“The moment I started reading, I was no longer in my bedroom, no longer sad, no longer even myself.”
This is a mediocre/good book that had the potential to be great/amazing, but alas, it didn't reach that potential. It's a shame really, because I loved many components of this book, but I didn't love the book as a whole all that much.
Let's start with the good stuff:
- Healthy and heartwarming siblings relationship portrayal.
- Diversity all throughout.
- Anxiety representation.
- And the main topic of this book is grief, which is such an important topic, that maybe doesn't get explored enough.
I think main reason as to why this book fell so flat for me was the writing - don't get me wrong, it was pleasant, easy and enjoyable, but it definitely was missing a spark. This could have been a very emotional book, but it wasn't, at all. Not to me at least. The words were there, the topic was there but the execution just wasn't.
When I picked this book up to read I was under the impression that this was young adult, and I think that it's marketed as one, but besides an occasional use of word "shit" there was nothing young adult about it. The whole ending and a plot twist, if you can call it that, was very juvenile.
I am also not a fan "book inside of a book excerpts" and this book had them after each chapter. They also contributed big time to the book feeling much more like middle grade than young adult. Normally I love to get my hands on some good middle grade, but with this book I wasn't feeling it. Maybe because I set myself up for young adult setting. I'm not sure. I guess my overall feeling of this book is "I'm not sure what went wrong, but it wasn't as good as I thought it might".
Despite all of that there were many things that I liked, especially when anxieties were mentioned - it did feel real and relatable. I enjoyed many of the things Lottie did, but also a lot of those things felt a bit too simple, a bit too mundane. The cover of the book did say "24 dares", so once again my hopes were a bit too high.
Also I wasn't a big fan of the whole "super famous writer aunt, with movies and merchandize made out of her books." I immediately thought about the author of Harry Potter as being inspiration for that particular character arc. Some people might enjoy that, but to me it just felt like an overkill.
In the end, the book felt easily forgettable - it didn't give me what I was hoping it would. However that is a personal feeling and the book might work out for many other people. I'd recommend it, but as a middle grade book, definitely not a young adult.
I enjoyed reading this book, but I didn't particularly like it at all( if that makes any sense). And to be honest the more I think about it the more things I find to dislike. But let's start with the good stuff.
I enjoyed the writing style - I think that's actually what kept me reading. Although it was muddy at times when the time table changed from present to the story the main character was telling, for the most part it was easy and pleasant.
I liked the lesbian best friend living next door - although to be completely honest, her character felt a bit too flat and there could have been more to her story.
I also enjoyed having things told from Chloe's point of view, but there wasn't nearly enough of that.
Now onto the things I didn't enjoy. The main character was pretty much horrid for most of the book - controlling, prejudiced and selfish (which boggles my ind because you'd think that having a child with Down syndrome would make you understand things better). The story definitely revolves around Alicia, it only gives off a fake impression that the story is about Chloe. It's about Alicia hating her ex husband, it's about Alicia's dating life, it's about Alicia's dreams and hopes that got ruined, it's about Alicia's regrets, it's about Alicia's feelings... You get the drill.
In some sense I liked reading about the challenges of raising a Down syndrome child - it's the way Alicia handled things that I disliked so much. At moments the things she said and thought, while were raw and true for her, really bordered on being just plain rude. She did come around at the end of the book, and was a bit better about things, but my opinion of her was well ruined by then.
I honestly think that when parents who have down syndrome child (or any other mental disability) read this book would be offended by the tone of the storytelling. I certainly was - and I don't even have kids.
The plot was very predictable and also had a lot of unnecessary fillers that didn't go anywhere. Alicia's outing to her old church. There was a significant amount spent on this but by the end it was never mentioned again at all. Alicia's constant need to tell Randall everything and ask his opinion, while it was clear that he didn't give a flying rat's ass about anything. A lot of decisions and things she did were out of character and had no real meaning behind them.
The ending was the worst part. First of all it was very predictable. Second of all, it was just so messed up.
Chloe dies and Alicia is left with a perfect, healthy baby boy that her daughter delivered. Thomas gives up his parenting rights and so do his parents, so it's Alicia's baby now. She finally got a healthy, normal baby that she always wanted. I'm sorry, but what the hell is this load of crap? Her disabled daughter conveniently dies and Alicia gets to do her life over with a new baby AND a new boyfriend??
END OF SPOILER
At first I thought that this book was great for Down Syndrome rep, but after that ending I am not completely sure it was repping in it's favor at all.
Also, any book that bad mouths any breed of a dog, be it a Pit bull, a Shepard, a Doberman, a Husky, automatically gets a no-no from me. There's enough stupid "dog breed prejudice" online or from the people on the streets. No need to bring it into books. Dogs aren't born vicious, just like people aren't born evil.
