I loved this book!!! It could be that I listened to it on a great audio recording, but I believe it to be much more than that. Fluid, insightful writing, a well-integrated storyline, and the examination of the meaning of story and fiction are close to my heart. A storyline about a random act that has repercussions across several lives could be predictable, but this felt fresh to the very last sentence. I did find that this theme was mentioned explicitly by several characters over time, and normally that might annoy me. But here, it worked. It all did.
Have already urged others to pick this up.
This story is very moving. I have not read much YA lit in my middle age, and I am happily surprised by the depth of language and metaphor in this story. Beautifully written and it feels real. I appreciate the opportunity to understand the personal experience of cancer by learning from Hazel and Augustus. Although it is ostensibly a sad story, I smiled quite a bit as I listened to the great characters and dialogue.
My main concern with the narration is that the first few chapters felt like the we're being read at breakneck speed. I kept checking my iPhone to make sure the speed setting was correct. Either I gotta used to it, or it slowed down and was then a fine performance.
Fantastic! Wow, can Jess Walter write! He describes this book perfectly when referring to it as a "braid" of stories. I am not always a fan of books with many characters and subplots, but Walters made me care about all of them, especially Dee/ Deborah and Pasquale. The other characters, while not as "likable," we're just as compelling in the confusion of their lives.
And, the narration was such a pleasure to listen to. So many voices, so many accents, all done very well. I look forward to hearing more from this narrator.
I was eager to hear this story due to my love of poetry and interest in the link between poetry and mental illness. So much of this was beautifully written and narrated, but I found it hard to follow the constantly changing point of view. I thought too many stories were told without greater effect for having included them. Overall, gorgeus but ultimately boring.
I had this book on my TBR shelf for nearly 2 years. I couldn't part with it without reading it, but I never claimed it for a weekend jaunt. Instead, I decided to listen to it on audio. It was amazing!!!! The writing is fantastically detailed and the narrator brought the characters to life. I appreciated each perfect sentence uttered iin a British accent.
My heart broke over and over for Portia. Such a "sweet kid" as she was affectionately and derisively known by others. She was doing her best to make her way in an unfamiliar world, hoping for a semblance of a family. Instead, she too soon learns the reality of the falesness of adults and the limits of love.
I listened to this as audio book as it was on my TBR shelf for so long that it was the only way to get to it. I loved some of Henkin's phrasing and use of metaphor, but overall, this story had more detail and length than was needed. Or maybe because so much of it was ordinary, it just felt like real life happening without dramatic plot twists. And, I must say there were a number of editorial misses, like the scent of lilacs in November and the characters noting that they heard voices from the street when inside a 17th floor luxury apartment. This errors made me trust the author and the story a little less.
Narrator okay. Differentiated characters with use of accent more than tone, which I found a little distracting.
If you love good writing, you will love this memoir. Hamilton can make a sentence sound as good as the meals she prepares. You will also love this book if you can bear her sense of self-righteousness about how food is prepared, about how people should behave at a farmer’s market, and if you think it is okay to hate another person because of the way they choose their coffee (double espresso, half decaf latte). I came to abhor her self-centeredness, especially at the very end when she holds her family hostage while she has a blood sugar attack but refuses to eat at an ordinary restaurant. Really? A chef who can’t remember to bring a little food with her when travelling with 2 toddlers to avoid a circumstance just like this?
In the first half of the book, Hamilton is generous with her stories and her love of what is important to her; enough to make me want to try some foods I wouldn’t normally consider or adventures that are far riskier than I am used to. I admired the way she envisioned her restaurant and made it happen. (Of course, calling herself a “reluctant” chef feels like a marketing ploy as she seems anything but.) However, once she is married, she can’t seem to get enough of putting down her husband and even having the poor grace to complain about a month in Italy every year. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audio book - which she narrates herself - that I come away with a sense of her total self-absorption disguised as wanting to feed her guests and love her children. I finished this book only so that I could close this chapter of my reading life.
I found the first 3/4 of this story to be engaging, even compelling, in some parts. Franks did deep into the family relationships that encircle her father. She remembers her intense love for him and his sweet protection and teaching of her as a little girl. But family life later disintegrates and her father becomes dependent on her. Her love, rage and disappointment tangle them up and this story is the gradual unknotting of their relationship.
Franks is driven to know about her father's war time efforts. She uses her investigative reporting skills to uncover his story, initially against his will. This eventually draws them together. For me, the story finishes before the book does. The near final chapters tell of her continued search for details to get the full truth of his covert experiences. I was happy ending it with the details he shared and the meaning she made of them. I lost interest in the final verification of the same. It left me thinking: What is more important - The "real" truth or the meaning we make of our own truths?
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