Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
This is a story of emotional, and at times, even physical survival. Two orphans, one who is now 91 and the other 17, cautiously reveal their life experiences to each other and find healing and transformation through the sharing. Each has been wounded by a series of cruel life events that have left them both feeling at times alone and vulnerable in life. Each has gone through childhood experiences that left them feeling at the mercy of others, not daring to trust that they could be loved just for being themselves.
91 year old Vivian was a young girl who was put on the train of orphans taken to be resettled in the Midwest just prior to the Great Depression. She must endure many harrowing events before finding any security in life. 17 year old Molly is in the foster care system and has frequently been victimized by her treatment in various homes. She goes to Vivian's house to help her as a condition of working off community service hours rather than go to "Juvie." In the beginning neither can imagine the transformation that will occur as they start going through Vivian's stored possessions, which both hold and evoke the memories of a life she has largely put behind her. Molly, who is at first a prickly, resentful teen, suspicious of anyone who seems to offer her a kindness is slow to warm to Vivian's genuine generosity. This is the story of two women, who on the surface could not be more different, finding the deepest sort of connection through their recognition of similar experiences.
This is a beautiful, touching book, filled with gripping emotional scenes that make it hard to put down. The writing is deeply evocative of the shifts of fortune each young girl is going through, and draws the reader right into the book. I almost felt I would know any of the characters if I were to meet them somewhere. Their courage is inspirational. More than this, though, this book forces the questions of how do we really care for and about those less fortunate? How often do we do things to salve own our conscience without deeply asking what is truly needed by others? This book raises all kinds of social questions about the role of the care and protection of children, and is, in one way, as unsettling at that level as it is heart-warming at another. The narrator is excellent, doing the voice of 91 year old Vivian or 17 year old Molly with equal ease. Such a wonderful listen. Highly recommend!
This is a story of two wives who have to share the shock and grief of learning something that unexpectedly impacts both their lives and that of their families. At first I wasn't very sure I liked the book, thought I had stumbled into some lightweight Chick Lit (and I still think it leans that way), but eventually I became engrossed in listening to the story, feeling I had to hear how it all worked itself out.
Although there is this secret that dominates the book, it is far from what I found most compelling. On several levels and generations there were mother-daughter stories that stretched throughout the book (and even, briefly, a mother-son one). Also the relationships among women as friends (or not friends) dominated much of it as well. Oddly, I found the "secret" that ties the two families together to have been less powerful than the individual portraits (the "family pictures" that give the book it's title, even though it also refers to a specific key incident within the story) to have been what made it worth listening to.
For reasons I did not understand, everything about Sylvie and her family life was told in third person, while Maggie's world was all described in first person. Maggie was the more self-absorbed of the two, while Sylvie was more concerned with others, so it could have been that, or it could simply have been a means of pointing to which woman was being focused upon at different times in the book.
I almost gave this story fewer stars based on what seemed to me to have been way too many and too blatant sex conversations between characters at various times. Either I'm so old that I'm out of touch with what younger people talk about, or else this was just inserted to make the book "hot enough" to appeal to some people. Whichever, it detracted from the story so much I almost put this book down several times. The author needed to decide if this was a steamy romance novel, or a serious book that explored the lives and emotions and psychological dynamics of people living their lives together. I decided in the end that the author's intent was to present an otherwise good and well-woven story of how people met and coped with a tragedy that affected two families, and must have felt some need, which somehow escaped me, to have inserted women having lurid conversations about sex here and there to give it an (unneeded) extra punch. Since the story was intriguing regardless, I recommend the book!
Well, this was a delightful surprise to me. I purchased it as one of the daily specials, not really knowing much about it. Half-heartedly started listening, and was soon so captivated that I just could not stop--had to hear it all the way through till late last night.
Edward Stanton is a 39 year old man with Asperger's Syndrome who also has OCD. He lives alone, and his life is ordered by his rituals. (Such as recording the exact moment he awakens every day, eating precisely the same foods each week, loving certain words and letter-writing, and especially watching the old episodes of Jack Webb's "Dragnet" every night--in exact order of airing, beginning fresh each new year). In fact, by the end of the book, the listener will hear the serious importance of the Jack Webb ritual.
In the beginning of the book, I felt a bit of frustration, as this seemed very rigidly written (told in Edward's voice), almost boring, and I wondered if the book would hold my interest. I realized by the end, the the style of the writing is part of the story. Craig Lancaster has written the book using a style that very well mimics Edward's mind--and all the sweet and sad transformations that will occur within this story. As the book moves on, the style softens, is much more engaging. Thus--without even having to use description, Lancaster has brought the reader into Edward's world.
This is a story of how the highly routinized, ritualistic life of Edward is challenged by powerful events and his adaptation to them, and the lives of people around him are equally touched by what happens. I was really mesmerized listening to it (wondering, by the way, if it would have "read" as well as it sounded.) I think the excellent narration was part of the power of this book. Luke Daniels seemed pitch perfect on almost every voice (I was not as keen on the voice of Kyle--a child--as the adults, however). This is one of those stories that seems to me to have been a "sleeper," something that didn't get the promotion it deserved. (Or maybe it did and I missed it). I'm so glad Audible ran it as a "deal."
A story of transformation (and not just in Edward) that is very moving, using elements including his therapy and his dreams, to bring us into the workings of his very soul. And the interactions with people around him were wonderfully written. I am so glad I took a chance on this daily deal and got it. Otherwise I would have missed a truly great book. I was happy to see that it appears Mr. Lancaster has written a sequel to this, which I intend to get right away. Highly, highly recommend!
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Charlie is a quirky, unsure teen who is befriended by a brother/sister duo. In love with Sam, or the mere idea of her, the novel is told in a series of letters to an unknown addressee about his experiences with the friends and a forced-upon girlfriend. The novel is intelligent, and Charlie opens his soul through the letters in a way he can't in his daily life. Chbosky presents a tale of insecurity and angst in a raw, emotional, and touching way. The end shows a transformed Charlie and ultimately reveals the recipient of the letters. Excellent read for teens and adults.