. I want to be one of those Rachel Ray- types, but even when I’m really trying, I still manage to overcook (ahem, burn to a crisp) or under cook everything. Therefore, my microwave is the most important cooking appliance I own. My sister got the chef genes in our family.
  7. I am an auntie many times over. My brother and his wife gave me a nephew and two nieces, and my other-brother and his significant-other just recently gave me another niece! I live close to my brother and his family, and it has been a joy to see those kiddos grow up and learn new things, and the laughter is endless with them! Oh, also, I’m an auntie to many of my friend’s fur-children!

I nominate the following lovely bloggers…

…for their strong, independent writing. You all write about the things you are passionate about, and even though I don’t know you, as a reader of your blogs, I can glimpse your personalities and interests based on your writing styles. I follow you all because I either share similar interests or feelings about the topics you discussed, and I find that ability to connect to your readers lovely. Thank you and congratulations to you all!

BUT WAIT, there’s more!

I also want to take the time to announce that I’ve gotten 200 followers on WordPress, 300 on Twitter, and 500 on Instagram! I am so thankful for everyone who has taken the time to check out my blog and socials, and I wanted to do something to show my appreciation! So I’m doing another giveaway!! This time, the prize is a gorgeous copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, a cute palm-sized notebook, and a bookmark!

Here are the entry rules:

  1. United States entries only. (Sorry all my international followers, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m still trying to figure out the international shipping system)
  2. Real accounts only- no spammers!
  3. Follow my blog, and comment below that you’ve followed (or are already following!)
  4. For a bonus entry- follow @thelexbookie on Twitter!
  5. For a bonus entry- follow TheLexingtonBookie on Instagram!
  6. Entries are open now, and close on Tuesday, February 27th (2017) at 12am EDT. I will announce the winner here and on social media, and contact the winner, on Wednesday, February 28th! The winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize!

Good luck everyone, and again, thank you all for inspiring and motivating me, as well as celebrating with me!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’m pretty sure I started to read this while I was in middle school and couldn’t get into it, so I decided to give Speak another go.

It’s a rather quick read (I read it in a day) about a high school freshman named Melanie. Her school year starts off terribly as she finds herself friendless with a tattered reputation, and she begins to emotionally recede. Her anxiety leaves her almost speechless, and yet her inner turmoil is a constant stream of quick witted (and at times fearful) thought. As the story unfolds, we learn that Mellie became the class outcast because she had called 911 during a popular party over the summer, yet her reason behind the call goes unexplained for a long time.

In the meantime, Melanie is struggling in school. Her grades have tanked with the exception of her art class, and her parents and teachers don’t understand why. The only place she feels contentment at school is an abandoned janitorial closet that she cleaned up, and in her art class with Mr. Freeman, as she works on her yearly assignment- trees. Coached by her teacher, she tries different mediums to make her trees speak, and as the year goes on, she finally realizes the parallel between her tree’s expression and her own. When the epiphany takes hold, she decides to take action about her depression and the beast that haunts her.

Halse Anderson’s writing style throughout the book is broken into small thoughtful paragraphs straight from her main character’s mind, and instead of chapters, the book is broken into marking period quarters. I think this is what turned me off the first time I attempted to read this book, but I find it very clever now. This sets up the story timeline in a creative way, allowing the reader to understand the passing of time but without having it stated in the inner thoughts of the main character. I also was surprised at Mellie’s inner dialogue- though it’s a YA book, the content is, for the most part, mature. And when there are paragraphs of immaturity, it’s exactly what you would expect to come from a teenager. I thought I’d feel a little too old to be reading Speak, but Halse Anderson did a great job making Melanie’s story relatable and understandable for all ages.

As an aside, the copy I own is the platinum edition, so it came with a Q&A from the author, which I always love to read, and I found out that there is a movie version of Speak. After a little research, I found out it came out in 2004, starring a young Kristen Stewart. If you’ve seen it, what do you think? I think if the library has it, I’ll watch it and see how it compares.

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Overall, I would definitely recommend Speak. I know it’s an old YA book at this point, but it had a strong plot and main character that makes it still relevant to today.

Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller

Before I can get on with this book review, I’ve got to give you all a little background on my love and appreciation for music and musicians.

