February Reviews

[I don't whine... I eat cupcakes!]

Sometimes the smallest things pack the biggest punches- like February. It's been a long four weeks and I'm ready for some fun next month. I feel like this has been the party line since December... Anyway, four books:

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
672 pages
I suppose part of the reason why my reading seemed to drag this month was because of this book- not because it's bad, just because it's really long. The version I had is separated into three books, which I thought was a nice way of breaking it up. The novel is about a Irish prep schooler named Skippy, who dies during a doughut eating contest within the first few pages. We then go back in time and read about the events both in his, and one of his teachers,' lives. There are a lot of twists and turns, but also highs and lows. Personally, I don't think it needed to be quite this long- perhaps a solid 500 instead. Nonetheless, Murray's writing is enjoyable, both smart and sensitive.

Verdict: If you have trouble getting through long books stay away, obviously. For those who enjoy boarding school stories or want a bit of a commentary on the Catholic church this may be a good book for you.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
224 pages
I wrote a post on this YA novel last week, but long story short, I thought it was a bit of a The Catcher in the Rye rip off. The movie, though, was decent. It seems so often that mediocre books make the best movies (Nicholas Sparks excluded).

Verdict: It's a short book, and if you're not overly sensitive to literary integrity than I say go for it. It is sweet and entertaining, and Chbosky writes from the teenage perspective well. It is definitely overrated, though.

Fathermucker by Greg Olear
320 pages
This book was fantastic- and I'm not even a parent. Josh is a stay-at-home dad on the East Coast (technically a screenwriter) and must care for his  four-year-old son who has Aspergers and his two-year-old daughter, who does not, while his wife is away on a business trip. While on a playdate a local mom tells him that she thinks his wife is having an affair, but the two aren't able to finish their conversation. The rest of the story details his day struggling to analyze his marriage and deal with the challenges of parenthood.

I have to say this book definitely made me think about being a parent in the sense that sometimes your kids aren't born healthy or developmentally on track, and no matter what you have to be there for them. Could I handle that? Does anyone think they can pre-parenthood? You go into it thinking you'll have a couple of sweet, smart kids that can run around the playground and socialize with the other kids, but that's not always the case. Food for thought.

Verdict: I loved this book- it was witty, thought-provoking, and I appreciated the end.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
193 pages
I just finished this book tonight after grdugingly slogging through it for the last two weeks. It's completely ridiculous- the book is awesome from the writing to the plot. Janie is an African American woman who ends up marrying an older man she isn't in love with at the insistence of her grandmother. She then runs off with another man, desperate for an out. That doesn't work out in the end, but he dies, freeing her up for the next man, Tea Cake. She and Tea Cake move down to the Everglades and must endure a hurricane. I had forgotten the ending, which I can't wait for my students to read because they'll love it (hint: it involves a dog sitting on a cow and rabies). 

Verdict: This is one of those "required reading" books that truly is quite good.         

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