Showing posts with label book club. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book club. Show all posts

Monday, February 6, 2017

2017 Reading Updates!

Hey there, readers!  As you can probably tell, I've felt rather uninspired on the blogging front lately.  Not many (or any?) reviews churning out these days.  However, rest assured that I have been reading vigorously!  And I'll be honest, it's been rather refreshing to read without the need for reviewing afterwards.

Even though I'm not blogging about my books as much, I still have big plans for reading in 2017!
First and foremost, I am working my way through the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 challenge.   If you haven't heard of the challenge, there are 24 different types of books that you're supposed to try to read throughout the year.  The categories are meant to push you outside of your usual reading comfort zone. I was fortunate to connect with Sarah over at Sarah Says Read, who is also a book blogger from Rochester (Western NY represent!).  She and some other local readers have created a Rochester-based book-club-type-group (it's all rather fluid right now) based around the challenge. Sarah & co have split the 24 categories into 2 per month, and we are getting together monthly to discuss.  Our first meetup was a lovely 2-hour brunch in January, and we had a bookish good time.  :)  Looking forward to more of this throughout the year!

Second, I am really hoping to read off my shelves...again.  You know, because I say that every single year, and somehow it never happens?  I'm off to a rollicking start, as I've already read 3 library books this year, and have another 3 books out from the library as we speak.  SUPER.  This resolution is full of good intentions but sure to fail, let's just be honest.

Third, I want to attack some of the books on my 30 Before 35 list--no, I haven't forgotten about it!  How is it that I am only like 1.5 years from the deadline for this?  TIME FREAKIN' FLIES.

Fourth, I am making an attempt to read more books about social justice and the political process.  For obvious reasons that we will not discuss in this sunshine-and-rainbows space.  So please, send me all the recommendations you have.  I most recently enjoyed The Democrats: A Critical History by Lance Selfa and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I am on the waiting list for Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit.  Must arm my brain with knowledge in order to do battle for the next 4 years.  RAWR.
Oh, and fifth: more running books.  YES!  This will be the year of my first marathon (it will not escape me this time), and I am reading books to match it.  I already devoured How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald, which totally amped me up for marathon training.  I can't wait to delve into more reads like that one.

Wow, 5 very big reading goals makes 365 days feel like no time at all.  Ah well...if you're gonna do it, overdo it.  Right?

What are you reading so far this year??  Get me up to date, reader friends!

Friday, August 5, 2016

August Mini-Reviews

It's Mini Review time again!  My streak of good novels continues--it's certainly been a wonderful summer for reading.  A bit o' popular fiction to share with you this time around:

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Ballatine, 2016
ARC received from the publisher for an honest review

In case you've forgotten, I'm a huge Emily Giffin fan, and fully ADORED her last release (The One & Only).  That put her 2016 novel, First Comes Love, near the top of my must-read list this summer.  However, on the whole I have to say that I liked it, but didn't quite reach "love it" status.  Giffin's usual penchant for relateable, well-rounded characters is still intact--I loved the protagonists, Meredith and Josie, and the fact that they were both so perfectly flawed and quirky.  HOW does Giffin make characters that are both unique and yet have at least one trait that you can totally identify with??  It is a gift, for sure.  This novel is absorbing and involves some interesting discussion topics, but I was unable to get 100% on board when Josie's story got a bit too convoluted and far-fetched for me.  I appreciate Giffin's ability to include lots of gray areas and touchy subjects in her writing, but this one became a bit too hard for me to get behind.  I'd love to discuss with anyone else that has read it!  Overall: worth the read, but just not as outstanding as some of her other work.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Viking, 2012
ARC received from the publisher for an honest review

