Friday, September 11, 2015

The Number 7 by Jessica Lidh

Historical Fiction
This isn't my regular book review.  I just want to put some examples of beautiful writing that I found in this book.  I am very intrigued by the events in this book, and I am currently doing a little research about whether or not it really happened.  I have this book labeled historical fiction, but it reads more like a realistic fiction book for most of the time.

Quintessential Quotes:
"This is what I've learned:  family secrets are never buried with their dead.  They can't fit in the coffins; they don't ignite in the crematoriums.  They linger and drift like the smoke of an abandoned cigarette."   -- page 7

I love this quote!  What an interesting image it brings to mind.  We sometimes like to think that a secret will die with the person who is keeping it, but this quote leads me to think otherwise.  Especially with those big secrets.  Somebody always finds out.  Saying that the secrets can't fit in the coffin makes the secret, in this case, sound even more ominous.  I really wanted to keep reading after I read that.

Another quote I love is when Louisa was describing her family.

"The truth is, we'd all become hermit crabs.  Our shells were made of the same substance: vivid memories of Mom, lost memories of Mom, fleeting memories of Mom.  We shed our shells just enough in the mornings, sloughing them off and hiding them under the covers of our beds or in between the tiles and the grout in the shower, but when returned in the evenings, we'd find them - and desperately retreat back into them."  -- p. 23

Wow!  I feel so bad for this family who lost their mother to cancer about five years before the book began.  Louisa goes on to say that her shell is thin.  She is desperate for someone to break through and help her with her grief.  But her sister's shell is thick - she is so deep into her grief that Louisa is worried about how her sister will handle it.  This quote is a good example of foreshadowing because we can assume that those shells will crack at some point in the book.

The last quote is from the end of the book.  This quote brings the book full circle with another personification of secrets.

"The problem with hiding secrets is they run a lot faster than we do.  They're bound to catch up with us sometime or another."  -- p. 271

I can relate to this quote even more than the other one.  I feel like secrets really do have a life of their own.  They just beg to released from my head.  The running faster than we do part is exactly how I feel sometimes when I know something that others do not and I am trying desperately NOT to spill!

All in all, this book was pretty good.  It gets a little slow in the middle (like most books), and there is a romance involved, but I enjoyed the secret aspect.  It kept me reading until the end.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Realistic Fiction

Mark has cancer.  He has had it since he was a little boy, and he and his parents have been fighting it as hard as they possibly can.  There are good years and bad years, and it has been good for a while.  But now the cancer is back.  And he is tired of fighting.  All he wants to do is control SOMETHING in his life for once.  So he sets off on an adventure with his faithful dog, Beau.  They are going to climb Mount Ranier . . . by themselves . . . in a snowstorm . . . even if it kills him before the cancer can.

What I Liked
There are two perspectives in this book.  Most of the time, we are listening to Mark narrate his way through this journey.  We hear his thoughts on the people around him and we learn to understand his fears along the way.  But every other chapter is narrated by his best friend.  She is worried about Mark and is struggling with whether or not to tell his parents where he is.  Throughout the book, we are brought into each character's inner struggle with the truth.

The writing in the book is pretty great, too.  Mark has a notebook that he writes in every now and then.  He writes everything in a haiku.  While this sounds really cheesy, I'm here to tell you that it really works.  Something so simple can say so much.

This book is not so much an adventure novel as much as a novel about how people learn to get through tough times by depending on others.  However, the intensity was the same.  I found myself compelled to read the next chapter even when I really needed to get up and cook dinner for my family or something!

Quintessential Quote
In the middle of the book, Jessie knows where Mark is, but she is trying to honor her best friend's last wish by letting him climb that mountain alone.  Mark's parents have included her in the search for their son, and she has to watch them cry and worry and hope for the safe return of their boy.  She hates this.  At one point, they find blood in a bathroom and know that it belongs to Mark.  Jessie's decision to stay quiet begins to gnaw at her.

"Should she bring him back, and save him?  Or save him, and let him go?

It wasn't fair.  To be so sad and so confused at the same time.  She had too much to decide and too much to feel.  She was lost.

What should a friend do?
How to help, when helping and
hurting are the same?"

I love this quote!  Saying she was lost parallels the fact that Mark is also lost - but in a different way.  This feeling of being lost comes through for the parents as well.  They are lost without their son.  Jessie is lost without her best friend.  Mark is lost without the guarantee that he will live to grow up. The haiku at the end of the quote is a terrific example of how it only takes a few words to make a simple point.  Helping our friends sometimes takes on a different meaning than we ever thought possible.