Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: Columbine by Dave Cullen

Release Date: March 1, 2009
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter- Website
Publisher: Twelve
Age group: Adult
Pages: 417
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?

*****

"On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave a lasting impression on the world. Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence--irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting 'another Columbine.

"When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window--the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

"The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives the best complete account of the Columbine tragedy.


MY THOUGHTS:

After suffering from a reading slump for an extended period of time, I knew that the next book I would pick out would have to be one that would immediately grab my attention in order to keep me interested and pull me away from the dreadful slump caused by university tasks and readings. Knowing myself and my reading habits, I knew that I would need something that would make me think - unlike some people who want to read something fluffy and maybe even silly to balance their studies, I usually try to find something that will keep my mind active, something preferably even a little related to my studies at the moment, if possible. Don't get me wrong - I do love fluff (romance etc.) and read it a lot, but not usually while I am intensively studying at the same time. 

Well, since I am doing a course this semester called media events and since I have to do a presentation for that course about a particular media event, I decided to finally pick out Dave Cullen's Columbine, an account on the school shootings of 1999. 

Dave Cullen was able to pull me in to the book right away. I had some previous knowledge of the case beforehand and while reading the book I realized that most of that knowledge was based on the myths of the case that Cullen tries to break - the Cassie Bernall "martyr" myth, the Trench Coat Mafia, the possible links to Neo-Nazism etc. I had also seen Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine before, which I absolutely loved (Moore is one of my favorite documentary filmmakers) and I found it extremely interesting to familiarize myself with someone else's account on the happenings. 

The more I read, the more interested I got. The detail in Cullen's book is astonishing (no wonder he worked on this for ten years), factual and well presented. While reading some of the reviews for the book on Goodreads, I noticed some people criticizing that Cullen's writing style lacks humanity due to its very factual explanation of the events. I do agree with that, but I personally did not mind it - I actually quite enjoyed it. Cullen's style is very academic and rationalistic - he states the facts as they are, relying on FBI statements, statements of psychologists and other experts, as well as the statements based on his own process of evidence gathering. There are segments in this book that are absolutely horrifying and miserable, the the things that happened in April 20, 1999. Cullen does not gloss over the corpses, the blood and the horror - he explains the events as they took place. Saying that Cullen's writing lacks humanity is not completely right though - there are segments here and there that give a voice to the victims, their parents and those who were in any way touched by the events that took place.

What I admired about Cullen's writing is the way he approaches the killers. He wants to understand them - he treats them as human beings and tries to open up to the reader their histories and the possible causes for what made them do what they did. Through the analysis of their journals, their friendships and the videos they recorded, Cullen builds up profiles for the killers. I understand why some writers have approached the shooters in a very different way, but I personally found this approach interesting, because it didn't directly got to judgement but tried to achieve understanding. 

I found Cullen's book to be interesting, thoughtful, thorough and extremely well-written. It is sad, violent and gruesome, but deep down, there's some hopefulness found from there from the stories of the people who survived it all - the people who kept going and tried to see past the tragedy. Columbine definitely isn't the easiest book out there to read, but it is completely worth it - I recommend this to everyone who likes non-fiction/true crime books and especially to those who have been interested to venture into non-fiction, but haven't found the title that could grasp their interest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1) by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Release Date: June 14, 2012
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Age Group: YA
Pages: 394 (hardcover)
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.



MY THOUGHTS:


Samantha Reed was born to privilege. Though her father left even before she was born, her mother's sizable trust fund and a rich family have guaranteed that Samantha never has had to pinch the penny. To be honest, it seems like Samantha has always got whatever she has wanted. She has worked for some of those things, but despite that, it seems like things come very easy for her. While living her perfect seeming life, Samantha has spent large amounts of time looking to the other side of the fence, to the Garrett family, who from afar seem like a bit of a mess. These are toys all over their yard, the car and the motorcycle are never in the garage, the pool is always occupied and the number of children is ever increasing. Then one day Jase Garrett, one of "those Garrett's" much despised by Samantha's mother, makes contact with Samantha thus changing everything that has been the norm before.

Samantha is an interesting character and one I occasionally had a difficult time to like. As I said, she is extremely privileged, and though she seems like she does not care about it, occasionally it feels like she really does. There is nothing wrong with being privileged, but when it clouds some of your decisions, especially ones that are not so moral or right in any way, I think there's problems arising. When she meets Jase and the rest of the Garrett family, she realizes that her way of life isn't the only one or necessary the best one. Unlike her family, which occasionally is very distant and formal, Jase's family is all over the place, but also extremely loving and comfortable. I liked to see Samantha integrated to that family, but occasionally is just felt too easy. The parents instantly love her, the kids adore her, she has never babysat and feels like natural right away etc. Due to this, I partly felt like Samantha is "too perfect", and that is never easy to identify with.

