Books

The Weird Sisters

We're discussing The Weird Sisters at book club tonight. I already hear rumblings that this one is getting mixed reviews, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, it probably helps that I had two college courses on Shakespeare, one on the comedies and one on the tragedies, there may have even been third one on the histories or it may have been combined in the other two. I forget. College was a long time ago and mostly it's a haze. Not for fun reasons, but because I took so many classes, went full time through two summers and worked thirty+ hours a week. I never managed to read As You Like It, which is where one of the daughter's names comes from. I also never really followed The Tempest, that required more focus than I had to give at that point in time.

What I really loved about the book was the narration, which was a semi-omniscient voice of all the three daughters. The daughters, Rosalind, Bean and Cordy, could not seem more different. Rosalind, the eldest, reliable sister that has never strayed from home. Bean, the beautiful and stylish sister that moved to NY. Cordy, the baby and wanderer that dropped out of college and has been living on the road for a decade. What the sisters come to learn is that despite their differences and their estranged relationships, they know, understand and are more like each other than they realized. Isn't that often the truth of sibling relationships?

Here is just a tast of what I loved.

"Because despite his money and his looks and all the good-on-paper attributes he possessed, he was not a reader, and, well, let's just say this is the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put." Amen, sister. Not being a reader is a deal breaker in my book.

This one I actually posted to FB. I really couldn't have said it better myself. "We were fairly certain that if anyone made public the various and variegated ways in which being an adult sucked eggs, more people might opt out entirely."

What also spoke to me is how central reading is to every member of the family. They read like it's a religion. No one ever leaves the house without a book in hand. There are half read books strewn about the house. Reading has been like a religion for me too. It has provided me knowledge, comfort, escape, hope, opened my eyes to social injustices, made me feel less alone. When times of hopelessness and despair have threatened to drown me, my salvation has always been to turn to a book where I could find a new friend, get lost in a distant world, be comforted that I was not alone. Reading The Weird Sisters was like coming home for me.

 


Caleb's Crossing

Our last Book Club book was Caleb's Crossing. I didn't get to go and discuss it because Trouble ended up having a play off game that night, and what kind of mother would I be if I ditched the game to go to Book Club? They did end up winning, but were eliminated in the next game which I missed because I was at Football Camp with LT. Have I mentioned that I never played or watched sports in my life until I had kids?

Caleb's Crossing takes place in Martha's Vineyard in the 1660s. I adored Bethia, the narrator. The story follows her journey from childhood to young woman. A naturally subsurvient and submissive woman Bethia is not. She is constantly struggling to quench her thirst for education and knowledge in a society that does not deem it appropriate. Early on, she befriends Caleb, a member of the local Indian tribe. She takes it on as her personal quest to turn him from his idiolistic gods to the Christian God. As the daughter of a minister, she sees it as her duty to try to convert him from his hedonistic ways. But Caleb is the nephew of a powerful shaman, and he asks questions that are difficult for Bethia to answer. As she comes to know and understand Caleb and his tribe, she realizes that they are not the savages she was taught to fear. She even finds herself curious about their gods and attracted to their spiritual rituals.

Unfortunately, tragedy strikes Bethia's family, and as the devout daughter of a minister, she believes she's being punished for her sins.The depth and assurity of her guilt was difficult for me to understand, though I'm sure Bookgirl would be able to empathsize better than I. I know from my study of history how brave and independent a character Bethia is for this time in history. I can't imagine how I ever would have survived in such a time. They probably would have burned me at the stake if I didn't die in childbirth first.

Bethia's father takes Caleb into his home and schools him and another Indian, preparing them for college at Harvard along with his own son. The novel is historical fiction and is based on the real history of some of the first Indians to attend Harvard University. The goal was to convert and educate them, so they could assist with the conversion of others. You may be wondering why Caleb would go along with such a thing. He is as strong-willed and independent as Bethia and has his own reasons for obtaining his degree, that are not necessarily inline with those of Bethia's father.

On a personal note, shortly after reading this book we took our trip to Virginia ,which I wrote about in my previous post. Part of the Ghost Tour of Williamsburg took place at the College of William and Mary, the second oldest college in the U.S. What was the first, you may ask? Harvard, of course. And like Harvard, William and Mary also educated Indians and our ghost tour took us by the dorm where they slept. One of the stories was about the Indian who used to sneak out of his third floor window and run the grounds in the middle of the night until one morning he was discovered dead. They say his ghost can still be seen running the campus grounds at night.

