Amal is sixteen, and about to start her second year as the only Muslim at a posh private high school, when she has an epiphany while watching Friends.She decides to start wearing the hibab full time, fully aware that this will attract all sorts of attention, and that it may be the most popular of decisions. Her parents, worried that it will give her too much negative attention, try to make her change her mind, but the more she thinks about it, the more resolved she is. Of course, when she shows up in school, the principal and a lot of the teachers think she’s been coerced into it by her parents, or religious leaders, and she has to be very firm about the fact that it’s her own choice, her own decision, and that they can’t prohibit her from her personal expression of her faith, no matter what the school regulations about uniforms state.
Most of her friends, while a bit puzzled at first, are extremely supportive. Only the mean girl clique try to bully her about it, but as Amal points out to herself and her friends, now they have something specific to tease her about. Amal is more concerned about the opinions of Adam, her lab partner, and one of the cutest and most popular boys in school. She has a massive crush on him, and would hate for him to see her as some sort of religious fanatic just because she chooses to wear a head scarf. More on my blog.
The Things We Do for Love by Kristin Hannah was a lovely story about a woman whose desire for a child consumes her, but she ends up on an unexpected journey where she finds that it wasn’t a baby that was her answer after all. It’s very much a Kristin Hannah book – I enjoyed the characters and the story and the world of West End, painted so beautifully in the book. I could picture it and I found myself longing for just such a place in my own life.
I didn’t entirely relate with Angie’s situation – her overwhelming need for a child essentially destroys her marriage and consumes her entire life. She resigns herself to the fact that she won’t ever be a mother and finally starts to build a new life after she returns home to West End, a picturesque coastal town north of Seattle. She is able to throw her passion into helping her family rebuild their restaurant while also rebuilding herself.
Lauren, a smart, determined girl whose own mother is abusively neglectful and notorious in town for her drinking and partying, ends up in Angie’s life and it’s almost like fate brought them together. They needed each other.
But it’s never as simple as a woman who wants a child and a child who wants a mother coming together. That would be too easy. They endure a lot, go through their own heartbreaks and come out the other side solid and strong in their love for each other. It’s quite a journey and one I was happy to travel on with them.
Kristin Hannah books aren’t important works of art. They’re small in the scheme of things, but enjoyable. They fit nicely in that place between romance novels (romance novels might be on the bottom rung but I still enjoy them) and Important Books, a place that is such a good escape once in a while. I cried along with the characters in all the right places and my heart was full at the end. This book isn’t necessarily important and it didn’t change my life (I’m looking at you, John Green), but I just plain liked it. I hadn’t read one of her books in several years and this reminded me why I had more of hers in the queue.
Author: Haruki Murakami
Review Summary: Although the book was long and the ending was abrupt, I loved the writing and can’t wait to read more books by Murakami.
This book was so long and so strange that I’m not even sure where to start telling you what it was about, but I’ll do my best. The story involves two main characters and we alternate between their view points. Aomame is an assassin and Tengo is a writer. As the story progresses, they get pulled closer and closer together by events that initially seemed unrelated but which turn out to have a deep connection. The book involves questions of destiny and pre-determination, parallel worlds and some surprising magical elements.
Read more at Doing Dewey…
I’m not really sure why I picked up this history of Coke. I guess my interest was more to get an understanding of how one of the strongest brands in the world was formed, rather than looking for an expose on every despicable action the corporation has taken in their quest for profit. For that reason, I was somewhat overwhelmed by this book. There is an incredible wealth of detail here, with everything referenced and documented to within an inch of its life.
Starting with the genesis story we all know of the cocaine-laced patent medicine, Coke’s rise to become the world’s most recognizable brand is incredibly impressive and horrifying at the same time. The chapters concerning international expansion, with subsequent environmental destruction, murder and intimidation against unionization, standover tactics to enforce illegal monopoly and strategies to gain consumers literally from cradle to grave, are every bit as bad as you might imagine.
I don’t think I was surprised by anything I read in this book – sadly, the behaviour depicted here is pretty much what I expect to be manifested by a global corporation. It is interesting that Coke has managed to remain relatively unscathed through it all. Then again, Nike recovered from the sweatshops “setback” as did Nestle from their powdered milk disaster. It is this fact that overwhelms me as a consumer – these corporations are now simply so large and integrated that a simple product boycott appears to have lost all power to effect any real change. The irony that the catchphrase “Think Globally. Act Locally” now so strongly identified with environmental and social change movements was actually originally coined by Coke CEO Roberto Goizueta as he targeted international growth to make Coke “the number one beverage on Earth” was not lost on me.
Attachments (2011) by Rainbow Rowell is probably a book I never would have found if it weren’t for my fellow Cannonball reviewers. And I’m so glad they recommended it. This novel was a fun, sweet story filled with normal, likable people, and I really enjoyed it.
Lincoln is in his late-twenties and is kind of lost. He’s still getting over his first love from high school, he lives with his mom, he has no direction, and he is making no effort to change his life. When he gets a job as IT security and starts policing the company’s e-mails he discovers Jennifer and Beth, best friends whose gossip-y e-mails are entertaining and fun. Knowing that he’s treading on questionably ethical ground, Lincoln continues to read their e-mails as he begins to fall for Beth.
And here’s the rest of my review.
Judd Foxman’s father’s death could not have come at a worse time. Fresh off the wound of catching his wife and his boss in flagrante delicto, Judd is now unemployed, headed toward divorce, and worst of all faced with the prospect of an entire week in close contact with his dysfunctional family. That’s because, despite a lifetime of avowed atheism, Mort Foxman has asked his wife and children to follow the Jewish tradition and sit shiva in the family house for a week after his death.
Judd’s mother Hillary is a developmental psychologist and author of a best-selling book on parenting, who never questions her own expertise in light of her screwed-up offspring. Judd’s older brother Paul, a once-promising athlete, is struggling to keep their father’s business afloat while dealing with a wife who’s desperate to get pregnant but can’t seem to make it happen. Judd’s sister Wendy is a fading beauty with three kids and a rich husband who can’t get off his BlackBerry long enough to pay attention to any of them. Finally, there’s Phillip, the baby of the family, a fuckup who can’t hold down a job or resist any temptation.
Assorted other characters will pop up in the course of the novel, many becoming important to the story, but at its heart, This is Where I Leave You is about family dynamics and what can happen to relationships when they last a lifetime and can’t actually be destroyed. Your siblings are still your siblings, whether you talk to them or not.
Tropper’s novel is expansive and lively, and his humor and gift for constructing set-pieces are much appreciated. In many ways he reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Richard Russo, in the way he presents helplessly flawed people who can’t appreciate the wrongs they commit and the damage they cause. And they’re both funny as hell, to boot.
I had two issues with This is Where I Leave You, though neither of them derailed my enjoyment. The first is that the book struck me as possibly misogynistic. There’s a whiff of “women, who can understand them” in the protagonist’s point of view that I don’t think is adequately counter-balanced, even with all the crazy shit done by men. The second is thing is that at times Tropper’s characters seemed to behave and talk too much as though they were characters in a novel. Their dysfunctions too neatly aligned with each other’s to cause conflicts, and they were all just so emotionally immature to lose credibility as adults, even fictional ones. In real life very few people are this quick with a one-liner or a sock to the jaw, and though both those traits pack a narrative punch, it often feels like Tropper has someone start a fight, or jump in someone else’s bed, just as a mechanism to advance the plot, and not as a natural consequence of their actions and choices. But the caveat as always is that real life does not exactly make for the most thrilling fiction.
Overall this was a very enjoyable, very good novel. Good enough that I immediately bought and started reading Tropper’s newest book, One More Thing Before I Go.