April 25, 2009
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo, diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome is happy in his comfortable life, guided by his organized and familiar routine. He hears music in his mind that noone else can hear, he has a deep desire to learn about religion and he loves his school, Paterson, where he works as a stable hand tending to the ponies. However Marcelo’s father Arturo does not believe that anything is really wrong with his son. He feels that Marcelo ‘s mother and doctors are being over indulgent and protective and that Marcelo needs to grow up, attend the public high school in Oak Hills and learn to get along in the “real world”.
In order to prove that he is right about his son, Arturo makes a deal…instead of spending his summer working at Paterson with the ponies, Marcelo will come to work in the mailroom of his lawfirm, where if he learns to interact with “normal” people and completes his tasks satisfactorily, then he will be allowed to choose which school he will attend in the fall. If he fails, he will automatically have to go to Oak Hills High School. After careful consideration, Marcelo realizes that if he wants to stay at his beloved school, then he must accept his father’s deal. Besides, three months isn’t that long, is it?
And so begins Marcelo’s journey into the “real world”. He befriends his beautiful mail room co-worker Jasmine and learns more than he cares to know about life from Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns not only about anger, jealousy and beauty, but also that life is not always black and white, that it is full of moral ambiguities of which not even his father is immune.
Stork has created a wonderful story for older teens, told from a unique perspective it shows the different ways of interpreting what what the “real world” is really like and it means to grow up.
April 24, 2009
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Despite my small addiction to romantic comedy movies, I spend very little time reading the equivalent chiclit book genre (teen books aside…I’m currently refering to just adult fiction). I have my favorite authors in this genre…Cecelia Ahern, Jane Green, Meg Cabot…but sometimes I get tired waiting for them to publish a new book and I find myself craving a nice adult fiction chic-lit book. Emily Giffin’s book Something Borrowed was recommended recently by a friend, and it one defintely took care of the craving perfectly.
Ever since they moved next door to each other twenty five years ago, Rachel and Darcy have been best friends, despite Darcy being “that girl”. The popular girl who always must be on top, one upping and using her friends in order to always get her way. Rachel used to defend Darcy, saying that was just who she is. But now they are turning 30, Darcy is getting married and Rachel is beginning to wonder if it is really worth it to always keep putting Darcy ahead of herself.
Then the completely unplanned happens, after a drunken night of celebrating her 30th birthday, Rachel sleeps with Darcy’s fiancee Dexter. At first she is willing to pretend it never happened, but when Dex admits he has had feelings for her since their law school days, Rachel must admit that she just may feel the same way. But is Dexter willing to leave the perfect Darcy? Is Darcy really perfect? And will Rachel finally take a stand and put her own feelings and needs before Darcy’s?
Something Borrowed was a great read, Giffin has created some great characters who perfectly demonstrate the morally ambiguous world we live in. This is also the first in a series, one which I hope continues to be as good as this first book was.
April 22, 2009
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I decided recently at work that I need to brush up on my science fiction books for teens; it’s a genre used as part their required summer reading and I’ve never been particularly good at recommending or describing them. I figured I might as well start with Hitchhiker’s, I’ve had a copy of it floating around for as long as I can remember, and most people are appalled when they discover I have never read it.
And appalled they should be.
I absolutely loved this book and can not believe that it has taken me this long to finally read it! I’m not going to describe the whole plot in depth, most people are fairly familiar with it….Arthur Dent is saved by his friend Ford Prefect (who happens to be an extraterrestrial) in the last minute just before the earth blows up. The two then find themselves traveling the galaxy in search of answers to the universe’s biggest questions, meeting strange and funny characters along the way.
This was funny and thought provoking at the same time, and I can not wait to read the next book in the series. That and I can finally let myself watch the movie, even though I know it will never be as good as the book!
April 22, 2009
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
In light of my new mindset on cooking and blogging I decided that the time had finally come to read Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell (the subtitle of which, given the upcoming movie release, has been unnecessarily changed to My Year of Cooking Dangerously). Julie is a woman who, in response to her unfulfilling job as a secretary and a rapidly approaching 30th birthday, decided that she is going to spend the year cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s epic book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, blogging about the experience as she goes along. Her husband gamely (but warily) accepts that this is just something that she has to do, and the Julie/Julia project is born.
The book covers her (mis)adventures and triumphs as she cooks her way from vegetables dishes to parts of the animals that even made me a twinge squeamish (a girl who, among other things, has voluntarily eaten worms and bugs before). I found myself laughing out loud and really relating to Julie, not only in our mutual and semi-fanatical love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but also in her descriptions of the different ways she and her friend deal with stress (drinking and cooking vs. running and cleaning).
Overall, this was just a really fun read. It was nice to hear about someone who was able to start a project like her’s and have it unintentionally turn into such an opportunity. I think it gives hope that satisfaction in life can sometimes come from the most unlikely endeavors.