Jase is nice, honest and loving, but like Samantha, feels too perfect. He is amazing brother, good boyfriend, hardworking son, trustworthy friend... The connection between him and Samantha is there, but it occasionally feels a bit rushed and does not really take that much time to develop. I kept waiting for something to be revealed about Jase's past that would make him a bit more approachable character, but in the end, despite the fact that he is dreamy and all, I felt no connection whatsoever towards him, which kind of took away from my reading experience. 

The one character I desperately wanted to know more about and the one I found to be the most interesting character in the whole book is Tim. He is vulnerable, has a shady past, seems to cover his real feelings with humor and just in general seems a bit lost. Whereas Jase is the perfect boy next door, Tim really is the guy "from the other side of the tracks". He has a past, but it seems like he is ready to leave that behind and look to the future and better himself. You have no idea how happy I was when I realized that Huntley Fitzpatrick is writing the sequel to My Life Next Door about Tim (the book is called The Boy Most Likely). With Tim as a main character and Sam and Jase as side characters, I feel like I will like Fitzpatrick's story way more than I did now.

Don't get me wrong, I did not hate his book or anything. I just did not feel a strong connection towards it, which usually happens with YA contemporary titles I really like. My Life Next Door is cute, quick to read and deals with some real issues from the problems within friendships to problems within families. It is well written and funny and in general very easy to read. Unfortunately it just didn't give me the "feels" I expected it to give.  But despite that, you definitely should check this one out and see what you think. 



Friday, October 17, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#21)


"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"

For more information, click here



QUICK UPDATE:

If you actively check my blog, you have probably figured out that I haven't been very active recently. I've been posting reviews on weekly basis, but other than that, there hasn't been any activity on my blog for over a month. And that's all because of fourth year, my final year of uni and all the work that comes with it. I am working on my dissertation at the moment along with other course work, which means that pretty much every day I have to spend hours studying, after which updating this blog has the last thing on my mind.

Don't get me wrong. I do miss blogging like crazy. I miss the wonderful book blog environment and all the people that makes this such a fun experience. Unfortunately, I haven't even been reading anything recently, unless film books count. So there really isn't anything I could review (you probably aren't interested in reviews of film books). Well, anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am still here and I am definitely going to keep this blog going, just with a little less content for now. 


Here are a couple of books I've added to my collection since my last STS post! Hopefully I'll find the time and inspiration to get to these soon!


Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you've never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens. In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they've lost. In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon - the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter's moon, the blood moon - this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting.

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?

*****

"On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave a lasting impression on the world. Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence--irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting 'another Columbine.

"When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window--the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

"The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives the best complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1) by Elizabeth Vein 

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York TimesCode Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.


Have you read any of these? 
Do you think one of these could take me out of my very extended reading slump and make me want to spend my free time doing more reading (in addition to school work) rather than watching Netflix?


Book Review: Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Release Date: August 5, 2014
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Atria Books
Age group: New Adult
Pages: 320
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.



MY THOUGHTS:

After getting overly emotional while reading Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, I got extremely excited when I read the synopsis to this new book by her. The moment it was released, I bought it to my Kindle and wanted to devour the whole thing right away. And oh my, it was very very very very emotional, just as I expected.

Tate Collins, a registered nurse and a student, moves in with her brother in order to settle into a new city, job and life. Quickly, she meets Miles Archer, an airline pilot and the colleague of her brother and something clicks between them. Miles is tall, serious and oh, so attractive and though there seems to be nothing common they share, Tate cannot keep her thoughts away from Miles. When the desire Miles has for Tate is revealed, they make an agreement that allows them to discover their passion towards each other without consequences; Tate has to promise that she won't ask anything about Miles's past or expect a shared future. Miles promises he won't give Tate hope about a future together. Even before they start hooking up, Tate knows that she's a goner. But she can't stay away from Miles.

The book is narrated from both the point of view of Tate and Miles. While the narrative segments of Tate focus on the present day and the budding relationship between Miles and her, the segments from Miles's point of view go six year back in time to a time Miles was in love with a girl called Rachel. After Rachel, Miles has been closed off, private and serious and sure of the fact that he'll never be able to love again. But then Tate shows up and it messes up everything Miles has thought about his future, love and possibly being happy again someday.

I am happy that Hoover provided Miles's point-of-view to the story because without it, Miles would have kind of seemed like a total douche. Yes, it is true that he is honest and straight, telling Tate right away that the only thing he's looking for is sex, nothing else. But as they spend time together, he still remains closed off and occasionally quite unfeeling, again and again breaking Tate's heart into smaller pieces. But then you read something from Miles's point of view and your heart breaks for him and you kind of start to understand WHY he acts the way he does. 

