Book reviews by David
BRING UP THE BONES by Hilary Mantel
Bring Up The Bones is an historical novel set in the reign of Henry VIII. It continues the story of Thomas Cromwell that Martel began in her award winning book, Wolf Hall. In this book, which can be read by itself, Cromwell has become Henry's chief adviser. His nemesis is Anne Boleyn She loses... Mantel does a fine job of using personalities to create a sense of the period. The greatest fun for the reader? We know that Cromwell will get his in the third and final volume but he doesn't have a clue.
AMERICAN CANOPY by Eric Rutkow
The subtitle of this book is "Trees, Forests and the Making of a Nation." Rutkow's enthusiasm for his subject pours out of every page. It isn't just that he knows everything about his subject. He makes the reader want to know it as well. The story starts with the colonists and ends up with the ecologists. Along the way we meet forest barons and conservationists and, yes, Johnny Appleseed. The only thing missing are the smells. Old timers will remember that you always knew you were near Berlin before you ever entered the town. This book makes you want to run out and plant trees.
HHhH by Laurent Binet
Ostensibly this is supposed to be a novel about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the nastier psychopaths in the Nazi regime. His assassination led to one of the great atrocities of the Hitler era. But the book is not just a reconstruction of an historical event. . Heydrich does get bumped off and we learn a great deal about who did it and how it was done. Information is delivered in short vignettes, most of which are relevant to the story and some not. When they are not, the author tells us so. Sometimes he's funny and sometimes not, even though he thinks he is. But the real story is about the author and his difficulty in writing a fictional account of an actual event
A work of fiction that ponders fact.
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
An amazing, heart-wrenching novel
The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodrigues
This is the true story of Gaby Rodriguez, a high schooler from Toppenish, Washington, who faked her own pregnancy for a senior project.
Gaby is the youngest child in a large family. She has seven siblings - and more than thirty nieces and nephews, some of which are older than she is. Her family history was filled with teenage pregnancy: Her mother had been a teen mother. Her older sisters were teen moms. Many of her older brothers were teen fathers.
Gaby's pregnancy project was an idea she came up with herself in an attempt to make people take teen pregnancy seriously and explore how people are influenced by stereotypes and rumors. Gaby shared the truth with very few others in order to get the most accurate results and make the largest impact: her mother, her boyfriend, one close friend, a few administrators who had to give her project their approval, and only one of her siblings. Everyone else - including the rest of her family and her boyfriend's parents - thought that Gaby and her boyfriend, Jorge, were about to become teen parents. The few people who knew the truth were going to be her eyes and ears, and report what they heard. Gaby wanted to feel what teen moms felt in order to make people aware of the struggles teen moms went through. She wanted to see if her friends and loved ones would stand by her when she needed them and if her teachers and other classmates would look down at her.
Six long months later, Gaby revealed everything in an all-school assembly. She started her presentation off with facts and figures, with statistics and stories about teenage pregnancies and stereotypes. Then she announced that she was not pregnant. People were surprised and had mixed reactions to her deception.
Gaby's presentation was captured on camera, leading the story to be picked up not only by local papers but also the Associated Press, which in turn led to national and international news broadcasts. It also led to a book deal and a movie deal. Lifetime's made-for-TV movie based on Gaby's story aired shortly after the book was released.
The book is essentially divided into three parts: an intoduction to Gabby's life and family background, her conception of the idea and the six months of faking pregnancy, and the after effect including what it was like dealing with the media as the story gained national attention. It offers lengthy insight into Gaby's home life. She is frank about her school and her hometown, however I found myself rushing through the first 60 pages when she was describing her family history to get to the part about the actual project. When I finally made it to the part that described the project I found myself wanting more details about what it was like for Gabby during those 6 months. This part of the book lacked essential details, which lessened the impact of the book overall. I found the book disappointing, not really worth the time.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
When her parents move to England her senior year, Rory Deveaux agrees to go with them as long as she can attend boarding school in London. The school and the people in it are a far cry from her tiny southern hometown, but Rory likes her new roommate and is enjoying her school (well, except for maybe the field hockey part). The day Rory arrived in London also marked the first day of a series of murders mimmicing those of Jack the Ripper that took place in in England in the autumn of 1888. As more murders occur it doesn't take long for everyone in London to realize that there is a Ripper copycat on the loose, throwing the entire city into mayhem. Rory thinks that she's safe from it all, despite her proximity to the murder scenes, but when she is questioned by a secret branch of the London police, Rory finds that she is a lot closer to the real killer than she thought.
The Lost Song by Caroline B. Cooney
In this haunting and lyrical novel Caroline B. Cooney weaves together the stories of four teenagers whose paths cross in a small South Carolina town. Lutie Painter is struggling to come to terms with a terrible knowledge about her mother. Doria Bell just wants someone—anyone—to see her as more than the accompanist on the bench. Kelvin Hartley is happy to enjoy everything and work at nothing. And Traine Greene is on fire, just waiting for the chance to truly burn.