My mother is a self taught musician. She can’t read music, but if she’s heard the song, or can listen to it a few times, she’ll pick it out on the piano without too much delay… and maybe a curse word or two, haha. My whole life, for as long as I can remember, is punctuated with memories of my mom playing on her piano, or her bass or acoustic guitar, or her drums. And if she wasn’t playing, she was singing- in the car, in the house cleaning, on stage at the yearly volunteer fire-station fundraiser. There were also times where her friends would come over and jam, or visa versa, and she even played in a gospel band for a little bit. She played whatever fit the mood- classic country (Patsy Cline was a favorite), classic rock (Hotel California, a fave warm-up), and current country and pop. In summary, my mom made me love music.

Now, the sad thing is, I’m hopelessly tone deaf and the only place I really allow myself to sing is in the car- alone- or at concerts where everyone really can’t hear me. That, I get from my father. But dad taught me something else- how to appreciate music. Obviously, he’s my mom’s #1 fan, but he’s also a huge classic rock fan- and he’ll oblige with some country or folk music. So growing up, he made this game, ‘Who sings it?’ And it didn’t matter where we were, whenever we had the tunes on, we’d play the guessing game. I’ll be the first to admit, we were not very good at it, haha. Most of the answers from us kids were Bruce Springsteen or Eddie Money, because we knew those were two of dad’s favorite artists- which is both embarrassing and hilarious in retrospect when the songs were really by The Rolling Stones or Def Leppard. But after years of learning, us kids got really good at knowing who sang it, even before the first words were sung. And then, as we all started developing our own tastes in music, we’d talk about what we liked about newly discovered songs and artists. As the bookie in me tends to, I also started looking into the history of the songs, artists, and surrounding time periods. Their stories always fascinated me.

So, that’s why when I saw Girls Like Us on a local thrift shop shelf, it immediately caught my attention. I had found a treasure- a book about three of the leading ladies in songwriting- Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon. In the book, there are alternating segments for each woman, and they include biographies, histories of their musical developments, and stories about the time period that these women lived in.

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Carole King, born Carole Klein, grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and at an early age decided to change her last name to King (using a phone book for inspiration) and started her career composing music with a group of fans. As her talent grew, she ended up writing songs for Aldon Music, a publishing company that influenced the Brill Building 1960’s pop sound. She married fellow songwriter Gerry Goffin at seventeen, and at eighteen, she a six-month old baby and one most significant history-breaking songs of the time- a 1958 hit called “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, sung by the Shirelles, an all black girl group. At the time, segregation was still ongoing and that affected the marketing of music as well. Also, women’s rights were at beginning to come to the forefront. So, for a white Jewish female songwriter to write a hit song for an all black female group was groundbreaking. Soon, she was hammering out hit after hit on her piano, writing for the latest artists, and crafting her signature style of using simple melodies with a classical twist, and pairing them with soulful R&B rhythm. This is what kicked off Carole’s career, but it was only the beginning.

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Roberta Joan Mitchell, known as Joni Mitchell, grew up in  Alberta and Saskatoon, Canada, before making her way to debut in Yorkville Village in Toronto. Weller recalls that her grandmothers were both musical and yet stuck in the traditional rolls of being a housewife, and she was determined to turn her talent into stardom for both them and herself. As a kid, Joni was always in the spotlight- acting out circuses and performing for family and friends. But tragedy struck during the Canadian polio epidemic, where Joni was hospitalized to fight the disease at age nine. Determined, she fought to walk and return to her normal life. Raised by her strict mother, Joni started to slightly rebel (maintaining a dual persona of good girl and bad girl) by following her artistic and bohemian side. She attended an liberal arts school, and though she loved to paint, she decided to follow her true calling- performing. She started working in a coffee shop and was given the opportunity to sing- and despite mixed reviews from the owners, she was booked as the shop’s back up performer and well received by the local audience. Then, another obstacle- an accidental pregnancy. Living in an era where abortion was risky (and illegal), and being unmarried and pregnant was absolute blasphemy, Joni was in an impossible position. She didn’t want to live the lives her grandmothers chose, full of resentment and resignation of their lost potential, so she made the choice to have the baby but give it up for adoption so that she could pursue the career she desperately sought. But she didn’t hide her past- instead, she turned her heartache into lyrics and sang them like an intimate confession to her audience.