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50 Shades of Oh My!

I love it when there's hype over a new book, especially if it's not just a book but a series. I love to read and while I certainly have a core group of friends that love to read, it's refreshing to see even the non-readers caught up in the book hype.

I especially enjoyed the Hunger Games because it was the first series that I loved that I could share with one of my kids. They're really kind of young for Twilight and they're boys. Trouble did enjoy Harry Potter, but more the movies than the books. So naturally when I heard all the hype about 50 Shades of Grey, I jumped on the band wagon.

But I have to admit, I don't get it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like the series, but lets be honest here, it's little more than porn. I read trash all the time, so this is right up my alley. And I like my trash not to parade as some romance novel. What I don't understand is how it seems to be taking the book club world by storm. I've read penthouse letters that were equivalent to a chapter in one of these novels.

I've read the first two books and I'm sure I'll tear my way through the third one in the next week. I'm also sure there are husbands and boyfriends all over the U.S. that are loving this book without even realizing it, well the side effects of it anyway. Really, I think women should add more smut to the their book repertoire on a regular basis. We spend so much time at our careers, raising our kids, taking care of the house, sex can become the last thing on our minds, which doesn't tend to do much for the libido. Men can get turned on at the drop of a hat, but with sex being a more mental activity for women, I think putting our heads in the game a little more often is way more beneficial than some women realize.

I talked with Curls about it some (even though we're not supposed to talk about the books ahead of time, but we didn't really discuss the book, more the phenomenon surrounding the books) and she suggests that it's the Kindles and the Nooks that are firing the craze. Women can read these books without the shame of having the title and cover of a smut book revealed for all to see. And I suppose she's right and it has something to do with the timing and so many electronic devices. But with that logic, women could also be reading Penthouse Forum regularly under the secrecy of their electronic reader and I haven't seen anyone posting about that on FB.

I think you also have to be careful about that idea of the e-reader keeping your reading private. It may be to the casual observer, but there's also never been a more complete record of your reading proclivities. We also can fail to anticipate how this could come cropping up to surprise us at times.

I recently purchased my two boys Kindle Fires for their birthdays. I had mixed feelings about it and considered a number of options, but it's really the best tablet for the money on the market. Now what I really wish Amazon would do is allow you to create child accounts under your own. Maybe they'll get there at some point, but right now you either need to tie your kid's Kindle to your account or setup their own Amazon account which is going to need to have a credit card tied to it. I had planned that I would setup accounts for my kids and knew I'd want a pre-paid credit card tied to their accounts. I already have email addresses setup for them, even though they don't know how to use them yet. The step that I missed, which I knew but just forgot about when I ordered them, is that I should have specified not to have them come tied to my account.

Why is this such an issue?

Because they had access to all my books. ALL my books.

Maybe you're comfortable giving your kids access to all your reading material, but I'm not. If you have 50 Shades of Grey on there, you may want to reconsider your answer.

It was quick and easy to fix and now their Kindles are setup with their own accounts. The stinky flip side to this is that I have a prime account and I wish they could access the free videos that I never watch, but they can't because they are on their own accounts. I had to make a choice: free videos or potentially scar them for life and provide them with a way too early and vivid an introduction to sex via mom's smutty reading material. All they really want to do is play games anyway.

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The Help

I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stocket and just loved it. Struck me as a cross between Gone with the Wind and Little Women. Ms. Stocket does a great job of writing in the voice of an oppressed black woman, which she had apprehension about trying to do. Of course, I'm just another white woman, so perhaps my opinion isn't the best to judge by. But to me, it rang very true.

There have been many books written about slavery, racism, and oppression, but it's still shocking to me that this was going on in America just forty years ago. It's one of those things that you know to be true, but every time you hear it, it's still shocking.

The characters Ms. Stocket creates are unforgettable. Aibileen, a woman of intelligence, bravery, a great writer and kind soul, working as a maid, living alone after the death of her only child. Minny, loud and strong, never afraid to speak her mind or stand up for herself, except when it comes to her abusive husband. Miss Celia, a woman who married above her class, but is shunned by every woman in town for her white trash ways. Miss Hilly, the queen bee, socialite extraordinaire, that rules the town with her elitism and prejudice packaged as the healthy, christian way of life. She ends up eating shit. Literally. So wonderful when a character gets their just desserts.

