harmony

Carolyn Parkhurst’s “harmony” is told from 3 perspectives: the mother, the “normal” sister, and as if visiting a strange historical monument of the family.

The Hammond family, in an attempt to help their undiagnosable, Autistic-like daughter Tilly, leaves their DC home and moves to New Hampshire’s Camp Harmony. The brain-child of a child-rearing expert, the childless man named Scott Bean, Camp Harmony will help serve kids who are struggling in their homelife by providing a community that can help support them in their own unique development. The camp is essentially cut off from the world and the residents put their faith in Scott Bean’s approach in the last of innumerable attempts to help their children.

The story’s many twists and turns help tell the struggle of the Hammond family in trying to help Tilly. And the Camp does seem to be helping several of the children that need help but at what cost.

Intersting perspective of living with a family member who does not conform.

Read July 2018

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Matrimony in Miniature

Matrimony in Miniature is a quirky novel by Margaret Grace (aka Camille Minichino) of a retiree and her miniature club who handle problems of scale while making models and problems of murderers around town. It was particularly well written and the characters aren’t too deep, but its a fun read.

Read March 2018

The Last Good Girl

In The Last Good Girl, Emily Shaprio disappears after a night at the college bar. Allison Leotta sets up the story really well with current chapters from the pov of the prosecutor Anna Curtis, as well as transcripts of vlogs that Emily did for a media class and transcripts from a disciplinary committee. The main suspect is Dylan Highsmith, a wealthy frat boy who had been accused of raping Emily months earlier.

As we follow Anna Curtis in her search for information about Emily’s past, Leotta shines the spotlight on how colleges hide the rape culture that is prevalent on this, and many other, college campus. Cover-ups, buy-offs, deflection, anything to help the young-man continue HIS education and not impact HIS future, especially if there’s a big enough donation.

Anna is desperate not to let the rapist win, to the point where its impacting her family and friends. There’s a nice twist at the end, but it really the social injustice within this novel that drew me into the story and kept reading.

Interesting, well-written read.

Read August 2017

The Wangs vs. The World

Jade Chang’s The Wangs vs. The World tells the story of the Wangs after their patriarch looses all their money, homes, cars, etc after a bad business venture. The time period is the beginning of the economic collapse that would devastate so many people, but this story, while it talks a little about the world’s problems, really is a story about the Wangs. For centuries, the Wangs were wealthy land owners in China. This branch of the family survived the war with Japan by escaping to Taiwan.
Charlie started fresh in the new world and ended up with a makeup empire that collapsed due to bad timing and a lot of hubris. Saina, his oldest daughter, moved to NY and became a well known artist, but recently had a crushing show that may have ruined her career. Since she bought her house on her own, no one’s coming to repossess it and the rest of the family will need to move in with her.Andrew, middle child and virgin, drops out of college since his dad can’t foot the bill anymore. Grace, an internet fashion blogger and prep school attendee, also has to leave school. Along with Charlie’s second wife Barbra, the rest of the family drives across country to begin their new life at Saina’s country home.

The novel switches characters often so we really see the impact that this move and the financial/success changes have on all the family members and how it changes how they see themselves.

There’s a lot going on in this novel since each character has to grow and change to survive this. But the love thats shared by the family will help them move on. There’s also a lot of Chinese-American culture references which I found enlightening and don’t think I’ve read anything from this perspective.

At first the switching between characters was not enjoyable, but by the end of the novel I was waiting for each family member’s perspective of the current events.

Slow, but very interesting read.

Read July 2017

Vinegar Girl

I only picked Vinegar Girl from the library since it was on the “Lucky Day Shelf”, which usually means its a popular book that you can pick up today and not have to wait for it on hold…get it…its your “Lucky Day”. Most books that I’ve gotten from this section have been well written or really popular. Its not always my style, but I can usually see why its popular. Not so with Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl.

I read the cover which described the character Kate Battista as almost spinster-like and caretaker of her father, her sister, and their home. She organized lunches, does all the laundry, cleaning, etc, all the while totally unappreciated by anyone that she does anything for. I thought dear old Kate would have some sort of awakening moment and it might make an interesting, easy read. I read the novel and waited for her epiphany that she’s being used and she needs to create her own life. When her father proposed that she marry his research assistant to extend his visa, she rightfully freaks out. This was finally the point that she’d break through and become her own person and stop being a doormat!! Except, that didn’t happen. While the assistant is foreign and quirky, he’s also kind of a jerk. And yet Kate goes through with this horrific marriage to escape her father and sister. Oh, and at the wedding she defends her new-husband who beat up a teenager by saying “It’s hard being a man.” WTF?

And incase you think this was written in the 1850’s when marriage was the only way for a woman to escape her parents, it wasn’t. This is a modern horrifying novel. The only pretense at modernism is the Epilogue that has, without any actual character development, Kate receiving a Botany award when her kid is still young. This woman has done nothing in the Botany-world other than having a hobby as a backyard gardener. This was absolutely preposterous and its like the editors realized how sexist and horrible this novel is and wanted to give it a feminist finish.

Anyway, this was horrible. Don’t read it. Don’t let your friends read it. Burn it if you see an impressionable young girl reading this who’s trying to look to the world around them for what might be acceptable treatment that they should expect in a relationship, with a parent, sibling, or boyfriend.

Read June 2017

UPDATE: Since reading the book and writing this blog, I’ve learned that this novel is based Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, a play I’ve never read, but from a quick search has some controversy as either being witty satire or a horribly misogynistic play. I’m not sure what Tyler was hoping to achieve with Vinegar Girl, but I did not see much wit, but an awful lot of misogyny.

 

Home

In Home, two men with incredible wealth behind them are able to break into an underground sex business with a lot of death and explosions and leave completely unharmed. Harlan Coben’s characters are over the top masculine, with sensitive spots for the women they love.

Home was a quick, fun read where Myron Bolitar and his friend Win are able to rescue a boy kidnapped 10 years earlier and solve the mystery of what happened to his friend. They are able to do things outside the law without any repercussions and set things right according to what they deem is right. All the time, traveling on private jets and cars, they are whisked around the world to find out what happened to Win’s nephew and friend 10 years ago.

The whole story is so unbelievable, but an enjoyable read, even with the ridiculous masculinity oozing from the Batman-like characters.

Read April 2017