2013 Reads

I decided to set a more realistic goal for myself this year in terms of my reading. Last year, I set the goal of reading 36 books – basically 3 a month. What I didn’t account for though was being pregnant (and thus, completely exhausted) or getting a promotion that changed my hours and took away a lot of my reading time. In 2011, I set the goal of reading 20 books and completely blew it out of the water, so I thought I would increase it to 3 a month for 2012. I didn’t even come close, lol. Not a big deal, but a bit disappointing when I saw it in writing on my goodreads account (Feel free to add me if you also have an account!). Reading is still definitely one of my favourite things to do, but I find myself reading a lot more children’s books these days (our current favourites are “Not a Box” and “Counting Kisses”).

For 2013, I plan to attempt to read 1 book a month. If I can surpass this, that would be awesome, but I’m not going to commit to something that I don’t think I can fulfill. Livi is such an active and alert baby that she doesn’t leave much time for reading until she’s in bed and that’s when I clean!

I have a whole bunch of books that I’ve purchased, but haven’t read yet and Tyler also bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas that I’ve been reading a bit on every night.

So far on my list, I have the following books:

The Essence by Kimberly Derting (ALREADY DONE! YAY!)

Boundless by Cynthia Hand (Started and close to finishing!)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Maze Runner by James Dasher

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson

Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Divergent #3 by Veronica Roth

I also plan to finish the Baby Center book I’ve been going through as Livi develops and hits different milestones, as well as the Good Night, Sleep Tight book I’ve been reading about sleeping routines.

As you can see, I have a wide variety of interests when it comes to reading. I like teen fiction, biographies, and historical fiction. I’m also a big fan of mysteries and dystopian novels.

What books do you plan to read in 2013?

Book Review: Unearthly

I recently finished Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. I decided to read it since it received such a high rating on goodreads.com (which is definitely one of my favourite sites EVER).

Unearthly focuses on the life of Clara Gardner – a teenage girl who recently learned that she is part-angel. I know that sounds like a cliched teenage novel, but it was so much more than that. As part of being an angel, Clara has a “purpose” – something that she was put on Earth to do. It begins with Clara having visions of a young man watching a fire. Hand leaves it at that for quite some time and I think it was the right decision. It lets the reader think of what the real story is instead of just getting to the climax of the novel immediately.

There was so much depth to this novel and I couldn’t put it down. There were so many different relationships and characters that were so believable. I related heavily to Clara, and even to Wendy and Angela. I saw so much of Tyler in the character of Tucker and everyone can picture the guy from high school who everyone thought was a God – This is Christian. I had a love-hate relationship with Christian. I wanted him to want Clara and, at times, I wanted Clara to want him too, but he so wasn’t good enough for her. You could tell that he was hiding something big (I won’t spoil it though!) Tucker was the perfect decision for Clara and I rooted for them the entire way through. Usually I hate when authors add romance to a novel, but it was perfect here. It was Clara’s love that made the book the way it was. She loved Tucker so much that she gave up everything she knew just to save him.

Hand also threw in a lot of information about angels (mostly through the character of Angela and a bit through her mother) and you could tell that she did some research on myths. It made me think about the idea of angels and I even researched some stories that she related bits and pieces of.

Hand did a great job in developing the character of Clara’s brother as well. I feel like she could create another series just about him and that it might even encourage males to read them.

I am so psyched for the sequel! It doesn’t come out until January and I don’t know if I can wait.

If you like science fiction, fantasy, or even a good heroine novel, go out and pick up a copy of Unearthly. You won’t be disappointed.

Long story short: 5/5 stars

Book Review: Girl, Interrupted

I just finished Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. It was pretty good. A little twisted, a little scary, but a real eyeopener.

I requested the book from the library thinking that it was a fiction novel. I received it and found that it was non-fiction… AND based on the life of the writer. It even includes copies of her medical records and reports from her stay in a mental institution. It was refreshing to see someone brave enough to share their own story and share it without it seeming overdramatized.

