Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - Reshelved Books

Hello fellow Deweys! 

Today I finished reading Nicola Yoon's The Sun is Also a Star.  I absolutely loved her novel Everything, Everything so I was excited to see a copy her latest book on my library's ya shelf.  The Sun is Also a Star is a love story that tackles the scientific perspective of love against the romantic perspective, by finding ways to blend the two together in order to find an example of a love that is real.  This novel also goes beyond the typical ya romance by broaching tough issues such as deportation and family racism.  

Natasha and her family are from Jamaica.  Natasha's father came to America to pursue a dream of acting.  A dream that has not been able to support the family of four.  When the family's visa's expire and Natasha's father is in trouble for a DUI, the family faces deportation.  Natasha, who has dreams of going to college, tries to fight her own deportation but nonetheless fails.  At one point the reader feels sympathy for Natasha.  Is it her fault that her family came to America, allowed her to grow up here, and ultimately let her down?  Should she pay for her parent's mistakes?  In the novel, Yoon mentions that Natasha knew her family was illegal and that her mother was going to buy her a Social Security Card with real stolen numbers so she could go to college.  Knowing that her mother was going to do that for her, and now can't, makes Natasha's heart break a little.  However, Yoon also mentions through the voice of Daniel, the boy Natasha falls in love with, that Natasha shouldn't be blamed because "She was a kid.  She didn't have choice.  It's not like she could have said Mom, Dad, our visa expired.  We should go back to Jamaica now" (Yoon, 2017, p. 294).  This makes the reader wonder could Natasha have said something?  Or is this newly found love blind? 

The relationship between Natasha and Daniel forms within 1 day.  In fact, the entire novel minus the last 10 or so pages encapsulates that of a single day.  For me this seemed to diminish the credibility of their love.  Personally, I believe in love at first sight because I've experienced it. Is it a love that works and lasts forever?  Well, that's up in the air.  But it definitely is and can be a love that is real.  It's the amount of activities and conversations within the novel that take place within a single day that I don't believe in. Along with the relationship of Natasha and Daniel, Yoon ties in the struggle of familial racism.  Daniel, a Korean boy, is supposed to fall in love with a nice Korean girl.  Not Natasha. Yet they do anyway.

While the format of The Sun is Also a Star mainly bounces between the perspectives of Natasha and Daniel, other perspectives are also thrown in, such as Natasha's father, a server in a Korean restaurant, a flight attendant, and explanations of science.  For me this gave the novel a unique and well rounded spin.  However, that one day story line sort of irked me. So For the Love of Dewey Readers, I leave you with a rating of 3 out of 5 Coffee Beans.    

Copy Referenced: 
Yoon, N. (2016). The sun is also a star. New York: Delacorte Press.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Love Anthony & Just Like Other Daughters - Reshelved Books

Hello everyone!  Today I am offering you all a 2 for the price of 1 book review.  These two books tackle the subject of disablities in the forms of Autism and Downs Syndrome, focusing on their effects on family relationships.  

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova tells the stories of two women, Olivia, who's son Anthony was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3 and passes away shortly after from causes the reader is not sure of until the very end, and Beth, a woman with three daughters who is struggling with the infidelity of her husband.   I had read an AR copy of this book so I'm not sure how the finalized published draft has or had changed.  However, the back summary on my copy of the book only mentions the storyline with Olivia, which I found to be interesting because the novel opens with Beth and the discovery that her husband had cheated.  What ties the two story lines together is Beth's writing of a novel inspired by Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, and who's main character is a boy with Autism.   While I enjoyed this book, I struggled to finish it.  This could easily be because I have been working long nights on cleaning and fixing up my new home.  I. Am. Exhausted. But honestly, the book just didn't wow me.  I found myself skimming through the sections of Beth's novel, and when I was more than halfway through, didn't really feel like I learned anything more about the characters than I had already found out in the beginning.  Up until tonight I was going to give this book a rating of 2.5 out of 5 Coffee beans, but once I got to page 250 the book did pick up.  I really did enjoy the ending.   So For the Love of Dewey Readers, for this book I am going to give 3 out of 5 Coffee Beans.  That being said, my Grandma also read this book and gave it 5.   

Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner... why did it take me so long to start this book?  I used to read 2 books a week.  What is wrong with me?  And this was a library copy for Pete's sake!...  This is the second book I have read and reviewed by Faulkner.  I absolutely LOVED Julia's Daughters, so was excited to give another book by Faulkner a try.  I was not disappointed.  Just Like Other Daughters is similar to Love Anthony, where character Alicia struggles with her daughter Chole's Down Syndrome.  It shows the struggle that Chole's diagnosis has placed on her family, contributing to Alicia's divorce from Chole's father, as well as a difficulty in her dating life.  Unlike Love Anthony, which gives the reader an inside perspective on the thought process of a boy with autism through Beth's fictional tale, Just Like Other Daughters allows the reader to hear the same story both from Alicia's voice and from Chole's.  One thing that really made this novel stand apart was how it explores the ideas of love and of romantic relationships between mentally disabled adults.  While reading this book, I had taken a break to skim through GoodReads reviews.  I wanted to see if other readers were loving this book as much as I was.  One review made me pause, it read, "This book angered me."  I know I shouldn't have, but I read the comments to that review and it sort of spoiled the ending.  While I didn't necessarily love the ending, it did not anger me.  This book really made me think about love, about relationships, and about life. Therefore, I am going to give a rating of 4.5 out of 5 Coffee Beans.     

Happy Reading!


Friday, May 5, 2017

The Little French Bistro by Nina George - Reshelved Books

Guess what!? I won a book in a GoodReads giveaway! *yippeeeee!

When The Little French Bistro by Nina George arrived in the mail I was super excited.  It looked like a cute Parisian read that I could not wait to get my hands on.  I had George's other novel, The Little Paris Bookshop, on my to-read list for a while after seeing it advertised at NYC BookCon two years back.  It's safe to say that she has been on my dewey-radar for a while... 

Isn't this cover adorable!?

After the reading slump that I have been in, I was hoping that this novel would grip me and hold my attention.  I want to be cleaning the bathrooms of my new house and wish I was reading.  NOT reading and wishing I was still cleaning the bathrooms. In the beginning it gripped me and I loved it! But towards the end? Not so much.

The Little French Bistro opens with the story of woman who lives in Germany and is questioning her life and all of the choices that she has made throughout it.  She is married to a man who does not truly love, value, or treat her well.  She is lonely, she is regretful, and she is depressed enough to attempt suicide by jumping into a river.  The river that she jumps in (I'm pretty sure) separates Germany from France.  Miraculously, the woman is saved by a Parisian man.  My knowledge of geography sucks, so I had to look at a map to confirm that France and Germany do in fact border each other.  I should feel shamed. Anyway, back to the book...

At first I liked the way that this novel was written, in a style that brought to mind the feeling that I had while reading  Guy de Maupassant's short story The Necklace and thus also Solane Crosley's novel The Clasp.  Two pieces of writing that I adore.  However, this feeling slowly began to leave and left me flat.  At times I wasn't even sure what was going on in the novel.  Am I losing my reading touch?  Am I just over tired?  I turned to GoodRead's reviews of the novel to hopefully calm my reading worries.  It can't just be me, right?  Other people had to not love this book too?  Most readers rated this book with 4 out of 5 stars, but there were a fair amount of other readers who simply did not love it.  Maybe I expected something lighter, or maybe I just didn't know what to expect.  

So For the Love of Dewey readers, I leave you with a rating of 2 out of 5 Coffee Beans.  If you have read this book or Nina George's other novel, please comment below with what you thought!