The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
When you read the inside flap of this book, it definitely sounds intriguing...two girls left alone, 'abandoned' by their parents, living with the neighborhood pedophile who feeds them, but where have their parents really gone? It almost sounds like a gothic mystery, as the setting is the seedy side of Glasgow and secrecy seems to permeate the girls' household and their relationships. Within the first ten pages, I just about chucked it - the woman cannot write, is all I could think. It was just one comma splice after another - O'Donnell needs to learn what ending punctuation is, seriously. However, I realize that's my own "English-teacher-issue" so I plowed into the story anyway, and it quickly sucked me in. O'Donnell creates deliciously quirky characters: Marnie, the slutty yet brilliant older sister who handles her insane life with shocking equanimity, Nelly, the asperger-ish spectacularly gorgeous but looney-tunes younger sister, the neighborhood pedophile who really isn't a pedophile but a lonely gay men who misses his dead lover, and of course, the creepy parents who loved drugs more than their kids. Enter a wickedly rigid grandfather and you've got a delightful recipe. It is quirky, not for people who like 'cookie-cutter' characters and plot-lines, but for those of us who like to color outside the lines, it's a wonderful book.
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Indiscretion by Charles Dubrow
At first glance, I thought...been there, done that. I've seen the movies and read the books about the perfect couple and the husband who can't keep his pants zipped. Heck, we've seen that story time and time again in the media, with politicians and CEO's. However, 24 hours later, with this 388 page book finished, I could argue that point. Each time I counted down the pages, determined to go to bed when that next chapter ends, yet I just couldn't do it. First-time author Charles Dubrow can WRITE, yet he doesn't have an ordinary style. He chooses a Gatsby-esque narrator, a peripheral character named Walter, and quite often he writes in a disconcerting present-tense fashion, when we all know darn good and well that Walt is telling a story of times past. And with that, Dubrow sucks you in. The Gatsby connections don't end with the narrators - we have the golden couple, Harry and Claire, we have the 'sinful' city of New York, the summer getaway on Long Island, and a narrator that we question whether to trust, or not. Walter does a good 'Nick Carraway', giving us tidbits of the story, as well as pithy comments about greed, love, youth, etc. It is the story of how a 'perfect' life can unravel, and it makes us wonder...what is enough, really? This would be a fantastic book club book, as I cannot wait to discuss it with my friend who loaned it to me (yes, she read it obsessively too). Fair warning - lots of sex (and I mean lots) - but I didn't feel it was meant in a "Fifty Shades of Grey" kind of way, but more purposeful in how avarice, gluttony, even selfishness can squeeze one's life into a shape never meant to be. Shades of a Shakespearian tragedy as well, Indiscretion is a must-read.