In Which Promises Are Broken

I know, I told you here, that I would be talking more about Pablo Neruda today.

But, finding a book of his that -isn’t- his love poetry has proven to be near impossible.  I finally had my library look and see if they could get it inter library loan and luckily they can.  But that means I will not have it in my hands for at least a few more days.

So, today, we are going to talk about other things I have read recently that I feel are definitely worth checking out.

I counted today (I write down everything I read in a tiny notebook, for curiosity’s sake) and I have read about 65 books this year (more if you count all of the Walking Dead graphic novels separately, which I did not since it felt like cheating.  Some of those have been re-reads, some audio books, some fairly fun and easy books to read.  Some have been more “literary”.  I’m just going to list the ones that I definitely want to recommend on.

The most recent one I read is Confessions by Kanae Minato.  It is a novel originally written in Japanese, for Japan readers.  It was a really engaging book, about a teacher whose four year old daughter dies.  On her last day of teaching at the school, she informs the class that it wasn’t an accident, that two students murdered her daughter.  She then informs them of the revenge she exacted.  The novel is about the domino effect of all of that.  It explores the idea of revenge and retribution.  What the possible outcome can be of knowing a murderer.  The minds of the killers.  And the teacher’s final revenge.  Parts of the book felt slightly awkward, but I think that’s more due to translation.  My only random negative thought was that the teacher has a couple of parts where she is talking to someone (not her class, that monologue is written beautifully) and seems to be able to go on for minutes without interruption.  If you’re looking for something different to read, check Confessions out.

I also have read quite a few YA novels.  The one I loved the most was Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Ms. Rowell comes from the Omaha area and her books all reflect that.  The geographic area of all of her novels that I have read, center on Omaha and Lincoln.  Eleanor and Park is a tale that takes place in the mid 80s, about two very young teenagers (Eleanor and Park).  Eleanor comes from a very poor house, with a crap step father.  Park comes from a very loving home, but is half Korean (I think Korean, it’s been a few months since I’ve read it).  Quite unwillingly at first on Park’s part, they become friends. Then they become more.  This book really beautifully showed the powerlessness that kids have.  And how that powerlessness can conflict so strongly against their desire to take action, to fix things, to rescue people and things.  It also deals with how people can fit in the weirdest places, sometimes without even knowing.  There is a sense of melancholy to Eleanor and Park that appealed to me.

I listened to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver as well.  This is a YA novel.  It’s about a girl who dies in a car accident after a day with her popular friends and the people that they make fun of, and the insensitivity they have.  She wakes up on the day of her death.
And relives it.  Making different choices that show how each action sparks another action.  It has a Groundhog Day vibe.  It deals with who you really are underneath it all and what ends up really mattering in the end.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.  I resisted reading this book for the longest time, as when I had started it in the past it had seemed like just another “chick lit” book set in England and I had exhausted my craving for those years ago.  But, then I really sat down and read it.  And it’s definitely not your normal book.  The ending is both expected and unexpected.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  This memoir is stunning in how much Ms. Walls really brings to life both a childhood lived in extreme poverty, but also a childhood lived with eccentric and most likely mentally ill parents.  I know this book was in vogue a few years ago with everyone around raving about it.  I just didn’t read it then.