I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Goldfinch. I was reading it for a book club, so I didn’t read the plot summary before picking it up. I knew it was “literary fiction” book. So, I wasn’t really expecting a story with a plot or with characters I would care about. But I was wrong and I got sucked in, and I really wanted to know what happened next, so much that I had trouble putting the book down for any length of time. I liked the main character (Theo), but I LOVED Boris — for me, he was maybe the most well written character in the book.
Many of the reviews on Goodreads are mixed and many people didn’t like the details or thought she was too long-winded. I don’t agree. I liked the details, I liked the feel of the writing. I liked that the place the story took me to felt like a real place that I could see, smell, feel. I loved that the book was fundamentally about struggling with the knowledge that we’re all going to die, and that people we love die, and the importance of loving being alive.
Without giving away the ending, I will say that the author takes the liberty of “summing things up” for the reader at the end of the book. Which could be annoying. Except the message of this book really resonated with me, so I didn’t feel like I was being bashed over the head with it. I’ll give a long quote from the end:
“That life — whatever else it is — is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins… That… it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway… And in the midst of our dying… it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.”
Anyway… that’s what I took away from this book. If that sounds at all interesting to you, then it is well worth the investment of the 750+ pages.
The Rosie Project on the other hand… was not my favorite. I had trouble getting into it. I have difficulty with books where the author is writing from the perspective of someone with “special needs” and doesn’t themselves have those same “special needs.” In this case, Aspergers. Sometimes it feels to me like white people doing black-face. And even if it’s supposed to be “respectful” I just don’t see how it can be. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but that’s how I feel. So, I had a hard time with the narrative voice and the way the main character was written. However, I stumbled on a way through this book. I ended up reading almost all of it out loud to my husband over the course of an afternoon. It started when I read him a bit a few chapters in that I thought he would find amusing and then he just wanted me to keep reading. So I read more and more until I just basically had to finish the book. We haven’t read out loud to each other in a long time, so that was fun, and he enjoyed the book a lot more than I did. So, in that sense it was worth it.
Bottom line on The Rosie Project? If you liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, then you will probably also like this book.
So, what’s in store for July? VACATION! And hopefully lots of reading and swimming and having fun with friends and family.
I’ve narrowed my vacation reading list down to about ten books. There is no way I will read that many over vacation.
I am bringing the next three books in a mystery fiction series by Julia Spencer-Fleming set in the Adirondacks (where I will be on vacation). I read the first three books last year, starting with In the Bleak Midwinter. This year I will pick up again with To Darkness and To Death.
I have three science fiction books picked out: On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds (companion/sequel to Blue Remembered Earth), Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach (recommended by my friend who I will be vacationing with), and Restoree by Anne McCaffrey (this was her very first published novel, and I’ve never read it).
And, last (and probably also least likely to be read), I’ve chosen two non-fiction books: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (about nine American rowers and the 1936 Berlin Olympics), and Wild by Cheryl Strayed (about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico in the Cascade Mountain range).