All posts filed under: Books

Book Review: Blackbird Fly

I read Blackbird Fly, the debut novel by Erin Entrada Kelly, at the recommendation of the author’s cousin (hi John!). I actually finished the book a few weeks ago, so I’m late with this review – it’s been a crazy few weeks for me! On the plus side, I have now seen Avengers: Age of Ultron twice, and I am officially DONE with grad school as of this weekend. Blackbird Fly (aimed at middle school readers) tells the story of Apple, a Filipino American girl living in Louisiana with her mother. Apple is best friends with Alyssa and Gretchen, but when Apple ends up on the “dog log”, a malicious list of the ugliest girls in school created by the meanest boys in school, relationships begin to change. Apple’s escape is an old Beatles’ cassette tape of her father’s. Her dream is to learn to play the guitar and create music like George Harrison, her favorite Beatle – if only she can convince her musically-skeptical mother to buy her a guitar. Apple’s story took me (against my will) back to middle school and …

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

Celeste Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You, opens with the death of Lydia Lee. Her surviving family, who collectively idolized sixteen-year-old Lydia, struggle to make sense of her death in a collection of flashbacks and subsequent narratives. The story draws a sharp line in the sand – before death, and after. The divide works well as a temporal device, keeping the reader oriented, but it works thematically as well, examining the faulty structures of the Lee family as it comes crashing down around them. Despite the dark subject matter, Ng’s prose is light, engaging, encouraging the reader to read on – Ng is the type of author to bring along to the beach and effortlessly lose yourself in for a few hours. The novel is a page-turner, but not in the traditional sense. This is no whodunit mystery. Rather, Lydia’s death is contextualized in the history of the family’s complex relationships. Before marriage, James Lee was a young, Chinese American professor desperate to fit in, his wife-to-be a Caucasian woman eager to stand out as a woman in the male-dominated medical profession. Like so …

Book Review: On Such a Full Sea

Most apocalyptic authors do not posses the creativity or desire to end their novel outside the standard normal tropes: a protagonist who submits to his (and it rather often seems to be “his”) malevolent overlords either through acquiescence or death, or else a plot that simply doesn’t bother with catharsis at all. So I was never a big fan of this genre, and that’s largely Aldous Huxley’s fault. (Random fact: Huxley wrote the original screenplay for Disney’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Disney rejected it on the grounds that it was too literary. I feel Walt on that one.) The Host is a great exception. Yep, that’s the one written by Stephanie Meyer, who when she’s not writing about sparkly teenage vampires actually has quite a graphic imagination. If you’re looking for somewhat-lighter adult apocalyptic lit, go read it. If you’re looking for something a bit darker, I’d start with Chang-Rae Lee.

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

So to go along with my twelve-year-old boy taste in movies and my irrational love of sitcoms, my favorite genre of novel is…YA (you all saw this coming, right? Had me pegged for a raging Harry Potter fan? Guilty.) Adult fiction somehow never managed to hold quite the same appeal for me, coming after all the great YA I loved in high school. The seventh Harry Potter book came out the summer before I went to college, my childhood ended, and fiction just hasn’t been the same sense. Okay that’s darker than I really meant the sentiment to be. But the problem is, adult fiction might not capture the imagination in the same way YA once did, but you also do naturally outgrow YA. (Or at least, a lot of YA. Harry Potter will be awesome forever and Holes still really holds up).