Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February Books

Somehow, it's March now and I have a backlog of reviews from the books I read in February.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl
Jesse Andrews

I’m a huge YA fiction fan and this one is unlike any other I’ve read. It’s told from the point-of-view of an awkward 17-year-old boy living in Pittsburg where his main goal in life is to fly under the radar as to not get on anyone’s bad side. A pretty noble goal, if you ask me. His mother forces him to befriend an acquaintance who was just diagnosed with cancer and he doesn’t develop a newfound appreciation for the gift of life, or at least he thinks he doesn’t.

“My point is: This book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons, or Little-Known Facts About Love, or sappy tear-jerking Moments When We Knew We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good, or whatever. And, unlike most books in which a girl gets cancer, there are definitely no sugary paradoxical single-sentence-paragraphs that you’re supposed to think are deep because they’re in italics…Barf. Forget it.”

I appreciated this atypical approach to death and cancer. 

The self-deprecating humor was my favorite part; it was relatable and surprisingly refreshing.

“I want to eat a power tool.”  YES. I’ve felt that before. The petrifying awkwardness that accompanies much of your high school years is something everyone can reminisce on and that made the characters all the more real to me.

 ‘That is one less guy I have to compete with for the most succulent boobs in the Boob Competition that is high school.”

 “The cafeteria is chaos. First of all, it’s in a perpetual state of low-level food fight. It’s rarely violent enough for the security guards to get involved, but at any given time, someone is attempting to whip a piece of food or condiment at someone else from close range, and half of the time they miss and hit someone else in a different part of the cafeteria. So it’s like one of the more chill battles of World War II.”

For a book about a dying girl, it was light and remarkably funny.

Dear Elizabeth: A Play in Letters from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell and Back Again
Sarah Ruhl

Sarah Ruhl is one of my favorite playwrights. Her work challenges what contemporary theater can be and her work continuously mesmerizes me. Her approach to theatre and storytelling is, in a word, beautiful.

I’m working as a dramaturg for a production of Ruhl’s Orlando based on the Virginia Woolf novel of the same name and thought this would be an interesting piece of supplemental research.

The entire play is composed of letters between the two, who share a deep intimate friendship over the course of many years. Their conversations are casual and inviting, speaking volumes to each other without saying much at all. Their relationship feels inevitable, but never in an uninteresting or concrete way and I would LOVE to put this script on it’s play.

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

My February pick was stolen right from the theme description. An unexpected beginning. I definitely didn’t have any clue what I was in for. That opening chapter made my throat dry.
I enjoyed that way that I could have an unusual insight into the people who had died and that went into the investigation. Especially being the avid SVU fan that I am, it was a captivating read.

The most uncomfortable thing about the book was that it made me confront my own morality which at 24, makes me want to throw up more than it inspires me to “live life to the fullest.”
The chapters where she talks about Harvey made me angry. Like she was trying to get me to empathize with and understand his actions and I definitely didn’t want to.

It wasn’t knockout amazing, but it was full of characters who are beautifully flawed humans dealing with their grief and that was enough.

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