Where to begin? The Interestings took me a little while to get through, but I enjoyed it. While, it wasn’t a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat or even demands that you pick it up every day, I was okay with that. It’s not that it was dull by any means, either. How do I explain it… the book takes place over 30-40 years and the story sort of reflects that. Life isn’t always exciting, but it meanders along with ups and downs and twists and turns here and there, and the flow of the book definitely imitated that. It was fitting and also satisfying.
The story follows the lives of 6 teens who meet at a summer camp for the artistically inclined and manage to maintain their friendship through adulthood. While there isn’t much of a plot, I found myself caught up in the characters and wondering where life would take them. I have nothing in common with any of the characters, but appreciated the way in which Wolitzer makes them feel realistic. The main character Jules could be a tad exasperating at times with her constant envy of her friends who have lots of money and whose artistic careers flourished while she wallows. It was hard to get past her whining, at times, but even she managed to have a few redeeming qualities.
One of the aspects I really enjoyed is that the story starts out in the mid-1970s in New York and Wolitzer does such a great job using words to place you in that time and place. Wolitzer’s writing is descriptive, sometimes poetic, and sometimes harsh. I had no trouble picturing the characters and places in my mind and despite the pacing, found myself picking it up day after day and slowly devouring it. I wanted to know what happened to the characters and just when I’d think I’d be disappointed because of how other writers have handled situations in other stories, I’d be pleasantly surprised that Wolitzer chose not to do the same. I feel like the way she handled her character’s emotions reflected better on how people in the real world might react… people who aren’t actually all that interesting.
I found myself thoughtful throughout the book and sometimes nostalgic for my own childhood, much like Jules. Despite passing time, all of the characters reflect often on their experience at camp and one takeaway is just how important it is to stop looking backwards and look ahead. Nostalgia is just one of many themes along with friendship, love, jealousy, sexuality, art, deceit, and mental illness, all of which Wolitzer writes well. This may have been my first of her novels, but it will not be last.
It’s no surprise that the kiddos are big readers… not to me anyway. They’ve been surrounded by books since birth and we’ve always tried to make reading something fun to do. Books are a part of our bedtime routine, but the kids often ask to be read to throughout the day as well.
As with so many other things they’ll get hooked on one or two books for a few weeks and then switch things up again. There are definitely those few favorites that stick around, however. Sandra Boynton is a favorite of most toddlers, I think, and both kids have loved her books.
One of Phoebe’s favorites (since birth) is this classic, though.
We both love the illustrations and the story introduces the seasons.
I got this book for Phoebe because I loved the illustrations as well, and it’s become one of her new favorites too.
Enzo, on the other hand has been enjoying a lot of Little Critter lately as well as a variety of other books. One of his surprising favorites to carry around, however, is the first How to Train Your Dragon books. It’s far too long for him to sit through in one sitting and is a bit above his age range, but he loves to pretend to read it himself, as well as other big books.
I can’t even tell you how excited I am to slowly introduce the kids to more and more books as they get older. I can’t wait to watch them go on new adventures as they turn the pages and to share old favorites with them.
So, there’s a new man in my life. Not only does he mostly keep to himself, but he’s a smooth talker and really tidy. Plus, Josh likes him too. It’s a win-win! Let me introduce you to Walter.
We felt like we had to give him a name… it didn’t feel right to just call him the Roomba. Oh yeah, and he’s named after this Walter (from Fringe):
We had no intentions of getting a Roomba, but a trip to Costco had us thinking about it and then considering it for a day or two before jumping in. We don’t have a huge house, but it’s big enough that with two kids and two cats and two full time jobs we don’t necessarily have a ton of time to clean as regularly as we (okay, I) would like. It’s to a point where we hardly go downstairs except to use our offices. To be fair, it’s also really cold down there, which is why we got an electric fireplace, but I still didn’t like the kids playing down there with the excessive amounts of cat hair and cat litter that inevitably gets tracked around by them. I could easily spend all my free time sweeping and vacuuming, but I don’t want to, so the idea of having a little helper to tackle the downstairs sweeping/vacuuming on a regular basis sounded kind of awesome. Think of the time I’d save! Plus, we’ll use the downstairs family room more often! Hooray!
I did a thorough sweeping/vacuuming while it was charging overnight so we wouldn’t terrify Walter his first time around the room with the mountains of cat hair and other detritus, and we patiently waited for his maiden voyage. Overall? He’s kind of awesome. We were worried about two shedding cats and an oddly shaped room, but so far we’ve been super happy and I love not stepping on random bits of cat litter in my bare feet. It’s also not nearly as loud as I thought it would be. I’m thinking our little robot buddy was absolutely worth the price.