Yeah, take another look at the info above.  An ARC that I received...4 years ago.  OOPS.  Not long after I started the blog, actually, and well before this book's hype flew through the roof.  But even after the good reviews started rolling in, I was a tad skeptical because...it's a romance.  And as I've said so many times before (see: every time I talk about Outlander) I'm not known for loving the romance genre.  However, one of my friends really wanted to see the movie with me, so I figured it was time to finally dive in.
OH LORDY.  THE SADS.  ALL THE SADS.  Please excuse me while I add to the hype, because this book was amazing.  I adored the two protagonists (Lou and Will), and their ever-changing dynamic is what makes this book a home run.  This is not at all a typical romance, but one that will make your wheels turn (it has some interesting moral dilemmas in the mix).  You'll laugh (I love Lou and Will's snappy dialogue), you'll cry, and then you'll do it all again.  The ending is one that I love to hate, and I'm looking forward to checking out the sequel very soon.  Highly recommend!!


Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
William Morrow, 2015
borrowed from the library

This was the latest pick for my MOMS Club book club, and I was intrigued, because I've seen many Karin Slaughter books on the shelves before but had yet to pick one up myself.  My first warning to you is that the description of this book on Goodreads/Amazon/etc does NOT give an accurate idea of how much brutality is involved in the plot.  I've read my fair share of violent novels (hi, Stephen King groupie over here), but Pretty Girls is shockingly graphic in a way that I did not expect going in.  Alley stabbings, serial killing, snuff porn, we really cover all the bases here.  It took me a while to acclimate to that, but once I did, I found myself involved in a thrilling story.
Pretty Girls is impressive as a mystery, a thriller, and a crime drama.  The plot twists were never predictable for me, and even though the book is quite long, it never loses momentum.  The main character (Claire) is the perfect mix of tough heroine and annoying Stepford wife--easy to root for, but just naive enough to drive you insane once in a while.  This whole novel came together for me, which is impressive, given the crazy number of plot elements that Slaughter weaves into the story.
Definitely recommend this one as well--I see that Slaughter has quite a backlist, so I'm sure I'll be checking out more of her work soon!

What are you reading lately, bookish friends?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Nonfiction Mini-Reviews x3!

I didn't mean to do it, but my last 3 reads have all been nonfiction...and now that I've realized it, I'm pining for more!  Send me all your latest nonfiction recommendations, if you please.  In the meantime, here's some snapshots of what I've been reading lately:

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
W.W. Norton, 2016
received from the publisher for an honest review


If you didn't see my review of Mary Roach's Packing for Mars a few months back, let me tell you that she specializes in hilarious, science-based nonfiction.  She generally chooses unconventional topics (the particulars of space travel, the science of human cadavers, etc), researches the minutiae behind them, and peppers her findings with off-color humor.  Now that is MY brand of nonfiction.

In Roach's latest release, the topic is war, but not in the way it's covered via politics or military strategy.  Instead, she's delved into the oft-not-discussed ways that our military uses science to provide for our soldiers at home and overseas.  For example: what happens when a Navy SEAL really, really has to poop during a mission?  (I'm dead serious.  She actually ASKED A NAVY SEAL THAT.)  How are military hospitals providing for soldiers that lose not just limbs, but also their genitals, during combat?  How do submariners in the Navy prepare for undersea conditions?  (Nice shout outs to my hometown of Groton, CT (Submarine Capital of the World, say heyyy) in that section!)  These are the questions that you didn't even know you had, but now you want them answered.

Overall I enjoyed this one, because Roach's humor was on point (as expected), and the research was interesting.  However, as a whole the book did not click with me quite as well as Packing for Mars did.  I felt like the chapters were a bit disjointed from each other, which disrupted the flow between topics.  Plus, I found it harder to laugh at her humor on this particular subject.  Giggling over space toilets is one thing, but finding the humor in genital reconstruction for wounded soldiers was a bit tougher.  Perhaps my humor has it's limits?  I never thought I'd see the day...

Anyway, this is worth the read for followers of Mary Roach, and I think anyone connected to the military would find it intriguing.  It's not my favorite of hers, but I'm still interested in reading her other work.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Knopf, 2012
borrowed from the good ol' public library

The latest read for my MOMS Club Book Club!  This is Cheryl Strayed's memoir of when, after dealing with her mother's sudden death, her own divorce, as well as a descent into drug addiction, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  The trail runs from Mexico to Canada via California, Oregon, and Washington.  Strayed tackled the trail with no previous backpacking experience, in the hopes that she would find something to allow her to get her life back on track.