It starts out with why she was placed in a mental institution. She attended an appointment with a doctor she had never met before and only saw him for 15 minutes or so before he placed a call for a cab to pick her up to take her to the institution. She even lists details of the conversation where basically she just states that she’s tired and that she’s getting her days and nights mixed up. She later details that she had attempted suicide before with about 50 aspirin, but this was long before the appointment. It seemed unbelievable that a doctor would do this, but when I read about what institutions were like in the 1960s, it’s exactly what happened quite often.

Kaysen then details her experiences and her interactions with others. She was diagnosed with a “character disorder” and spent almost 2 years locked in a mental institution. Some of the activities were jarring and the behaviour of some of the nurses was appalling. She talked about everything from sex with visitors, to medications and the dreaded thorazine drip that turned people into zombies for days on end, to one of her fellow patients receiving weekly electroshock treatments. The very notion that electric shock would do anything besides calm people into a state of submission and terror is terrifying to me. And we did this as late as the 1980s in some institutions. I am a strong advocate of behaviour modification through positive reinforcement, choice theory, and lead management and this whole book terrified me. Working with individuals with mental health and developmental diagnoses is what I do for a living and I don’t think I could have done any of this back then. I would have lasted about a week and then quit. Not that I wouldn’t want to help these individuals. I just don’t think I could have handled it.

Kaysen then talks briefly about her life after leaving the institution. She seems stuck and can’t make her life or relationships work. The entire health system failed her and left her hanging after giving up two years of her life to find a “cure.” I still get the impression that she’s not “cured” even today, despite her being discharged as “recovered” because she received a marriage proposal (yes, that’s really why they let her leave).

The book was a brave account of one woman’s terrifying two years. It’s not as bad as many of you would think a mental hospital would be and I think it’s just more appalling to me because of the field I’m in, but it really opened my eyes to how it was 50 years ago. Women were treated as “hysterical” for being promiscuous and having depression. Some of the treatments actually involved sterilization and the removal of the uterus.Seriously.

Anyone looking for a quick read (it’s only 168 pages) and who’s interested in or even has a morbid curiosity about the mental health sector should pick this book up. It’s mind-blowing, fascinating, and down right frustrating. It’s also very Sylvia Path-esque and since I love all of her work, I loved this book as well.

Long story short: 4/5 stars


Book Review: The Hunger Games

I LOVED this trilogy. I was a little bit skeptical because every time I find a series that everyone else loves, I end up hating it. Once I got started, however, I couldn’t put them down. I’ll continue to review the other two books in the trilogy when my schedule allows it. For now, here’s my review of the Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games focuses on the life of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl living in the nation of Panem, the ruins of North America. Within Panem, there are twelve districts and a cruel Capitol that controls the districts. 70 years ago, district 13 led a rebellion and were obliterated. As a form of punishment for the rebellion, each district must now send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Katniss steps forward when her little sister’s name is drawn. To me, this seems fishy. The concept of the draw means that you get one ballot per year you’ve been eligible for the games. They can also opt to have more ballots put in in order to get free food for their families. So, Katniss has something like 40 ballots in there and her sister, Prim, has ONE. Yet Prim’s name is drawn. To me, it seemed like the draw was fixed. The Capitol wanted to show how they were powerful enough to send a little girl in there to die.

Anyways, Katniss steps in for Prim and goes to the Hunger Games, fully expecting to die. Not surprisingly though, she does quite well and even manages to make a few friends. I think my favourite part involves her and Peeta, the male contestant from District 12. I wanted Katniss to love him so badly and was so annoyed when it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen. It seemed like Katniss was so hooked on her best friend Gale that there was just never going to be a chance for Peeta. Anyways, I won’t spoil the rest of the book, but the ending was what really clinched it. The beginning was good and I loved Katniss’s dedication to her little sister, but the ending was what made the book. There were definitely some parts in the middle, where I was like “Why is this taking so long? Stop dragging it out.” I think that had more to do with the fact that I don’t like reading about gruesome death scenes though since I’ve read more than my fair share of gruesome abuse cases as a result of my career field. I just can’t stomach it and I put down The Hunger Games a few times because I just didn’t want to keep reading about it. I mean, did I really need to read about people’s skin melting off?

