Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reading Catch-up.

I finished a few books last week, but I'm just now getting the chance to update my blog with them, so here it goes...

From Booklist: Lakshmi, 13, knows nothing about the world beyond her village shack in the Himalayas of Nepal, and when her family loses the little it has in a monsoon, she grabs a chance to work as a maid in the city so she can send money back home. What she doesn't know is that her stepfather has sold her into prostitution. She ends up in a brothel far across the border in the slums of Calcutta, locked up, beaten, starved, drugged, raped, "torn and bleeding," until she submits. In beautiful clear prose and free verse that remains true to the child's viewpoint, first-person, present-tense vignettes fill in Lakshmi's story. The brutality and cruelty are ever present ("I have been beaten here, / locked away, / violated a hundred times / and a hundred timesmore"), but not sensationalized. An unexpected act of kindness is heartbreaking ("I do not know a word / big enough to hold my sadness"). One haunting chapter brings home the truth of "Two Worlds": the workers love watching The Bold and the Beautifulon TV though in the real world, the world they know, a desperate prostitute may be approached to sell her own child. An unforgettable account of sexual slavery as it exists now.

I like this novel, the way the story is told is very unique. I felt that it didn't delve quite as far into the main character's story as I would have liked, but overall it is a very interesting read.

From Publisher's Weekly: Between running her Manhattan yarn shop, Walker & Daughter, and raising her 12-year-old biracial daughter, Dakota, Georgia Walker has plenty on her plate in Jacobs's debut novel. But when Dakota's father reappears and a former friend contacts Georgia, Georgia's orderly existence begins to unravel. Her support system is her staff and the knitting club that meets at her store every Friday night, though each person has dramas of her own brewing. Jacobs surveys the knitters' histories, and the novel's pace crawls as the novel lurches between past and present, the latter largely occupied by munching on baked goods, sipping coffee and watching the knitters size each other up. Club members' troubles don't intersect so much as build on common themes of domestic woes and betrayal. It takes a while, but when Jacobs, who worked at Redbook and Working Woman, hits her storytelling stride, poignant twists propel the plot and help the pacing find a pleasant rhythm.

I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I thought it would. I wanted to read it a while back soon after it first came out after hearing all of the hype, but never did pick it up. I heard more great things about it recently, so I finally decided to read it, and I must say it was a little disappointing. I love the parallels between life and knitting, I love that there is such a focus on history in this novel, but overall, I found the plot a little lacking. It was just 'okay' in my opinion.

This novel is the sequel to Life As We Knew It which I REALLY enjoyed.

From Publisher's Weekly: As riveting as Life as We Knew It and even grittier, this companion novel returns to the premise of that previous book to show how New York City responds to the global disasters that ensue when an asteroid knocks the moon out of orbit. . . . Once again Pfeffer creates tension not only through her protagonist''s day-to-day struggles but also through chilling moral dilemmas: whether to rob the dead, who to save during a food riot, how long to preserve the hope that his parents might return. . . . The powerful images and wrenching tragedies will haunt readers.

I really liked this book because it was essentially a rehashing of Life as We Knew It. I did not like this book because it was essentially a rehashing of Life as We Knew It. What I mean by this is that it was essentially the same story, retold from another's point of view. At times I really liked it, at times I liked the original better.

Overall, I feel that the original novel was much better, which is usually the case with sequels anyway, but looking at the novel on it's own, I do really like it. The conditions that the characters in this book are experiencing are much harsher than that of the characters in the preceeding novel. It was nice to get a different perspective.

I don't know what Pfeffer's plans for continuing this storyline are, but I would definitely read another of her novels, especially if she chooses to write more on this topic. The stories are very unique and extremely thought provoking. I finished reading this in a day, and I felt as though I was living the story along with the characters. I feel that it is a characteristic of a great writer to make the reader feel as though they are actually living the story. Crazy stuff!

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