Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm like the last person on earth...but...

People kept talking about The King of Attolia. Before it even came out it was a huge deal in the circles I run in. Everyone was mad excited. Then it was published, and people read it and endlessly extolled its virtues. Maybe it's just the listservs I'm on...

Anyway, when we turned the Cybils short-list in at the end of December, I was ready for a serious genre binge. I had been reading realistic fiction until my eyes bleed for over two months (which, hey, don't get me wrong, I totally loved. I just needed something a little different). First I read Life as We Knew It, then, needing another world, I thought I'd find out what all the fuss was about. Three books in a lauded fantasy trilogy? Just the thing.

Eugenides is famous for his thievery, but his pride and boasting that he "can steal anything" gets him shackled in jail. Eventually, the King figures out a way to use Gen and promises him his freedom if he steals one last item.

The Thief is very clever. The plot is a meticulous adventure, but really, since it won a Newbery Honor back in 1997, I hardly need to sing it's praises. Gen's voice is charming and impish and I was at a complete loss; I couldn't help but totally fall for the character. He was flawed and made roads to fix some of those flaws.

Ah, the formidable, frightening, forceful Queen of Attolia. A truly worthy opponent to the too-smart-for-his-own-good Eugenides. Showing off, Gen gets caught by Attolia and pays a very dear price for the Queen's revenge. War starts between Eddis and Attolia with Gen in the very center. I missed Gen's first person voice, but it was very compelling to read the point of view of the other characters. This was much larger in scope than the previous novel and the multiple points of view served it better. Again, the highest of standards.

This was NOT the book I thought it would be. I was anticipating war, fighting and intrigue. Instead I get psychology and introspection, doubt and fear. Which is why Megan Whalen Turner is an awesome author and I'm happily doing what I'm doing. It wouldn't have been as true to character for Gen to go from Thief to the King of Attolia without any stumble or adjustment. There is still scheming and spying (also known as intrigue), but the focus is on how poorly Gen is taking to his new role. It's character driven and wonderful to have watched Gen and the rest of the cast grow in a realistic manner. These people seemed real as they struggled with their lives.

Am I alone in thinking that Turner left the door open for another title in the series?

Monday, February 26, 2007

It's still the Restoration. I looked it up.

My mother teases me for my absolute obsession about reading books in chronological order. I put off Katherine Sturtevant's A True and Faithful Narrative because I hadn't read its prequel At the Sign of the Star until my Cybil-Sisters indicated that it needed to be read.

I enjoyed it immensely. I'm sure having the backstory would have added to my enjoyment, but it really wasn't necessary for understanding anything plot or character-wise. It was a fully formed historical novel in its own right.

Meg wants more than anything to become a published author. The only problem is that she lives in Restoration London. Women writers are...not encouraged. Meg must decide if her need to write is great enough to go behind her father's back. While she struggles with that situation she must also contend with two very different suitors.

Meg is the very model of impetuousity; she regularly speaks without thought to poor reception. My, how I can identify with that characteristic. *sigh* When trying to be humorous she ends up insulting. She doesn't want to fit in the mold reserved for her and she chafes at the restrictions. She longs for freedom and a bigger life. Sturtevant presents a strong sense of place through her language. Not just with reference to period events or items (which are copious and fascinating), but with the dialogue and rhythm of the phrasing.

I really want another. But first, I need to go read At the Sign of the Star.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tension? Oh, is there ever.

I've never started a post ten minutes after finishing the book. If you read teen lit (let's go out on a limb and assume that you do) you are probably well aware that Laurie Halse Anderson has a book, Twisted, coming out on March 20. Furthermore, you are probably intending to read said book. Such intentions would be good. Not at all, in any way, ill-advised.

I have no qualm whatsoever in agreeing wholeheartedly with the amazing Mr. Chris Crutcher's blurb on the back of my ARC: "Laurie Halse Anderson is at the top of her storytelling game. If you've read Speak, you know what that means. The only thing truer than Twisted is the 'loser' character who tells the story. This one comes with a guarantee."

That pretty much says it all. Maybe it spoke to me so loudly because I can closely relate to certain plot elements. I don't know. What I do know is that parts of this book had me holding my breath. Tyler's turmoil reaches riveting intensities where your breath is more disruption than you want stirring the air; it might just affect the plot.