I liked how in the dark Collins kept us about Peeta and I truly wondered throughout most of the novel what his intentions were – Did he honestly love Katniss or was he just trying to survive and knew that he couldn’t do it on his own? By the end though, I really wanted Katniss to want Peeta, but I thought that she really didn’t. To me, you either love someone or you don’t. There’s no middle ground to think about it. If you need to think about whether or not you love someone, then you don’t love them. I understand that she was confused about Gale, but I wish Collins had just made Katniss make a decision in the first book. I am not a patient person and was not pleased with waiting to the end of the third book to find out what happened.

I also loved the inclusion of the character of Rue, a young tribute from another district, but I wish that she hadn’t had to die. I admit though that if Katniss had to die, I would’ve chosen Rue to win over Peeta. Mostly because at the point of Rue’s death, I also desperately wanted to protect the little girl.

The Hunger Games is also much more complex than just being about the Hunger Games. It’s astounding to me that people would be forced to live like this.

One thing I am very happy about is the fact that the trilogy is already done. I don’t think that I could’ve read The Hunger Games and then waited a year for the next book to come out. I think that I may have lost interest a little bit.

Long Story Short: 4/5 stars and that’s only because it took me 11 days to read, which is rare for me. Granted I’m busy and unpacking, but still. If I LOVE a book, I can’t set it down and I didn’t have that feeling until the end of The Hunger Games. However, if you like futuristic books with totally relatable characters and a bit of the past thrown in, this is a great read. You won’t be disappointed.

Book Review: Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky

I really liked this book. I had never read anything by Delinsky before and, to be honest, had kind of written her off as a “not my style” type of author. I had placed her in a genre with Danielle Steele and other similarly aged authors. I read something by Danielle Steele when I worked at the library and REALLY didn’t like it. Delinsky’s books always reminded me of that and had never really grabbed my attention before. However, while spending an hour on my Friday off wandering around a Chapters, I came across “Not My Daughter” and it sounded too good to pass up.

The general idea is great – 3 teenage girls who make a pregnancy pact and have to deal with the ramifications of their choices. I had recently been reading about an actual pregnancy pact that took place in the states and was interested. One issue with the book though is that I had difficulty getting into the characters’ mindsets. As a result, there were times when I wanted to smack the pregnant teenagers. You really didn’t think that people would think you were a “slut” by getting pregnant at 17? You thought your parents would be happy that you were pregnant and no longer going to college? You thought your parents would just LOVE to have another baby around the house when they were finally getting ahead in their lives after having 5 of their own? Sometimes the girls seemed mature and then they seemed SO immature. The book was focused on one of the pregnant girls’ mothers, but Delinsky did not provide enough insight to make the pregnancy pact seem completely plausible. One suggestion would have been to interview the individuals who took place in the original pregnancy pact in Massachusetts in 2008. It also made the girls seem like vapid little followers because they originally made the pregnancy pact at the suggestion of a fourth potential member who had become pregnant accidentally (and later miscarries) and thought that it would be better for her if all of their group was pregnant. Delinsky actually provided more insight into this character’s mind than into the main character’s daughter’s.

There were also some little minute details that didn’t really make sense (like all three girls having unprotected sex only ONCE and getting pregnant immediately), but other than that, it was good. I liked the way Delinsky incorporated the risks of underage pregnancy and how that could affect the baby. I learned a lot about some medical conditions possible in all newborns (but with higher incidence rates in teenage mothers and women over 40).

I really didn’t like how the entire town thought that these girls got pregnant because their MOTHERS (not fathers) didn’t raise them properly. It seemed completely realistic, but there were times when I thought, would the entire town really care that much? My hometown is about 600 people and had there been three pregnant teenagers at once, I don’t think people would have cared that much. Granted there were no pregnancy pacts and the school principal isn’t the mother of the one girls, but still. Maybe things are different in the states, but in Canada the home and school committee can’t “vote” out a principal. The principal needs to be fired for not fulfilling the duties of her job – and being a parent who’s 17-year-old daughter doesn’t get pregnant is not one of the criteria.