And you can't leave out Miss Skeeter. A woman who believes there's more that defines a woman than getting married and having kids. She's the central character that brings it all together. With her explosive idea to write a book documenting the lives of maids in her hometown, she begins crossing a line that's seriously dangerous in Mississippi in the 1960's. But as Aibileen tells us, there were never any lines anyway. "I used to believe in em. I don't anymore. They in our heads. People like Miss Hilly is always trying to make us believe they there. But they ain't."

The book is also a reminder of how important words can be, how powerful it is to have a voice. Minny worries repeatedly that they're risking their lives to write this book, and why? How important can it be, what they're doing, telling what it is to be a maid. "This ain't . . .  we aint' doing no civil rights here. We just telling stories like they really happen."

But isn't that the lesson of the novel? The importance of our real life stories? Just telling your story, having that voice, is a freedom, a right. The power in speaking up, of saying the way things really are, there's often no braver or more political an act. Fiction or no, it's a statement.

Many of the most notorious moments of the sixties are woven seamlessly through the novel: the Ku Klux Klan, the assassination of JFK, the Freedom March led by Martin Luther King. To imagine what it must have been to a be a black woman in Mississippi during that time, it's heart wrenching and terrifying. Or even to be a white woman in Mississippi trying to defy the expectations of marriage and children, recognizing the racism all around you perpetuated by your friends and family for the hate that it actually is.  

The Help is a passionate story of women and our universal bonds. As Miss Skeeter realizes by the end of the novel: "Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought. But Lou Anne, she understood the point of the book before she ever read it. The one who was missing the point this whole time was me."

Isn't it great when you finally get it?

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For the Love of a Good Mystery

Don't worry, Curls, there are no spoilers here.

Our book club is meeting tomorrow. We're reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I found the book amongst the top sellers on Amazon while browsing my kindle trying to come up with something to recommend. There's nothing worse at book club then getting to the end of the meeting and no one has any suggestions for our next read and we're all just frantically trying to pick something. Because chances are, if we don't pick something at the meeting, it will take us at least another week trying to email and comment on suggestions back and forth. I just want to get reading already! I'll be halfway into something else, then have to stop and to read the book club book in time. None of us wants that. So I try to always have a suggestion. Stress on the trying. It doesn't always happen. And most of the time, I'm open to just about anything. I just want us to decide on something and keep rolling. We're really pretty good about it. And we've met just about every month for the last, what, four and half years is it? LT was less than a year old, if I remember right (we mothers always mark time by our children's ages, don't we?), so it must be about that.

I haven't read Kate Morton's first novel, but the reviews of this one just sucked me right in. I love a good mystery. How can you not love a good mystery? I learned to love reading through the Bobsey Twins, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Opening a good mystery is like a trip back in time. Staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading. I had an old fashioned lamp on the side of my bed, and I'd learned I could turn it off with out making that conspicuous clicking noise by carefully turning the key-style switch enough so the light was on, but not so far that it would catch in the on position. This way, I could turn the light off by turning the switch backwards and it wouldn't make a sound.

This is the sign of seriously devoted reader. I'm an escapist, no doubt. I would have lived in those stories if I could have.

The Forgotten Garden is over 500 pages. At least that's what I've seen on Amazon. It's hard to tell on a Kindle. I read the entire novel on vacation. I found it hard to put it down. All those pool shots I'm not in, yeah, I was lying in the pool-side bed with my nose stuck in a book.The book is sort of Red River meets Flowers in the Attic. Rather irresistible, in my opinion. Once I tired of devouring mysteries, I quickly moved on to V.C. Andrews. I voraciously read everything she published until I was about fourteen. Have I mentioned I'm a little sick and twisty inside? Nobody does sick and twisty better than V.C. Andrews.

Anyway, the book being so long, two of our members haven't finished it yet, despite the extra couple of weeks we granted ourselves. So how does this speak highly of the book, that half the club hasn't finished it and we're supposed to be done for tomorrow night? Because we're still going to meet, but we are not to discuss the book! Curls and Gem (does that work?), are trying in vain to catch up. They both want to finish, are enjoying it, but just aren't quite going to make it. We'll have to schedule another meeting in a week or so, to actually discuss the book.

I highly recommend The Forgotten Garden. A mysterious Authoress who writes bewitching children's tales, an abandoned cottage, children playing Jack the Ripper in the fogs of London, a lost little girl with no home, no memory, no family . . . . It will pull you right in.

