Sunday, March 26, 2006

Push ****1/2

Sapphire. Push. New York: Vintage, 1996.

This is an adult book, and isn't for the squeemish. Those that are offended by strong language and those that may feel uncomfortable reading about incest should avoid this book. It's not for everyone.

Precious is a 16 year-old living in Harlem. She is pregnant with her second child. Her first child was born when she was just 12 and has Down's Syndrome. Both children are the product of an incestuous relationship between Precious and her father, who has been raping her. Precious likes school and learning, but she is illiterate. A caring administrator at her school gets her into an alternative school where she is able to learn and eventually get into the GED program. After the birth of her baby, Precious must leave her home after her mother tries to kill her. This leaves her without housing. Despite her problems, she still aims to keep up her education.

This book is told from the perspective of Precious. As the book progresses, her spelling and grammar improves. She goes from spelling phonetically and leaving out many vowels to being able to spell far better; not perfect, but far better.

Precious, due to her background I suppose, does use a lot of coarse language (that's a nice way of saying she curses a lot!). However, the language is true to how such a girl would speak. In fact, she probably doesn't even realize that many of the words are even considered curses since she hears this language every day, all day. She is simply speaking the only way she knows how. The language and content may seem objectionable; however, it is necessary to tell the story the way it needs to be told. This is a story about a girl with a hard life, and from a hard place where things aren't "proper". The book shows how hard Precious is willing to work to make herself a better person. It leaves us feeling a sense of hope that even people living in the worst of conditions and situations can thrive and improve themselves.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wrecked ****1/2

Frank, E.R. Wrecked. New York: Antheneum, 2005.

Another great book from this great author! On her way back from a party, Anna gets into a car accident. She has been drinking hours prior, but was not drunk. Also, the accident wasn't her fault-the other car went over the line and smashed into her car. Anna's best friend Ellen is badly hurt in the accident. Worse, the driver of the other car dies. Even worse yet, the driver happens to have been the girlfriend of Anna's brother, Jack.

No one blames Anna for what happened, including Jack, but that doesn't stop her from blaming herself. She begins to have panic attacks and is no longer able to drive. Her father, who is a bit controlling, doesn't want her daughter in therapy. Eventually, she does go to therapy and starts to learn to handle her panic attacks and get on with her life.

Her father, who could use some therapy himself, starts to change a bit after the accident, but he is still a control freak and a bit of a jerk, which really just adds to Anna's anxiety. The entire family really needs to heel after this incident.

This was a great book about anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Anyone that experiences anxiety or knows someone that does would appreciate this book. This is a great choice for most readers, as it is fast paced and enjoyable.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I am the Messenger ****

Zusak, Markus. I am the Messenger. New York: Knopf, 2002/2005. Originally published in Australia in 2002, published in the US in 2005.

I don't know that this book has broad appeal, but it was an interesting book, thus the four stars.

Ed is basically a loser. He graduated high school and is more or less just drifting along with no real goals or aspirations. His friends are all just like him. They play cards and drink for fun (it's legal there to drink under 21!) and have dead end jobs.

One day he gets a playing card and it has three addresses on it. He goes to those addresses and realizes there are things there for him to do. So, he does them. He thinks it is over, but he gets another playing card and has more things to do. This goes on for 3 playing cards, at which point he figures he is done. In each case he has to do something for someone else without giving any thought to himself. Throughout the entire thing, he has no idea who is sending him the cards and why they chose him.

There is also a love interest in the story (isn't there always?). Ed loves his friend Audrey but she is always dating someone else. He thinks she loves him too but she won't let herself love anyone because of a hard childhood. The love story adds another dimention to the plot.

The plot is, of course, ludicrous as this would never happen in a million years. But, it was entertaining nonetheles. It is entertaining to see what he will have to do next, and to see how the experiences make him grow as a person.