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Carly Simon, from the Bronx in New York, had a different upbringing from the other two girls in this story. Her parents lived a more luxurious lifestyle than Joni’s or Carole’s. Carly grew up in a house full of women, with the exception of a brother and her father, and she was surrounded with privilege and modern female nurturing. Yet, as the youngest daughter, she was also rather insecure, comparing herself to her beautiful and glamorous older sisters. As the odd woman out, especially in the eyes of her father, devoted much of her time to cultivating a relationship with him by sharing his interest in baseball, and beginning to perform. Then, her father became fatally ill, and Carly felt lost after he passed away, left with a lack of closure on their relationships. This spilled into other relationships as Carly stepped into the dating pool. She ‘played house’ with a man whose career came first in the relationship, and Carly realized that she wanted to perform, not hold court. Teaming up with her sister Lucy in a sister act, they started touring but struggled to get exposure even after their demo song hit the top 100. After another failed romance and the sister act failing, Carly was alone. Trying again, she took her guitar and with the help of two men, made her way back into songwriting, and didn’t look back.

As each woman’s story is revealed, the reader also meets the people that were important influences and supporters of their music and careers. From their family members, to their friends, to their coworkers, to their lovers, each woman had dozens of colorful characters working beside them. Almost interview style, memories and details of defining moments were shared about these ‘supporting characters’, as well as their own personal backgrounds and how each story wove into the grand scheme of supreme songwriting. At times this is also overwhelming- the saying “what a tangled web we weave” comes to mind. Married last names, stage names, nicknames for the same people… it tripped me up a time or two. Weller even makes an apologetic footnote for the confusion.

Learning about each woman and how they made history in their own way was deeply fascinating. In a time where women were fighting to gain a voice of their own, these three girls were a part of, witnessing, and writing about these issues. Weller gives the reader vast insight on her subjects, from historical background to personal quotes and intimate details. The reader gets to understand and truly know the artists through the page. I’ll admit, it took me a long time to read the 500- plus pages, and not because Girls Like Us wasn’t a page turner, but because each page was laden with so much information to take in.

The biggest take away is that these women started out just like you and I, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, each navigating the turbulent world they lived in. They persevered and found themselves in the spotlight, following their dreams and their passions. If you enjoy nonfiction, love music history, and are interested in feminism or women’s history, than this book is a must read and must own… and bonus points if you listen to their music.

January Wrap-Up (with book tags and other fun tidbits)

We made it through the yuckiest winter month here in Kentucky, and I’m hoping you all are having a warmer winter than us! It’s been the chilliest winter we’ve had in years (I think my first year here was *maybe* this cold), and I’ve been drinking a ton of tea (trying to cut back my coffee intake) and hot cocoa and mostly attempting to hibernate. Spring can’t come soon enough!

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Over the course of the month, I’ve posted the following reviews:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  2. Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  6. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
  7. The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

I also did one giant booktag post, and since I’ve got a few more to do, I’m going to do them here!  Keith from Sink into the Ink tagged me on Instagram for another couple of fun tags- #winterreads and #bythebook! And, I’ve been sitting on The Harry Potter Tag which I kinda stole from Jenny @ Jenny in Neverland, waiting for a good chance to do it! I’m going to keep the answers short since there are so many.

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#winterreads Tag

  • Hot cocoa & marshmallows (a nostalgic read): Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • Snow drift (a book you binge read instead of going outside): Haha I’ll read anything so I don’t have to go outside in the winter!
  • Gloomy skies (a sad read): Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Holiday spirit (a book that made you excited for the holidays): I don’t really read holiday books- although I did read One Christmas in Winter by Bell Renshaw.
  • Bah humbug (a book you didn’t finish):The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer

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#bythebook Tag

  • Book on your bedside table?  Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller
  • Last book you read? The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
  • Bookshelf organization? Singles by color of the rainbow, some by author on one shelf, some by series on another.
  • Book that disappointed you? The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
  • Type of story that grabs you? Fast paced, likeable characters, with humor, thrills, or mystery.
  • Books you intend on reading? I’m gonna cheat this and say I plan on reading 50 books… which I know is not really what they’re looking for but I HAVE SUCH A LIST.

