78. Fracture by Megan Miranda
This is the third book I’ve read in three days. I’m on a roll. Of course it helps that the last two were fairly short. This book is short and aimed at a YA audience, so it was definitely a quick read. I kind of loved it though. The story is about a girl named Delaney who is a 17 year old senior one semester away from graduating as valedictorian of her high school in Maine. Then one day tragedy strikes. While crossing a lake with her best friend Decker the ice breaks and she is underwater for 11 minutes before Decker and her other friends manage to rescue her. Miraculously, even though there should be no way that she survived, it appears that Delaney not only survived but came out of the ordeal virtually unscathed. However, she begins to notice that things are not quite right. She seems to have returned from death with a new disturbing ability. She then meets Troy, who also seems to share her “gift”, but his motives in befriending her are not clear. She also struggles to deal with what is going on in her life while maintaining the relationships with Decker and her parents that she once had. Even if you’re not a young adult I highly recommend this book. It was a quick, engaging read that I didn’t want to put down. I give it an 8 out of 10.
77. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
This is the story of a 12 year old girl named CeeCee. I could never quite place when this book was supposed to take place, but it had to be either in the late 1950s or the early 1960s as Martin Luther King appeared to still be alive. After the death of her mentally ill mother CeeCee winds up moving from Ohio to live with her great-aunt Tootie in Savannah. The story takes place over the summer that she first moves down there and involves her meeting a bunch of stereotypical whimsical Southern women and ultimately coming to terms with her mother’s illness and death. It was very quick read and though I can see some people enjoying it I kind of hated it. I disliked the stereotypical Southern feel it had to it, and every conflict in the book seemed to wrap itself up with no real problem. It was all just too easy and not realistic in any way though I think it was meant to be. I give it a 4 out of 10.
76. One Day by David Nicholls
I read this book for one of my book clubs. We’re reading the book and then planning on going to see the movie together. Hopefully it’s still around Labor Day weekend despite it’s abysmal opening weekend box office take. The story centers around Emma and Dexter, who spend the night together on July 16, 1988 the day the graduate from college. The book revisits their friendship on that same date every year for the next 20 years. Some years they are together others they are not. Very fittingly I plowed through this book in one day. It was a very engaging read, and I couldn’t put it down. That’s not to say that I didn’t find fault with it though. Nicholls made Dexter too unlikable for too long in my opinion. I understand his journey, but felt like he needed to be redeemed earlier in the book.
Though I’m not actually going to share any specific plot points I did want to share my reaction to the end of the book as well. Someone I follow on Twitter indicated that she hated this book and threw it across the room at the end, which indicated to me that there probably wasn’t a happy ending for Dexter and Emily I just didn’t know why. I am not someone who needs to have a love story all wrapped up in a shiny bow at the end of a book, which is why I don’t gravitate towards romance novels. If you are going to be angered that the book might not end like a typical romance and hate the book as a result then you should probably steer clear of it. Otherwise I do highly recommend it.
75.The New Kids by Brooke Hauser
The author of this book followed a number of students and teachers through a year at International High School in Brooklyn. International is a unique school in that all the students enrolled there are recent emigrants with limited to no English language skills. I went into it expecting to read something slightly different. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the cover on it being used to promote purchase of the book indicated that it was along the same lines as the book “There are No Children Here”, which I read and loved. That book however is a heartbreaking story of how the system is failing our children. Although there are many heartbreaking stories in this book they are the stories of the students lives outside of the school. Far from failing its students, based on this book at least, International High School seems to be a case where the system is doing anything but failing its students. It appears to be going above and beyond to help these students succeed. That is not to say that it isn’t a good book because it is, it just wasn’t what I was expecting based on the promotional blurb on the cover. The students profiled in the book do have some heartbreaking stories and challenging circumstances, but it was nice for a change to read about how a school is actually working to change their lives for the better instead of failing them. I give it a 7 out of 10.