Either way, I really liked this book and have passed it on to my mother and my sister. I have read some other book reviews for Delinsky’s other novels, but nothing has really caught my attention yet. Maybe I’ll have to spend some time scouring my goodreads account to see if there’s anything else there that sounds as interesting. The writing style is great – it’s just that the main plot of some of her other novels don’t seem to interest me.

Long story short: 4/5 stars. Am I glad I read this book? Definitely. Will I rush out and buy every book Delinsky has written? No.

Book Review: “If I Stay” and “Where She Went”

I read both of these books in about 7 days, which is actually quite a feat for me considering how much I work. They were pretty good, but they were definitely written for the “Young Adult” genre. The writing seemed a bit “dumbed” down and it seemed like the author was using weird slang words to link herself to the younger generation, but it just wasn’t necessary. Both books are written in the first person narrative, but the first book focused on “Mia,” who was in a coma from about page 20 to the very last sentence, so there was much more thought dialogue than speech dialogue, which I liked. Some books get so conversation heavy that I’m just get turned off by it – they end up reading like a play instead of like a book. The second book focused on “Adam” and was much more dialogue heavy and some of the dialogue seemed unnecessary, but it was still well-written.

If I Stay

If I Stay focuses on “Mia,” a 17-year-old girl in a coma after a tragic car accident that killed both of her parents and her little brother, Teddy. Mia is somehow disconnected from her body, but is able to see and hear everyone around her. Throughout most of the novel, she oscillates between wanting to stay because of her best friend, boyfriend, and grandparents and wanting to go to be with her family. I really liked the premise of the book and will admit that I’ve thought of writing a novel based on a similar, but slightly different, concept. Forman appears to have a good grasp of the characters and what it would be like to be a 17-year-old in Mia’s situation. I also really liked the flashback aspects of the novel where you learn more about Mia and her family and how her and Adam fell in love. I felt like the “love” between Adam and Mia was exaggerated a bit though. There was something missing to make it an actual “love,” but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I loved the writing style and found myself crying along with Mia at the tough parts. I loved the character of “Gramps” and I thought he reminded me a lot of my Grandpa Bob and my Dad. It was so hard to think about how Mia’s life would be if she chose to stay. For me, living without my parents and my siblings would have been even worse than death and, if given the choice to stay, I don’t think I would have. Mia is a strong, courageous character and Forman takes great pride in being her “mother.”

One thing that bothered me was the number of spelling and grammatical errors. There were about 10 places where extra words were just randomly inserted and several others where words were missing. There was also about a dozen comma splices and it drove me crazy. People get paid more than me to read books and catch these things and yet they were missed so many times. I would suggest that Forman gets some new editors because the mistakes made me think that the book was just for teenagers who don’t care about spelling and grammatical errors and that is going to severely limit her market.

Long Story Short: 4/5 stars.

Where She Went

I REALLY liked the ending of this one. The beginning was a bit lacking, but only because I think it was too long after the first one. I know that it was easier for Forman to write it once Mia is done school and Adam is a huge rock star, but it just seemed like there were too many questions that didn’t get answered. The actual ending was really good though. I wanted them to get back together so bad and when it seemed like they weren’t, I was so disappointed. I thought the book was just going to end with both of them accepting that they’re over and getting their own sense of closure, but I didn’t want it to end that way. I thought that there was so much build-up that they HAD to get back together. I will admit to crying at the end because I was SO glad that Mia still loved Adam because it really seemed like she didn’t earlier in the book. One thing bothered me though – How could you not talk to someone that you love for THREE years? I just don’t understand that part of it.

I will admit that I liked “If I Stay” better than this one because I liked the lack of conversation in the first book. It was all written in the first person and didn’t really include that many conversations, but the second book wasn’t that different.

I did not like all of the stereotypes that Forman used for musicians though. It seemed like she did some research, but wasn’t really willing to try to learn an instrument or even play around with one so that she could know how it really feels to play music. To me, playing music is the same no matter what instrument you play and music has the power to make you feel things that nothing else does and Forman just didn’t seem to grasp that. She described it as “life changing,” but there seemed like something was constantly missing from her descriptions.

Long story short: 4/5 stars. Will I read the next book if there’s a book 3? Yes. Will I run out to buy it in hard cover the day it’s released? No.

