Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Description (from Goodreads):

The mysterious Jay Gatsby embodies the American notion that it is possible to redefine oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Gatsby's youthful neighbor, Nick Carraway, fascinated with the display of enormous wealth in which Gatsby revels, finds himself swept up in the lavish lifestyle of Long Island society during the Jazz Age. Considered Fitzgerald's best work, The Great Gatsby is a mystical, timeless story of integrity and cruelty, vision and despair

This novel has been on my reading list since FOREVER. I've been holding it in my hands in several bookstores in 3 different countries, but I have never ended up buying it. Until a while ago. WORKS at Princess St. here at Edinburgh has this sale in which you get 3 novels for £5 and when I only found 2 that I really wanted, I thought that I can might as well buy this one now just to read it at some point. And I finally did, and I am happy about it, because I really understand now why is has such a status as a classic.

I must say at first that it was not really what I expected. I expected it to be a lot more harder to read, maybe just because of the "classic" status, but it was actually really easy, simple read. The novel is narrated by Nick Carraway, a man who becomes the middle-hand between Jay Gatsby, a rich man living in a mansion next to his humble living and Daisy Buchanan, a woman from Gatsby's past. When Gatsby and Daisy met for the first time, Gatsby was an officer without money whereas Daisy was a known beauty. When Gatsby is sent to serve overseas, Daisy marries another man, Tom Buchanan. Tom is rich, but he does not manage to make Daisy happy; they seem like a perfect couple, but in the end, it is Gatsby Daisy loves. When Gatsby comes back from war, his greed increases and he starts to pursue money in any ways possible; he thinks that with money he can get Daisy. He buys a house across from Daisy's house and throws big parties, waiting for Daisy to appear. When Gatsby hears Nick is in connection with Daisy, he realizes his changes; through Nick he can get contact to Daisy. But when Gatsby and Daisy finally get back together, things do not go as planned.

What I found really interesting about this novel was the narrator of the whole story, Nick. He does not really fit into the society of characters like Gatsby and thus he provides a commentary of an "outsider" to the whole situation. The way the novel is written is simple, but yet so beautiful. I feel like this would be the perfect novel to "read" as an audio book (I keep fantasizing about Tom Hiddleston reading this novel as an audio book; he played Fitzgerald in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris); the language is so beautiful and at parts really sounds like a beautiful poem about unhappy people. Everything seems perfect on the surface, but below the surface everything boils and the reader really gets to crack the surface of the perfection; the lives of these rich socialites are empty and nothing as they planned. Their selfishness has driven them to the "bottom".

Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' isn't a happy read. It is a story about unhappy people and tragic circumstances. It is also a story about how our dreams sometimes do not come true, whether we work on them or not. But now that I have read it, I can say that it truly is a classic and should be read by everyone at some point of their lives; if not for the story, then for the language. 

There is a new film version coming out of this novel later this year by director Baz Luhrmann. I must say I am pretty curious about the whole thing now that I have read the novel. And this film is going to be in 3D!! The budget at least is huge (127,000,000 dollars estimated) and Leonardo DiCaprio will be playing Gatsby and Tobey McGuire Nick. Really looking forwards the 26th of December and the premiere of this film. This could very well be a Oscar nominee for 2013. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

Description (from Goodreads):

Can a twelve-step program help Sadie kick her unrequited crush for good? Abby McDonald serves up
her trademark wit and wisdom in a hilarious new novel.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly onesided. The object of her obsession - ahem, affection - is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie's
feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep-blue eyes). For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett's constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to '80s indie rock
- all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder - until he calls to say he's fallen in love. With some other girl! A
heartbroken Sadie realizes that she's finally had enough. It's time for total Garrett detox! Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized selfhelp
guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

Sadie is unfortunate enough to be in love with her best friend, Garrett. She does not want to make things weird with him, but at the same time she feels like he is her soul mate, the perfect match for her. From the moment Sadie met Garrett, she completely changed her interests and such to meet the ones of Garrett. He is into literature such as Russian classics, art films and philosophy. For two years, Sadie reads what Garrett reads, she watches what Garrett watches and agrees with Garrett's way of life. 

Unfortunately, she is also the one who hears about Garrett's other girlfriends. But since she is so devoted, she listens to Garrett, lets him share his problems with her. The problems he has with other girls make her feel even more like they are the match made in heaven. 

For the summer break, Sadie and Garrett both apply for a literature camp, but only Garrett is accepted in. It is Sadie's first summer in two years without Garrett. Sadie sees it as an opportunity; she is sure Garrett will miss her so much that he realizes that he actually loves her. But when Garrett calls her, telling that he has fallen in love at the camp, but not with Sadie, she decides she has to do something. She has to get over Garrett Delaney. With a help of a 12 step program and her new work mates, Sadie is ready to face the biggest challenge of her life so far; getting over a guy she has been in love with for such a long time for a teenager.

'Getting Over Garrett Delaney' had a lot more depth I expected it to have. It is a nice, light read, but there are some moments of realizations that really wake you up as well. We all probably have been in love at some point; maybe it wasn't with someone you actually know, but still, I am sure we all know that feeling. We want to change ourselves to fit to the ideal partner mold of the one we are in love with. It would be ideal to fall in love with someone who is like you, but unfortunately that happens quite rarely. So it is easy to understand Sadie. At parts the fact that she so completely agreed with Garrett feels kind of childish, but then  I thought about myself as a 17 year old high school student and I realized that I would probably have changed myself for a guy like Garrett.

The 12 step program idea the novel has was very interesting and something I have not really seen before. Since I am slightly OCD about certain things, the whole list thing is something that would totally work for me as well. Sadie creates herself rules; not answering his phone calls and messages and rather enjoying the everyday situations and what happens around her. Once Sadie starts to get over Garrett, she starts to notice other guys around her, like the chef at the cafe she works at. Maybe Sadie in the end has a change to love someone else that Garrett, even though it at the beginning of the novel does not seem like that?

I really enjoyed reading this novel. It was a fast, sweet read and I would definitely read other novels by the same author, Abby McDonald. It is the perfect read for a girl who is hopelessly in love with someone who never notices her. I so wish I would have had this to read when I was the 17 year old exchange student at Virginia pining for the mysterious senior guy.