|July 2, 2012||Posted by Katy under Book Reviews|
I am two days late on this post and I meant to write it Saturday, but I got so engrossed in Olympic Trials coverage that I forgot. Better late than never I suppose…
June was a month of a lot of traveling and I spent the beginning of the month trying to get through a 700+ page book. About 300 pages in I cried uncle and gave up. The book has potential and is interesting, but it really slow moving and takes awhile to get into it. I may try and re-borrow it from the library in a month or two and give it a second shot.
As a result of giving up on the long book and all the traveling I did in the month of June, I was able to read four different books. They were all relatively short, but I really enjoyed all of them. They all resonated in me and I could definitely relate to the situations and feelings of the characters in all the books.
In June, I also upped my goal of books I want to read for the year. Originally the goal was twelve (one book a month) but I surpassed that within a few months. Then I bumped it up to 20 but surpassed that as well this month, so now I am trying to read 40 books. I am already over halfway there!
*Spoiler alert! Some of the reviews may give away the plot lines. Read with caution.*
If I Stay (Gayle Forman)
My Rating: 4/5
From Goodreads.com: “In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck… A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.”
This is an incredibly powerful book and was very emotional for me. I started reading this book the night before my uncle passed away, so, while the book was under 200 pages, it was difficult to get through. I read it quickly, but I had to take a few “breathers” because I found my emotions getting the best of me.
The book’s main character is Mia, a talented cellist with an incredible family and loving boyfriend. Mia has it all; she is about to be accepted into Juilliard and has a promising music career ahead of her. She faces the decision to go to Juilliard and follow her dreams or stay home and be with her boyfriend, the love of her life, Adam. However, her entire life changes in the blink of an eye.
Mia is taking a road trip to visit family with her parents and younger brother when they are in a horrific car accident that takes their lives and puts Mia in a deep coma. The book is written from the perspective of Mia who is having a sort of “out of body” experience. She can see what is going on around her, but can not directly interact with the people who are keeping watch as she fights for her life. Throughout the book, Mia focuses and evaluates her relationships with those in her life and also struggles to figure out if she can live with the pain of being the only one of her family to survive the crash.
The book is very touching and does make you think about life and the people who are in it. I think this was amplified for me because I was going through the pain of losing a loved one as I was in the midst of reading this book. I definitely gave all my family members an extra hug and told them how much I loved them.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a book that will stay with them for a lifetime. It is a “teen” book, but the maturity of the topic can definitely resonate with adults as well. It is also a short read and can be finished quickly.
Where She Went (Gayle Forman)
My Rating: 4.5/ 5
From Goodreads.com: “It’s been three years since the devastating accident… three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other. Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.”
Dare I say that I liked this book more than If I Stay? If I Stay could have stood alone, without a sequel, but I was pleasantly surprised when I read that there was indeed a second book.
This book leaves off three years after the accident and this time, is told from Adam’s perspective. They have since broken up and are living their lives on separate coasts. Mia is in NYC, having just graduated Juilliard early to pursue a career as a concert cellist. Adam is in LA and is a rock star on the rise preparing to go off on an international tour. As chance would have it, Mia and Adam are reunited in NYC for one night.
Throughout this night, they reconnect and analyze what happened between them three years prior. I really don’t want to spoil this book because I really encourage you to pick it up (after reading If I Stay) and read it. The ending may not have been absolutely perfect and neat, but it was very touching and heartwarming.
What I liked about this book as opposed to its predecessor is the raw emotions and pain that Adam experiences. In this book, I felt that Forman was much more explicit with the emotions. There is also more of an emotional arc and I felt like I was being brought along on the journey as a quiet observer. I love books that bring me on a journey like this and force me to really think and this book delivers.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
My Rating: 4.25/ 5
From Goodreads.com: “This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.”
I heard about this book a few years ago, but finally decided to pick it up after watching the movie trailer earlier this month. The movie looks adorable and Emma Watson is playing Sam, so I am definitely excited!
If the previous two books did not stir up enough emotions in me, this one put me over the edge. I read this book an a day and a half (sitting in an airport for 6+ hours helps) and I was constantly flipping over the corners of the pages to write down a quote for later. I honestly did not expect to like this book as much as I did, but it is a book that I will hold near and dear to my heart for years to come.
The main character is Charlie and the premise is simple: what it is like to grow up in high school. The story is told in a series of letters to an unknown person and show Charlie at his highs and lows. Throughout the year, Charlie experiences a lot, either directly or through his friends. The book brings up issues such as sex, drugs, homosexuality, love, depression, and heartbreak.
While I definitely did not go through most of the same experiences that Charlie does, the book definitely stirred up a lot of emotions in me that I have not had to face since high school over eight years ago. Some of these emotions were so strong that I was fighting back tears in the airport terminal that I was camped out at (thank goodness it was pretty much deserted).
As I mentioned above, the book is filled with many notable quotes, but the biggest and most recognized one is “We accept the love we think we deserve.” A very powerful quote in my opinion.
The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein)
My Rating: 4.25/5
From Goodreads.com: “Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side.”
I picked this book up at the Pittsburgh airport as soon as I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I still had an hour before my flight and had a layover in Atlanta to occupy myself. I had seen this book at different bookstores and kept gravitating towards it, but never picked it up. Honestly, I was unsure if I would like a book told from the perspective of a dog but boy was I wrong! I absolutely loved this book and within ten minutes of reading, you forget that the narrator is a dog.
Enzo, the narrator, is a dog recounting the scenes and experiences of his life, as he is nearing the end of his life. This was the fourth book in a row I read that was very emotionally charged, but I could not put this book down. In fact, I read over half of the book by the time my second flight landed at midnight!
I was fascinated by how philosophical and smart Enzo was. There was also a true sense of human emotion (perhaps because the book was written by a human) and I got very attached to Enzo. I kept telling myself to “slow down” and savor the book, but I seriously could not stop turning the pages. I wanted to know what happened next.
The book is very detailed in the descriptions of Denny, his owner, and his life struggles- the loss of his wife Eve, the custody battle over his daughter Zoe against his in-laws, and the sexual allegations pinned against him in the midst of the fight for his daughter.
Overall, I really recommend this book. It makes you think (like most of the books I read this month) and may make you think a little differently about the “fur baby” in your life.
Finally, this book had one of the most profound quotes I have ever read in a book: “Such a simple concept, yet so true: that which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”
What books did you read this month?
*All pictures are from Goodreads.com*