There is a ton of hype about this book (especially since the release of the Reese Witherspoon movie), but I understand why.  This is a very moving memoir, and Strayed is startlingly honest about her childhood, her failed marriage, and her ups and downs on the trail.  I found many of her experiences to be inspiring, even in her weakest moments.  The interesting cast of characters that she encounters during her trek will (mostly) raise your faith in humanity.  Plus, it's excellent hiking inspiration for the outdoorsy readers--I already told my husband that we must put the PCT on our bucket list!

Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon by Ed Caesar
Simon & Schuster, 2015
borrowed from the good ol' public library

Love me a good running read these days!  In Two Hours, Ed Caesar discusses exactly what it would take for a professional marathoner to eventually break the coveted 2:00 mark.  The current world record is 2:02:57, and while 2 minutes and 57 seconds doesn't sound like a long time to most, to elite marathoners it is an enormous divide.  Caesar looks into the science behind it--there are researchers who have done a variety of tests in order to estimate what they believe to be the absolute limit for how quickly a human can run 26.2 miles.  But alongside that, he follows the marathon pursuits of Geoffrey Mutai, an elite Kenyan runner who has his sights set on both a world record and the 2:00 wall.  This combination of scientific and personal perspectives on the upper limits of marathoning made for a fascinating book.

One of my favorite tidbits from this book is the discussion of how modern day road races do not provide favorable conditions for runners to get the fastest marathon time possible.  Many are hilly, provide very little shade, and don't allow the runners to employ pacers (non-racing runners who are hired to pace them at exactly what they need to hit a certain finish time--one racer will sometimes use a few different pacers throughout a race, if it is allowed).  Plus, they are weather dependent--you could be in the best shape of your life, but if you wake up and have to run your marathon on a sunny 80 degree day, the chances of a good time are nil.  This is just one of many fun discussions that got my brain turning in this book.  Two Hours is a quick read, and excellent brain food for anyone with running interests!

What are your current reads?  Any new nonfiction on the docket for you lately?  What's the best memoir you've read lately?

Monday, April 11, 2016

3 Minis: A New Release, an Old(ish) Release, and More Zombies!

Hola, readers!  Most of my reviews lately have been for TLC Book Tours (which means they are a bit longer), but I finally have another set of mini reviews here for you today.  I hope you like reading them as much as I like writing them...sometimes it's nice to keep it short & concise!

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock
Random House, 2016
received from publisher for an honest review

I read this book and now I am broken inside.  /review

Okay, I'll add a little more, but really, this book is heart-wrenchingly amazing.  I requested it via NetGalley and quickly realized that the online description of the novel does not do it justice.  Quickie synopsis: Alice and Oliver are happily married with a baby daughter, Doe, when Alice is diagnosed with cancer.  Alice & Oliver is not only the tale of their physical battle with the disease, but also a penetrating look at what happens when relationships are pushed to the brink.  It takes much more than physical strength and fierce mental fortitude to survive such suffering, and Bock's novel illustrates this better than any other that I've read on the subject.  I loved Alice.  I didn't love Oliver, but did come to understand him a bit more by the end.  Together, they have a connection that is uncommon, but is still illustrative of the myriad ways that couples muck their way through difficult, seemingly impossible problems.

There are parts of this book are funny, unique, and thought-provoking.  There are also parts that are harrowing, sorrowful, and difficult to read.  Read it anyway.  You'll likely be seeing this on my best-of lists at the end of the year.