At points I had a difficult time understanding Tate and why she lets Miles treat her the way he does. Yes, Miles is dreamy and attractive and occasionally very kind and caring, but he's also moody, secretive and cold. She knows that he's bad for her, but she just can't stop seeing him. Yeah, I know this sounds exactly like a cliche that's repeated in new adult books over and over again, but somehow Hoover builds the story so brilliantly that while reading the book I wasn't rolling my eyes (like I usually do with cliches), but actually tried to enter Tate's mindset and understand her decisions and actions.

Hoover's writing is so beautiful, heart-wrenching and honest that it, once again, managed to make me cry. I would really like to know how she comes up with these heart breaking stories and whether she can write the scenes without crying. 

Ugly Love is a solid four star new adult title that's romantic, heart breaking, entertaining and full of hope. The dual narrative kept me wanting to read on in order to know more about the characters, especially about Miles's past, which led to me reading this book in just a matter of hours. It is a bit more heavy on the sexy times that the previous Hoover titles I've read, but I did not mind it too much. Since the synopsis already mentions that it focuses on characters who have a "friends with benefits" type of relationship, what else could I have expected? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Release Date: December 17, 2012
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Age group: YA
Pages: 327 (ebook)
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.



MY THOUGHTS:


After hearing so many good things about Colleen Hoover and her writing, I decided that it is finally time for me to join the bandwagon. I decided to star with Hopeless purely because of the fact that the goodreads rating was so high and a lot of people I have befriended on the site seemed to have liked it a lot. One thing I did not realize when selecting it was that it is YA rather than NA, but since I had already marked it as "currently reading" on Goodreads, I decided to go with it.

We are introduced to Sky. She has been adopted when she was about 5 years old and she cannot remember much from her life before that. Her adoptive mother Karen is loving and caring and understanding, but sometimes her weird rules about technology seem just that - weird! They don't have a television or a computer and Sky has never had a mobile phone. She has also been home schooled her whole life, but now, on the eve of the beginning of her senior year, she has begged Karen to let her to attend the local high school with her best friend Six. But when Six is accepted to a student exchange program, Sky has to face the foes for high school on her own.

Let's just say it - Sky has a bit of a reputation, which she has mostly gained through her association with Six. Usually when Six, who has a tendency to switch boyfriends often, has had a new guy around, the new guy's friend has been reserved for Sky. Sky has never been in love, and does not really believe in love to begin with, and has only used these guys to make her feel numb. When other girls feel all tingly and loved while making out, Sky feels nothing, and she likes it. But then she meets the mysterious Holder and starts to feel things she never expected she would feel.

At first, I thought Holder was SUPER CREEPY. He kind of stalks Sky around, which is totally not cool, and at first this made me question the sanity of Sky. Why does she let him be around her when she feels occasionally scared of him? I know some readers will give up with this book because of this, and I must have to admit that at first I was super annoyed about the fact that it seems like Sky lets Holder in just because he's hot. But as their relationship processes and we get to know more about the characters, we get an explanation to Holder's behavior.

A lot of people who don't read YA say that they don't do so because the stories are always so predictable. This definitely might be true in some cases, but definitely NOT with this one. I had no idea what to expect and I definitely did not see all the twists and turns coming. The story is build masterfully and it really isn't until the end that you maybe start to make connections ahead of the narrative, but that's just because of the little hints Hoover gives for the reader.

I feel like this is one of those books you'll probably end up hating if you stick to every single issue (why is he looking at her ID, why is he so curious about her? etc.). I think you just kind of have to go with the flow and give these characters fully a chance to introduce themselves before you make any judgments. All and all, I don't really have any complaints (other than the fact that it annoyed me immensely when Holder kept calling Sky "baby" - something in that just drove me crazy) and I really did enjoy this novel. I am not completely sure whether I will read Losing Hope or not (Hopeless from the perspective of Holder) but I will definitely keep it on my radar. If you have read Hopeless, what do you think, should I pick up Losing Hope?

I know both Hopeless and Losing Hope have been optioned for a film, but I have no idea how far the projects are. I guess I would go and see a film adaptation of this, hoping that it would be honest to the story and the issues it deals with, without glossing over some of the difficult situations this book presents to the reader.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Release Date: March 18, 2014
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Atria Books
Age group: New Adult
Pages: 367
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…



MY THOUGHTS:


THE FEELS. ALL THE FEELS. I want more, yet at the same time I am happy with just what I got. What a perfect, touching, beautiful book.

