Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beautiful Ruins

I initially liked this book because of the cover: it reminded me of a great vacation that Jason and I took in Italy and France. I liked, too, the glamorous feel of the book. A movie star shows up at the Hotel Adequate View and from there, readers are introduced to character after character, all of them intersecting beautifully by the end. 

I will say that I kept thinking - why are we introducing characters this late in the book? It felt like they kept coming and I wasn't sure of their relevance. Some of them simply furthered the story. Some of them didn't necessarily do much. However, I felt like they all helped paint a picture of humanity - and made me question where I fell on the scale of things. Was I more like Claire? Shane? Michael (I sure hope not)? Dee? 
Interesting.  And I guess, in the end, we are all a mix. 
It's an ambling tale that takes it's time. There is heartbreak, betrayal, love, honor, and it all paints a picture of life being a big mess of beautiful ruins.

Defending Jacob

I have no idea what you do in this situation. Jacob's father is an attorney. His mother would do anything for him. And then there is Jacob - who has been accused of killing a classmate. Did he do it? Was the classmate bullying him? Or is he just a sociopath? Hard to say. Like every parent, we only want to believe the best about our children - but at what point do you have to take a serious look at what is going on?

Landay does a great job of presenting the reader with just enough information - but not the whole picture. He also tells the story in a way that introduces both court transcripts and the broken voice of the father. All of this together makes for a horrifying and compelling read that I couldn't quit reading. What would you do if Jacob was your son? 

Into the Darkest Corner

Wowza! Nothing like a psychological thriller to make you appreciate how "vanilla" your break ups have all been. 
Poor Cathy. When she broke up with her boyfriend, Lee - he tried to kill her. But this is after he did all kinds of things to mess with her, to break her down, to make her be a submissive and scared lady. She was so beside herself, she questioned her own sanity. 
He didn't kill her, though. She survived. And she sent him to prison. 
She's been living half a life since then, crippled by the OCD that keeps everything in balance. Then she gets the call that Lee has been released early. Tailspin. 

This one kept me turning pages late into the night, wondering if Cathy was going crazy or if she was right about Lee. It is told back and forth between the past Cathy and the present day Cathy, which does an excellent job of showing how she loses herself as her confidence ebbs. It made me appreciate the human spirit and people who are able to triumph in the face of overwhelming adversity. And  it also made me appreciate the fact that my OCD is just the kind that keeps things tidy. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

This book was highly entertaining. When I began reading about Bernadette, I didn't think that she sounded so crazy. Maybe a bit eccentric, but definitely someone I would've liked as a friend.  She was witty and she had some strong opinions - I loved how she thwarted her neighbor, but how she ultimately had a heart of gold.
But then, author Maria Semple, peels back a layer on the onion that is Bernadette, and a little more is revealed. Then a little bit more. And the things that I thought were funny - they started to become sad. Something I could empathize with, but a little less haha and a little more "hmmmm".

Bernadette takes us on a pretty funny ride. I found the end a little unrealistic, but it didn't ruin the whole thing for me. I'm still not sure how things will resolve with Bernadette, but I enjoyed thinking about her conundrums. While I don't aspire to be the kind of mom or wife that Bernadette was, I found her trials to be entertaining - all making for a quick read.