Catching Up

The last month has been one of the most hectic ever. My husband was offered a new job and suddenly, we are moving to another state this summer. It’s been a mad frenzy of getting the house on the market, traveling out of state to find a new home, packing, cleaning — all while still working and, oh yeah–reading too. But not getting much blogging done, nor will I likely over the next few months. For this summer of upheaval and change, the mini-review is going to be the way to go.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the light we cannot seeI try to avoid buying every hot new title, but I am nevertheless frequently curious to take a peek to see if it might be worth the hype. So I’ve taken to requesting books like this from the library. Usually there are several hundred requests before mine. When I get an email that the book is waiting for me, it’s like a nice surprise.

All the Light We Cannot See happened to arrive in my hands the week it won the National Book Award. It was indeed worth the read and the hype, though I could never figure out why the diamond was worth risking your life and your child’s life. It would seem that among the drastic and terrible choices people must make in war, the choice to protect a loved one would outweigh the protection of a cultural treasure no matter how rare. I loved the character of Marie-Laure and how Doerr never used “sight” words or phrases in her chapters. Instead she could smell or feel green, for example. He came up with a lot of beautiful language to describe her sense of the world.

Scribner, 2014
library eBook

Young Pioneers (or Let the Hurricane Roar) by Rose Wilder Lane

Young Pioneers I am taking the second course in the Laura Ingalls Wilder MOOC that I started last fall. The class covers the rest of the LIW books from On the Shores of Silver Lake and asks us to read Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane. Though I have managed (at least until last week) to keep up with the lectures, I have not had time to reread the last four LIW books. Luckily, I’ve read most of them so many times it doesn’t seem to be a hindrance to understanding or seeing the books in a new light.

Young Pioneers is my first time reading Rose Wilder Lane. It’s a very slim book and I finished it in an evening. It reads a lot like LIW, even down to favorite descriptive phrases like “shining eyes.” Scholarship shows that Rose used her mother’s first draft, called Pioneer Girl, to write her own stories. Young Pioneers is lifted directly from LIW’s draft and is the story of Rose’s grandparents with different names. Many parts of the book are also those used by LIW in her Little House books. The great question is always how much of the Little House books LIW wrote herself and how much Rose wrote or re-wrote for her. Thought I tend to favor the idea that LIW is the true author of the Little House books and Rose more her editor, I could really see similarities in the writing in Young Pioneers. A literary mystery that will likely never be fully solved.

eBook copy
2013 Laissez Faire Books
Originally published 1933 by Rose Wilder Lane as Let the Hurricane Roar

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and ParkMy son is smitten with his first girl, and it just so happens that he is a skinny half Japanese guy and she is a full-figured wavy redhead. Take a look at that cover and it’s my boy and his Eleanor, only they are connected by smart phones. Luckily, the comparison pretty much ends with the physical–and the tremble of first love. Rainbow Rowell gets inside the heads of her teens and brings just the right mix of love, lust, sadness, seriousness, and humor. Asian males are rarely cast as worthy love interests — and I really appreciated how Rowell took that topic on directly. A great, great book of first love, but I am seriously biased on this one.

personal copy
St. Martin’s Press, 2013

4 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. Bellezza says:

    i have tried All The Light We Cannot See twice, and still never got past page thirty. Surely something’s wrong with me, as it’s earned so many accolades. So very glad that you’re going to participate in the JLC9!! We’ll have more chances to talk when I’m out of school for Summer (in ten days). Best to you as you move, that is quite a challenge.


    • RareBird says:

      It was slow starting All the Light We Cannot See for me too. At first, I didn’t see the big deal but at some point–maybe 1/3 in– it kicked into one of those overdrive reads for me. Hope your last few days of school aren’t too crazy?


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