Also, it is amusing for me to note that (and remember this is an advanced copy, so who knows if it will show up in the official book) stamped boldly in the beginning pages is "This is not a book for children." It's not. While Anderson doesn't use the red button word 'scrotum,' male genitalia is referred to many times in many ways (I had to refer to it, I've not mentioned the ridiculous controversy AT ALL, but I couldn't resist - it was too easy a tie-in!). Although this is not why the book isn't for children. Going into why exactly gives away more than I'm willing to give, so you'll just have to trust me.

The cover is striking and wonderful, but I wonder about its appeal to guys. This is her first male narrator (very convincing, by the way. At least to me. Side note: I remember going to hear her speak while she was writing this one - right after Prom came out. She spoke a little about all the boys she was talking to for research. She researches well. Which I already knew, having read Fever, 1793, followed closely by a non-fiction title concerning the same event, An American Plague by Jim Murphy. I was astounded at how familiar places & events in Murphy's title were to me after Anderson had already brought them to life.), and I already know a couple teen boys I'll be giving this to, but does anyone think that this cover will fly with guys of the appropriate age (14+)? The boys I'll immediately give it to trust me enough to cover their doubt, but what do you all think? I know that at least a couple guys read this blog, even if they don't read the books I post about. James? Dan? Josh? Anyone? Would you pick this up, not knowing the author? Would it take some hand-selling for you to do so? Is it gender-neutral enough? It's fantastic, and I'd hate for it to be overlooked because of a cover.

(If you want to see great pictures of crazy amounts of snow, head to her blog.)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It was like climbing Mount Everest, But I HAVE PREVAILED!

Yesterday I had a woman try to convince me that in Arizona the non-fiction is arranged by author. So that was funny. Anyone in AZ wanna refute her? ;)

The real fun on Friday was the 15-year-old boy that comes in just about every Friday and stays until close. His mother drops him off on their way to his sister's gymnastics. As he's said MANY times he 'doesn't read.' I've been trying for months to get this kid to even let me booktalk a few titles. No interest whatsoever. He 'doesn't read' and his computer time is about to start.

But yesterday. Yesterday we were training some new parapros and I had an empty chair next to me and he came and sat down. The parapro had been looking at this year's Caldecott winner, Flotsam by David Wiesner.

Him: What's that?
Me: It's a book. You'll like it. There are no words. (yeah, I SO said that)
Him: Really?
Me: Read it.

He takes it and starts looking at it. He's not focusing, but I just go back to what I was doing and pretend to ignore him.
Suddenly, the coin drops.

Him: Whoa, that's weird!
Me: You have to look closely at everything - they aren't always what they seem...
Him: I think I need to start again from the beginning.
Me: Go for it.

He flips back, paying attention this time.

Him: This is really weird!
Me: Yeah.
Him: I don't see anything special on this page.
Me: The hot-air balloon. It's a puffer fish.
Him: I didn't even see that! Weird! Can I check this out?
Me: (*woot!*) Absolutely.
Him: I don't have my library card.
Me: That's ok. They'll just quiz you about your address and stuff.
Him: I'm going to go check it out.
Me: Ok, bye!

New Parapro: oh. Now I can't finish it.
Me: It'll come back.

Thank you Mr. Wiesner. I'll have a different one of your books laying about next week. Or maybe one of Van Allsburg's weird ones... Maybe we'll eventually work up to books with WORDS. Anyway. It totally made my day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This book made me hungry.

I've been sitting here wondering if it's been too long since I've read this to give it a good post. What immediately leaps to mind when I think back to Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth is how entrenched food was in the story. The families were always making food or sitting down to eat. It was the atmosphere; it gave you the senses. You heard the sizzles, smelled the spices and wished you could eat along with the family. Perhaps I shouldn't be using second person. I heard the sizzles, smelled the spices and I wished I could eat along with the family. What it did, beyond simply setting the story, was ground it. Food is comfort; food is social; food can tell you who you are and where you come from.

Jeeta is the youngest of three daughters in present-day Mumbai, India. As she watches her relatives search for husbands for her sisters, she gets more and more disillusioned about her future marriage - and the traditions that her family holds dear.