Sydney seems to have it all - a perfect boyfriend, her best friend as her roommate, passion for the subject she is studying. And a mysterious boy in the apartment building across playing beautiful songs with his guitar. One day, she is caught listening to him and he signals her to text him. She hesitates, but the first text that she sends him starts a pattern than eventually leads to a norm, especially after Sydney learns that her perfect seeming boyfriend has cheated on her - with her best friend. Sydney is lost, but the mysterious boy with the guitar helps her and suddenly she finds herself with a new set of roommates - the bitchy Brigitte, the funny and sweet Warner and the mysterious, talented musician Ridge. Once Sydney and Ridge start to spend more time together, they form a connection and realize that there might be something between them. The problem just is, that they both have something that is keeping them apart, something or someone that stops them from acting up on their feelings.

I am kind of ashamed to say this, but much of what kept me from picking up this book earlier was the fact that when I heard that the male protagonist is named Ridge, this is the image that game into my mind.


Let me just tell you that that image disappeared quite quickly once I got to know the Ridge of this novel. He is charming, sweet, talented and occasionally adorably shy. But he is also conflicted and occasionally he managed to drive me crazy with his decisions and actions. But I guess feelings like that make a good book, because after moments of frustration, usually came moments of adoration and gushing.

I love Sydney and would totally see myself being a friend with someone like her. She has been hurt by the people she has trusted on the most, and her heart has been broken and despite all the pain, she stays strong and positive. She finds solace from Ridge, but understand as well that she needs to be alone first and trust herself before she can learn to trust anyone else. She is talented, but unsure of her talent and there was just something so real and raw in her that instantly made me like her and root for her.

The connection between Sydney and Ridge is INSANE and that makes the novel so much more frustrating on many occasions. I felt like screaming to the characters at points, while at other times I cried with them and wanted to just go and hug them. Reading this book was an emotional roller coaster ride I haven't taken in a long time. If you are looking for a fluffy, cliche romance book, this isn't the pick for you. The emotions in this one are raw and occasionally very painful. But most importantly, the emotions are real, which makes this book so special and meaningful.

Since songwriting and music are a big part of this novel, there actually is a original soundtrack to the novel by Griffin Peterson. The moment I listened to those songs, I instantly felt closer to this story and these characters. And okay, I must admit that the moment I saw what Griffin Peterson looks like, I kind of started to think of him as Ridge, which totally did not cause any harm for my reading experience.



I want to recommend Maybe Someday to anyone, but I must warn that if you are not a fan of books dealing with issues like cheating, this might not be the best pick for you. But other than that, grab some tissues and be prepared for the FEELS.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Release Date: May 12, 2009
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age group: YA
Pages: 224
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.




MY THOUGHTS:

The Chosen One might look like a pretty small and thin book, but the words inside have depth and meaning, weight and purpose. It is a story of Kyra, a young girl living in a cult like community of polygamists. One day, when her whole family has gathered together to greet the Prophet, the leader of the group, she's told that in a month she would be married of to her uncle who happens to be much older that her father. Though Kyra has been raised within the religious, polygamist community, she understand that what is about to happen to her is wrong - marrying a young, under-aged girl to her old, blood relative isn't the right thing to do. Even if the Prophet says that it's "God's will".

Kyra has a secret. For a while now she's been visiting a county mobile library, borrowing and reading books that the community she lives in considers to be satanic. She's also in love with a boy from the community, a boy that's not her "chosen one". All of this seems innocent until the point Kyra learns about the plans for her future. Though she has felt guilty about her actions, mostly because she's been thought to feel guilty about "normal" things for her whole life, she knows that the books, the mobile library and the boy might be her ways to get rid of the miserable future that's waiting for her. But getting free comes with its consequences.

I found The Chosen One to be a shocking and touching read. But it also angered me. Not because it wasn't good or well written. It angered me because I know that things like this happen every day. People join communities like the one Kyra lives in, looking for hope and a new start. Sooner or later, in the worst case scenario, especially the women lose their rightful position in the world and the society and become like puppets for the men. This is exactly what happens in 'The Chosen One'. We don't get to hear how the family joined the community and how long they've been there, but we know that within the community women are expected to act according to the will of men. Young girls are married off to old men when young men are sent away. Violence is used to keep the people in control. Escape is not possible. It is so difficult for me to understand how people allow something like this to happen to themselves, even when I know that it's probably mostly out of fear. It is something I'll probably never understand, and to be honest, I don't think I even want to. But it's books like The Chosen One that open my eyes to these things and make me think about how good my own life is.

Adults who do not read young adult literature often explain that they don't do so because the books consist of teenage angst and nothing more. For those, I would like to give a copy of The Chosen One just to show that young adult literature is so much more than just teenage angst and high school problems. It's emotional, touching and relevant and a reader of any age, be it 15 or 55 definitely can find something to think about, something to gain from the reading experience.