Writing and Ruminating

Thoughts on writing, reading, and poetry. With the occasional diversion, bien sûr.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Second-hand reviews

The first is from M, who as many long-time readers know is an avid reader. She's now 17, and she's continued to read lots of novels despite her heavy course-load in high school. She has gotten more selective over the years, as one does when one reads a lot. She doesn't like stale ideas, or things she thinks have been done to death, or lazy writing. (She finds that last item particularly inexcusable, and has been known to rant about lazy authorial choices (e.g., no actual conflict and no casualties in Breaking Dawn - seriously, wind her up and watch her go on that one) and about lazy writing (hackneyed terms, clichés, talking down to the audience, poor grammar - again, you should hear her once she mounts that particular soap box. She once ranted for nearly 15 minutes over a book she stopped reading when the first-person narrator referred in narration (not dialogue) to her mother as "Mom" instead of "My mom", as in "When I got home, Mom was standing on the porch.")

Long ramp-up, but suffice it to say that M's recent read has NONE of the things that might set her off on a rant. Not that anyone who has read John Green's writing would expect lazy authorial choices or poor grammar, of course. But M loved THE FAULT IN OUR STARS from start to finish, and has already spoiled the ending for me (but I don't mind, because it allowed us to talk about her take-home from the book, which was where she found the hopefulness in the ending of a book about a main character with a terminal illness). She loved the snarky voice of the narrator. She loved the romance in the book that develops between the female main character (a departure for John) and a boy that she meets in a cancer support group. She loved the humor and the pathos and the fact that it made her cry, but mostly she loved how it made her think. She loved it so much that she forced it on her step-mother, who stayed up most of the night reading it. (She also loved it.) She loved it so much that she hesitated in returning it to me, despite having swiped it from me when I brought it home last week because I bought it for myself. Now that I've got it back, I'll be reading it, and probably writing a bit about it here. But for now, M's rave will have to suffice.

The second of my second-hand reviews comes from my Aunt Martha, an avid reader and former librarian, who has for the past several years served as a patron of the arts by allowing me the use of her townhouse in Waterville Valley for a writing retreat. Angela De Groot has come along with me on all of them, and Jenn Hubbard (known to many of you as has come on most. And on one of those retreats, she started what would become her latest novel - released into the wild today: TRY NOT TO BREATHE.

Jenn sent a signed author copy to my aunt and uncle, who are thrilled to have been able to share their lovely home with us, and are still more thrilled to find themselves publicly recognized in the Acknowledgments of Jenn's book. Aunt Martha spent Tuesday reading Try Not to Breathe, and she raved about it during a phone call on Wednesday. She called it "a real page-turner", and praised the writing, the characterization, and the plot. That she knows what the real-life waterfall that served as inspiration for the one in the book looks like is just a bonus. Again, I have to wait to read this book myself - I'll be getting my copy at Jenn's official

If you're curious what the book is about, it's about a boy who tried to commit suicide and failed, and his developing relationship with a girl whose father tried suicide and succeeded. The Kansas City Star reviewed it yesterday, and said wonderful things about it, if you'd like just a bit more info (no spoilers).


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