In the mean time, I'm reading Crime and Punishment. Still trying to squeeze in a least one classic I haven't read before in a year. I know there's been all this hype by Polly and the DOL about reading Jane Austen. It's still on my list. Somehow I think Dostoevsky is more my speed. I didn't expect it to remind me so much of Angela's Ashes. Probably should be the other way 'round, but that's the order I read them in.

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Godmother

So I got this new book in the mail. Nothing better than new books in the mail. A friend of Bookgirl's, an author, sent me a copy of her new book, wondering if I might consider giving it a mention on my blog. A free book with a blog request. I feel very important now. An official, amateur book reviewer. A profession made for me, to be sure. Now if it only paid the bills . . . .

Godmother, by Carolyn Turgeon,  is "The Secret Cinderella Story." I've never been a great fan of fairy tales. Happy endings and true love are grand, but they sort of give a girl the wrong idea. Any maiden taken to waiting around for her prince to ride in on his white horse and bring her back to his castle where they live happily ever after is in for some rude awakenings.  First, the prince rarely shows up, and when he does, he might be driving a pinto and be in serious need of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, if you know what I mean. You might mistake him for the toad. And often, the one you thought was the prince turns out, in fact, to be the toad. And if you're completely swept off your feet, and your prince is completely perfect in every way, not a hair out of place, loves chick flicks, well you better bail now, because chances are your prince prances the other way.

And lets say that you are one of those unbelievably lucky people who find true love. While your home may be your castle, it's likely a little less grand than an actual castle. And somehow those happily ever after endings never make it too far past the wedding kiss. Happily ever after takes on a whole other meaning after you've gotten everything you've ever dreamed of and you've popped out a couple of ankle biters, suffered through a few years of sleep deprivation, and are wondering what the hell happened to your body and your sanity. Yes, at that point, happily ever after might be in some need of Xanax with a wine chaser to get you through to the next day.

Fairy Tales are overrated. But somehow, they never go away. There is the place inside, where we need to believe, if only for a moment, that we can be Cinderella. We all want to be the most beautiful, most desired, most envied girl at the ball, do we not? Oh, go ahead and deny it. You show me a girl that doesn't, and I'll show you a girl in serious need of a good friend and a makeover. I don't care how much of a tom boy, how independent, gay, how feminist the woman is. We all, at least at some point in our lives, want to be the most fabulous, stylish, amazing person in the room. I mean, who under 50, would want to be Cinderella's Godmother? How many girls watch Cinderella and the oodles of remakes and think, "Gee, wouldn't it be cool to get to send Cinderella to the ball where the prince will fall in love with her?" This is the direction that, Godmother take us. Because what if Cinderella's Godmother was actually young and vibrant and fell in love with the prince herself? What if the story we know actually got it all wrong?

This is only one layer of the story, though. Lil, takes us between her two worlds, the fairy world she was exiled from, and the drudgery of her life as a lonely old woman. Lil, now residing in the aching body of an aging, single woman, still has her wings, the only link remaining to her true self. As the novel progresses, it forces us to question who we are, as we learn the truth about Lil. Is she really a fairy? Or is she just a lonely, crazed old woman? And if it's real for Lil, does it really matter what anyone else believes? Does it make her any less of a Godmother?

The novel, while centering around the fairy tale of Cinderella, is definitely not another happily ever after retelling. Of course, the original Cinderella tale would never have made it by the Disney censors either. Godmother combines the magic, beauty and love of the fairy tale with what is sometimes the monotony, loneliness, and pain of reality. One can never exist without the other. And as is always the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle. There may be no refuting reality, but who wants to live in a world without a little magic?

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The Hour I First Believed

Overall, I think our book club liked the book. It wasn't one of our favorites. I like Wally Lamb - She's Come Undone, I Know This Much is True. And there was much I enjoyed about The Hour I First Believed, but I didn't like the ending. I was afraid from the beginning that's where the title was going. I was right to be afraid. For a writer that I view as being very real, very raw, this ending was way too contrite.

I appreciated the real life events that were written into the novel - Columbine, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, traumatized soldiers, Bush. There have been a number of catastrophes in our recent past. We watched the news coverage, but eventually the media frenzy begins to wane and it's easy when you're removed from what happened, to forget. It's easy not to think about how many people, families are still suffering from their experience at Columbine. It's easy to forget how many people are still displaced, still dealing with losing their homes, everything they had, years after Hurricane Katrina. I think Lamb did a great job of interweaving fiction and nonfiction, particularly with Columbine. It's important for us to remember the shootings, to honor the memories of those who lost their lives.

