Monday, July 23, 2012

Fifty-Two Books: Part 6

Lots of sad, sad books this month. It was unintentional, promise. It's like when we went on our honeymoon and I selected four books at random from my bookcase to take with me, and all four of them were about infidelity.* You just can't plan these things.

27) "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

See post here.

28) "Running With Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs

Reading this memoir felt like watching a car crash — I wanted to look away, but I just couldn't. It was a heart-wrenching glimpse into how mental illness affects those around you. As his parents' marriage falls apart, 12-year-old Augusten's mother seeks help from a therapist, and thus begins the end of normalcy in Augusten's childhood. As his mother spirals deeper into her own insanity, she determines she cannot care for her son herself, and decides that he will stay with the doctor "temporarily." Except that Dr. Finch — and most of his family — are mentally ill as well, and allow several of his patients to reside in their home with them. They live in squalor and believe that children should be able to control their own lives, whether that means skipping school, attempting suicide, or forming inappropriate relationships with pedophiles. Despite the author's attempts at humor, this was not a light book, and parts of it were very difficult to read.

29) "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford

I really liked this one; I thought it was similar in tone to "Sarah's Key", with the same heaviness of human emotion during the war years. "Hotel" is set in 1940s Seattle. Henry is a first-generation Chinese-American whose father is very interested in the happenings of the war in China. His parents believe that all Japanese — even other Americans — are their enemies, and when 13-year-old Henry befriends the only other non-white student at his school, Keiko, he worries what his parents will think of him spending time with a Japanese girl. But when all the city's Japanese-Americans are rounded up and sent to internment camps in other cities, Henry realizes how deep his feelings for Keiko run and will risk his familial relationships, his safety and his heart to continue their friendship.

30) "Room" by Emma Donoghue

I'd been waiting to read this for months, ever since Allison talked about it over at The Book Lovers' Nest. It is told from the perspective of 5-year-old Jack.  Everything in the world is in Room, where Jack and Ma live, and outside Room is outer space. But to Ma, Room is the soundproof cell she has been trapped in for seven years after she was kidnapped by a man they call Old Nick. Room is where they watch TV and learn and live, but Ma has grown weary of life in Room, and has been planning their escape. But Jack doesn't want to leave Room, because he's convinced there is no Outside their four walls. While I really enjoyed the book, after a little while it was tiresome for my brain to read the abrupt thoughts of a very young child; but even though there are not sections from Ma's point of view, there are still enough things going on that paint a picture of Ma's life before Room and while in Room. Overall an excellent read.

31) "S is for Silence" by Sue Grafton

I've already talked about my love for Grafton's alphabet books, and I don't have much else to say about that. On July 4, 1954, Violet Sullivan took off in her brand-new car, leaving her 7-year-old daughter, Daisy, and her abusive husband behind. Neither she nor the car were ever seen again. Fast-forward to 1987, and Daisy hires private investigator Kinsey Millhone to find her mother, so she can get some closure on why her mother just up and left her behind. But in the small town where Daisy grew up, everyone knew about every screaming match, punch thrown and Violet's affairs with half the men in town. It's only logical that she would have wanted out, but where did she go? Or did she make it there at all?

Do you like or loathe sad books?

*In case anyone is interested, they were "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen (wonderful book), "A Reliable Wife" by Robert Goolrick (entertaining, but not fantastic), "The Rug Merchant" by Meg Mullins (it was okay) and "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan (hated it, stopped reading halfway through).


  1. A couple of these were on our book club list. I downloaded Room, but never finished it. I may try to get back to it someday since I already have it. I enjoy a sad book every now and then, but I normally have to mix it up with some lighter reads in between.

  2. I adored Room - it was SUCh a good book!