Sunday, May 16, 2010

Little Bee

This was the second book selected for my new book club. We all agreed that while it was a good book, it wasn't particularly enjoyable to read. Little Bee alternates narratives between Sarah, a British magazine head with a four year old boy who never takes off his Batman costume; and Little Bee, a 16 year old Nigerian refugee who has experienced many, many terrible things.

The two met on a beach (with Sarah's husband and Little Bee's sister) 2 years prior to the start of the novel. The "meeting" on the beach is referenced from the start of the book but doesn't fully reveal itself until midway through the book. They meet back up in the present day when Little Bee illegally enters England as a refugee.

I won't spoil it for you, but I will say this: This book is a major Bummer.

It reminded me that horrible things happen and filled me with privileged guilt. All of us in the book club took issue with similar things in the book - the graphic descriptions of rape and murder were a little overly horrible, it was incredibly disturbing to read, few of the characters were very likable and several elements seemed to lack either continuity or believability (It is worth saying that I definitely believe that terrible things happen in places like Nigeria (and other places as well, for that matter), it was just some of the details in this particular story that I struggled with on occasion. Which I can't call into question without major spoilers).

With all that said, it was a terribly readable book, I had a very hard time putting it down, and tore through it in about 3 days flat. I expect we'll be seeing a film made of it within the next few years.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager

You guys. Sometimes I read books that wouldn't be described as "high brow". This would be one of those times. So here's my story and I'm sticking to it:

A few years ago I finished the book Mary Queen of Scots - a true story in approximately 5 bajillion pages about ... guess who?! Yes, Mary Queen of Scots. We were on Orcas without television or other distractions so I went to the one bookstore in town and looked for a new book. The first book that struck my fancy was called Outlander. It had a simple blue cover and was described as being about Scotland in the 1700's. Having recently boarded the Scotland train, this sounded appealing.

So you can imagine my surprise when really the book is about a nurse from the 1940's, traveling in Scotland, who accidentally time travels to the 1700s, falls in love with a hot Scottish warrior and does it with him in the heather every chance she gets. Aaaand you will extra imagine my surprise when I kind of loved it. But seriously. The story is addictive in an Edward Cullen way (but featuring adults. and better writing. and real sex.) and when I finished it I learned that there was not only a sequel, but like 9 books in the series!

Flash forward a week when I'm at Barnes and Noble looking for the next book in the series. But when I can't find it in fiction, the store employee directs me to the romance section. The ROMANCE SECTION! I know, right? Too embarrassing. I turned around and left empty handed.

Okay. Flash forward again, only this time like 3 years to two weeks ago. We're on Orcas at the same book store (hi Darvills!) and I notice Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series. And who are we kidding? Something about giving birth and breastfeeding and wearing elastic waist pants for like 9 months just allows the whole concept of shame to set sail. I just don't have it in me to feel embarrassed anymore. Plus, when you're holding a cute baby while purchasing a trashy book, everyone is generally too busy cooing at your baby to notice what you're buying. Or at least this is what I tell myself.

And here's the deal. I read Dragonfly in Amber AND Voyager (the third book in the series - which incidentally has been moved to the fiction section at Barnes and Noble now and one of the employees told me it was because a dude that worked there got super into the books and made them move the series so he didn't have to admit to reading a romance novel). Also? I don't think I can stop. At least not yet. And I don't think I'm alone. Because there are like 15 holds on each and every one of the 9 books in this series at the Library.