I will never forget this book. Ever. I had no idea what I was getting into other than a story of a mother struggling to come to grips with her son becoming a murderer, but I was horrified, enthralled, totally sucked in even though it was psychologically painful and surprising and long. I struggled to turn it on after a difficult day, because it took something from me each time, but I could never stay away for long. I don't think this is the story of every high school shooter, but I do think it's a compelling story of one fictional boy who is disturbed beyond belief, with an exceptional writer to tell it thoroughly, engagingly. Plus, the reader was totally in character and pitch-perfect from start to finish. Toward the end, I was obsessed with finishing it—listened voraciously—like I would gulp down shots trying to finish the bottle regardless of the consequences, the hangover after. I feel the hangover of finishing this. And it was worth it.
I enjoyed listening to this book. I especially liked that the author was the reader, which means she read it to me just the way it was written in her head (and her voice was amazing to listen to for that many hours). I also respect how Joyce Maynard develops her characters so fully. I will likely think of Patty every time I see a little girl playing basketball, and Detective Toricelli every time an officer gives a press conference, and I will carry with me the sadness of true love unfinished and broken homes and dreams not fulfilled for awhile. And have nightmares about killers and piano wire and shoestrings and rusted out trucks. The only downside was that there was some repetition due to the robust character development efforts, which sometimes really slowed down the story just when I was getting excited and anxious to know what was going to happen next. I'd have to listen, listen more...wait for it...wait for it... Overall, a decent listen from an accomplished writer.
It is no doubt that Khaled Hosseini is a masterful storyteller. This book was no exception. However, I had much more difficulty really getting into the story, fully immersed in the characters' experiences and feelings, than I did with his previous two books. I imagine that part of the issue was that I struggled with the accents of the three readers. Still, there were several times the individual experiences and atrocities the characters experienced and the hardships they faced made me feel physically ill with sadness. So the entire review of this book boils down to two things for me: 1) Love Khaled Hosseini? Then read this book. 2) Planning on reading this book? Read it. Pick up the print or digital copy and actually READ it, don't listen to it. Then, it's probably worth 4 stars or more.
Who wouldn't love a book with all of their favorite things, all in one lovely audible book with a decent reader? I found it in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore! What luck!! Conspiracies, secret codes, the search for meaning, bookstores and reading rooms, logos and branding and fonts, San Francisco, strange friendships and alliances with unlikely characters...enjoyable from cover to cover.
I love this book. Anyone who loves me needs to love this book. Colin Firth made it incredible to listen to, Graham Greene made it the perfect picture of the excitement and frustration and confusion and fear and desperation of love. Any love. I don't re-listen to books. I will listen to this book again and again and again.
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. The characters and multiple intertwined stories were masterful. The writing was flawless. The narration was perfect and enchanting. The time passed too quickly and I was sad to reach the end. More, please!
What's not to love about this book and admire about the author? Anyone who can write (and then read) in such a way that a) I have to laugh out loud frequently, b) I must text my friend the best lines so we can laugh together, and c) I start talking and writing similarly, is my idol. And also, anyone who can use profanity more often and more convincingly than I - and make a career of it - deserves accolades. I'm her newest, biggest fan.
I would recommend this book. Even when I thought I knew what was happening, I had to know HOW, and if I was RIGHT, and what everyone involved would THINK and SAY and DO to make it happen or in reaction once it did. I didn't like anyone in this book, but I was completely intrigued by the way they became what they were and why they were letting each other RUIN them. I quite literally could not stop until it ended, until I knew. And at the end I was still disappointed with how ruinous the whole thing was. Yes, these characters are far-fetched. That's what made it so wonderful and escapist for me.
My closest comparison would be wit House of Sand and Fog, since I despised everyone in that book too, but couldn't put it down until everyone was satisfactorily destroyed.
Yes, although I have no idea how the narrators kept themselves from speeding up intensely as things got so twisted...
Like Watching a Train Wreck...You Won't Look Away.
I would listen again; the reader was impeccable. Natural, believable, soothing. The narration was probably the best I have ever listened to.
I most enjoyed that the characters are all so irreparably flawed and damaged. It was human. It was clear that their issues were a product of both the times and just the sheer fact of being honestly alive. Yes, some of their concerns were trivial. Yes, some of their reactions were overly dramatic. Yes, it was like listening to a train wreck as it happens. Isn't life really like that?
Kitty Fane. Of course, that was the main character and her perspective throughout the book, but she just did it SO WELL.
For me, the most memorable characters were all of them—I know, that's a cheater's way out, but none of the lives and situations are really cleared up or explained, so I was left wondering about nearly everyone, even if they had died. What were their real motivations? What would they or should they or could they have done differently? Did they ever find out that (fill in secret or lesson here)? Did anyone else eventually become a victim of the Cholera? I will never know the answers, and will likely think about those loose ends for a long time to come.
I really wanted to like this book, and I did in a lot of ways. If you approach it as just one guy's story about his mom and what his family was doing, thinking, and reading during his mom's battle with cancer (without any huge epiphanies or off-the-wall adventures or stunning realizations), you'll like it much better than if you're approaching it for sweeping insights. Don't get me wrong, I am saddened that families and friends ever have to watch someone they love battle this disease, and that wonderful people die everyday as we search for a cure, but this book just didn't expose any ringing truths or open my eyes to anything new, which I tend to need from a book to increase the stars in my ratings. My biggest issue? The complete perception of perfection that the author portrays of his mom, and of everyone around them. Could he not tell one story of their faults and foibles and fights? Even the one "mistake" we learn of his mom making during his childhood was so trivial that, while it made for a few minutes of easy reading, it didn't paint a picture of family life that I could relate to. My praise? It did make me want to read several of the books mentioned within. Books about books are like that.
I was completely enthralled, but I am a runner and a writer. Even though I could relate at that level, there were times when the detail on the process of running and/or writing and/or triathalon training got to be a little too much. Overall, I was very intrigued and thought some of the lessons he applies, and the way he looks at life, if this memoir to be stunning and universal, so I couldn't stop listening...like I can't stop running...like I can't stop writing.
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