74. The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai
I got a free ebook copy of this from NetGalley. I knew going into it that it was short stories, which I am usually not a fan of. I read it anyway because as I discovered later I was entirely confused and thought it was by an entirely different author. I had previously read a book by Kirin Desai that I really liked less for the plot but more for the language so I figured I might enjoy reading some short stories by her. Of course I wasn’t reading short stories by her at all, but by some other author sharing her last name. The book is composed of three short stories or novellas. They were fine, but nothing outstanding. Someone who actually likes short stories might appreciate the book more. It was definitely a quick read though. I give it 4 out of 10.
73. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School by Alexandra Robbins
Robbins follows a number of high-schoolers who are on the “cafeteria fringe” for one school year. She discusses reasons why they don’t fit in with their classmates and also posits what she calls her quirk theory. According to quirk theory students who don’t fit in during high school will most likely go on to do great and creative things once they are out in the real world. I have no doubt that this is case for some people, and she does list a number of examples where quirk theory holds true. However, I think it is extremely naive to believe as she seems to that this holds true for all or even a majority of people. I have a lot of issues with what she is trying to sell in this book, but it wasn’t a bad read as long as you take it with a grain of salt. She also did not stay a silent observer but challenged the students she was working with to make some changes in their lives. I definitely think that she had a positive impact on most of their lives, which was nice to see. Reading this also makes me very glad I don’t have to relive high school even though I can’t really say that I saw my high school experience represented here. I would suggest that I was definitely involved with groups of people that would be considered the “cafeteria fringe”, but I had friends and didn’t care that we weren’t the populars. In fact my high school in junior and senior year was so large that I couldn’t even tell you who was in the popular group if there was such a thing. I give it a 6 out of 10.
72. The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
I am usually a fan of Bohjalian’s work, but I really did not like this book. I thought it was boring, I didn’t care about the characters, and what I suppose were supposed to be the big reveals were rather lame. The story centers around a pilot, his wife, and their twin daughters. After the pilot crashes his plane due to a bird strike the family moves to a small town in New Hampshire to start their lives over. We are given to believe that something mysterious and possibly sinister has occurred in this house in the past and there is also a group of people in the town called the herbalists who also possibly appear to be up to do no good. As you read you find out what has happened, who these herbalists are and why they are so interested in this new family. If you’re a huge Bohjalian fan who can’t bear the thought of not reading one of his books then go for it, otherwise I’d recommend skipping this one. I give it a 3 out of 10.
71. The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir by Soraya Mire
This book is the true story of one Somali woman’s fight against female circumcision. She recounts her own painful experiences of being circumcised and forced into a marriage against her will. She shares how she escapes from that situation and winds up in the United States where she begins to advocate for the end of female circumcision and works to make a documentary about the subject called “Fire Eyes”. In the process she hooks up with some very famous people, which is kind of an incredible story in and of itself. She is also one of the original authors of the some of the Vagina Monologues. The book covers a really important subject matter, but I quite honestly had a hard time reading it for reasons other than what it is about. I didn’t find her writing that engaging and also had a hard time following what she was talking about at times. I think much of it had to do with English not being her first language and me not being familiar with the Somali customs she was referring to in less than straightforward ways. She was trying to lead the reader down the same paths she went through discovering the dark practices of her culture, but it just left me confused and diminished my enjoyment of the book. I give it a 6 out of 10.
70. Unbroken: A World War II Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
I put this book on my to-read list when it came out because it got a lot of good reviews and because I had read Hillenbrand’s earlier book Seabiscuit and really enjoyed it. I kept putting off reading it though because I’m very much not a fan of war themed stuff like books, movies, or television shows. My friend Jenny read the book recently though and gave it a glowing review so I finally decided to pick it up. I am so very glad I did. The story itself is incredible and Hillenbrand’s writing about it is excellent. I don’t want to say too much about what happens in the book because I don’t want to ruin anything, but the story centers around Louie Zamperini who was an Olympic runner in the 1930s. He wound up in the Air Force during WWII and found himself struggling for survival after his plane was shot down. It’s truly an amazing story and book. I highly recommend it. I give it 9 out of 10.