Book Review: The Bell Jar

This book is both astounding and terrifying. I had heard a lot about this book and received mixed reviews. It seems that people either HATE it or LOVE it. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. I also found that people who were younger when they read it loved it a lot more than people who were older. Perhaps it is a life experience thing and not an age issue. Most of my friends are in their mid-twenties and, to be honest, don’t have that much life experience yet. Perhaps it’s just that younger people can better remember how difficult being a teenager can be and how hard going through University was. Anyways, The Bell Jar is VERY dark. Sylvia Plath writes about topics that no one wanted to even mention during the time she was writing (the 1960s).

The Bell Jar focuses on the life of Esther Greenwood. It seems to me that the book is divided into distinct sections of her life, but you can always see how things just aren’t quite right for Esther. Even when she describes her school years, she focuses on her studies and has zero-to-no socialization. There seems to be a lack of interest at some parts, but also an inability to fit in at others. The beginning of the novel focuses on Esther’s “internship” at a New York magazine. Once there, however, she takes very little interest in actually working on the magazine and instead concerns herself with boys and social events. We then find a clear shift as soon as Esther returns to her mother’s home. She is no longer herself. She is unable to eat, sleep, and most importantly to her, read and write. She cannot focus and eventually attempts to kill herself. This results in Esther being sent to an asylum. Once here, Esther encounters some colourful characters and we learn more about her life in the asylum. She is treated in a “sub-human” way and even endures “shock treatments.” As a Psychology major, I am appalled that anyone ever thought this would work. What whack job thought that shocking someone’s brain would make them “better”? No where in this book does anyone actually talk about what is “wrong.” Sure, the doctors ask once and Esther won’t reply, but it seems like they just give up and think “She’s crazy, so why waste my time trying to figure out the problem when we can just treat her and send her home.” Plath writes with a great deal of knowledge regarding life in an asylum and it has been suggested that Plath mirrored much of this book on her one life. She too was a struggling writer and received a scholarship to University. She too received an internship in New York. And, as we know now, she too suffered from severe depression and possible schizophrenia. She also underwent shock therapy. This is readily apparent based on her descriptions of how it feels. Only someone who underwent such torture could provide such insight into it. Based on Plath’s descriptions of Esther, I don’t believe she was schizophrenic. Deeply and severely depressed, yes, but schizophrenic no. This could be for one of two reasons – 1) Plath mirrored Esther after herself and this is exactly the kinds of thoughts she had (including a great deal of suicidal ideation) or 2) She decided that Esther was too close of a caricature of herself and decided to change things slightly.

Plath ends the story on a different note than I was expecting. I thought that Esther was finally going to have a successful suicide attempt and die. She seemed to be getting “better” near the end, but there was still something missing. To use her words, she was still “under the bell jar.” She could not escape. And the book ends with one main thought left in the reader’s mind – Even if Esther lives, she will have “nothing.” She will forever be attached to the “mental illness” stigma and it will define her. She will never be who she was and, I predict, that she would eventually spiral downward again and, inevitably, kill herself. The book ends with Esther going for an “interview” to determine if she is ready to leave the asylum and return to school. We never find out the result, but I think it’s better that way. I was not ready to see Esther die, but I don’t believe that she would have returned to school and her “normal” life. She would always be Esther and will never be anything else. She is tainted and broken, and in a way, unfixable.

I very much enjoyed this book, despite the dark content. Plath was a marvelous writer and I’m disappointed that she only completed one novel in her short lifetime. I’m not a huge poetry fan, but one that I found was beautiful and I thought I would publish it with my book review.

Mad Girl’s Love Song

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again. (I think I made you up inside my head).

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, And arbitrary blackness gallops in: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane. (I think I made you up inside my head).

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade; Exit seraphim and Satan’s men: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said, But I grow old and I forget your name. (I think I made you up inside my head).

I should have loved a thunderbird instead; At least when spring comes they roar back again. I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. (I think I made you up inside my head).