Jeeta is a brave, intelligent, sweet girl and I loved spending time with her in this novel. She visibly comes into her own and takes risk when they are necessary. It is a love story in the traditional sense and it is a discovery of familial love as well. She's deciding what she wants out of life, and testing whether it is the same as what her parents want for her. I'll talk more about that concept when I finally review A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, but what a scary thing to look at years of tradition and consider it for what it is - both the benefit and the constrictions - then choose how you fit your past into your future.

Idea for the paperback: Include recipes. You can't go on and on like that about food and then not put recipes in the end! It shouldn't be allowed! By golly, if the silly Little House books have a recipe edition, so should you. I already know how to make biscuits. I'm much more shaky on samosas (mmmm....yum).

Are you hungry now?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Book Group, Round 6

I dragged my feet on this one a bit. I didn't really want to read it. All the shiny new books from Midwinter are stacked up in my living room (I'm buying more bookcases) calling to me. I didn't finish it until last night and I had to lead the discussion on it tonight. Luckily, I was posessed and the discussion questions were really easy to write this time.

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seirstad. Seierstad spent several months with the family of Sultan Khan just after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is a biography of a man who has fought through several regimes for 30 years to sell books and preserve the rapidly disapearing history of his country. It is both an idealistic goal and one of a true entrepreneur. He is a liberal man, in respect to a country when fundamentalism is not terribly unusual. His tale is told through his stories, but more importantly, through the other members of his family. It is through them and their lives that we see more than just the bookseller, we see the man; one who is far less attractive.

As one of the participants, and the author herself admited, you really wanted to smack Sultan around. The contrast between a man who values education, knowledge, and freedom to the man who demands control of every possible aspect of his household was unsettling. He bases so much upon the idea that those who live with him should be grateful to live in servitude and disrespect simply because he owns the roof over their head. He neglects to aknowledge, in his youngest sister's case, that if someone in his household would just take her to the ministry she would be more than happy to get a job. He condems a man to prison for years and a family to starve because the man stole a handful of the Sultan's thousands of postcards to feed his family through their sale. He thinks it a point of honor - that if he is light on this man, others will see him as weak. That man was never going to steal again, and yet Sultan still takes away the family's sole breadwinner. Sultan forces his 12-year-old son to work at a booth selling candy no one buys for 12 hours a day, when the son wishes to go to school - because Sultan doesn't trust those outside the family to be honest with his money. But hey, lets rejoice because in comparison to other men in the country he's downright liberal. He's bought his second wife western clothes and forbids her to wear the burka. He'd let his first wife go back to work, but his son doesn't think it a good idea, so sorry. Sultan is liberal when it works for him. It really ticked us off. As, you know, independant women of an entirely different culture.

Sultan (real name Shah Muhammad Rais) now has a lawsuit against Seierstad. If you google the book title you'll find the allegations of defamation he makes. Having read the book (in English, I can't speak for the original language), I don't see that his points hold water. He clearly sees differently. I read them aloud to the bookgroup. They think he's a bit mad. As in crazy. Not to mention just a jerk. But hey, Kabul can buy books (of dubious copywrite, by the way).

(I promise that I'll post a slew of teen books in the coming days. A slew. Really. Perhaps even a couple teen books that haven't been published yet...)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

If you don't, really you should.

Ok, I totally promise I'll post later this week about several of the 30-odd books I've read that I haven't posted about, but for now? Did anyone else watch Veronica Mars tonight? Holy Cow. Fantastic. Love. That. Show. I don't know anyone out here that watches it, so I don't have anyone to talk to, so I'm turning to you, trusty Internet people, to *squee* and say "OMG." Ok, I'll try to stop being so girly now... Someone please agree with me in the comments...tell me I'm not alone...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Drumroll Please!

We've made you wait for months. The Winners of the
2006 Cybil Awards have been announced!
(below find a partial list of winners)

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan has won the first Cybil Award for YA Literature!

American Born Chinese by Gene Yang has won the first Cybil Award for Graphic Novel - 13 and up!

Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud has won the first Cybil Award for Fantasy and Science Fiction!

Head on over to the official announcement, see the other winners, and throw in your two cents!

Monday, February 12, 2007


A boy comes in. 12ish. He likes Eragon and Alex Rider. Shows no interest in Young James Bond and I don't have The Ranger's Apprentice on the shelf. What does he quite happily leave with? Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz.

I think I had him at seppuku.

Trust a 12-year-old boy to know about ritualistic Japanese suicide.

