Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A few reviews

I spent a lovely 4-day Labor Day weekend (don't worry, I'll pay for it this coming weekend--getting up to be at work at 8:00 on Friday after having worked until 1:00 Friday morning, then only having Saturday off before returning to my usual Sunday-Thursday night schedule--the joys and sorrows of working a different shift!), and finished 2 books! Granted, 1 of them was a young adult book, but this is still quite an accomplishment for me. Here are those two reviews, plus one extra that I finished late last week. I'll update with a real post tomorrow.

Things Not Seen Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the first few chapters, I wasn't sure I was going to buy the premise (kid wakes up invisible, adventures ensue), but once Bobby met Alicia, everything seemed to both pick up and become more thoughtful. Loved it!

Things Hoped For Things Hoped For by Andrew Clements

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An excellent companion to Things Not Seen. I liked the music element, and was completely taken surprise by the whereabouts of Gwen's grandfather. In the course of reading these two books (and from my previous Clements' experiences, such as Frindle, The School Story, and The Landry News), I realized that he has a gift for focusing a story on kids/teens without removing them from the routine adult world.

The Other Side of the Sun The Other Side of the Sun by Madeleine L'Engle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. The same feeling and emphases that characterize all her books are here (importance of love, trust that good will triumph even in the darkest times, good vs. evil battle that stretches beyond humans). Naivete seems to be both an element in the story and part of the storytelling. At points, I feel like L'Engle sometimes treats the issue of racism with too much naivete (particularly in the idea of Nyssa--a plantation run by a white family, still worked largely by its freed slaves), but she describes lynchings with unflinching realism and a decision related to lynching is made with full understanding. I do feel like many characters are stereotypes. Still, I like the book and I like that L'Engle was wrestling with the issues that make up the story.

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