What I liked most about the novel was the way the tragedies of the characters were paired with Greek myths. I've always had a thing for Greek mythology, for Ancient Greece in general. The birth place of democracy and philosophy. A culture that knew everything about food, theater, battle, catharsis, and sex. A beautiful place, on the ocean, the breath taking architecture, smell of olive trees. Yes, I really want to go to Greece some day. * sigh* I've read and taught many of the plays and myths. From Oedipus and Medea to the Iliad and the Odyssey. I wrote a really illuminating paper once comparing Moses to Odysseus, I think it was. I can't quite remember, but I'm sure it was ground breaking. I think the Greeks had the whole concept of culture nailed much better than the Hebrews. And while much of our Christian brethren may like to associate us more with the Hebrews, there are many, much more colorful, much more honest, comparisons to be drawn between modern American culture and Ancient Greece.

In Lamb's novels, the characters are always broken. And not just slightly broken, but seriously, tragically, f@#&d up. And not just one character, but a very large percentage of the characters. Pretty much anyone who plays a pivotal role in the story has some serious issues. It is, perhaps, a little over the top, a bit more than is realistic. Yet, I do appreciate it. These people struggle. They are not one-dimensional, cookie-cutter, hero and villain caricatures. His characters are vivid, dealing with very real events and the consequences of their actions. Life is not always pretty. It's appropriate that he brings in Greek literature, since his own novels are so very tragic, so very dramatic. And while Shakespeare got tragedy down pretty well himself, in my opinion, nobody did it better than the Greeks. Oedipus killing his father, marrying his mother and gouging out his own eyes? Medea murdering her own children as revenge against her husband? Hercules murdering his wife and children in crazed rage induced by Hera? Nobody did tragedy quite as often, or quite on par with the Greeks, and Lamb certainly seems to have a thing for tragedy.

Definitely a must read if you feel you need reminding of how blessed you are. Even with your financial problems, job security worries, illness, stress, insomnia, no matter what your deal, I promise you'll find at least a dozen characters who have it way worse than you. You'll feel a little better when you're done. And just in case you haven't spent years studying and teaching literature, that is the definition of catharsis, people.

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Girl's Got Skills

I went to hear Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and local celebrity, speak last night at our town library. Curls went with me. It's only the second time I've been to hear an author speak or do a reading. I went to see Jodi Picoult about a year ago. She did a reading. The event was supposed to be held at a local Borders, but they had to move it to one of school auditoriums because of the crowd they were anticipating. She had a packed house. So I was a bit surprised by the small crowd for Ann Hood. She's also a best selling author. Not the number of best seller's Jodi has, and I don't think there have been any movie deals, but still. Curls and I were the youngest people in the group by a decade, on average, probably a couple of decades. And there were less than thirty people. I have to think it was lack of publicity. I really doubt they did any. I only knew because it was held at my local library and I saw the announcement they had about it.

So what was best selling author Ann Hood doing at my little local library at a small, unpublicized event? She grew up here. Graduated from the town high school, and has a soft spot for the library she spent so much time in as a girl. She'd also missed an engagement with the library's book club a few months ago.

She was a great speaker - intelligent, inspiring and entertaining. I have to admit, the only of her books I've read is The Knitting Circle, which was good. I read it because it was sort of an extra-curricular book club book. We didn't actually have a meeting on it, but we've all read it now. It's not the sort of book I'd normally pick up on my own - that kind of depressing, woman's book. I generally steer clear of those. I'm not for tear-jerker material for the pure sake of tear-jerker. You know what I'm talking about, Nicholas Sparks springs to mind. I did love The Notebook, though. I could watch that movie endlessly. I do have a bit of a thing for Ryan Gossling. I remember him from when he was just a kid, playing in that Young Hercules series, and before that, that really stupid show where the rich kids went to school on a boat that traveled around the world? But I digress. The point is, if it hadn't been highly suggested to me, I might have passed on The Knitting Circle, but that coupled with the fact that she's a local author made me give it a go. And it was really good. Well structured, well-written, and more than just your random tear-jerker that doesn't seem to have much of a point but making you cry.

