A good book has no ending. ~ R.D. Cumming

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Atonement Child

Note: This is a "classic" review - one that I had written up when I first started doing book reviews back in Grade Twelve. Enjoy!

The Atonement ChildThe Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

The Atonement Child is the story of Dynah Carey, a young woman facing a huge decision. Dynah is a Christian girl who grew up in a very loving family. All in one instant, however, her life is altered. She must make a massive decision all while being influenced by the people she loves. The reader is introduced to the meaning behind many scripture passages and to the utmost faith that Dynah has through her ordeal. The reader is also made aware of a couple of dark secrets held by Dynah's mother and grandmother. As the novel progresses and these secrets are revealed, you will not want to put this book down. Finally, just before the end of the novel, Dynah makes her decision, all the while making you laugh, making you cry and keeping you on the edge of your seat with anticipation as her story unfolded.

I think this story is great for anyone from ages thirteen and up. This story has great morals and demonstrates that with faith - maybe not in God, but in what you are trying to accomplish - you can conquer anything. I recommend reading this novel in a pair of comfortable sweatpants with a box of tissue nearby because you will not want to put the book down; and you will need some chocolate for comfort as you are drawn into Dynah's complex story.

Francine Rivers has accomplished a lot in writing this novel. She is bold in her mannerisms about God and describes things with absolute detail. I think that she is a brilliant author and I am excited to read another of her works called Redeeming Love.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring!

Spring Break is in full swing and the weather seems to be cooperating, finally! I have one novel that I am just about finished (The Night Trilogy by Elie Weisel) and I have 4 on loan from my mom that I'm very eager to get to reading! With summer fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to find out what is on everyone's "To Read" list for the upcoming warm months. Comment below and let me know what you're planning to read over the next few months!

My "To Read" list is currently comprised of the books I have borrowed from my mom, which include:
In A Heartbeat by Rosalind Noonan
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

I hope everyone has been out enjoying the lovely sunshine and taking in the fresh spring air! Happy Reading, as always!

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Underpainter

The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart

Austin Taylor is an aspiring artist. During the early 1900's, following the death of his mother, Austin's father strikes it rich after investing in Silver and begins what would become the annual trips to the Northern shores of Lake Superior in Canada. It is during these summers spent in Canada that Austin crosses the path of George, a porcelain painter and owner of the China Hall shop, and Sara, his soon-to-be mistress and muse. Now an old man, Austin looks back on his life and the summers spent up North with a tinge of regret. As an artist, Austin had been encouraged to distance himself from his emotions in order to paint better but in doing so, Austin managed to build a wall around himself shutting out the warmth, love and friendship his companions had to offer. In hindsight, Austin realizes that his connections with George and Sara were shallow and weak and the way things ended between each of them was far from desirable.

Right off the bat I can tell you that this story would most likely hold more for a reader who is able to discern the hidden meaning in writing - this, sadly, is not a strength of mine (I prefer to read a story with a more obvious message) and so I feel that I may have missed out on some of the subtleties that are no doubt lying within the text. There is much reference made to Austin's work as a painter, and especially in his style of underpainting - which I'm sure alludes to something else key in the story. Overall I thought the story was good; tragic, though, in the sense that Austin couldn't see how much he was shutting out everyone around him until it was too late. I probably wouldn't recommend this novel due to the fact that I, personally, don't enjoy novels like this (hidden meanings, etc); however, if I knew someone who did enjoy that sort of writing style, I would recommend this novel to them.

The Almost Moon

The Almost Moon: A Novel (Hardcover)The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Helen had never decided to kill her mother. It wasn't something she had set out intending to do, yet following a recent visit to her mother's house, that is exactly what she ended up doing. Through flashbacks, Helen recalls her childhood and what events brought her to this moment, to what she has just done. Having been reared by two parents who were mentally unstable, Helen isn't sure what to feel - she doesn't feel guilt, but she also doesn't feel satisfaction or relief. With the help of her ex-husband, Jake, Helen must now figure out a way to cover up what she has done and decide what she is to do now.

I'm still not quite sure what to think about this novel. I enjoyed the way it was written - jumping between past and present, allowing the author to introduce small pieces of information at a time, encouraging the reader to fit the pieces together creating the larger picture of Helen's past. I'm not keen on the way the story ended, but I will leave my comment at that, as I don't want to give anything away. This was a darker novel, and you really can't help but feel for the main character despite that she murders her mother. Helen had to face not one, but two parents who were not mentally stable and the humiliation that came with it. Having read Jodi Picoult's Mercy, this novel touches also on the topic of "mercy killing", but in a very different light - I'm not even sure that you could count them as one in the same. Helen feels that she has done her mother a favor, but really it seems it was a selfish thing to do; Helen had become responsible for caring for her aging mother who was slowly sliding towards dimentia and it seemed as though it had just become too much for Helen to deal with.

I'm not sure that I would recommend this novel. Given that I had really enjoyed The Lovely Bones which is also by Alice Sebold, I would be inclined to recommend that novel instead. I think The Almost Moon is a novel that the reader needs to decide to read for themselves, as I'm sure it would vary from individual to individual whether or not it was enjoyable to read (which is generally the case with any novel). I don't feel that this novel is suitable for younger readers due to content (the murder, etc).


Wicked by Gregory Maguire

When Dorothy's house comes hurtling out of the sky and falls on the Wicked Witch of the East in Frank Baum's tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz readers are introduced to her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West. Gregory Maguire has taken this classic tale and filled in the blanks, giving us a background on this seemingly evil character. Will your interpretation of Frank Baum's novel change once you've heard both sides of the story? Afterall, maybe the Wicked Witch of the West hadn't always been so evil...

This novel was fantastic! I couldn't read it fast enough and I was really sad to finish it. I have only seen the movie adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz", so my interpretation of the original story is taken from that movie rather than from Frank Baum's novel. Gregory Maguire's Wicked fills in the blanks almost flawlessly. Readers are transported further back into the history of the land of Oz and introduced to an odd, young, green child named Elphaba who grows up to become the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West. This novel is extremely well written and gives the reader a wider understanding of the land of Oz, including its politics and the insurrection of the people against the Wizard.

I very highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good, rewarding read. This is a novel that I will think about often and I already cannot wait to re-read it. This is a must, must read!