Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone

This story centers around two best friends: Anna and Francesca. Each of them have a bad home life, but in different ways; Anna's father goes missing for days/weeks/months at a time and has run ins with law enforcement, while Francesca's father abuses her and her mother. They have grown up together and at the age of 13 (going on 14) they are exploring the power their newfound curves give them. Suddenly, they have a falling out and the girls' lives go in different directions. Anna has her first boyfriend, while Francesca becomes cold and friends with a lonely girl named Lisa, but only to bully her. They see each other around town, but neither are brave enough to reach out to the other until tragic accidents occur.

I had high hopes for this book. It's set in Italy and the premise of the story was that they were going to go to Elba (which is a ferry ride away from where they live) to leave their lives in Piombino and each pursue their dreams, but it seemed to fall flat and incorporate too much of the other characters' lives.

Also, I think I am officially waving the white flag for my creative book goals for the year, since I'm now three months behind and do not have time in the foreseeable future to read those books on top of my book club books. The motivation (and time) is just not there.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Even though this book is short, weighing in at about ~160 pages, it felt long and took me a week to read. This was another book for a different Meetup group. The book is divided into two parts and the first part centers around the main character, Tony, and his friends in college. Six pages into it, the word pretentious was flashing in my mind because just reading it and seeing these young men act like know-it-alls because they were in college was frustrating. Anyway, Tony dates this girl Veronica, who ends up to be crazy and a tease, and she dumps Tony to go out with his friend Adrian, who is the smartest out of all the friends and is practically revered by everybody. But he then abruptly commits suicide. In part two, Tony some thirty or so years later, receives notice that Veronica's mother had past and left him five hundred pounds and Adrian's diary. However, when he goes to pick up what is willed to him, they do not have the diary because Veronica has it. Tony does not know how to contact her, so he gets in touch with Veronica's brother who gives him the contact information he needs. When he does finally contact Veronica, she plays coy (still playing mind games with him) and tells him that she burned the diary, but gave him a copy of a page of it. He is perplexed and intrigued and continues to pursue contacting her and she finally reveals a long-held secret at the end of the book.

Talking about this book was more interesting than reading it. I do not consider myself a deep reader, but others in the Meetup are and said how there was so much symbolism and philosophy sprinkled throughout the text. I think I did understand it better after the Meetup, but that still did not make it an enjoyable read.

Blame by Michelle Huneven

Blame was a book for one of my Meetup groups. It's about a lady named Patsy who is a professor at a college and has a drinking problem. One day, she wakes up in jail (again) after having too much to drink (again), but this time, something's different. The police tell her that she hit and killed a woman and her daughter while pulling into her driveway. She goes on to serve four years in prison and talks about her experiences there and finding AA. After she gets out, she struggles to piece her life back together again, but meets Cal, a man many years her senior who woos her (and almost anyone) instantly. Now, the book jacket plainly alludes to the fact that it was not Patsy who killed the people in her driveway, but someone else. The whole time, the reader knows this, and it is admirable to see Patsy change her life so drastically when it is predicated on this murder, but also sad to see how much Patsy tortures herself over their (accidental) death. Overall, I did not enjoy this book and it was frustrating at times to read because Huneven never used quotations marks. Not once! So some dialogue it was hard to follow who was saying what to whom.