2/22/2014

Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

When Bayardo San Roman returns his new bride, Angela Vicario, hours after their wedding, her disgraced family demands that she name her first lover. Her twin brothers set out to kill Santiago Nasar for the shame he has brought to their family. There is no evidence to support Angela's claim, in fact, nobody can remember ever seeing Santiago and Angela together. The twins make no secret of their plans to murder Santiago, and yet no one in the town intervenes to stop the murder from happening. In the end, Santiago ends up dead, leaving more questions than answers.

This was an interesting novel for me. It has a very journalistic style, and the story is told in a very straight forward manner. The facts are laid out with little to no emotional commentary. It reads more like a newspaper article or crime report than a novel. Although it is clear from the beginning what was going to happen, this book leaves more questions than it answers. I found it interesting that no one intervened to save Santiago, especially when there were questions surrounding the validity of Angela's claim. In fact, other than her saying it was Santiago, there seems to be little evidence that her claims are true.

There are several instances where others could have intervened and prevented the crime from happening, and yet they don't. What was puzzling to me about these instances was that the reasons for their lack on interference are silly when two men are running around with knives, clearly content to carry out a murder. Santiago is not painted as a bad man, someone who people would be glad to see get his comeuppance, yet no one intercedes on his behalf.

This was an okay read for me. I found the style and story intriguing, but I was left indifferent in the end.

This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff

This Boy’s Life is a memoir about a young boy growing up in the 1950’s. After his parents’ divorce, Toby finds himself constantly on the move as he and his mother search for the better life that always seems to elude them. Through this heartfelt and often humorous narrative, Toby recounts his adolescent search for identity, while regaling the reader with stories of his wild schemes.

This is a re-read for me. I first read this book when I was a senior in high school and find myself in one of life’s many full circle moments as I read it again in preparation to read it as an English teacher with my high school seniors. I enjoyed this book the second time around as much as the first. Toby, a.k.a. Jack, is a great character that is easy to relate to. He is precocious, hopelessly na├»ve at times, and consumed with the confidence that only comes with youth.

"When we are green, still half-created, we believe that our dreams are rights, that the world is disposed to act in our best interests, and that falling and dying are for quitters. We live on the innocent and monstrous assurance that we alone, of all the people ever born, have a special arrangement whereby we will be allowed to stay green forever.”

The story perfectly captures that awkward period between childhood and adulthood, where we all think we have things figured out, when in reality we know nothing and are just beginning to discover who we are. While Jack’s childhood is somewhat unconventional, there are universal elements that ring true for us all – the quest to define ourselves, to experiment with new things and identities, the need to find acceptance while remaining unique, etc.

The book is funny, at times poignant, and is an enjoyable read from start to finish.

Night by Elie Wiesel


Night is an extremely powerful narrative, despite its diminutive size. Elie recounts his story as a survivor of the Holocaust, a genocidal campaign carried out by the Nazis under the leadership of Hitler during World War II. Elie finds himself the lone survivor of a journey that would take him from his small town to the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald. Along the way, he finds himself questioning everything he thought he knew, including his faith in God.

This is not an easy book to read, and it is far from an enjoyable read. It is an important narrative. I have read many Holocaust survivor stories. I have always been fascinated by this horrific event, which probably sounds a little strange, but it is true. It is a prime example of humanity at its worst, but at the same time, there are examples of hope, kindness, and goodness. I think it is this juxtaposition of the opposite sides of humanity that fascinates me.

For anyone interested in the human psyche, I think the Holocaust is a treasure trove of things to explore. I am always intrigued by how humans respond when faced with such unimaginable things. Why do some give up, while others fight? How do some hold on to hope and faith, while others lose theirs forever? How does one man get the power to bring such destruction to the world? How do others let it happen? For the survivors, where do you go from there? How do you rebuild your life after it has been shattered so completely? So many questions that have no easy answers.

One thing that always strikes me when I read Night is the denial. Despite the warnings and the ever increasing restrictions on their freedoms, many Jews refused to believe that it could get worse and chose not to leave when they had the chance. I am by no means judging these people. I can't even imagine how I would respond if I was in their shoes. Who could ever have imagined how far Hitler would go to create his vision of the perfect world? Who knew that he would get so close to doing it? To me, the denial speaks to a greater belief that many of us hold - that at our core, humans are inherently good. That in the end, good will triumph over evil.

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

It has been said that narratives such as Night should not be taught. That the only way to move forward is to put the past behind us. I think this is a common adage. If we put a horrific experience behind us and don't think about it, then we can move on. I disagree with this train of thought wholeheartedly. Stories like Night need to be told over and over again, especially when genocides are still occurring in the world today. If we do not continually hold these stories up as a mirror, then it is all too easy to ignore and brush aside the fact that these events DID happen and CONTINUE to happen.

I give this book 5 stars, not because it is enjoyable, but because it is a powerful and important narrative. I would also highly recommend picking up the other two books in this trilogy.

2/13/2014

Cover Reveal ~ All Lined Up by Cora Carmack


ABOUT ALL LINED UP:

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them knows how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

“Laughter + heartache + hot sexual tension = the perfect Cora Carmack book.” 
—Monica Murphy

Release date: May 13th!

Pre-Order Links:
Amazon
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About Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.