Sylvia Plath, 1954

Have you ever felt something was so beautiful that you wondered if it was real? Did you ever forget for just a second that you were married and wondered if your marriage and your current life and your love was real? Did you ever wonder if you made something up inside your head? Like it was all just a dream and one day you’ll wake up and it will all be gone and you wished you’d never thought it was a dream? Plath’s writing has so many complexities, but is also simple and I think that is what makes it beautiful. I could analyze this for years and still think something new each time I read it. I think one of Plath’s books of poetry may be in my future.

Long story short: 5 out of 5 stars. I wish I hadn’t waited this long to read it, but I’m glad that I had my degree before reading it. I felt that I understood it more.

Book Review: Divergent

I LOVED this book. It had everything – inner conflict, war, love, intelligence, etc. It was a good length too, but I admit that I wish I wasn’t already done it. It was brutal with the violent descriptions at some parts though (i.e., someone gets stabbed in the eye!). The writer also did a great job when she was writing about death. I felt like it was someone close to me because by the end, I really felt like I was the main character and I was living her life.

The book focuses on a dystopian society that is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue – Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). At the age of 16, everyone must choose which faction they will devote their lives to. Most must choose between staying with their families and choosing where they really feel they belong. Our main character, Beatrice or “Tris,” chooses to leave her faction, but she also has a secret she must protect – she is “Divergent,” meaning that she doesn’t exactly fit into any one faction. She came from Abnegation, but never really fit in there – something that I related to on a deep level. She never really fit in with her family, but she doesn’t know anything else. The book focuses on her trials and tribulations of becoming a member of the “Dauntless,” but even when she’s there, she can’t forget who she was and I think this is something that everyone struggles with in their lives, whether they’re moving to the next stage of their life or entering a new role. So many people never really feel like they belong no matter how hard they try and I think the author’s ability to make all of her readers relate to her character is one of her major strengths. She also wrote mainly from a female perspective, so perhaps I’m generalizing a bit because I loved it and I’m also female. This book reminds me a lot of a book I read several years ago called “The Cure,” but many people have been comparing it to “The Hunger Games,” a series I have yet to read, but may read due to everyone’s comparisons of the two. I don’t want to go into too much detail with my review because I’m really hoping that my readers will read it themselves and I don’t want to spoil the story. Needless to say, if you have any interest at all in Science Fiction or are just looking to think about your life in general, you should pick up a copy of this book.

I also enjoyed trying to think about which faction I would choose. There were five choices but I could only really see myself being able to choose one. It really made me think about myself as a person. I’m not selfless enough to be in Abnegation and I’m certainly not brave enough for Dauntless (I would FLIP out if someone even asked me to jump off a building or onto a moving train). I couldn’t be Candor either because I’m not always comfortable telling people things and the characters were almost painfully honest about some things. I could see myself trying to be in Amity, but I just don’t know how realistic that is – I want peace, but I think I would be too bored there or too frustrated trying to create peace where it was just impossible for it to exist. That leaves Erudite and I will admit that I seem to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and intelligence sometimes. I will often study random topics for hours on end just trying to find as much information as possible (ask my husband about my 3-hour research session on US serial killers and then my inability to sleep that night!). There was just something about Erudite that I couldn’t put my finger on though at the beginning of the book. It was almost like that unquenchable thirst for knowledge was their undoing – they were just never happy with having learned one thing, they had to keep pushing and pushing and improving everything. I guess in the end, I would have picked Erudite, even though something just didn’t feel right. Who knows, maybe I would have been “Divergent” too. Maybe I could fit partially in Erudite and partially in Amity. I don’t know.

From what I’ve read, the author will be writing at least another two books in the series and I am SUPER excited for them to come out. I can’t wait!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Long story short: Awesome read; Great writing; Best book I’ve bought so far in 2011;

Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Prior to reading this book, I was VERY excited. The premise was interesting and it seemed like something that McCafferty could write well as she’s written from a teen/young adult’s perspective before. While I don’t dislike this book, I certainly don’t like it very much. There was so much more that could have been done and I was very disappointed with the ending. There was very little resolution.This is one book that definitely calls for an epilogue!

