Monday, December 23, 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Image from LibraryThing
June is the youngest of two sisters. Her older sister, Greta, is the high school sweetheart, the beauty, the actress, the poised one...and then there is June Elbus. At least that is the way June sees herself - as the 'other' Elbus sister.

But, June has a couple of secret passions - imagining that she can roll back time to the dark ages and her uncle Finn.  Unfortunately, both of these passions are rather impossible.  Finn has Aids and well, time travel is frowned on.

Brunt guides the reader onto a back and forth Playland ride between June's current reality and moments with Finn in and around New York.  Some of her moments were shared with Greta as Finn, a famous artist, painted their portrait on the last of his Sundays.  Other moments were precious memories of time alone with Finn - at the Cloisters, listening to Requiem, wandering around Finn's New York.

And then Finn dies.

In the weeks that follow June's life changes as she meets and becomes friends with Finn's 'murderer', Toby - his partner.  June's mom had threatened to cut off all ties between Finn and the girls if he whispered a hint of his partner to them - Toby is a complete stranger.  So, when Toby delivers an odd package with a cryptic note to June it is the first she knows anything of this other half of Finn's life.  As June figures out what to do with this growing friendship her relationship with Greta becomes more and more fractured - until it all comes to a head one stormy night.

This is a story of growing up - of learning hard truths about the ones you love and making the decision to accept that imperfection or reject it.  It is a story of the cords that bind families together and sometimes smother them. It is a story of the hard reality of Aids and one young girl's fight to keep fear and pain at bay.  It is a story of moving from the passions of our imagination to the realities of our own lives.

I loved this book!  I cried and laughed and hurt and remembered.  I remembered those last few moments of childhood before I understood that the world may not be the one that I dreamed it would be.

Read it!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

image from LibraryThing
This is book three in the Divergent Series.  As with most series - I forgot has been a while since I read the first two books and this one picks up moments after #2 ends. I have said it before - but my pet peeve with series is that they don't give you a reminder appendix for those of us who have some time between books!! It is fine when you are reading them one after another -but when you are reading them as they are written it is a bit of an issue.

Anyway - that is not the point of this post.
The point is that this is an interesting ending for this series.  This is a future view of Chicago - a city that has been created with 4 divergent factions. Each faction focuses on a different aspect of life - truth telling, fearlessness, selflessness, and growing things.  Children choose which faction they will belong to at the age of 16 and all ties with their family are broken if they choose a different faction.

Tris and Four are the main characters. They have both left their families and joined the Dauntless faction - the fearless one. In the first two books they slowly grow toward one another when the factions begin to fray. You see if you fail at faction activities in the one you have chosen you become 'factionless.'  Book two - Insurgent - is all about the revolt of the factionless to over throw the factions.

Allegiant begins after the overthrow. I can't say a lot about what happens - because it will take away from the book.

But I can say that the relationship between Tris and Four continues to grow.  There is an interesting passage that I actually read out loud to my husband on our 30th anniversary. Yes - you read that correctly - I quoted from a young adult book for our anniversary!

Here is the situation...
Tris has been betrayed by Four - at least that is how she feels. They have a major disagreement and both feel very strongly about the decisions they made.  It is at that point that Tris realizes...

     "I used to think that when people fell in love, they landed where they landed, and they had no choice in the matter afterward.  And maybe that's true of beginnings, but it's not true of this, now.
     I fell in love with him.  But I don't just stay with him by default as if there's no one else available to me.  I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other.  I choose him over and over and over again, and he chooses me." (372)

That is what our young people need to is a daily choice - it's not easy, but it is the most important thing each and every day! And it is that understanding that builds a 30 year marriage...we choose each other every single day!

Thanks Veronica Roth for a great series!  I would recommend them to anyone!!