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
Pantheon, 2014
borrowed from the library

This is the latest pick for my MOMS Club book club.  I'm interested to see how our discussion goes in a few weeks, because this novel left me feeling half in awe, and half totally scratching my head.  Jake Whyte is the female protagonist, currently a sheep farmer on an island off the coast of the UK.  However, she has a shady backstory that goes back several years and thousands of miles.  As present-day Jake tries to find out what is killing the sheep on her farm, the chapters also alternate back to her past, slowly opening the story of what brought her to the sheep farm, and what demons may still be lying in wait.

I was half in awe because this book is BEAUTIFULLY written.  It's a fairly quick read, but there is not one wasted word on these pages.  And I love how the chapters alternate between Jake past and present--the structure was perfect, as the action peaked in both timelines right at the end.  Jake is a fantastic character, terrifically complicated--watching her develop is amazing.

BUT (my one "but"): the ending.  Like really, what WAS that ending?  I am all for not tying up the loose ends and giving the reader something to chew on, but this was too much.  I could have used a little less symbolism and a little more closure.  Still--I'm happy I spent the time on this one, because it's a stellar read, the final pages notwithstanding.

The Walking Dead: Compendium Two by Robert Kirkman & co.
Image Comics, 2012
borrowed from the library

I've already discussed with you my recent love affair with The Walking Dead comics (here).  The affair has only grown as I finished the second compendium of the series.  It has been awesome to watch the major characters grow and change, and to see how well many of the comic scenes were translated to TV.  (And on the flip side, how many of them never even made it to TV.)  Gotta say that one of my favorite characters so far is Andrea--what a bad ass!  And that's hilarious, given how much I despised her TV persona.  I'd say the one downside is that I think Rick's character waxes philosophical on the same topics a bit too much--it gets repetitive after a while.  But beyond that, I'm loving this view of the Walking Dead world.

(And, for those who follow the show--this compendium ends just after Rick's group starts interacting with Hilltop.  Um, I NEED to get Compendium Three before Season 7 starts!!!  EEEEEKKK.)

What are your current reads?  Do you have any 2016 reads so far that you think will be on your end-of-year favorites list?

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Post-Thanksgiving "What Are You Reading?"

Howdy, reader friends!  I hope all my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a phenomenal time celebrating with my crazy family in Connecticut.  There was much food, and football, and more food, and wine, and all that good stuff.  With the holiday, and all the travel it involved (7+ hours each way with a 4- and 1-year-old, FUN!), plus a terrible stomach bug I endured the week before, blogging fell a bit by the wayside.  However, I am back in the saddle with a quick reading update.

What am I reading now?  That would be The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King's latest release.  It's a short story collection, and I have long been a fan of SK short stories.  I'm about 2/3 done at this point, and still mulling over what I think of the collection as a whole.  Though there are some common themes, each story is so different and elicits such a varied range of reactions from me that it's hard to review!  But I'll have my thoughts posted here soon enough.

Up next?  I'll be tackling Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld, the next book chosen for my MOMS Club book club.  The summary sounds intriguing and I've enjoyed many of Sittenfeld's other novels, so I have high hopes here.

Okay, back to my short stories!  What are you reading this week?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Did Someone Say Bradley Cooper? Serena by Ron Rash


Title: Serena
Author: Ron Rash
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: October 7, 2008
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads:  **kind of spoilery**

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning. 

My Review:

I gave a spoiler warning for the book description on this one, because when I read it after finishing the novel, I realized it basically outlines the ENTIRE thing, except maybe the last 10 pages.  What's the fun in that??  Read the first two sentences of the description and that's enough to get you started, I'd say.

Serena is the latest novel chosen by my MOMS Club book club.  We decided to choose a book that is being/has been turned into a movie, so that we could both read and watch and then compare.  We had a lot of good options on our final voting list, but let's be honest--we all knew the ladies couldn't resist a Bradley Cooper movie, AMIRIGHT??

We have yet to see the movie (I'm still not entirely clear when it's being released--apparently this was a real disaster of a film project?), but having recently finished the book, I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss!

