Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Sunshine: Tough Going Edition

Um, the book I finished this week was Allegiant, so...this is not a particularly sunny Sunday post.  (Serves me right: I assigned my students Unspoken this week.  My reading quiz started with the words, "I'm so, so sorry" because pretty much all my kids came in and just draped themselves over their desks, drowning in sorrow.)

Anyway, before my thoughts on Allegiant, let me share with you the thing that is making me SO SO SO happy this week: ice dancing.  Olympic ice dancing.  (Yes, I have some serious issues with the political situation in Russia, no, I am not boycotting the Olympics coverage because I'm not convinced that it would do anything, especially since we are not a Nielsen family.  If I thought it would help, I would boycott.)   I hate to be a bad patriot, but I can't help rooting for reigning gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.  (Seriously, follow the link and watch them dance.  On skates.)  They just have the most amazing chemistry of any two people I've ever seen.  Of course, I also adore the American team of Charlie White and Meryl Davis--and I love that all four of them are training partners and good friends!

What I Read This Week: 

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm way more destroyed than I thought I would be. I can weigh in on what I gather was a controversial ending and say I think it was perfect and it couldn't have gone any other way. I really admire Veronica Roth for staying true to her characters and I feel absolutely satisfied. The only thing I take issue with is (SPOILERS--highlight to view) the way Tris and Four's sexual relationship played out in relation to Tris's death. I think all of Tris's decisions--sex and war--made sense, but there's a pretty deep literary tradition of killing off unmarried women who have sex (or anyone else who breaks sexual norms) and this fits into that tradition more than I'm comfortable with. I wish they had made the decision to have sex sooner--maybe during that cute picnic?--so that Tris's death didn't seem like such a direct response. (It's like the dad from Freaks and Geeks: "I knew a girl who had sex before marriage. You know what happened to her? She DIED.") To balance that, though, I will say that I enjoyed the subtle allusions to Romeo and Juliet in the morning-after scene. I don't know for sure that it was an intentional nod, but starting with the birds, and basically all the dialogue...well, I was pretty sure after reading that scene that it was not going to end well for Tris and Four. Overall, though, this was probably my favorite of the whole series.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens!

Congratulations to the awesome Rebecca Behrens on the release of her fabulous new MG novel, When Audrey Met Alice!

You guys, I have been so excited for this book, you don't even know.  I mean, Rebecca is fabulous, and I was always going to nerd out when this day came.  BUT, a story about a kick-butt First Daughter, with a dash of US history?    It's like it's targeted to everything I love.

Today when I got home, just after an icicle hanging from our awning stabbed me in the head on my way up the iced-over porch steps, I saw the UPS guy coming around the corner, holding what I knew was my copy of When Audrey Met Alice.  I risked my neck going back down the stairs to get it and then hurried inside to read.

I devoured this book!  And it's a good thing, too, because another member of the family wanted a turn...

Willow is happy to report that this book is great for people and cats, although she is looking forward to putting it to the ultimate test of curling up on top of it.

Here's my full review--I loved it!  Thanks for such a great read, Rebecca!

When Audrey Met AliceWhen Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok, I did not expect a book this fun and delightful to make me tear up a little at the end. It was total happy crying, but it took me by surprise anyway. Audrey Rhodes, First Daughter, is one of my new favorite people. Reading her story was a blast, except for the parts where I was in SO MUCH PAIN because one thing this book gets SO EXACTLY RIGHT is what it feels like to do something that seems like a great idea at the time and then immediately regret doing that thing. What I love about Audrey is that she responds totally realistically in those situations--sometimes with frustration or anger--but she works to fix the things she messes up, and to see things as other see them (once she's calmed down.) Her final bold choice is so satisfying and exciting, and I was thrilled to see a smart girl taking a stand for something she believes in. In short, she's a normal, imperfect, smart, courageous kid. And her historical counterpoint, Alice Roosevelt, is the same. I rooted so hard for both girls, and I'm sure I won't be the last one to add a biography of Alice to my TBR list after reading this!

In the end, while I loved the historical parallel stories, the way politics and the workings of the White House got worked into the story, and the sweet romance, the thing that got me right in the feels was Audrey's relationships with her family members, particularly her mom. (Alice's relationship with her family was a close second.) I love a well-done family story, and this one had a payoff that had me smiling through tears. I recommend When Audrey Met Alice to anyone who wants to eat up the world!

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