Monday, June 8, 2015

To the End of June

To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster CareTo the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting, if heartbreaking look into the ins and outs of foster care. Although it was well written, and well researched, it focused mainly on New Yorks foster care. While it was prefaced that it wouldn't be a comprehensive look at foster care, it revealed enough to know that every state has different agencies, and different laws regarding foster care, so I am not sure how universal some of the problems are (although I am sure that they have similar problems) It also focused mostly on teens and YA. It is an eye opening read...you know the foster system is bad, but to have all the deficiencies pointed out is shocking. Also since it again pointed out that it was a strictly observational book, there were no answers to how we can do better. Most of the homes she focused on had saints as foster parents and they still cculdnt seem to make it work.

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The Leftovers

The LeftoversThe Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a great book that explored how we deal with loved ones leaving our lives. The fact that so many left at the same time without explanation just allowed the responses to be more universal. Some turn to God for explanations, some try to carry on as though nothing happened, some become stoic, others turn to pleasure, some romanticize the people who left, some vilify them, some feel guilty, some feel angry. What I love is that this book points out that whether it was an Event that took our loved ones (like a national tragedy) or whether someone leaves us through divorce, depression, or even to start a new phase in life, the effects can be the same...just as inexplicable, just as hurtful. It sounds like a heavy, depressing novel, but Perrotta leavens it just enough to keep it hopeful. The ending reminds us that though there may be endings, there are beginnings too.
BTW, I did watch the first episode of The Leftovers TV adaption and felt it was darker, angrier, and more depressing than the book. Lots more swearing, too. I would recommend the book, not the show.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

One Kick

One Kick (Kick Lannigan, #1)One Kick by Chelsea Cain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am stil trying to decide why I liked this story so much. It has a lot of tropes that these mysteries seem to have...eerie coincidences, plot points that don't make logical sense but create drama and/or mood, hospital scenes, and a fight scene with at least one naked person. And the protagonists are always beautiful, brilliant, or way too physically capable. Kick is beautiful, and smart, and knows how to lay you out with a single punch, but she is also messed up. Deeply. After being a victim of a kidnapping herself, she knows 500 ways to defend herself, but she is still so messed up mentally that you realize no matter how many weapons she has, she is still the most vulnerable person in the room. And I think that is what makes Kick so like able, and One Kick so readable. It is about heavy stuff...child kidnaping and abuse, but Cain wisely glosses over details so it isn't too disturbing.

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Sisters

SistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My kids are into graphic novels, so I thought I'd dip my toe in the pool. Having grown up with 3 sisters, I thought this would be just the thing. At one point, Raina admits she likes Calvin and Hobbes to her older, cooler cousins...I like Calvin and Hobbes, too, and this felt a lot like that: a simple day to day story of how siblings can love and hate each other at the same time, without really understanding why. But in the end, when it counts, you are there for each other.
It's a book written for younger readers, but I enjoyed it and every one of my kids picked it up and read it, including my dyslexic 11yo who was so engrossed he skipped dinner....

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We Are Not Ourslves

We Are Not OurselvesWe Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great character driven novel. It felt like a modern, updated Tolstoy novel. Thomas does an excellent job of uncovering the nuances of his characters, exploring their motivations, but not judging them too harshly. I loved how he captured the whims of our emotions, how one thing someone says or does can affect your response or action almost without thought. There are a couple of clunky chapters, one on euthanasia and one on Medicare that seemed preachy and out of place, but that is being picky. Overall, an outstanding book.

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