Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Window Across the River

I have a secret. Once in awhile, I get into fan fiction. But it never lasts. Maybe a few weeks, then it’ll be years between fandoms and forum searches. The thing with fan fiction is that a lot of is really bad or if it’s not bad, it’s unfinished. So I have a trick when between fan fiction phases, I pretend the characters from my favorite movies or shows are the main characters of books. A Window Across the River by Brian Morton, a book I found at Goodwill, became the perfect background for any ship. (This is fandom slang – meaning if you like a couple in a story, you ship them. Like if Brad and Angelina were fictional, they would be the Brangelina ship.)* Even though the main characters were in their forties, artists, and living on the east coast – I saw Buffy and Angel.

That’s not to say wanting to read a potential drama/ romance was the only reason I picked up this book. Sometimes you need to read something that isn’t fantasy or historical or full of adventure. Sometimes you want real people who feel exactly what you feel everyday. Even if in your imagination, they’re Hans Solo and Princess Leia.

In One Sentence: Nora and Isaac rekindle their ages past romance only to hurt each other.

Favorite Line: Through year after year of silence, she carried on a conversation with him in her mind”. -p 1

Review: Wow. Just, wow. This is a book about two people who are dealing with the truth of being an artist. The language is precise, fantastic, and changes depending on the character’s perspective. Nora is a writer and Isaac is a teacher/photographer. Both have to balance the value of their identities as artists with the importance of relationships, even having to make a choice about what is more important for the future. (Not just who you date, but your family, who you love, who you choose not to love.) Nora doesn’t know how to write without hurting people and Isaac doesn’t know how to emotionally deal with mentoring students who may be better photographers than him. These are questions that real people really ask themselves, which is what makes the book so endearing. I found myself learning more about who I was and what my values were while exploring Nora and Isaac’s struggle through it. This isn’t a book for everybody, but definitely a great find for others that see the artist identity within themselves. I had that strange feeling of not wanting to put it down, but dreading it would end. Not only that, it has the best last line I’ve ever seen in fiction and I would have put it in the “favorite line” piece but felt like that was too spoiler-y. (This is turning into a fandom post…)

The Book Would Have Ended A Lot Sooner If: This was a story about two people with no creative ambition.

*Team Aniston. For the record.

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The Book Thief

the-book-thief

Positive reviews on book covers actually do influence whether or not I’ll purchase a book. During movie trailers, it rarely works, but if I see the words “I loved it!” by an author or critic I admire or even better: THIS BOOK WAS GIVEN AN AWARD BY PEOPLE — I grab it off the shelf and read the first five pages. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was over-qualified for the first peruse. Not only was it a “New York Times #1 Bestseller” but it was EXTRAORDINARY. BRILLIANT. LIFECHANGING.

Who can pass that up? I had originally seen the book in Target and made a mental note of the title and author. A few months later, it popped up in the clearance pile at Marshall’s. The book was tattered and ripped, but none of the content was any different. For mere dollars, I felt like a book thief myself.

In One Sentence: The Holocaust if you were a thirteen year old German girl and Death/The Grim Reaper was narrating your story.

Favorite Line: I thought you might be too old for such a tale, but maybe no one is.” – p. 444

Review: This is one of those books where it is genre-d as “young adult fiction” but really only because it is about young adults. The writing is striking, inventive, and fresh. While the place, Germany during WWII, and the narrator create an overall somber tone for the piece – the characters are still very much alive and dynamic. There are moments of friendship and lightness that while making the sad moments EVEN MORE depressing keep the reader engrossed in the story. In the first few chapters, it’s hard to get the hang of the style and voice since you have the omnipresent narrator who can see all (Death) but he has his own take on how to interpret these events. Once we meet Liesel, the young girl and book thief, and become engaged in her story, it’s very easy to follow along. I am excited they made this into a film, but I still strongly encourage movie goers to read the book for its own sake. I think what the film will be missing and what makes the book such a standout is the use of Death as the narrator. It’s interesting to see how he interprets WWII not as time of tragedy, but when he was the most exhausted.

The Book Would Have Ended A Lot Sooner If: Liesel had been adopted by Nazis. Or sent to another country.

In case you are curious:

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