Listening to a writer speak about their work, about their passion for books and writing, it evokes a peace and happiness in me. It may be the sort of thing others experience listening to their priest/pastor/rabbi orating. It's grounding. Writing is empowering, it's cathartic. Writers often speak of not choosing to write but being driven to it. Ann Hood touched on all of that, and she was funny and likable. A precocious girl, reading Little Women at seven-years-old, In Cold Blood at eleven, and crank calling band members from the library when she needed a break. At seven, I was reading Nancy Drew and The Bobsey Twins. At eleven, I was all about Sweet Valley High. I didn't hit the classics until high school and I've still yet to read either Little Women or In Cold Blood. Little Women is one of my favorite all time movies, though.

What's most impressive to me about Ann Hood, is not that she's a best selling author or travels all over the world writing about her travel experience (though I'm jealous, I must admit), it's the diversity of genres in which she writes - fiction, nonfiction, essays and novels. The woman not only has intelligence and talent, she has range. I intend on picking up more of her work. To listen to her explain about how she took her grief over losing a child and fictionalized it, about how the women in the knitting circle are symbolic of the protagonist moving through the stages of grief as Ann sees them, was illuminating. A very enjoyable evening. A very wonderful author and woman.

Now Curls, is of course, always after me to write my own book, her and my husband too. I do love them for it. And I love writing. But working full time, raising my kids, my husband's business, working at those ten pounds I want to take off before our vacation in April, it doesn't leave me much time for writing. It barely leaves me much time to blog, let alone write something well thought out and potentially publishable. And I suppose if i really wanted to write, if I was really being driven to it, I'd be willing to take any risk, make any sacrifice in order to do that. But I'm not. I can just picture myself as one of those unemployed people telling people about how I'm writing a book that never gets finished. (Not like Polly, who is actually writing a book that is quite good with great characters, plot, theme, engaging writing.)

I like my job. I like working in the technology field, trying to stay at the forefront of what's going on with databases, web development and technology. Generally, I'm barely hanging on and ten steps behind, but in a country where our math and science skills are pitiful, and our technology often behind that of other countries, I enjoy at least trying to be part of the solution. I like being a woman in a field dominated by men, knowing that my mere presence is a step towards equality. I'm going to stay parked on the IT bus, at least for now. But I always have writing in my hip pocket, in case I need a change, or am forced to make a change, down the road. Maybe at some point, the two skills will come together for me in some way I can't possibly anticipate. Technical writing might be a logical thought, but let me stop you there. It'd be a cold day in hell. Sounds like watching paint dry.

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Go to Hell

I just finished The Tenth Circle, and I have to say, I can see why Jodi Picoult decided to juxtapose a book about the stresses of adolescence with Dante's Inferno. If there were a tenth circle of hell, it would certainly be high school. Now, that's not exactly the point that Ms. Picoult is trying to get across, but it isn't exactly all that far from it either. And while  I can easily see the inclination to pair adolescence with a trip through hell, to then wind it together with a comic book that's being written/drawn by one of the characters, well that was pure genius.

What I love about Jodi Picoult is the way she can take an issue that you've already made a decision about, and then cause you to question yourself. At the center of the plot is a rape, and not just a date rape, but a complicated incident that causes you to question when exactly a rape is in fact a rape. I never really thought that was a question for me. When a girl says no, that's rape right? Well, maybe it's not quite as simple as that. And what if the girl didn't say no? And what if she was drugged and had trouble saying no? And what if the so-called rapist didn't even know she was drugged? Is that rape? I'm not sure. By the end of the novel, it's hard not to pity all of the characters. They all have their own demons, which is the theme. And they all suffer more from their own thoughts and actions than they do from anything anyone else has done to them.

I also love that hell in the novel is very much like Alaska. It's cold, freezing cold, and barren. I think cold says hell to me even more than heat. It's supposed to be all fire and brimstone in most descriptions, and not that burning alive for all eternity would be pleasant or anything. But something about freezing to death forever says hell to me. I think when you live in NE, the cold is just more real, instills much more fear.

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Breaking Dawn - The Flip Side

I have to admit that Breaking Dawn was my least favorite of all the Twilight books. Though, when I get caught up in a series the way I have with this one, I'm willing to overlook a great deal. Stephenie Meyer had already caught me hook, line and sink-her, so all she had to do at this point was keep me mildly entertained and I was pretty much willing to forgive her just about anything. I really enjoyed the read and was not looking for anything to criticize, so it surprised me when I finished and started fishing around a bit, that many people were very dissatisfied with Breaking Dawn. To the point where people were burning the book and making an issue out of returning it. I can't say I follow any of that. The mere fact that Meyer has instigated so much fascination with her books is quite a coup for her. To say she was under an enormous amount of pressure over the reception of this novel is a terrific understatement. I have nothing but the utmost respect and awe for what she has been able to accomplish and praise her for creating such a cult classic.

