Thursday, February 21, 2008

Meely LaBauve--Ken Willis

What a fun, fast-paced novel! I enjoyed being immersed in Cajun culture as I followed the exploits of Meely, an impoverished highschool student living in a Louisiana bayou. Meely's innocent yet clever frankness infuses this book with humor and warmth. I have no idea where I found this book, but I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

Challenges: TBR, States (LA)

The Life and Loves of a She-Devil--Fay Weldon

I first read this book when I was in seventh grade, and loved it so much that I kept a notebook full of quotes from the book (such things as "I sing a hymn to the death of love and the end of pain"). When I reread it, I found it to be a lot more inherently disturbing than I had remembered. Ruth is a large, ugly housewife whose husband, Bobbo, feels justified in having affairs with more attractive, daintier women. He feels that Ruth should be happy that he married her and gave her children and a house to tend to. Ruth goes along with the status quo until Bobbo moves in with his latest mistress, Mary Fisher, a blonde, dainty penner of romance novels--the sterotypical ideal of the childless woman. Before he leaves he calls Ruth a "she-devil", and from that point on Ruth systematically reforms herself, sheds her old life, wreaks havoc upon the lives of Mary Fisher and Bobbo and ultimately, in the end, becomes Mary Fisher, with Bobbo as her pathetic, doting slave.

This book deals with themes such as the importance of image upon women in our society, gender roles, cosmetic surgery, and most of all the struggle between the powerful and powerless. In reversing roles with her husband, Ruth becomes the powerful and he the oppressed. However, while Ruth appears to have "won", in actuality there are no winners here. Ruth goes through years of difficulty and pain, and millions of dollars, only to prove that she is able to--with the help of some major cosmetic surgery--come out on top. But is she happy now that she has become the sterotype? I don't see how a woman of her intellect and resourcefulness could be.

This is a provacative and enjoyable, oftentimes humorous read. I highly recommend it.

Challenges: Read-it-again

Monday, February 18, 2008

Slam--Nick Hornsby

A great young adult novel from Nick Hornsby. I love his candid writing style and his ability to handle reali-life situations with candor and humor. This book made me laugh out loud often, causing strange looks from others when I was reading in a public place. I plan on recommending it to my students, but it is worth it for adults to read as well. The story is told by a sixteen-year old skater boy who impregnates his girlfriend. It is honest and real, and wonderfully humorous without taking away from the difficulty of the situation. I highly recommend this book!

Challenges: Young Adult

Cell--Stephen King

One of the biggest complaints I hear about King is that he "never finishes his books". While I don't find that to be the case all the time, it sure is this time. I was thrilled by this brilliant, well-written book, and when I read the ending I wanted to throw it across the room.

It is worth reading, however. When something (a terrorist attack is the suspicion, but never verified) causes people's cell phones to make them go crazy, only those who didn't have a cell phone are left to navigate the earth, battle the "phone-crazies", and look for their lost loved ones. Meanwhile, the "phone-crazies" are flocking together and acting as under one mind, and using powers that had been previously hidden in their brain, such as telepathy and levitation. This book illustrates beautifully the parallels between our brains and a computer, and speculates on how such a re-wiring might affect humanity. As per usual King, the characters are incredibly developed and real, and the story keeps you involved and excited--until the very last. Then its up to you to decide what happens next. Grrr...