Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No Time To Wave Goodbye by Jacquelyn Mitchard

No Time To Wave Goodbye by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Published September 2009 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: I purchased my audiobook copy at my local library book sale

Publisher's Summary:
Twenty-two years have passed since Beth Cappadora’s three-year-old son, Ben, was abducted. By some miracle he returned nine years later, and the family began to pick up the pieces of their lives. Now, in this sequel to Mitchard’s beloved bestseller The Deep End of the Ocean, the Cappadora children are grown: Ben is married and has a baby girl, Kerry is studying to be an opera singer, and ne’er-do-well older son Vincent is a fledgling filmmaker. His new documentary—focusing on five families caught in the torturous web of never knowing the fate of their abducted children—shakes his parents to the core. As Vincent’s film earns greater and greater acclaim and Beth tries to stave off a torrent of long-submerged emotions, the Cappadoras’ world is rocked as Beth’s greatest fear becomes reality. The family is soon drawn precipitously into the past, revisiting the worst moment of their lives—this time with only hours to find the truth that can save a life.

My Thoughts:
In 1996, Jacquelyn Mitchard wrote the bestselling The Deep End of the Ocean, her debut novel. It was the first book Oprah Winfrey ever picked for her book club and was adapted into the 1999 movie starring Treat Williams and Michelle Pfeiffer which is how I was introduced to the Cappadoras. The movie broke my heart; I had to read the book. It was one of the few books that has ever made me cry.

It's not surprising that Mitchard decided to revisit the Cappadora family. I'm sure readers were clamoring to know how the Cappadora's dealt with Ben's return over the years and I imagine that Mitchard found it hard to walk away from them. Ever since No Time To Wave Goodbye was released, I've been wanting to find out, myself, what it was like for Ben to adjust to living with a family that was, essentially strangers.

I'm not sure what I expected from Mitchard, where I expected her to pick the story back up at. What I did not expect was for her to revisit the same plot. I would have thought there would have been another way to explore the family dynamics, those "long-submerged emotions" by some other means than another kidnapping. Frankly, nothing in this book worked for me: the kidnapping stories in Vincent's movie didn't pack the emotional punch they should have, the story got mired down in too many characters and too much detail when the entire family went to the Academy Award ceremony, and, in the end, the book becomes an adventure story with a predictable ending.

I loved Mitchard's columns when she had a syndicated column, I loved The Deep End of the Ocean. But after being disappointed by her Cage of Stars and now this, I'm not sure I'll be picking up another of her books.

Monday, July 14, 2014

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

P. S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
Published: February 2004 by Hyperion
Source: bought this one at Half-Price Books

Publisher's Summary:
Everyone needs a guardian angel! Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other's sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry's death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He's left her a bundle of notes, one for each of the months after his death, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed 'PS, I Love You'. As the notes are gradually opened, and as the year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on.

With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing--and being braver than ever before. Life is for living, she realises--but it always helps if there's an angel watching over you.

My Thoughts:
This one is so not in my wheelhouse but I liked the movie so I figured I'd give it a chance. Turns out the movie takes all that is best in the book then filled it out to make a better emotional connection. The book spends a lot of time introducing readers to Holly's family and friends and all of their baggage, pulling the focus away from Holly and how she deals with the grief of losing Gerry.

After I was well into the book, I realized that Ahern was only twenty-one when she wrote P. S. I Love You, far too young to truly understand what it might feel like to lose the love of your life and it showed. She was much more in her element when she wrote about Holly and her friends' partying. So let's just say I raced through this one, not because I couldn't put it down but because I wanted to finish it as quickly as I could. I had to finish it - it's one of the books on my TBR Pile Challenge list. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I never would have. Sometimes reading out of your wheelhouse is a good thing..sometimes it's not.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life: It Goes On - July 13

Hello, summer! It is well and truly July now - hot, humid, and starting to dry out. The Big Guy is out puttering around doing yard chores but the cats and I are hiding inside, watching the World Cup final. I'm not a big fan of soccer but it's growing on me as a background to other things I'm doing. I'm much more excited to be on the countdown for college football (as opposed to futbol!) - just 49 more days until players actually have to be hit to fall down and writhe in pain. These soccer players are such floppers and whiners!

We've been doing some entertaining this week, first BG's brother and his wife Thursday night and last night Mini-me and his girlfriend. It's our first time meeting her and you've got to like a girl who comes to dinner with a bottle of wine under one arm and a homemade cheesecake in her other hand.

