Saturday, March 15, 2014

Home Front

Home Front: A NovelHome Front: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of an incredibly strong woman learning to live with some weakness, some vulnerability, and some reliance on others.  Jolene is a black hawk pilot in the National Guard, and she's deployed, along with her best friend Tami, to Iraq.  The deployment occurs right after her husband tells her he no longer loves her and while her preteen daughter is treating her with typical disdain and disrespect.  She also has a four-year-old daughter and her husband, who will be a single parent during the year she'll be gone, is a criminal defense attorney who works 60-plus hours at his own law firm. There's a lot to the set-up, the history and the current situations of all of the characters, but I'll let each reader discover these elements for herself.

There are some twists and turns in the story, and there were several times I had to close the book and get a grip on my emotions before continuing.  Note, I am NOT usually emotionally affected like this!

This story is the best Kristin Hannah book I've read.  I have a new, more intense respect for, and a better understanding of, our service people.  Well done! 

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Monday, March 3, 2014

The Goldfinch

The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the best book I've read in a long time, from the first page to the last.  I listened to the Audible version, which was so well done, I didn't read a word in the paper version (although I have it, sitting right here).

The story starts with Theodore Decker, a thirteen-year-old boy, and his mother, on their way to a meeting with the principal to discuss Theo's latest transgression.  On the way there, they stop in the museum.  There's an explosion, and Theo's mother dies.  Theo remembers seeing a pretty girl seconds before the explosion, and he spends a dying old man's last moments with him, lying in the rubble. From there to the end, Theo's life is one grand adventure full of grief, friendship, massive amounts of drugs, good and bad decisions, and fortuitous circumstances that end up leading him full circle.

Theo lives and learns, and imparts his lessons to the reader. It's a fabulous, all-consuming, dive-in-able story, and if I didn't have a stack of 10 books to read on my shelf right now, I'd read it again.  Immediately.

I hope Donna Tartt is busy writing another novel...

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Harold Fry receives a card from former co-worker Queenie Hennesey telling him she's dying of cancer, he sets off on a 600-mile walk to see her.  He does this without a plan, a map, or a cell phone, in yachting shoes.  Harold is recently retired and exists with his wife in their home, in separate bedrooms for the past twenty years.

As he walks, Harold ruminates on his past and examines some of his regrets and choices, inspects his memories and stares into the cracks.  He encounters people, he learns how to eat roots and mushrooms, he learns how to tell which direction he's heading from the sun and the bark patterns on the trees. He evolves.

The writing is fantastic, and Harold's journey is inspiring.  He saves himself.  I won't ruin it for you by telling you whether or not he makes it to Queenie and what else happens along the way, but I will say this: the ending is not sad.

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