I'm happy that I didn't read the entire description of this book beforehand, because I was able to go into the novel with a fresh look at all of the characters.  On page 1, I loved Serena.  I thought she was one seriously bad-ass bitch (especially given the Depression-era time period), and I couldn't wait to see what she had up her sleeve.

The book moved a little slow after those initial pages, but bit by bit, I started to see what Serena was really all about.  First I just had some doubts about her, but then...well, they became much more.  The best part of this novel is definitely watching Serena's layers unfold.

Another plus: I like how the author occasionally relayed the story from the lumber workers' perspectives, especially when Serena and George did something...unsavory.  It gave an outsider's view to their actions that made the narrative much more colorful.

Overall, I'm happy to say that this book was a hidden gem for me.  I wasn't expecting much (especially because I had never heard of it before my book club voted for it), but it's an excellent story with some truly twisted characters--much more of a psychological thriller than I thought I would get from this historical fiction novel.

What's the last book-to-movie adaptation you read?  How did the movie compare?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Reasons I Adored The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez


Title: The Book of Unknown Americans
Author: Cristina Henriquez
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel's recovery--the piece of the American Dream on which they've pinned all their hopes--will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.

At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamà fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she's sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.


My Review:

I am really struggling with making my reviews exciting these days, reader friends.  I've been at the reviewing game now for 2.5 years, and it's hard to say something different and engaging each time.  So, I'm taking a little advice from Leah @ Books Speak Volumes, and structuring this review a tad differently in order to shake things up.  I hope this will make it more fun for me to write reviews, and also make it more fun for you as a reader.

Without further ado...5 Reasons I Adored The Book of Unknown Americans!

1. Its inclusiveness.  I've read many books (fiction and nonfiction) over the years that tackle various aspects of the immigrant experience.  However, this is the first one I've encountered that brought in such a wide variety of perspectives.  While the Rivera and Toro families are certainly at the center of this story, you also get chapters that focus (albeit briefly) on many of their neighbors and friends who hail from a range of countries: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Panama, etc.  And they all came to the US for very different reasons--though the end goals of happiness and fulfillment are largely the same.  This extensive range of viewpoints adds a lot of depth to the story.

2. Its brevity.  For a book with so much emotional complexity, it's a very quick read.  It packs a big punch in a small-ish number of pages.

3. Mayor and Maribel's relationship.  Everyone knows I'm not much for literary romance, but Mayor and Maribel transcend your usual teenage love story.  Watching Mayor fall for Maribel, despite her medical struggles after her accident, is beautiful and moving and all-around awesome.  And the way he helps her communicate with the world will tug at your heart strings.

4. It will get your wheels turning.  The main focus of the book is obviously the experience of the Latino immigrants in the novel, but as an extension of their struggles, I also found myself thinking about the motives and misfortunes of the American citizens they encountered who discriminated against them (especially the primary antagonist, Garrett).  People don't create hate in a vacuum.  This book will force you to think about why.

5. This quote:"We're the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them.  And who would they hate then?"

Read this book, friends!  I have not-a-one bad thing to say about it (and way more than 5 good things that I could say).

What was the last quick-ish book you read that also packed an emotional gut-punch?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King


Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
 
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?


My Review:

This was the second pick made for my local MOMS Club book club (our discussion of Wonder went great, by the way!).  It was actually based on a suggestion I made, because I mentioned Ask the Passengers as an option, but the other ladies wanted us to pick something that we all hadn't read, so I decided another A.S. King novel might be fitting.  This one won the Printz Award, so safe bet, right?

I finished this book several days ago, and I'm just writing my review now because I needed time to let it soak in.  Despite that, I'm still feeling unsure of my final review.  So let's break it down by the good and the bad.

The good: I instantly took to Vera as a protagonist.  She's a bit of a loner, but she's got an attitude and thinks for herself, which is nice to see in a high schooler these days.  That's not to say that she always makes good decisions, but she's not a crowd-follower, so she's got that going for her.

