15 6 / 2013
This was funny and cute. It is a collection of essays and it read so smoothly that I didn’t even realize they were compiled until the end, when it got choppier. Sweeney has an adopted daughter from China and a husband that came in just that order. I guess it is an example of “do what you love and the rest will follow.” Amusing, light, but somewhat inspirational as well. And yes, I admit the title did grab me!
02 6 / 2013
I was excited to receive an ARC of this book, but a little daunted at the fact that I had to read it. Usually, I skim over introductions, but this one grabbed me right away and got me hooked. Kudos to the author for that.
If you’re old enough to remember the words of Walter Cronkite saying, “And, YOU were there!” then I can tell you that this truly is living history. It’s like being in the middle of a movie because the author paints such a good picture of the events he chooses to tell the history of Israel. It comes alive, and really isn’t that what you want when you start to tackle a long history book?
I also appreciate the author’s perspective. As a Jew, I’ve had more than a niggling doubt about Israel. I feel the author tackled it nicely—blending history with the here and now—both realities.
And you’ll never eat a Jaffa orange again without thinking about this book! I highly recommend this to both Jews and historians.
26 5 / 2013
This is one of these books where “stunning debut” is an apt description. The author did a great job of creating mystery amidst high school girl culture, and the angst of a mother who has lost her daughter. The format was also varied and fit the theme. It’s a long book with a lot going on, but it was hard to put down. There are some unpolished edges and some unresolved loose ends as the book winds down, but they don’t detract from the book that much. I’d definitely read—and look forward to—another book by this author.
21 5 / 2013
This book starts out during the summer of 1974 with six teenagers at an artsy summer camp. It’s that time of life when you both know you are more special than anyone else, but simultaneously doubt yourself. Wolitzer does a great job in creating characters that are very human and not quite 100% loveable because their failings are right out there to see. In other words, they could be anyone you know. It’s a very long book, and I wondered if it might not be too long. The ending piddled out a bit. But it is an engaging read and if you were a teenager in the summer of 1974 then you’re going to like this book. It will stay with you.
15 5 / 2013
So, Ruth Ozeki just expanded my world. It took me an unusually long time to get through this book. I loved the format, but it almost requires a commitment on the part of the reader. I committed, and then I got more and more drawn into it. There’s no reason for me not to love this book because first of all it is about Japan, and second of all, it is extraordinarily well written. It’s meant to be savored, but it also has a pretty strong hook to it with the mystery of Nao, the writer of the diary that Ruth has found washed up on the beach. (Also, intriguing to me, was the question of how much of this is really the author. Disclaimer here: I knew her when we were both 20 years old and spending a year abroad in Kyoto.)
This book might be challenging for someone who doesn’t know anything about Japan, and it has a heck of a lot of charming footnotes (with good reason and not just for the sake of adding something). Will the use of Japanese words be a hindrance for some? If I were to read the same book but the place was Peru rather than Japan, could I have stuck with it? I think so. There is a lot packed into this book. It could have been a few books. I think this is what is meant when a book is described as a tour de force. Bravo, Ruth! Highly recommended if you want to read something significant and life-expanding this year.
12 5 / 2013
I highly recommend this book if you want to know more about the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. Of the books I’ve read on this topic, this one stands out. It is well written, gripping, authoritative, and humane. It is sobering, but not without hope. This is one of very few books that I would go back and read again because there is a lot to absorb and think about.
05 5 / 2013
This is a quick read as most of his books are. This is also the third in a series and a saga. I found this one to be a bit light, but his series are addictive and can be counted on to be absorbing. If you like a saga that takes you through British history then you should start with the first one and get involved. This one is probably the least complex of the bunch, but the story keeps going and going…. now I just have to wait for the next one.
28 4 / 2013
This book is well written and if you’re interested in adoption it is a very good read. That said, the main character is a little whiny and self-absorbed, but isn’t that what you’d expect from a woman living in Brooklyn who had a Jewish upbringing and is a college professor, and married an Italian man she met on a trip to Italy? It is hard to like her, though easier to feel for her. Her agony rings through as true, and you have to sympathize—if not with her, for her situation. The ending is weak, and expected, and kind of like the author herself was fed up with her character and wanted to simply put an end to the book.