Dec 24, 2004

Rock Star Superstar, Blake Nelson

Find this book in the Hawley Library

What I like so much about this book is that it is straight up. It is able to portray how meaningful and emotionally satisfying it is to really be into music, and at the same time skirt on the edge of becoming the kids becoming major musicians without blowing it out of the water. I like it because it isn't fake - everything isn't easy, nothing is handed to them, and in the end it doesn't totally work out for them. But it isn't a total bust either. It's a lot more realistic that books that have these insane tragedies that people miraculously recover from in the end, and the characters are able to grow and change and realize their mistakes and realize what they couldn't control but could learn something from in the end.
Peter is just an average kind of kid, who goes through the same stuff everyone does in high school, and for a while it seems like he's gonna make it. But when he doesn't, he doesn't fall apart. He's learned a lot from his meetings with industry professionals and doing gigs all over the place and becoming locally famous. He also has a lot going on in his life but nothing is overblown. Like sometimes you'll read a book and the main character will have an alcoholic father who doesn't really act like a grown-up and a dead mother and a complicated girlfriend and that will be so much for them that that's what the whole book is about. But we all know people who have problems like that, even worse problems, and they get on with their lives and somehow make it work. Not that it isn't hard, but as Peter says, "You have to deal with it. You have to keep going." So I like that the book keeps those things in proportion and allows Peter to have this great and wonderful thing going on with his band.

Dec 22, 2004

Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler

I read this book because I was curious about the title, and the premise seemed cool. A woman re-examines her life after realizing she turned into the "wrong person." Ultimately, I was impressed with the writing and the characterizations of her family members, but I was frustrated and disappointed in the results of Rebecca's "re-examination." It just seemed like she entertained certain notions from her past, and then didn't follow through with anything or really truly change anything, realizing that she had been happy all along. A little too Hallmark for my taste, and neatly tied up at then end. I like to feel a little off at the end of a book, and this book just tried to slap some tape on and pass it off to the reader. Although, the tied up ends surround an empty package. I don't feel like she really delved into herself as a person enough to even figure out that she had turned into the wrong one. The source of the most frustration for me in this book, though, is the way her family treats her. They don't respect her, they don't seem to care about anyone but themselves, they are totally self-absorbed, and they are adults! Rebecca just seems resigned to the fact that this is how it is, even though she is trying to figure out who she is and what her place is. It's like she's saying, "They are my family, take it or leave it," and she will just put up with their insensitive and abrasive comments. The whole re-examination of self just doesn't seem to come to fruition. She gets just far enough that it might become difficult for her to confront certain people or things that have happened, and she backs off and "realizes" that she was happy after all. I'm curious to see what others may have to say, especially if they think she really was successful in her re-examination. I did love Poppy, though. He was the most sensible character at 99 years old...

Dec 11, 2004

Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

So many people have told me to read this book, and now that I finally have, I realize why. Maybe it is a different reason for everyone, but this book is very strong, very meaningful. When Melinda writes on the bathroom wall, "Boys to stay away from" with Andy Evans name, and then there are dozens and dozens of comments that agree, it just made me think: how many other girls did this one guy harm? And what might have happened if Melinda had been able to speak sooner - the way at the end everyone thanks her, supports her and what she finally was able to do. It also made me think about how so many people around us have these horrible things inside that they keep to themselves because they don't know what to do or how to do it. They just sort of sink inside themselves, and hopefully somewhere find something that they can build from again, start new. For Melinda I think it when she sees her friend in danger and realizes that she has the knowledge and the power to protect her friend Rachel, even if it is possibly the hardest thing. There are so many people we know that have gone into this state - not so silent or bad that people really take notice, maybe a couple meetings with parents, but nothing that really tries to help them. I guess what I'm saying is that it is not shocking, although still sad, that someone can sort of shut down and the world will make its assumptions about that person and move on - maybe try to nudge them back in the right direction, but not really try to help or intervene - all Melinda's parents wanted was school attendance and decent grades, no trouble. Although they cared about her, they didn't delve deep enough to do anything about it. And I think one of the reasons this book is so popular is that that situation is so familiar to so many people.

Dec 8, 2004

On The Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, Louise Rennison

This is another book about Georgia Nicolsen, a British teen - this is the first one I've read, and it is pure fun. Total fluff, but fun fluff. Usually I like books that have a little more substance, but the way she talks is just so funny! She makes up words at the drop of a hat, and the words somehow relate much more meaning than the proper word would. I don't really have much to say about this book - it isn't heavy on plot, but there is a new one coming out - the title is something about a camel - and I wanted to read one to see what they are all about. Very fun.

Dec 2, 2004

Heart's Delight, Per Nilsson

This is the first novel translated into English from a man in Sweden. A movie playing in the mind of a young man who is trying to destroy every trace of a relationship he felt was fake. He had met a girl on the long bus ride through the city to school. When she sits next to him one day and they talk, she accidentally forgets her German book, so, of course he has to return it to her. When he arrives at Ann-Katrin's apartment he finds that the fresh, lemon-y smell that follows her everywhere is from the many plants of lemon balm, or heart's delight, that she keeps on her windowsill. After this their friendship flowers and he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with her.
When he leaves to go to a summer in America all he can think of is Ann-Katrin, or as he has started calling her, Heart's Delight. He fills notebooks with thoughts of her, and writes about 14 letters to her in a month. When he gets back the first thing he does after dropping off his luggage is go to her apartment to see her again, and give her a gift. What he finds when he gets there is another thing...

On the night of her return from a vacation with her father he struggles with the ultimate decision -- is life worth-it if he can't have her? He destroys all remenants of their relationship and is preparing to say good-bye to the world, but will he be able to do it?