Thank You for Your Service
I didn't read David Finkel's previous book, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this one. I knew that it would be moving subject matter, but I also thought maybe it would be on the clinical side. Instead it reached into my throat and tore out my heart, while also rendering me unable to put down the book. It hurt to read it, but I didn't want to stop reading. The author humanizes the soldiers and their families, without making any excuses for who they are. In some parts, you don't feel sorry for them or you want to shake them, but in other parts, your heart just breaks. While we certainly do more for our soldiers now than we did after VietNam, there's always the question of whether we're doing enough... or if we ever can.
A student loaned me this book because it's dystopian and she said it's her favorite. Juliette, the main character, hasn't touched anyone or seen another human in 264 days. Locked away because she has a bizarre defect that causes her to accidentally kill people she touches, her life changes when a boy is placed in the cell with her. Unsure of why this boy is in the cell with her, Juliette is cautious and, of course, doesn't touch her. In Juliette's dystopian world, everything is so polluted the birds no longer fly, real food is scarce and life seems bleak. I was definitely hooked, though as far as dystopian YA lit goes, I've read better. I wish the author would've developed her world a little better, but it's part of a trilogy so that may come in later books. Juliette's powers were the main focus of this book, along with her love interest.
The Year of the Flood
I wasn't sure if this was meant to be a sequel to Oryx and Crake or a prequel, so I looked it up and Margaret Atwood wrote it as a "Meanwhile..." book, which is brilliant because that's exactly what it was. It basically continues alongside Oryx and Crake, then ends exactly where Oryx and Crake left off. Once again, the reader witnesses the slow destruction of the dystopian world Atwood sets forth. First, the dying of endangered species, followed by gene splicing of various animals to create new species, those with wealth/prestige living in heavily secured compounds, those without living on the outer reaches of society, criminals being sent into the "Painball" arena to fight it out on television and the eventual virus that wipes out most of humanity. There's some implausibility in this novel, but I loved it. It's good dystopia and I can't wait to read the final one.
Counting by 7s
Thanks to Corrin for blogging about this one, because I completely missed it. The protagonist of this story, Willow Chance, is the 12 year old kid we all wish we could've been. A genuine genius who struggles to fit in, Willow decides to wear gardening clothes to her first day at her new middle school because the middle school name is the Sequoias and so, why wouldn't she? Even her parents know this is a bad idea, but Willow is not to be stopped. Still, Willow is the least of the misfits in this book. As the story progresses, Willow loses both her parents on the same day and has to rely on: a bumbling guidance counselor, the Vietnamese owner of a nail salon, her two children and a taxi cab driver to help her navigate the waters of grief. Willow is lost, but so is just about everyone else in the story and somehow, they all find themselves in helping Willow heal. Is the story realistic? Probably not entirely, but it made me feel good and happy and whole and sometimes that's all I want out of a book.
What are you reading?