This Week I'm:

Listening To: For music, I spent yesterday's work hours cranking up the Foo Fighter's channel on Pandora - lots of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Incubus and Weezer. Very energizing. Yesterday I started Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves on audio. It's a long one - I think I'm going to be very happy that there are five different narrators so I can keep things straight.

Watching: I'm back to Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. Miss H has also been watching it and we are finally at the same place so we can watch together. Although, some of it is a bit awkward to be watching with your nineteen-year-old daughter!

Reading: I finished P. S. I Love You this week. Definitely not my usual read and I can't say I was surprised to see that Cecelia Ahern was only twenty-one when she wrote it. I liked the movie much better. Now I've got Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast on the nightstand. I've only just stared but am a little surprised by how much I'm enjoying it. Hemingway and I have not been on great terms in the past.

Making: Grilled vegetables, caprese salad, homemade ice cream, enchiladas, and guacamole. Yep, definitely been entertaining.

Planning:  Vacation in a couple of weeks with the whole family. Can. Not. Wait.

We talked until midnight!
Grateful: To have kids who think it's important for BG and I to meet the new people they bring into their lives.

Enjoying: Farm fresh produce. We've been to our favorite stand twice this week for zucchini, onions, peaches, watermelon, corn and tomatoes. It all just tastes so much better fresh picked.

Feeling: Lazy. There is so much I should be doing around here but, instead, I'm playing on the computer and reading.

Looking forward to: Meeting my second cousin for the first time! She lives in South Carolina but has never been to Nebraska when her parents came for visits.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today's Post Is Brought To You By The Letter "P"

Simon, of Stuck In A Book, started a great meme that's been making the rounds. He assigns each person who wants to play along a letter and we're to name our favorite book, author, song, film, and object beginning with a particular letter. I've been assigned the letter "P."

Favorite Book...

Well, this one is easy - it has to be Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. You'd think Simon set this one up for me, wouldn't you?!

Favorite Author...

Another easy choice for me - Ann Patchett, who wrote one of my all-time favorite books (Bel Canto) as well as several other books I've read and thoroughly enjoyed.

Favorite Song...

This one was tougher and I'm not sure I really have a favorite song that starts with the letter "p," so I'm going with a song that takes me back to my college days. It's "Planet Claire" by the B-52's - such fun!

Favorite Film...

Several movies that start with "P" might make my top 100 movies; of those, though, the winner has to be "The Princess Bride." I never tire of it, can recite so many lines, and always laugh when Buttercup and Westley go rolling down the hill.

Favorite Object...

I can't entirely narrow this down to one object; rather it's a collection of objects made by my family that start with the letter "p" - pottery, paintings and photography. I've written before about how these are some of the things that feed my soul.

If you'd like to play along, head on over to Stuck In A Book and have Simon assign you a letter!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters by Timothy Shaffert

The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters by Timothy Schaffert
Published October 2007 by Unbridled Books
Source: my copy purchased at the Omaha Lit Fest

Publisher's Summary:
Schaffert’s celebrated debut novel chronicles two sisters on the cusp of womanhood as they struggle to understand their father’s suicide as well their mother’s abandonment of them many years earlier. On graduating from high school, the sisters are once again set adrift, this time by their grandmother who leaves them for Florida. In order to survive, and perhaps even thrive, on their path to adulthood, they must learn to reconcile their pasts and discover how to depend upon themselves as well as on each other.

My Thoughts:
I'm a big fan of Schaffert's Coffins of Little Hope (my review) and was delighted to find here, in his debut novel, much of its charm. Schaffert has a wonderful ability to blend great sadness with humor, the mundane with the quirky.

Mabel and Lily have had a hard life. Even before their father's suicide, they were living with a mother suffering from depression. Abandoned by everyone they depended on, the girls must rely on each other. But this is not the story about how two people bonded and overcame; it's more the story about how they survived what they'd been through and each other.  Because, despite being all each other really has, Mabel and Lily are just t as likely to hurt as help each other.

Here's what I really enjoy about Schaffert's books: they do not end all "happily ever after" but they do  end in satisfying ways that feel realistic. Well, as realistic as a girl who pretends to be the recipient of a donor eye to try to get in with the family of a girl who died can be. Yep, realistic...but twisted! Of course, it helps, for me, that Schaffert's book are set in Nebraska, bringing with them familiar places and a familiar sensibility. But you needn't have been to King Fong's in Omaha to appreciate the world that Schaffert creates in The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters.