Not In Jersey: What I’ve Been Reading #4 What I’ve Been Reading #4 - Not In Jersey

What I’ve Been Reading #4

Friday, November 2, 2012

Here I am again to share more of what I’ve been reading! This time I’m also going to include books I started, but did not finish. More on that in a bit. First, two books that I liked.

“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.” This is a beautifully written book and an all around great read. While this is a “young adult” book, it is not dystopian, and it is not only for young adults. The characters are so interesting, from the two main characters to their parents, their friend, and the writer that Hazel idolizes and his assistant. This book is sad, cute, and funny all at once. There is a slightly predictable turn of events near the end of the book which makes the story all the more touching. I can see this being a book that students are required to read in high school English classes. I recommend it!

“Master caterer Sarah Laden is barely holding her life together as a widow with two difficult sons—recalcitrant teen Nate and troubled fifth-grader Danny—when the unthinkable happens. Her best friend and neighbor, Courtney Kendrick, is arrested in a child sex abuse scandal. Courtney's husband has vanished; their 11-year-old son, Jordan, is in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt; and across the street Nate is finding, in Jordan's backpack, evidence of unthinkable abuse.” I did not know what this book was about when I started reading it. The blurb on the back says that a “shocking revelation” occurs, but it doesn’t say that it is about horrible abuse of children. This book had me cringing at the horrible and disgusting things Jordan’s parents did to him. At the same time, I found the book to be well written and loved reading about the characters as they developed and grew into themselves. I especially loved the older son, Nate, who was shown to be a wonderful older brother and friend as the story unfolded. I am not quite sure why the title is “The Kindness of Strangers.” There aren’t really any strangers in the book! The Laden family is not strangers to Jordan when they take him in, support him, and help him grow up.

Now for the Did Not Finish Category. These are both books I picked up at the library book sale.

“For Griffin, all paths, all memories, converge at Cape Cod.  The Cape is where he took his childhood summer vacations, where he and his wife, Joy, honeymooned, where they decided he’d leave his LA screenwriting job to become a college professor, and where they celebrated the marriage of their daughter Laura’s best friend. But when their beloved Laura’s wedding takes place a year later, Griffin is caught between chauffeuring his mother’s and father’s ashes in two urns and contending with Joy and her large, unruly family. Both he and she have also brought dates along. How in the world could this have happened?” I’m not sure what happened with this book. I was reading it and it was going slowly. I set it aside to read something else from the library (since I have a time limit on library books!) and never picked it up again. I guess it didn’t interest me enough to continue.

”Pearly Laurel is devastated by the death of her beloved husband of thirty-five years. The two had always said they couldn’t live without one another, and Pearly has no desire to even try.
Then, in the midst of her grief, Pearly finds a tattered list in Joey’s pocket, entitled, “While I Live, I Want to….” His ultimate to-do list sends her off on a mission to accomplish Joey’s last unfulfilled goals–along with a few of her own–before arranging her own death. But the people she meets along the way have something else in mind. Can their unexpected gifts, secrets long hidden in Joey’s journal, and memories from the rich life they shared convince Pearly that, despite her pain and grief, life is still worth living?” I liked the idea of this book and actually read more than half of it before I gave up. I don’t find it worth it to continue reading books that feel tedious and put me to sleep!

And finally, my book group just met last night to discuss this book. I have not finished it yet and I’m not sure I will. I am on page 202 out of 360 tedious pages of information on the botched murder investigations which landed more than one innocent man in prison. The story was meant to focus particularly on one man, Ron Williamson, but also told the story of at least 3 other innocent men, 2 of whom are still in jail for a crime they did not commit.  The book reads like a very long newspaper article recounting the facts of the various cases and at times can be confusing.  Grisham also includes bits of sarcasm and it is obvious what he thinks of the police and court system in Ada, OK. The district attorney Bill Peterson has a website where he shares his view on the case and tries to defend his actions, but the truth remains that the wrong men were convicted and one was almost put to death when he was truly innocent. The book is meant to make us think about the death penalty and the justice system, as well as the mental health system which truly failed Ron Williamson, who suffered from mental illness as well as alcoholism and drug abuse. Now I am not sure whether to finish reading the book or not. I guess I want to see how Ron was finally exonerated but I’m not sure I want to continue plodding through the facts. I do wish the book was a bit of an easier read, because it is definitely interesting! I guess you can say I’m undecided.

Book group last night focused on the book for awhile, then moved on to other discussions about houseguests, why the bride and groom face backwards at weddings, religious craziness and leniencies, and whether our fellow group member would have a 3rd boy or a girl after 2 boys – well we got an email that she had a girl last night! Mazel Tov!