Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I'm not sure why I felt the need to read this book again, other than I'd suddenly immersed myself in World War II books and movies.  I'd probably been required to read it as a teenager for school and something in my memory about Anne Frank rose to the surface.

Now in my sixties, I can relate to Anne's story with an entirely different perspective.  The first entry is dated near the beginning of June, 1942.  My husband was born June 4, 1942.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  On one hand a baby is born in America, into a safe and loving home, doing all those things a new baby is supposed to do.  On the other hand, across the ocean, war is raging and a young girl is preparing to go into hiding in an attempt to save her life and those of her family.  Reading the dates at the beginning of each entry served to make Anne's story personal for me.  When I read the book the first time, I can guarantee, I made no connection to the calendar.

Anne is a teenage girl, growing up in abnormal circumstances.  She wants to fall in love, she wonders if she's pretty and she wants to see the sun again, all the things young girls wonder about. Her thoughts and emotions are written on the pages of her diary.  They are the same emotions that a teenage girl experiences no matter what the time and place of her life.

Many years ago I visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.  It's a sobering event.  But I have to say that reading Anne's diary again at this time in my life made her even more real to me.  Anne's story uses war and hatred as the backdrop to growing up. Her story has impacted me now more than ever.  It is timeless.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

I have to admit I knew nothing about zombies.  My friend, Stanley, who is a big fan of The Walking Dead had to clue me in over dinner the other night.  I'm a little slow, but I think I get the idea now.

R is the zombie.  He lives at the abandoned airport with all the other zombies.  He's been lucky enough to make an airplane parked at a departure gate his own home.  Periodically he and all the other zombies need to go out and feed on the living.  They walk down roads overgrown with brush and littered with rusted out cars searching for their prey.  Sounds appealing, doesn't it?

It's on one of these hunts, R and his companions ambush a group of the living.  He's immediately smitten with Julie, and eats her boyfriend, Perry, instead.  By doing so R lives Perry's memories and based on what he sees about Julie, he decides to take her home.  As they spend more time together, the lines blur between the not quite dead and the living. The pair is falling in love which unbeknownst to them may have the power to change the desolate world they are living in.

Warm Bodies is a little gruesome mixed with a lot of charm.  R and Julie are lovable characters even though they are not without faults.  The plague has brought the apocalypse to Earth but the earthly emotion called love can't ever be destroyed.  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

For those of you who know me, I love reading about China and its culture.  I'm a big fan of Amy Tan, especially The Joy Luck Club.  So when I found The Valley of Amazement on the shelf, I was intrigued by the blurbs on the cover.

This book requires a big investment of time at over 900 pages, but I was all in.  The story begins from Violet's view point.  She's the daughter of Lulu Mimi, an American woman running a high end courtesan house in Shanghai in the early 20th century.  Violet is a precocious young girl and truly believes she is an American girl, living as a foreigner in China.  When her mother decides to return to the United States, and Violet's birth certificate is missing, she allows Violet to go with a man to the consulate to retrieve a copy for the trip.  Lulu Mimi is tricked and Violet is sold into the life of a courtesan.

The plot line sounds interesting so far.  But I began to tune out when I suffered through at least 50 pages of instruction to Violet on how to become a courtesan.  The word 'pudenda' was used so often, it became annoying.  I get it, she's learning the nuances of enticing a man with sex.  From that point on I slugged through all kinds of death and disaster and I still couldn't feel sorry for Violet or her mother.

I'm so disappointed. There is so much going on in this book but no one was able to keep my interest.  The Valley of Amazement was everything but amazing.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...