I read one person's complaint over how it could be possible for a vampire to produce sperm. Oh, so you're perfectly willing to accept the vampires and the werewolves, but not the vampire sperm? You should have checked your reality at the door, people. I thought we all knew this wasn't grounded in reality. But speaking with Curls, she brought up some criticisms which I had been willing to overlook. Meyer broke greatly with some of her character development in Breaking Dawn. She had some responsibility to be true to the characters she had developed and with some she faltered. Charlie is likely the biggest example of this. In the first three novels, Charlie was greatly concerned over Bella, but in Breaking Dawn he becomes this absentee father at first, and then this person who's all too willing to accept being disillusioned. It doesn't quite fit. Charlie knew that Bella was gravely ill, yet he never tried to see her? I would have been on the first plane to Atlanta or wherever, and I would have expected that of Charlie. He never went to the Cullen's after he was aware that she was there? Then when he does see her, he's all too willing to accept these half-truths and unexplainable occurrences, on a need-to-know basis? It just doesn't make sense. The Charlie we all got to know shouldn't have behaved that way. I can't argue with Curls on that one.

I was a bit annoyed over what happened with Leah. She's become a more and more prominent character as the novels progressed, and she played quite a large role for a portion of Breaking Dawn. Then she all but disappeared without any explanation. It seemed for a while that Meyer was going to hook Jacob and Leah together, and there's a part of me that wishes she would have. It would have been nice to see one of the main characters coming to a relationship of their own free will, one based out of respect and friendship. I wouldn't have wanted Jacob to imprint on Leah, but for the two of them to find love in mending their own broken hearts. It would have made sense, been a very different example of love and relationship from what we've seen in the Twilight books, taken care of the Jacob problem, and given Bella something to sacrifice. And Bella getting it all without having to sacrifice anything? It's a fairy tale ending sure, and maybe we shouldn't criticize Meyer over giving Bella that, and this is fantasy, so I guess why shouldn't she have it? But then, on the other hand, wasn't it all just a little to easy for Bella in Breaking Dawn? Yes, I know, she almost dies giving birth, but she's all too willing, all too happy to suffer physically. And the baby gets her exactly what she wants, her immortality and quickly. But all the tension between the characters is almost entirely missing in Breaking Dawn. Bella's already made her choice of Edward and making the transformation. She still wants Jacob around, but everyone knows it's just in this pathetic, sad puppy kind of way (yes, Polly, pun intended). The tension is just gone. There is still the Volturi and the threat they pose, but that's not the same personal tension we've known and loved throughout the Twilight novels.

And I'm a Jacob girl, so I love the large role Jacob played in Breaking Dawn. I love being inside his mind, his constant jokes and sarcasm. It sounds much like my own mind, minus the extra voices. I loved the titles of his chapters, his dumb blonde jokes. I love everything about Jacob, at least until he imprints and becomes a bit nauseating around Nessie. But I'm in the minority being a Jacob girl, most readers are ALL ABOUT EDWARD, and Breaking Dawn just didn't give Edward much play. I mean, he was there through all of it - worrying about and loving Bella, but nothing happened with him. He didn't grow, he didn't change. He already had the girl, he suffered watching her carry the baby, but that was it. I love Jacob and was thrilled that he got so much play, but even I missed Edward in Breaking Dawn. He just became this secondary character. He was just Bella's husband.

And while I liked the end of Breaking Dawn, the Cullens and friends facing down the Volturi, Curls didn't care for it much. She felt it was all too movie-esque and just not true to the reader. Perhaps. It's not something that occurred to me, and I liked the whole showdown that ended very anti-climatically. Like I said, you get me this wrapped up in a story and I'm likely to forgive just about anything. But I can see for readers that have loved the series because of the relationship between Bella and Edward, how they would feel quite let down over Breaking Dawn, because it's almost not about Bella and Edward at all. It's about Jacob and Nessi and facing down the Volturi. And maybe that's a good thing, because it seems to me Meyer set herself up nicely to continue the series, and I would love to see more Twilight novels.

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