Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reading Recap

My apologies - it's been a bit quiet on the blogging front of late as life has got in the way of my writing mojo.

But it hasn't stopped the reading though.

So here's a quick wander through a few of my latest reads...

Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult
Exactly what we have come to expect from Ms Picoult, formulaic and somewhat predictable but still an enjoyable, easy read, this time about a little girl named Willow with Osteogenesis Imperfecta - brittle bone disease. The crux of the story is Willow's mum tears the family apart to sue her midwife (who just happens to be her best friend) for not seeing soon enough Willow had this disease during the pregnancy.

A few gripes to be had though and warning these do contain spoilers:

1) there was a completely superfluous storyline involving the lawyer and her adoption, a stronger edit would have taken care of this insultingly predictable plot.

2) Handle With Care, Picoult's 16th novel, also suffered something of an originality fail - borrowing thematic elements from previous novels, particularly My Sister's Keeper, often in quite obvious ways.

3) Things often didn't ring true. For instance, we are expected to believe 6-year-old Willow is incredibly bright and has an advanced reading age, managing to read and comprehend the classic To Kill A Mockingbird yet had to be baby talked through what a lawsuit was by her mother. Or another example, the family are on the point of collapse financially due to costs caused by Willow's illness, yet the cheque for $8 million dollars damages they win in the court case goes uncashed, and is instead left magneted to the fridge.

4) Just once I would like to see Ms Picoult break out of the mould and have her characters not win in uplifting dramatic style in the court room. You can't win all the time.

I'm in two minds as to whether I will pick up her next offering. There's no doubt Ms Picoult is a good story teller but maybe her writing is suffering from the frequency of which she delivers books.

The Future Home makers of America - Laurie Graham
A gorgeous novel about the wives of 96th Bombers regiment that has given me something of an author crush on Laurie Graham. The story starts off in England where the American 96th bombers are based and the life long, endearing friendships begin which survive infidelity, love, death, spousal abuse, success, failure, religion and taxidermy. Cliched but true, I laughed and I cried and I lapped up every word of this fresh, fast paced novel told through the sassy strong voice of Peggy.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - Mark Haddon
Don't be put off by the Young Adults tag of this cracking little novel by Mark Haddon. Christopher investigates the murder of Wellington, his neighbour's poodle, speared with a garden fork, of which Christopher is the prime suspect. But Christopher is hampered by his inability to read body language and the world around him. It's a murder mystery of a different sort as we follow Christopher's sleuthing against his father's wishes and he uncovers some uncomfortable truths about his family. Haddon perfectly gets inside the head of Christopher and his Asperger's syndrome behaviour in a perfectly believable, relate-able way. I'm not at all surprised to find A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is the winner of some very prestigious writing awards including the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book.

Firmin - Sam Savage
Firmin is quite possibly the most intelligent rat to walk the planet. Born in a second hand book store and nibbling on its wares, Firmin discovers he can read - and a vivacious appetite for books he possess, equalled only by his appetite for the "lovlies," the after midnight films shown at the local cinema. A hopeless idealist, Firmin's idyllic life in the bookstore comes under threat when his unrequited love, Norman the bookstore owner, tries to poison him. Through fate, Firmin then becomes the pet of a sci-fi writer but all their livelihoods are under threat as the city of Boston looks to redevelop the crumbling and grubby part of the city this rag tag group of characters call home. It's charming, it's fresh and original and it's smart, Firmin has read all the classics and has the vocabulary to match making this human feel rather meek and puny in comparison. Special mention has to be made of the nibbled away cover too - a cute touch to Sam Savage's debut novel.


Café Chick said...

I absolutely loved A Curious Incident. I was fascinated by the 'inside' view of Asperger's Syndrome after having taught several students with the condition. It's one of the few books that I happily read over and over again.

Katie said...

I LOVED Curious Incident - it was an awesome book. Haven't read any of these others but it's great to hear what you've been reading :-)

Heather said...

I almost bought a curious incident at the book store last week but decided I should read what I have and then buy more (which might actually tie in with when I have money to actually BUY books again lol).