Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Grown up books

Since it's winter break, I've had a chance to do some reading and I actually got to read some grown up books in the last few weeks!  I love the end of the year lists of best books.  I figure if someone is bothering to make a list of the best ones, they've read more than one or two and so it's worth at least looking at what other people are reading.  This past week I read a couple that were highly rated this year.

The first one (and my favorite) is called "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr.  This is a great story.  It's about two kids growing up during World War 2.  If you think you've read enough about World War 2 (I think I have), don't skip this one.  It's told from the perspective of two different characters.  One is a girl in Paris who is blind.  Her dad works in a museum and loves puzzles and models so he builds a model of their neighborhood so she can navigate the neighborhood by herself.  They end up fleeing Paris and going to live with a distant relative in the Brittany region.  At the same time, a boy is growing up in Germany.  His father was killed in a mining accident and the boy is told over and over again that he will have to go and work in the mines too (which panics him to no end) but he's really smart and learns to make radios by himself.  He ends up at an exclusive German boarding school when the war breaks out.  This one is exquisitely written and I kept putting it down so that I wouldn't finish it too soon.


The second one is mystery.  It's called "The Farm" by Tom Rob Smith.  It's about a young man living in London.  His parents have moved to Sweden to pursue a retirement project of a farm.  They have grown somewhat distant since the move.  One day, the son gets a call from his dad, the mom is very sick and has been committed to an asylum.  The son is understandably concerned, books a flight to Sweden but as he's getting ready to board the plane, gets a call from his mom saying she has been released from the hospital, she's coming to London and the dad has committed crimes for which she has evidence that she wants to show him because he is the only one she can trust.  This one was really hard to put down  and I loved how it made me think about how well I really know my own parents.

The last one was also highly rated on the year end lists, but I didn't really like it.  It's called "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.  It's set in post World War 1 England.  Frances is living with her mother in a big house.  They have many debts because of her father's poor investments and her brothers were killed in the war.  They decide that they should take in tenants to help with expenses.  The tenants are much lower class than Frances and her mother so there are questions about how friendly they should be with the tenants but (unsurprisingly) Frances becomes closer than is necessarily appropriate.  There was a lot of heaving bosoms and pretty graphic sex.  I felt like the author took too long to tell about the action and so I ended up skimming quite a bit and I HATED the ending, which felt like the way my students some times end a story "THE END".  Not my favorite.  


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