jemima j

Jane Green’s jemima j is a pretty typical story about the overweight, undervalued mid-twenty’s woman who gains self esteem, loses weight, gets the job and the man. There is a slight twist mid-novel which was unexpected and amusing, but overall this was a predictable storyline. There are the bitchy, ditzy beautiful roommates on the hunt for a rich man. The gorgeous yet untalented co-worked who gets all the stories and credit, although we all could predict that its our brainy, witty protagonist that writes the articles.

Also, Green could not decide if she wanted to write in 1st person or 3rd and switched it up throughout. Sometimes we heard directly from our heroine Jemima, but other times we had a omniscient narrator. I thought it was a little overdone and would have appreciated sticking to one type of narration.

Overall, this was an easy read that I finished while sitting watching the Pacific Ocean. A good book when you don’t want to think too hard and just want the good guys to win.

Read November 2013


George Orwell’s 1984 is a classic, terrifying novel about what would happen when the everyday person starts giving up more and more freedoms for the unknown threat of war. This novel could have been written today and called 2084, so timely is the topic when the NSA is accused of spying on other country’s prime ministers and people are having text and phone calls recorded without a warrant. All for the greater good.

The most brilliant part is that Orwell uses language as a type of mind control. How the slow elimination of words limits how one can think of any given circumstance. If there’s no word “bad”, the only way to describe the feeling is “ungood” which changes the sentiment. Even the different ministries whose role is the opposite of what we understand the meaning of the words: Ministry of Peace deals with war, Ministry of Truth deals with lying, the Ministry of Love which tortures the citizens, and the Ministry of Plenty whose role seems to be to limit goods so everyone is on the brink of starvation at most times.

War is the common enemy of the people and no one must notice that the enemy keeps changing yet the circumstances never do. Hate is cultivated by having daily sessions of group hatings. People don’t disappear, they miraculously never existed. All this can be accomplished when the mind is controlled. When the individual stops the ability to think and just regurgitates.

Orwell’s character Winston is doomed because he cannot forget. He doesn’t have the ability to doublethink and he has a fondness for truth and accuracy that he is unable to change. Through Winston’s eyes we see how destructive a society like this it. How the younger generation innately knows that something is wrong, but they follow the motions because they know nothing else. When there’s no one to trust, what happens? When there’s no history to learn from, how can there be a rebellion?

Great novel! I was surprised that it was such an easy read for something written 50+ years ago and how relevant it is to our complex world today. Even with the futuristic technologies from Orwell’s mind weren’t outdated. It felt like a contemporary piece written on the current world’s situation.

Read November 2013

The Sound of Things Falling

Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s The Sound of Things Falling, is a remarkable story of a young boy who grew up in a violent world and internalized the fears and paranoia. Antonio grew up when the drug cartels were terrorizing the streets of Bogota and making everyday citizens collateral damage. Antonio saw himself as someone who survived the destruction and is now living in a new Bogota mostly free from the drug violence.

However, Antonio lives his life without passion for his girlfriend, his career, or life. He befriends Ricardo, a man at the local pool hall, and Vasquez slowly entangles the two until the violence of Bogota’s past revisits them. After Antonio is shot and recovers, he has a hard time escaping the fear that encompasses his days. He meets Ricardo’s daughter and the two relive Ricardo’s passion for flying that lead to his being jailed for 20 years as well as the random violence that took Maya’s mother and the not-so-random violence that took her father. They discover a connection that only those who lived through the terrifying Columbian years could understand. During this time, Antonio finds life and learns about how he ended up in the cross-fire that took Ricardo’s life.

Vasquez questions why those who’ve been through traumatic experiences seek out those who understand and repel those who cannot. Although at the end of the story, as life, Antonio ends up alone. Vasquez is clear that we must endure, but we must learn how to endure by ourself. Antonio cannot rely on Maya to figure out his life.

This was a magnificent read. Vasquez allows the reader to internalize the fears and hope of his characters and strings us along as the characters need to discover how the past has influenced their lives. Beautifully told.

Read October 2013