Monday, July 16, 2007

Two Books

So I had a chance to read two books from my summer TBR list:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

My teen students have raved about this one for years, so I thought it was about time I picked it up. It's written in 1st person POV, as a series of letters to an unknown "friend." The writer is 14 year old Charlie, who's a bright but shy "wallflower" with some serious self-esteem problems. Through the course of the story, he finds some good friends who introduce him to dating, partying, and dealing with school bullies; he also deals with some deep-rooted issues in his immediate and extended family. It's a well-written coming-of-age story, and I can understand why teens like it. The narrator exposes the nasty side of high school as well as the exhilaration of finding true friends who'll stick by you no matter what. The only thing I didn't like was the find out the "secret" that's been messing up this kid since childhood, and it's a particular sticky one that isn't really dealt with before the story ends. I would have liked a more upbeat and complete resolution. Still, the voice is well done and compelling.

Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern

This debut novel by a woman who's also the mother of an autistic child is a thriller/mystery about a 9 year old, Adam, who becomes a witness to a playmate's murder. The only problem? He's autistic, and breaking his silence to find out what happened comsumes most of the novel. I loved this book. I thought it was tremendously interesting and layered believable levels of conflict and suspense all the way to the end. Adam's mother, Cara, is raising him alone, and we see first-hand the challenges--and wonders--of having an autistic child. The author gets across her message of the power of a mother's love along with writing a pretty good really do not know until the final pages who the killer is. Thanks again to a student for recommending this one!

(Incidentally, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon is another wonderful book about a main character with autism. The entire story is told from the MC's POV, as he unravels the mystery of a pet's death and, eventually, his own mother's disappearance. It's a terrific look at the way the autistic brain works. Fascinating.)

So that's my Monday report! What good books have you read lately?


Nicole said...

The Poet and the Murderer by Simon Worrall, about forger Mark Hofmann. He wrote a poem and passed it off as a newly-discovered Emily Dickinson poem, and it passed the authenticity tests by all the experts who examined it, and was sold at Sotheby's before being declared a forgery (only because it has passed through Hofmann's hands). The book is an interesting look at literary forgery, and raises questions about what truth is in literature.

Jim Melvin said...

For some reason, I recently got the urge to re-read The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. Quite amazing, in its simple little way.