Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beige by Cecil Castellucci

Cecil Castellucci has written a punk rock fairy tale for nice girls. Katy is a nice girl; well mannered and thoughtful. When her single mom goes to Peru on an archaeological dig, she is sent to stay with her estranged father in Los Angeles. Her father, a punk rock legend who goes by the name "the Rat", is planning his band's big comeback. How Katy overcomes her self-consciousness, looks past her prejudices and comes to terms with her new surroundings makes for an enjoyable and insightful book.

Katy has a realistic voice and is surrounded by interesting secondary characters who flesh out the slightly idealized Los Angeles she inhabits. There is a strong theme of how drug addiction affects families. It is not the kids who are dealing with drugs, but rather with the aftermath of their parent's addiction.

Castellucci writes as if she assumes that readers are familiar with the music that she mentions - some of which is more seminal than current. It is a nice touch that keeps the book from seeming dated as current music changes but the classics remain. She also names each chapter for a different song so that it is easy for readers to make a playlist that compliments the book.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Life As We Knew It

I can barely stand to be done with this book. Miranda is the sort of character I hate to say goodbye to and this is the sort of book that leaves me wondering what is going to happen next. Not that LIFE AS WE KNEW IT ends badly - it end's at an excellent spot for it to end - but I want to know what happens next!

The story is set in the present day. The action begins when an asteroid hits the moon and knocks it slightly out of its regular orbit. The changes cause world-wide tsunamis which lead to all kinds of trouble with fuel, food and other taken-for-granted things.

In a small town in Pennsylvania, Miranda and her family attempt to survive what begins to seem more and more like the end of the world.

This book made me think about so many things that I kept finding myself staring into space as I considered which books I would stockpile, how I would feed my family and if I would answer my door if people came looking for help. I am usually disturbed by end of the world stories, but somehow looking at it from a small town perspective made it easier to bear as well as more moving.


Last spring I read Malcolm Gladwell's THE TIPPING POINT on a bus full of seniors on their way home from Canobie Lake Park. They were soggy and noisy and having a grand old time. If I could ignore them to read a book, you know it had to be good. And here I went and read Gladwell's next book BLINK and I like it even better!

BLINK explores how we make snap decisions and how accurate they are. It is concerned with how we communicate when we don't even know we are communicating and how the biases we aren't even aware we have shape our decisions. It is written in accessible language and moves along at a nice clip. It is a very interesting little book!

What Happened?

WHAT HAPPENED TO CASS MCBRIDE is certainly worth finding out! Cass McBride is the most popular girl in her high school. She works her classmates like a first rate politician. Her big mistake is not paying attention to "the little people".

When she is kidnapped it will take all her people skills to save her life. And I will say no more in fear that I will give anything away!

This is a real page turner and well worth reading. Almost a shoe-in for summer reading!