I wouldn't recommend.
"I do not eat or drink or walk or talk the way you do. I don’t breathe without a machine helping me day and night. I cannot move my arms or legs. And yet. I’m still man. I’ve lost so much. And yet. I’m still here. I feel everything. The slightest feather touch anywhere on my body. And my heart is alive. To meaning. To value. To love. Which is all it’s ever been about"
One of my biggest 2018 reading goals was to read more of different genres, and I am happy to say that I've been doing great with it (at least I think so). This time I ventured out to read some non-fiction, particularly a memoir, which I honestly never read. But I am so happy that I did.
I am a hypochondriac, so even reading this book made my scalp tingly with worry and self destructive thoughts. But I am pushing my comfort zone this year, and It's not yet dark was totally worth it.
"It’s only important that you remember that behind every disease is a person. Remember that and you have everything you need to travel through my country."
It's not yet dark reads like a fiction. Maybe it's the first person narrative. Maybe it's the short, to the gut sentences. Maybe it's just the flow of it, but it does not feel at all as I thought I a memoir would feel. Which I think is absolutely perfect for people who don't read much non-fiction (like me).
ASL is a terrible disease, and it's so terrible because nobody understands why it happens. Nobody can tell that it might happen till it actually happens, and once it does - there is no cure for it. Person loses their mobility, bit by bit until they are completely motionless and powerless in their body. We ll know the saying "your body is your temple", but what do you do when "your body becomes your cage"?
What pulled me into this book was how honest Simon was - he was terrified and he wasn't hiding it. He wanted to live, he was angry, he was desperate and he was real. Death is scary and death was looming over him for many years, taking little bits of him each passing day.
Despite of it all Simon never gave up - he managed to keep dreaming and creating, all made possible with love and devotion of his family. Even when doctors came into his room saying "why would you choose to keep living like THIS?". Even when Simon couldn't move anything except his eyes - he was still there, he was a man who loved and was loved in return.
If you are looking into venturing out into non-fiction I'd definitely recommend It's not yet dark. It's a quick ,but very memorable and important read.
4/5 stars (but more like 3.5)
“We were miraculous.
We were beach creatures.
We had treasures in our pockets and each other on our skin.”
4 stars are mostly symbolic - they are for the feelings, the ambience and the writing. The book itself is not spectacular, nor is it as emotionally devastating as I hoped. The plot also wishes for better - so many unexplained holes. But for some reason I just really enjoyed reading it. It transports you places - sunny beach in California, dark nights on the wet sand, cold and empty New York, empty dorm room.
“I wonder if there's a secret current that connects people who have lost something. Not in the way that everyone loses something, but in the way that undoes your life, undoes your self, so that when you look at your face it isn't yours anymore.”
If you are looking for a plot driven book - this is not a book for you, it might actually bore you to death. This is a slow book that reads very much like a dairy in present tense. It's more of a journal of musings and feelings and contemplations than anything else. But somehow, on some level it works.
There were ridiculous things that were so obviously overlooked - such as girls never even doubted in their minds that maybe it wasn't a good idea go to strangers house just because he offered nicely, even if it's storming and he is school's house keeper. I was baffled at how gullible they were, if this was a tv show that situation would probably have ended in rape or murder.
There was also such vast emptiness around everything - names and things were thrown around, but none of them ever had any more page time than just a few sentences - fleeting and abrupt. I understand that this is the style of the whole book, but still I wished for things to feel a bit more...finished.
“I could say the night felt magical, but that would be embellishment.
That would be romanticization.
What it actually felt like was life.”
Overall if I had to describe the book in 3 words I'd say:
Raw, simple, sensual.
I also enjoyed how Marin's views were very much minimalistic and how every object she owned had a meaning and a place - it was something I could really relate to. Also, I absolutely adored the cover. We are okay is a very quick read that will appeal t many, but definitely not all.
“You go through life thinking there's so much you need...Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.”
1.5/5 stars (DNF)
What's that saying?
"Don't judge a book by its cover."? Well it goes both ways. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful cover, but the novel itself? Not so much.
But let's start with the good stuff:
- The cover, obviously.
- This book will make you hungry will all of its desert descriptions. Like "so hungry can't stop drooling hungry!"
- This book made me want to buy myself flowers, many flowers.
- It also made me want to wear more perfume (which I mean, I'm allergic to, but whatever).
- It's set in Montenegro, which I know nothing about, so I liked that aspect.
- The writing is pretty - if you're into it.
Was I into it? Not really, I read 5 pages of it and the only word that kept running through my mind was - pretentious, pretentious, pretentious.
It felt like the author just really liked using her dictionary - trying to fit as many descriptions and adjectives into one page as possible. Think Strange the Dreamer amount of words, but without the fluidness of flow. Think of Night Circus, but not nearly as magical (well, actually not magical at all).
The main character, Iris is a bitchy bitch for no apparent reason. She's "breathtakingly beautiful, but she herself doesn't think so." NO, thank you!
Her sister Lina is the only character I somewhat liked, although to be honest Lina really lacked in character development area. They all did.
All of the characters had as much dimension as a sheet of paper.
The plot? I don't know if there was a plot, but apparently I never got to it. And I generously gave up after 215 pages.
Characters (meaning Iris mostly) make the dumbest and most contradicting decisions. The plot is slow, the descriptions are overbearing - and overall it's just nothing new. Also main character likes to mix alcohol and drugs and being a little whore with magic, and I'm sorry but what?
Good ideas - poor execution. Sorry book, better luck elsewhere.
“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”
This is the hardest book I've ever had to read in my life. I've only had other 2 books that gave me such a hard time and those were The Flowers for Argenon by Daniel Keyes and Challenger Deep by Neil Shusterman. Still those two books can't compete with how brutal Beartown was on me.
Beartown is not a happy book. It's not an easy book, nor is it pleasant. Not even close. It's a hard, heavy book that made me feel angry and helpless.
Did I enjoy it? No. But I did love it.
Would I read it again? I don't think I'd be able to handle it again. But I recommend that everyone read Beartown.
“Bitterness can be corrosive. It can rewrite your memories as if it were scrubbing a crime scene clean, until in the end you only remember what suits you of its causes.”
Beartown is a hokey town. I myself don't like hockey, and to be honest with you I think I even hate it now. If you are a hockey fan this book will speak to you on another level. If you are not a hockey fan, there are things in Beartown that are more important than hockey. Because I don't care about hockey the first 150 pages of the book were a drag, but I'm glad I stuck around anyway, because this book pulverized me.
I was expecting something along the lines of A man called Ove - sad, quirky and with lots of tears. Beartown was nothing like that - it was brutal, pretty depressing and instead of tears I just got buckets of rage. Want to feel angry? Want to feel blind rage coursing through your veins? Read Beartown.
“The very worst events in life have that effect on a family: we always remember, more sharply than anything else, the last happy moments before everything fell apart.”
Backman weaves the story of a small town community, but somehow it's the most personal and intimate thing you will ever read. The characters are introduced and the array of emotions you go through as those characters make their choice vary from affection to "I want to kill them all".
The writing is precise and choppy - somehow perfect for the cold bareness of the Beartown, but it brings more dimensions to the story than any flowery and overly wordy writing ever could. Backman might as well be a genius of human psyche, because man knows what he's doing, and he's doing it really, really well.
“They say it's good to let your grudges go, but I don't know, I'm quite fond of my grudges. I tend it like a little pet.”
We are 4 months into the year and this is my 4th book by Moriarty. I can't help it, I just crave her books. Moriarty writes women like nobody else - she writes them real, flawed and surprisingly relatable.
Big Little Lies is not just a fiction book, it feels so much more than that, because it feels real. Big Little Lies feels like life. Sure, there were some very fiction-y plot twists, but the essence of the book is far from fiction. The bullying, the stereotypes, the prejudices, the loss, the trauma - we experience those things every day, and in Big Little Lies all of those things, and more, are packaged into a very unputdownable and addictive read.
“It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.”
Madline is firecracker and I absolutely adored her. She was loud, she was fierce and passionate and she always tried to stay true to herself. I loved how she always pumped herself up and talked to her PMS - mood swings, you can't control me! But they so can!
Jane might be plain, but she had a lot of heart. Was her storyline heartbreaking? Absolutely, but it was also very heart healing to see her find some confidence and happiness as well. I adored Madeline and Jane's friendship.
I think I was prejudiced towards Celeste because I don't particularly care for Nicole Kidman as an actress (now I haven't seen the show, but I knew who played which character. And now that I think about it - it might have contributed to why I adored Madeline so much, I'm quite fond of Reese Witherspoon). Her point of view was also the hardest to read. Whoever says that this is a perfect beach read, I politely disagree - Big Little Lies had some heavy stuff in it.
It had a substance, it had a message - well it had many messages, and all of them were equally important. Believe the hype, because this book really is good.
“It had never crossed her mind that sending your child to school would be like going back to school yourself.”
Now I only have one book left ( The last anniversary) and I'm finished with all of Moriarty's works. So please, write some more, and thank you.
“There's a Chinese saying that the fates are winds that blow through our lives from every angle, urging us along the paths of time. Those who are strong-willed may fight the storm and possibly choose their own road, while the weak must go where they are blown. I say I have not been so much pushed by winds as pulled forward by the force of my decisions.”
If you are an immigrant who came to United States - read this book.
If you are a person who thinks of migrating to United States - read this book.
If you are a person who lived in United States your whole life - read this book.
This book will help you see the things you knew of, but ignored for so long, it will knock off the pink glasses you view the world through right off your head, and then hit you with them for good measure too.
My family moved to United States about 10 years ago, and while my experience was thankfully nothing like hers, some things sang true anyway. It's that line between the illusion and reality that many people try to blur out, but it stands out big time for those who experienced it firsthand.
I'm going to be honest though- I feel betrayed by this book. I loved it so much, adored it even all the way through, but then the ending happened and literally ruined everything for me. I was so sure that this was a 5 star read - and in some sense it still is - there's just too much important and amazing stuff in it to ignore, but personally I didn't like how some things were handled in the end.
“We would be allowed to work and not cause any trouble for her, but she didn't want us to be any more successful than she was”
I usually don't have good luck with coming of age novels - I like them to some extend, but then there's always something that ruins the whole experience for me. But let's start with the good stuff first.
I loved that Kwok wasn't holding her punches when it came to ruining the image of "the American dream". For some reason, it's an image that is embedded into the minds of all of those who migrate to United States. Better future, better jobs, better housing ect. When it comes to this story - it was nothing like that.
Due to some poor family relations Kim and her mother end up in a dead end job, which was also illegal and basically a slave exploitation, but since they don't know better - that's all they've got. Their place is unlivable, to the point to where I honestly think it would have been smarter for them to be homeless than stay in that "apartment", but stay they did. Despite coming to America and wanting to experience it, they were stuck for years and years on end in Chinatown, without barely experiencing anything else. Mostly due to not having any money, but also due to her mother's very traditional and limited views on the other cultures.
The Girl in Transition showed a very ugly, but very true side of mass production of clothing - and because of that I will never again set foot into a store that manufactures its products in sweat shops. Yes, sweat shops still exist and not only in China, India or Bangladesh, in the United States too. To name a few companies that still exploit people for 2$ an hour - Forever21, H&M, Zara, Victoria's Secret, Aldo, Banana Republic and sadly, many many more (google it, and you will see).
I knew this before, but for some reason reading it on paper made it sound so much more real.
It's hard to believe that conditions in which Kim and her mother had to live still exist to this day, it definitely sounds like something from a movie, but they definitely do. Especially in big cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and such. You wouldn't believe the conditions people have to live in, because it's easier to pretend that it's just fiction, that real life just can't be that cruel.
some spoilers ahead
Now, this is just my personal preference and my personal view but I really hated the way a possibility of an abortion was handled. Sure, many people are pro-choice, and that's their choice, but it's the nonchalant way in which it was handled that angered me. It was treated as something that just needed to be rid of, as if the baby was just a disease or a case of sniffles that needed to be removed because somebody doesn't feel like they want to deal with it. Also, I had a very hard time believing that a mother who was portrayed as religious and old fashioned as Kim's just went along with it like it was no big deal. They were buddhist for crying out loud, it just wasn't in character at all and felt like a plot twist that was trying to be shocking, but was just half assed, and in bad taste.
Also, I really hated the way Kim handled Matt at the end as well. She robbed him of his child and she robbed the child as well ,by never telling the father. Also, in the end the child was supposedly 12 years old and he never asked where his father was? Unrealistic once again, it honestly felt like the ending was just a weird scramble of the most cliche endings possible - it just didn't go with the tone of the novel at all.
Kim's mother wasn't a character I had any sympathy for. I know I should have, but she was just way too spineless for me. She never did anything to leave the horrible place, in a way she gave everything to the hands of her horrid sister and just went with it, meanwhile burdening her daughter with everything else. Sure, she worked hard, but something just working harder is not the best choice. If you are at a horrible place, no matter how hard you work - it will still be a horrible place. It was a very sad thing to see how she was not only stuck at a horrible place physically, but mentally she wasn't able to adapt or leave her views and prejudices behind. In the end it was Kim who got them out of there, and her mother just went with it. Despite many decisions of Kim's that I disliked, my heart ached for her when she wished to be just the child, and not the caretaker of her family, because her mother, on some level, refused to adapt, to try and change anything at all.
Would I still recommend this book? Absolutely! I hated the direction the plot took, but I absolutely loved everything else. This book has a lot to offer and the writing was very enjoyable as well.
Freelance BETA reader.