Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

This is not one of my favorites...really not one of my favorites.
But, there were parts that lifted it up a bit. It is the story of Helen - a truly twisted tale of a murder. Helen is telling the story of the murder of her mother - and she is the murderess. (Weird word - murderess)

Anyway - Helen's mother is an agrophobe who has slowly smothered her...or so we think. Helen's father committed suicide years earlier. Helen has carried the weight of her mother in her outlook, her relationships and her very being. Murdering her should have lifted that weight - rather she is bound to the house, the body, and the braid that hung down her mother's back.

It's a dark story and very depressing!

But - there was a standout scene - that remains with me...Helen's father cared for her mother in a loving and doting way as he dealt with his own mental illness. She didn't really understand this until he took her to see his old home. It was in a town that had been moved due to a dam and the coming flood. But, the flood didn't really happen, instead it was more of an oozing of mud and muck which kept people out and caused the houses to die a slow death for a dejected place. It was there, in that empty world, her father found solace. There he created the family and the life he really wanted. He shared that with his daughter on a summer afternoon. Her father had created wooden cutouts of family scenes in the deserted rooms of his family house, scenes depicting events from his childhood and Helen's including the siblings that Helen would never have.

That scene seems to me to be the center of this story - a woman caught in an impossible life, a life that should have changed with a whoosh as she was freed from her mother through marriage and moving. Instead she was tied to the decaying life of her mother and the scenes of an imagined world.

So - I followed Helen through the day following the death of her mother. Hoping for some sort of resolution at the end...WRONG. It just just stops. I really hate that. That in itself made me decide how much I really didn't like the book.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

The Sleeping Beauty story with more than a couple of twists. I can't say I loved this one - there are too many self-absorbed parts. But, the message is clear once again - LOVE YOURSELF!!! That seems to be Levine's overriding theme through all the redone fairy tales.

This is the story of Aza, an adopted daughter of an innkeeper in the singing land of Ayorthera. Aza longs for beauty - instead she is trapped in a large body with pale skin, too dark hair and bright red lips.

She travels to the court to see the wedding of the king with a crochety old woman who stays at her parents' inn. It it there that Ivi, the new queen, befriends her and takes her over. She also meets Ijori the prince who she is in love with. They become fast friends.

There is a mirror that talks, beauty potions, an injured king, odd songs in front of all the kingdom and lots of betrayal. Also gnomes, poisoned apples and weddings.

So - the old fairy tale turned on it's head and remade. Better? Hmmm.... read it and see.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brother and Sister by Joanna Trollope

This was a little slow for me...actually it was quite slow. The story revolves around Nathalie and David - adopted siblings. Nathalie has reveled in her adopted state, proudly proclaiming that she had no need to find her birth mom. Actually, she had some major connection issues and hid behind her difference - keeping others at arms length. Others including her husband. All were deemed different except David - he could really understand her problems, she thought. So, when she was ready to find her mother she assumed David, her puppy dog brother would do the same. Against David's judgement he did...

That's the premise. The story weaves between this brother and sister pair, their spouses, their adoptive parents and their birth mothers. None of the group seems really happy with the search process, much less the result. There are many disappointments - many sadnesses and many bad decisions....

Sounds like just the book for me - but for some reason I couldn't really care about these two. They both annoyed me with Nathalie's certainities and David's inability to make a decision. And their spouses were no better.

So - I slogged through this and finally can put it back on the shelf at school!!