Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Remember when my daughter asked me to read Harry Potter? Well, that didn’t go so well. I’m still stalled on the second book.

More recently, she asked me to read Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012). This, I am pleased to say, went much better. Wonder is the story of Auggie, a ten year old with severe facial deformaties, as he integrates into middle school. It is told from several points of view, a narrative technique I adore, and is wonderful. It is not schlocky or sappy or suffused with pity. It is full of pop culture references that the kids adore. It is pretty nearly perfect.

And in these troubled times, it has a really great message: always try to be a little kinder than necessary. This comes from J.M. Barrie’s Little White Bird, seems to me to be pretty good words to live by.

Who would like this book? Wonder is aimed at middle grade readers, but i didn’t find it too juvenille or twee. It has great anti-bully messages and is taught in a lot of schools. All the kids in my daughter’s class who I’ve talked to liked the book, so that’s a thumbs up from ten year olds. It is set to come out as a movie in April. I don’t know how it will translate to screen, but then we all know that the book is always better anyways.

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The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

My reading has been far from multicultural lately. Brits and white North Americans seem to be dominating. This is a situation I usually try to avoid, but when a novel about a dysfunctional family comes my way I have a hard time turning away. Enter The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

And the Plumb family is definitely dysfunctional. The four siblings have had to wait until the youngest turns forty for their inheritance. But that has not stopped them from spending it. All are caught up in financial and familial turmoil that a large lump sum of money could potentially resolve. But life is never that simple, is it? Oldest brother Leo does something (but what?) that means the windfall will not be going to his siblings. At least not as much as they had initially anticipated and built their lives around.

My only complaint about the book, which i loved, was the ending. Everything is wrapped up a little to neatly for me. They don’t get the money, but everyone lives happily ever after, or at least comes to terms with their state of affairs.

Who will like this book? If you like dysfunctional families as I clearly do, then The Nest will be a winner for you. It fulfills Tolstoy’s adage that each family is unhappy in it’s own way. There’s lots of lies and deceit and the kind of scandal that rocks life in suburbia. Oh, and Amy Poehler is blurbed on the cover, so you know it’s good.

Why We Came To The City by Kristopher Jansma

Don’t let the fact that it took me a while to get around to reviewing Kristopher Jansma‘s latest novel Why We Came To The City deceive you. I loved it. I loved it more than his debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (review). It’s a novel that’s stuck with me and that I’ll be pushing into quite a few people’s hands. Continue reading

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna NorthI sense The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is going to be one of those books that we will be seeing a lot of on all the Summer Reads lists. But as we have all learned, just because a book makes the must-read lists, doesn’t mean you should read it. And here I am to help you decide if you should, in fact, read The Life and Death of Sophie StarkContinue reading

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire MitchellThree sisters sit down to write one suicide note. Welcome to A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell. Who knew a book about sisters plotting their own suicide, the development of the gas used in concentration gas chambers and heartbreak could be so funny? Continue reading

Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

Florence GordonSo far this year I have read only four 5-star books. Florence Gordon by Brian Morton is one of them. I was lucky enough to read this book in one sitting and I devoured it.  Continue reading