03 February 2011

Book Reviews in Brief: Where She Went and The Weird Sisters

 Where She Went by Gayle Forman. First of all, let me preface this mini-review by saying that if you're looking for a book with the emotional weight of the If I Stay, you'll be disappointed.  This is a book about relationships and self-identity and we're getting Adam's 20-something, world-weary point of view instead of sensitive, stuck-in-between-the-worlds narration from Mia.  It's different, yes.  But I, for one, think that in this case, different is also good.  

In this sequel to the brilliant but devastating If I Stay, Forman explores tragedy’s capacity to destroy relationships.  Despite Adam’s and Mia’s rising fame as a rock star and cellist, respectively, both of them are still reeling three years later from the aftereffects of the metaphysical link they shared during Mia’s coma.  Ultimately, this sequel is a thoughtful narrative on identity and the thin line between self-preservation and self-destruction in the face of catastrophic events.

I got my advanced reading copy of Where She Went from Marika McCoola, the children's buyer our store, who probably got it from her sales rep at Penguin.  The book will be published in hardcover in March 2011.  

 The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. Reeling from their modestly-to-spectacularly- failed lives, Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia all move back home to live with their parents in the small college town in which they were raised, but each sister claims that she is there to take care of her mother, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Getting beyond the petty sibling rivalries of their youth and not throttling their father, a renowned Shakespearean scholar who dishes out advice only in the words of the Bard, has never been so trying!  Eventually, though, all of the dark secrets seep out of the sisters one by one, and in laying bare their deepest fears, they discover a newfound loyalty and respect born out of their differences. The perfect book for anyone whose life is blessed (or cursed, depending on your own point of view) with a sister! 

Karl Krueger, my sales rep from Penguin, gave me this advance reading copy last fall and it has recently been published in hardcover.  While the book itself is enjoyable and fairly light (despite the mother's cancer), the collective first person point of view narration of the sisters was mildly irksome and not executed particularly well.  Still, Shakespeare fans will enjoy spotting the hundreds of allusions and quotations from the Bard's work.  Not sure that I qualify as a Shakespeare fan per se, but I did take a dedicated course on his work in both college and grad school, and it was fun spotting the obvious and the not-so-obvious ones.  

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