Tokyo 1890. The Samurai way of life has been outlawed and citizens told to embrace the Western way of life. Toyo Shimada doesn't understand why his uncle and his father are so against the new Japan. Toyo has just assisted at Uncle Koji's bloody seppuku when he heads off to boarding school. All he wants is to play baseball, but he must deal with hazing AND try to reason with his father who can see none of the honor of old Japan in the new world.

This is SUCH a boy book. Yay! There's bloody ritualistic suicide, quickly morphing into hazing, peeing out of windows, then some sports, some illegal samurai training and of course, some father-son bonding. I was a little disappointed at how Americanized it felt to me, as I think that more than any generation, this one is pretty well versed in Japanese culture. But maybe not historically. I don't know. But the fact that the kid knew seppuku? Yeah, I was impressed.

This and Viking Warrior are great intros to historical fiction for boys. If you don't mind some violence (Viking Warrior is far more violent than this. Not that the hazing is anything light.)

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Mom bought me the 75th Anniversary Edition of Joy of Cooking for Christmas. I don't know if I can express how awesome this cookbook is. I haven't had a cooking/food post in quite some time (probably because I've not set anything on fire), so many of you may not be aware that I love to cook. More of you don't know that had I not chosen to go to library school, I probably would have ended up in some culinary school somewhere. I literally chose between the two professions and came up with the result that it's quite easy to cook as a hobby, but rather hard to be a librarian as a hobby.

I own a lot of cookbooks, but this, THE BIBLE OF COOKING was always just a bit outside of my price range (I'm cheap. It's hard for me to spend money on books of any sort when I am surrounded by free ones everyday.). Of course, now I'm seeing that it's only like $20 (well worth it). Seems like the last time I looked at getting one of the previous editions it was going to cost over $30.

It's an amazingly readable cookbook. I find myself often just opening the book and reading. For instance, one night the following thought literally went through my mind: "I think I'll read about Soup tonight!" No, really. It's weird, but the book is very personal without being gimmicky or obnoxious. The text will state a bit of the history of the recipe, and it is always interesting and relevant.

I've now had Joy in my hands for almost two months and everything I've made out of it has been fantastic. Highlights: Potato Pancakes (just thinking about them makes me want to head to the kitchen. yum. yum. yum.), Buttermilk Pancakes (I was going through a phase), Cranberry Peach Upside-Down Cake (in true Jackie fashion slightly modified and very popular at the party), and Baked Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans (my new obsession).

If you have no other cookbook, have this one. It's a classic and it has every recipe you'll want to make. Except Black Bean Burgers (already have one, so it's ok) and more than one for Spaghetti Squash (so I'll need to search elsewhere for a new way to cook the 2nd half in my fridge). Not only does it give you all the recipes, it will tell you EXACTLY how to do everything. It really is for both those who can identify a microplane, and those who can't.

My previous cookbook love affair? The Blue Strawbery [sic] Cookbook. The second title is Cooking (Brilliantly) Without Recipes. There isn't a recipe to be had in the entire book. Nary a one, and yet I learned so much from it. So much. Also probably why I never measure anything. Seems to be out of print but available used.

Jackie's Curried Chickpeas
Garbanzo Beans
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil (I use a mix of reg & lemon olive oil. B/c I can.)
Sugar (just a little)
Curry Paste or Powder
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the last 6 ingredients together. Throw in the Garbanzo beans. Toss to coat. These would probably rock if you let them marinate for some time. Me, I'm too impatient. Spread 'em out on a baking sheet or oven safe plate or whatever. I don't care if you use the top of a metal garbage can. Just don't expect ME to eat them. If you like salt, sprinkle them with some more. Bake until golden, stirring them every 5-10 minutes. Squeeze on the lemon juice in the last stage. The lemon juice cuts the curry a little and well, I like it. Generally takes about 30 minutes. These are completely addicting and pleasantly spicy. Eat them hot or cold, straight or on salad.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


In anticipation of the Cybils Awards announcement on Wednesday, I leave you with Fun Stats from the YA Cybils Nominees. If I've forgotten a book or a connection your brain has made, share in the comments!

80 books = 21,831 pages

Average pages per book = 272.89

Most Common Number of Pages = 12 books had 256 pages

Historical fiction = 2o, 25% Accidents of Nature, Angelmonster, