i like to read. i like to listen.
this book was amazing, freaky, scary, frustrating and totally totally F'ed up.
this is a story of obsession and insanity, yes. but it's also a story of friendship and love, unhealthy love. of dependence and self loathing. of how decisions can stunt and haunt someone. it's a story of race and intolerance. it's a story of art and literature and beauty and freedom.
nora, a teacher in cambridge, is psycho. i mean...seriously. she becomes obsessed with a family -- not as a family -- but as three separate units. she's in love with all three of them, mother, father, son -- in unhealthy and insane ways.i truly do think that nora is clinically psychotic. but god, what a fascinating narrator she makes for this story. so...i will say without any doubts, i did not like nora. i think for all she pats herself on the back for being such a great person, friend, woman, teacher...she's really kind of an asshole. but i guess it all goes back to the fact that shes INSANE. and so, as unlikeable as i find her, i couldn't stop reading her story. of course in a book like this, i know upfront that i cannot trust her as a narrator and so i found myself doubting everything she said. at times, she even said as much...that she was telling these events as SHE perceived them...maybe not how they actually occurred. but how well Claire Messud wrote her perceptions....it's amazing. i reveled in hearing each moment she spent with the three members of the Shahid family (reza, sirena and skandar). i was excited for every new development that progressed in each string of the story...and how they all wove and intertwined with each other.
i've listened to a few books read by Cassandra Campbell in the past. i'm the first to admit that she is not usually my favorite narrator. there is something about her that irks me. and in this book -- that only lent itself to making her voicing nora's insanity strong and true. it sounds strange, but the fact that i don't love her narration worked for me in this story -- because i didn't like nora either.
i was on the edge of my seat this entire book, waiting for the other shoe to drop...and was horrified and amazed when it did.
one of the best books i've read this year. definitely on my top five for 2013 (so far).
like other reviewers, i cannot believe that i haven't heard of meg wolitzer before. she's written a ton of books, and if they are anywhere close to as good as this one was, i'm excited that i've discovered a "new" writer so that i can go back and read all of her work.
this book was so realistic. it was the story of six teenagers who meet at art camp and it follows their lives through the years into their 50s. the narrator shifts between three of them, but is mainly told by Julia dubbed early on "Jules". she's such a tender and relatable character. she's welcomed into this group of "interestings" -- without fully understanding why. she feels they are the apex of coolness and style, and that she's somewhat unworthy. from her first time in their "inner circle" (in the teepee of art camp) through the last page we see of them together, she's got doubts and questions...lack of confidence...and insecurities as to why and how she belongs.
the story is told over the years, jumping back and forth from past to present to somewhere in the middle..and seamlessly unfolds this story of friendship, marriage, success, failure and love.
Jen Tullock was, to me, the perfect narrator. she embodied Jules perfectly - but also played Ash, Ethan, Jonah, Dennis so well. She even gave ancillary characters their own perfect spin, voice and piece of the puzzle. I loved her reading of this book.
good lord this book was devastating. written so lyrically, it was heart-wrenching and disturbing and really just jarring to the system.
the abuse portrayed in this book is incomprehensible. juxtaposed with the amazing writing the book ends up being both beautiful and shocking at the same time. the story falls under the realm of magical realism, southern gothic and historical fiction...and has the ability to draw the reader in and forces us to truly experience the tragedy these characters live through.
it's not a story for the faint of heart...but the style of writing and strength of the characters makes it an amazing read. it's a love story at it's core...but a love that is surrounded by absolute horror. and the love is not only between a man and a woman, but it's about self love as well. finding the strength inside to not only love yourself but open yourself up for love to be given to you.
i am usually not a fan of authors reading their own books, i find that they usually don't have the depth of acting ability to embody even their own words, but Cynthia Bond brings her background in acting (theater) to this performance and makes an amazing narrator.
surely this book will stay with me for a long time.