The way the story is laid out makes it hard to put the book down.  Vera is a the primary narrator in the present time, but she also backtracks and gives you the history of her relationship with Charlie and her parents.  That history plays a major role in her present situation, so you're always wondering what details will be revealed next.  In between Vera's past/present narrative, you also have first person accounts from her dad, Charlie, and the Pagoda (an odd rundown landmark in her town).  I am generally a fan of multiple POV novels, and in one way it works because it keeps you on your toes--you never know what each new perspective is going to reveal.

The bad: Even though the multiple POVs did well in terms of building suspense, use of two of the four perspectives irked me as a reader.  First was the Charlie POV.  As indicated in the book's description, Charlie has died before the novel's start.  So when his POV is used, it is from him in the afterlife (his chapters open with "A Brief Word From the Dead Kid").  I think I've mentioned before that I do not like when authors use an unnatural perspective like this, because to me, it feels lazy (for lack of a better word).  Like, "Hmmm, how can I convey what Charlie was feeling in this situation while he was alive?  It's difficult to do it from Vera's POV...oh wait, let's just bring him back from the dead!"  I'm sure that's not actually what A.S. King's thought process was, but as a reader that's all that I could think when I read Charlie's chapters.

I also was not a fan of the chapters written from the Pagoda.  I get that these sections had a bit of deeper meaning, which I can appreciate, but...thoughts transcribed from a piece of architecture?  It was too far out there, and as a literary device it didn't work itself seamlessly into the narrative for me.

After breaking down the good and the bad, I'd say that I appreciated Please Ignore Vera Dietz for its core storyline and message.  However, the multiple POVs did not entirely work, and took away from the central action of the novel.  King definitely went out on a limb with her unique use of perspective, but for me, that attempt fell short.

Are you generally a fan of multiple-perspective novels?  Do you have specific books in which they did (or didn't) work for you?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio


Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Source: borrowed from a friend

Summary from Goodreads

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.


My Review:

In the past, I've often heard people describe various books as "tearjerkers".  And when I heard that, I would usually laugh, because I am not much of a cryer when it comes to my reading selections.  I generally reserve my tears for two things: personal issues, and videos of soldiers coming home and surprising their unsuspecting kids in school assemblies.  (RIGHT?!?!?)  But cry while reading a book?  NEVER!

Guess what?  Wonder is a tearjerker, y'all!

Wonder starts out from the perspective of our protagonist, Auggie, and it's hard not to love him from page one.  Having lived with a horrible facial deformity for his entire life, he is wise beyond his years (with an uncanny ability to interpret the world around him), but also harbors all of the insecurities and fears that you'd expect from a ten-year-old, let alone one who deals with being ridiculed on a daily basis.  I wanted to give him ALL THE HUGS by about page five.  His parents are pretty great too--you quickly see how lucky Auggie is to have such loving, funny, and protective parents.

However, I got even more enjoyment out of the chapters that were told from the perspective of his sister and several of his classmates.  The foundation of this novel is laid when you see how Auggie views himself--but that perspective becomes much richer when you understand how others see Auggie.  He and his classmates are at such a difficult age--the start of middle school is full of popularity contests, everyone is making or breaking a reputation, and trying to figure out if their inner image matches their outer image.  These challenges are made even tougher when ten-year-olds are faced with a classmate like Auggie.  Is it more important to be "cool" or to be friendly?  And is being friendly the same as being a friend?  (And does that matter to the person you're being friendly to?)

It's also interesting (and at times, sad) to see how the kids are influenced by their parents--not every parent is going to encourage their child to take the higher road, unfortunately.  This book was obviously written with young adults as the target audience, but as a parent, I also took a lot away from this in terms of the lessons I'd like to teach my kids about accepting and helping others.

And yes, I confess.  I cried.  During the last few pages.  (cue Usher)

It was worth the tears.  I hate it when this term is overused, but I think it's appropriate here: Wonder is going to hit you in the feels.

Wonder is the first book that my MOMS Club book club is reading together!  Any advice for us as we convene for the first time next week??  And of course...if you've read Wonder, what did you think?
 
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