I was also disappointed with the scientific research that McCafferty could easily have done. She provided no insight into the “virus” that causes infertility at the age of 18. I understand that she had to illustrate why teenage girls were the only ones who could become pregnant, but she should have let the reader know how it happened. Even just a quick prologue chapter would have sufficed. The idea of a virus that infects everyone at the age of 18 seems odd to me too. The author could have put a lot of different spins on the concept and could’ve even worked in some conspiracy theories, which may have brought in more readers from an older demographic. She could’ve added in an idea involving the government sterilizing adults due to an increase in birth defects resulting from the increasing trend of women having their first children later in life. She could have even put it in the context that the government wanted to control the population and its’ growth, so they make it seem like everyone over 18 is sterile. I don’t know. It just seemed like there was so much more she could have done, but she didn’t. It read like a book that she threw together at the last minute. Kind of an “Oh shit, the book’s due in two weeks and I’ve only written 10 pages” type of deal.

I was also disappointed with the chosen audience. It was written like it was for a 10-year old girl, but the content is too mature for any female that young to be reading it. She made up slang words that just seemed stupid instead of inventive (Oh sorry, was that comment too “neggy”?). I felt like an idiot reading it and didn’t like that she created her own internet lingo (like the “michat”). I loved her inventiveness when it came to having the “minet” hooked into contact lenses that everyone wears all the time so that you can constantly be aware of others around you and what everyone is doing, but it seemed like it was facebook on steroids – just not enough imagination.

I am saddened to give this book 2 out of 5 stars and the only reason it’s even getting two is because the writing improved a bit near the ending. I was so looking forward to this book and now I’m disappointed.

Long story short: I want my $17.99 back.

Book Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I originally started reading this book because I wanted to read Jeffrey Eugenides other book “The Virgin Suicides.” Unfortunately, I was unable to locate a copy of that book ANYWHERE in London, ON, so I thought I would try this one instead.

I will admit that the beginning is very slow-going. It talks a lot about the history of the main character’s family and it does this for about 200 pages. We’re not even introduced to the actual main character for quite some time. We’re given little snippets into his world as he is now, but we have no idea who is really talking or how they got there.

Once I got past the first part, which was interesting in its’ own right as background information, I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to read it all the time and I was sad when it was finished because I felt like I was losing someone that I’d spent a lot of time with. I feel like a sequel to this book would be great. There was so much more that I could picture happening that I would love to read about.

“Middlesex” focuses on “Callie,” a Greek girl in Detroit, Michigan growing up in the 60s and 70s. She seems to lead a relatively normal life until she hits puberty, or rather until she is supposed to hit puberty. Eugenides did a  great job of making me identify with Callie. Although I was definitely an early bloomer when it came to the whole puberty thing, I felt so bad for Callie that she was a “late bloomer.” It made me really think about how I would have felt had my situation been reversed. I remember that I felt cursed that I had to start wearing a bra in the 4th grade, but I can’t imagine how I would have felt had I made it to the age of 15 and still didn’t need one. We later find that Callie isn’t really Callie. She’s actually “Cal.” She was born a genetic male, but had ambiguous genitalia. Many people would probably shy away from this topic of this book, because, let’s face it, many people are not accepting of the notion of transexualism, but Eugenides writes about it almost like it was his own autobiography. There is a great deal of information in this book and it’s obvious that the author did his research. I already knew a lot about chromosomal abnormalities resulting in ambiguous genitalia from some of my University courses, but I found that I was still learning new things.

The book focuses on Callie’s life and how she came to be Callie/Cal. We learn why she is who she is and we learn how she feels. It’s kind of hard to describe. Many authors strive to make readers identify with their characters. In some ways, I felt like I WAS Callie and in other ways, I felt like I was her best friend, privy to her most secret thoughts. I feel bad for people who have to go through the same things as her, but I feel like I understand it a little bit more. Don’t get me wrong though, I in no way, shape, or form, know what these people go through on a daily basis. I don’t pretend to understand. I enjoyed the insight into the world and I loved growing up with Callie.

I wish that Eugenides had done a little bit more with the ending. We leave Callie when she is just starting to become Cal and then we jump 20 years into the future and don’t really know that much about the in between. I’ll give the author one thing though, man does he know how to write subplots and surprises!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars