Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Girl’s Life Online

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I have a weakness for Lifetime movies and Young Adult novels in the way that I also crave fast food. I know they won’t be the best quality, the most satisfying, or necessarily make me a better person – but they will hit the spot. Katherine Tarbox’s autobiography A Girl’s Life Online or Katie.com was one of those finds I knew would be a quick and interesting read, especially for someone like myself who grew up in the age of internet predator fear. This is another $1.00 Book Off find, but from the non-fiction aisle.

In One Sentence: A thirteen year old girl meets a man online, who turns out to not be who he says he is.

Favorite Line: “I can’t tell you what all thirteen-year-old girls are like, but I can tell you what I was like.” – p. 1

Review: The book tells the story of Katie’s developing relationship with the man online, “Mark”, from their first online conversation to the results of Mark’s court trial. The book succeeds in not only exploring Katie’s own changing feelings for Mark, as trust is built and destroyed, but also in how Katie is able to see her own accountability in the events. Ultimately, the online relationship not only causes friction with her family, but also her swim team, her community, and even with how Katie sees herself. I think this is an important cautionary story for teens and would recommend it, especially for young people or students that may not enjoy reading. It’s definitely a page-turner.

The Book Would Have Ended a Lot Sooner If: Katie was never on the swim team and did a less competitive/traveling sport. Like badminton.

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Filed under Non-Fiction, Young Adult

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genuis

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Libraries are still the most cost efficient place to find a good book – and not just with a library card. It was a Saturday afternoon, at a Southern California library used book cart that I picked out Dave Eggers’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius for only ten cents.

I’ll be honest – I have seen this book before, and avoided it. I had read essays by Dave Eggers and have always been turned off by the style. He writes experimentally, which I usually appreciate, but overall has always come off a touch too contrived – somehow inauthentic. That afternoon, I was in the mood for non-fiction (or creative non-fiction, in this case) and felt maybe I could give Eggers another chance. Plus, I had ten cents.

In One Sentence: A memoir about a college graduate who must raise his younger brother in the Bay Area after the tragic death of both of their parents.

Favorite Line: “We are waiting for everything to finally stop working – the organs and systems, one by one, throwing up their hands – the jig is up, says the endocrine; I did what I could, says the stomach, or what’s left of it; We’ll get him next time, adds the heart, with a friendly punch to the shoulder.” – p. 17

Review: This is a polarizing read – you either love it or you hate it. And so, that is how this review will feel. There were sections of the book I love and could not put down, other parts that I hated and sludged through. I found the first section of appendixes unreadable; just a show without much substance. Once I got into the actual book, I found the first half incredibly fresh and enjoyable. Eggers opens up about the experience of losing his parents and the struggles of taking on a new life in California. Growing up in the Bay Area, I recognized the cities and places he lived. His story is more about the emotional experience than recording the actual events -which I found to show the authenticity I had been craving from Eggers but failed to find in his essays. I related to parts of his story and found his mix of both fiction and non-fiction created a unique reading experience. However, the second half of the book lost my attention as it seemed to show more distance — discussing philosophy or characters speaking for the sake of an idea and not in their truest form. I do think this is a book that should be read, and I admired many passages of writing, but overall would not necessarily recommend it for every reader.

The Book Would Have Ended A Lot Sooner If: The story was told from beginning to end, without so much added fluff. I mean, sixty pages of an interview conversation that NEVER HAPPENED?!

 

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Filed under Non-Fiction