Thursday, July 23, 2009

Atlas of Unknowns by Tania James

Atlas of Unknowns is the story of two sisters. Anju is very bright, Linno is a brilliant artist. In order to win a scholarship (and more importantly, a visa to the US) Anju takes credit for Linno's artwork. She is off to New York and the opportunity to grow on her own away from her family. Back in India, Linno is also growing and learning more about her past.

I liked this book quite a bit but found myself more interested in the details of the story than in the story itself. The author touches on subjects and then moves on and I found myself wanting more on those tiny details and not that interested in the big 'mysteries' of the novel (which I found neither big or mysterious). I would have loved to hear more about what it was like to be a Christian in a Hindi/Muslim country as one example.

Overall, I would say this is a very good (but not great) book with all kinds of interesting facts about India and immigration in a post 9-11 world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The main characters in this book are Minny, Abilene and Skeeter. Skeeter is a young white woman who has just graduated from college with a journalism degree. She comes home to Jackson, Mississippi to discover that the woman who raised her is gone. On her quest to find out what happened to Constantine, Skeeter starts talking to "the help", the maids of her friends. As Skeeter gets to know "the help" as people, she decides that their stories would be the perfect thing to write about.

I LOVED THIS BOOK. It is homey and comforting yet full of uncomfortable historical facts that really make you understand what the south was like in the 1950s. It is full of fun, tears and cruelty. Did I mention I LOVED THIS BOOK?!

Get it and read it and pass it on...and think how lucky you are that YOU didn't come of age in the 1950s.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The glister by John Burnside

A main character in this story is the town of Innertown. Innertown was once home to 'The Plant' which is now closed and become a wasteland. No one is sure what was manufactured there, maybe harmless agricultural chemicals, maybe chemical weapons. Nevertheless there are constant stories about mutant creatures who wander in the night as well as clusters of odd illness among the people of Innertown. Seemingly very few ever escape from the horrors of Innertown. The few that do include five young teen boys who vanish without a trace. The cast of characters include the somewhat slow police officer of the town, a gang of young teens who come straight out of Lord of the Flies and the mysterious Moth Man.

This book is certainly dark and spooky. It has some fairly graphic sex scenes between young teens. However, I was completely lost. Certain characters are never developed, questions are half asked then never answered. The ending was more a disappointment than a revelation. Maybe I just was not smart enough for this book.

The glister (228pgs) was written by John Burnside who has also written The Devil's Footprints and the memoir A Lie about My Father. In reading the review of A Lie about My Father, it seems that some of The glister comes directly from Burnside's own childhood. "(H)e lost himself in more adult versions of the wild - binge-drinking, sex, hallucinogenic drugs, week-long parties. He first took LSD, he says, with a sense of sacrament (as a Catholic, he knew the sensation of a wafer on the tongue) and because the adult world seemed to be a web of untruths".

This statement could easily apply to Leonard, one of the main charecters in The glister.

Final Review: Too smart for me, I am interested in checking out the memoir A Lie about My Father.