08 May 2012

Two Mini Reviews: Comeback Love and Looking for Alaska

Last weekend I traveled to Boone, NC, to visit my old grade school chum, Tracie, and I took two books with me to read on the plane and during my downtime. 

I love the publication story of the first one, Comeback Love by Peter Golden.  I was just talking with John Muse, my sales rep from Simon & Schuster a couple of weeks ago about this book, which he "discovered" as a self-published book from the Book House in Albany. John was so impressed with the book that he pitched it to his own company, they eventually bought the rights to it, and Washington Square Press published it about one month ago. 

Gordon and Glenna had an amazing love affair at the close of the 1960s, but their relationship was no match for Gordon's financial insecurities and Glenna's personal ones.  The political verve that marked those years also marked the beginning of the end of their love, with Vietnam pinning them in on one side and Glenna's illegal abortion activities hemming them in on the other.  Still, Glenna and Gordon never forgot each other, but when decades later Gordon decides to look her up again, the temptation is to settle back into the same patterns.

I thought this was a very readable and pleasant story of first love and love renewed.  I'm almost exactly midway between the ages the characters are at the beginning and at the end of the novel, and it was interesting to me to feel similar levels of sympathy toward the younger and older selves of the couple. This book didn't knock my socks off, but it did encourage my mind to wander paths of nostalgia while I was reading, and I even had a dream about my own first love.  Cheers, Matt, wherever you are!

With Looking for Alaska, I had extremely high expectations since I was still riding high from reading John Green's latest novel, The Fault In Our Stars, earlier this year. Though I enjoyed it for the most part, for me it lacked the humor and the strength of the writing that I fell in love with in TFIOS. Unlike the flawed but quirkily wonderful Hazel and Augustus in TFIOS, I never could quite understand the mystique of the uber-moody Alaska and how she was able to hold those poor boys under her sway. The insight that she plied so mightily for Pudge and the Colonel quickly became myopic when directed at herself. She mostly came across to me as laconically selfish and destructive.

Still, I think Green does a great job of conveying the intensity of a boarding school atmosphere.  Everything in a teen's life is intense, but it becomes far more so in this kind of setting.  Looking at it from the perspective of someone who was lucky enough to attend a residential public high school for her junior and senior years, Green was spot-on.

NB: I received a comp copy of Comeback Love from the publisher and I bought Looking For Alaska as an e-book so that I could test-drive my bookstore's Nook to see if I wanted to buy one for myself. (Jury's still out. I liked the Nook, but I didn't love it.) In other news, Comeback Love qualifies as another entry in the New Authors Challenge hosted by Literary Escapism.


  1. I've heard nothing but raves for The Fault In Our Stars -- clearly, I need to add it to the TBR.

    I've not loved the Nook when I tried it, but I adore my e-reader (Sony). Total e-book convert. (400 books when I'm on vacation! :))

  2. Which Nook did you test? I had a Sony Pocket Reader, which died a slow death, and then replaced it with the e-ink Nook Touch, which I actually adore. (Now I'm eyeballing that backlit one, too, but I can't justify the cost when my current Nook is still in fine working order).

  3. Kerry, I borrowed a Nook simple touch that my bookstore owns. I used to have a Sony e-reader that I didn't love. I liked the Nook better than the Sony but still not as much as actual printed matter. But I've been wanting some sort of e-reader to have access to more e-galleys AND for travel.


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