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Harry Potter Tag

  • What house are you in? HUFFLEPUFF, whoot whoot!
  • What is your Patronus? A tonkinese cat
  • What is your wand? Hawthorne wood with a phoenix feather core, 12 1/2 inches, slightly yielding.
  • What would your boggart be? Just like Molly Weasley, mine would be with my loved ones dead or dying around me.
  • What position would you play in Quiddich? Keeper if I made the team. Otherwise, an uber fan, haha.
  • Would you be a pure-blood, half-blood or muggle born? Half-blood. Dad’s definitely a muggle (he doesn’t care about the wizard stuff), but mom was always a fan of Bewitched… haha.
  • What job would you want to have after leaving Hogwarts? Definitely something to do with the care of magical creatures… probably specializing in Unicorns.
  • Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose? The invisibility cloak, of course.
  • Favourite book? Deathly Hallows or Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • Least favourite book? Meh, I can’t chose. They all range on a level of amazing and mind blowing.
  • Favourite film? Sorcerer’s Stone (the nostalgia!) or Half Blood Prince (the drama!)
  • Least favourite film?Deathly Hallows, both parts. It’s like they never checked the book for the details at the ending and decided to improvise. Ugh.
  • Favourite character? Molly is my kin, Remus makes my heart ache, and Fred and George as a duo always made me LOL until… I don’t wanna talk about it.
  • Least favourite/most hated character? Freaking Umbridge. Which is sad because she’s not even the ‘bad guy’. But Voldemort is a very very very close second.
  • Favourite teacher at Hogwarts? MCGONAGALL IS QUEEN.
  • Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts? *see least favorite/most hated character*
  • Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series? How could anyone?! It’s the most magical, amazing, extraordinary series ever!

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Phew! Now that those are done,  I have two more tidbits of news! First, I decided to give my blog a little facelift (I hope you noticed!), and am going to hopefully start incorporating more original artwork. I’m not much of a graphics person, but I want to challenge myself to it! Second, drumroll….. this month, I got nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award!! I am still so chuffed about it, because I’m just blown away that my little blog got noticed! So thank you all again for reading and commenting and enjoying my posts! Y’all make me feel so special!

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The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

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I picked this one up on one of my compulsive thrift hauls, sitting on my shelf since sometime this past fall. I was curious to see if Shreve would leave the same impression on me, as this is my second Shreve novel (the other being Testimony, which I read back in 2011). I found them similar in that they were slow to start but packed a punch by the end.

For me, The Pilot’s Wife took a little while to get into because of Shreve’s writing style between chapters. There isn’t much awareness between the present moments and the change to past memories, with the exception of a chapter break and the punctuation of dialogue, which changes from quotations to em dashes. The first few chapters, the present tense would hook me into the plot, and then the flashback chapters would confuse me. It was almost as if I should be looking for clues in the flashbacks, but I had no idea what to look for. This slowed the pace, and I’m not a fan when the author controls my pace, haha. I want the action! This was similar in Testimony, so I’m going to guess that this is Shreve’s style. (Fans of hers, am I correct?) The other similarity I picked up on was how the plot is revealed. At first, there’s a lot of detail, background and setting and character relationship information. This bogs me down, but Shreve uses really beautiful language and there was enough interesting tidbits within that made me want to continue reading, not quit.

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Right from the very first chapter, Shreve introduces her main character, Kathryn, who is awoken in the middle of the night by a man knocking on her door. Her daughter Mattie is asleep down the hall, and her husband Jack, an airline pilot, was overseas in London and due back around lunchtime. When she finally answers the door, a man named Robert, a rep from the airline union, gives her the worst news: Her husband’s plane had exploded over the Atlantic, and there were no survivors.

Kathryn, now a widow, is faced with the aftermath, including varying rumors that the accident was Jack’s fault. Trying to help her daughter and herself come to terms, Kathryn attempts to prove Jack’s honor, but ends up finding seemingly insignificant details coming together to prove that Jack had something to hide. When Kathryn pieces everything together, the reader is left to wonder how the pilot’s wife will continue on with the newfound knowledge.

I’ve just recently found out that there is also a movie of this novel, so I’m curious to see how it will compare, but I always think the book is better so I guess it doesn’t matter too much. The Pilot’s Wife has Oprah’s Book Club seal of approval, and if you’re in for an intimately gripping read, I’d give Shreve’s novel a chance.

 

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