My reading has slowed down a tad due to various things popping up, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on ‘Eleanor and Park’ by Rainbow Rowell, which I finished reading not too long ago. You may have heard the name due its growing popularity, and honestly it’s for good reason. I typically don’t read a lot of YA fiction, but after reading many reviews I thought it might be worth the time. I don’t have anything against YA fiction, but (and this is a huge generalization considering I haven’t read much… since I was a teen) so often the dialogue and story feel “dumbed down” for younger readers. I think I’ve just read too many YA novels wherein the dialogue didn’t feel real and the writing itself seemed to be missing depth. This was not the case with ‘Eleanor and Park.’
I really enjoyed Rowell’s writing style and felt the interactions and dialogue between the characters was fairly realistic. Eleanor and Park get off to a rocky start, but end of forming an unlikely friendship, which in turn becomes an even more unlikely romance. Both are somewhat outcasts, though Eleanor so much more. While I couldn’t necessarily relate to either character in full, there were definitely moments that transported me back to high school (unfortunately). I wasn’t sure what to expect when I turned the first pages, but if you’re hoping for something light-hearted and happy, this isn’t really it.
I think Rowell accurately captures the awkwardness of being a teenager and the heartache of young love. On the one hand I felt their emotions towards each other switched rather hastily (and in reality this relationship as well as others in the book would have been improbable), but the part of me that cheers for the outcasts and losers liked that these two teenagers found each other, especially Eleanor. While at times Eleanor was so exasperating to me, I did feel bad for her character and the extremely dysfunctional background she came from. You can’t really blame her for her extreme lack of self-confidence and cynicism.
This book isn’t perfect by any means, but I did feel it captured many teenage emotions accurately as well as the fact that teenagers can be a tad frustrating and selfish at times (I was a teenager once, so I can say this). I’m not an expert in terms of racism or what Ohio was like in the mid 80’s, but I have a feeling that some portrayals of racism or the lack thereof, are somewhat inaccurate and sort of brushed over. The ending was also somewhat anticlimactic and open-ended, which was somewhat annoying because it would have been nice to see certain storylines wrapped up. Even with the little things I didn’t like, I couldn’t help but keep reading. I got sucked in and that’s always a good sign.
So far giving myself a reading goal this year has been both a good and bad idea. Good because I’ve rekindled my love of reading and find myself with a book whenever I have down time, but alternately bad because I just might be shirking other responsibilities. I’m sure I’ll find balance soon. 😉
When I heard about ‘The Girl on the Train’ I was intrigued because it was getting really good reviews, but it was also being compared to ‘Gone Girl,’ as in if you loved ‘Gone Girl’ you’ll love this book. I was immediately leery because no other book has frustrated me quite as much as ‘Gone Girl.’ I decided to take a chance, though, and overall I thought it was a pretty decent read. Not amazing, but I’d recommend it (especially if you liked ‘Gone Girl’).
The hardest part of giving reviews for me is to not give away too much, so I’ll do my best not to give anything really important away. Anything I do say is revealed so early on that I don’t think it’ll affect your enjoyment of the story.
A girl rides the same train to and from work every day and finds herself watching the same houses and creates stories in her mind about the people she sees. One day, however, she sees something shocking (more so because it goes completely against the fiction she has created in her mind) and finds herself suddenly involved in the case of a missing woman.
As the story unfolds it becomes grittier and takes you directions you weren’t necessarily expecting as more and more secrets come out and it’s hard to find a character with any likeable qualities. It is that quality that this book excels at. There are no likeable characters as each are flawed in such a way that makes it very difficult to connect with them. The main character is a dysfunctional alcoholic who is often frustrating and pathetic, and there is so much lying and cheating and other neuroses going on involving other characters that it’s like watching a train wreck. You don’t want to look because it’s disturbing and unhinges you, but you can’t look away either.
This book actually kept me guessing as to whether I had figured it out or not, and I didn’t truly know until close to the end, and even then wondered if there would be a twist. I don’t read a lot of psychological thrillers anymore (having kids flipped a switch in my brain that makes me more paranoid and hyper sensitive to certain genres), so I liked that while this kept me intrigued and interested, it didn’t overly stress me out – if that makes sense. It was also a nice and easy read and thanks to traveling I finished it in a day.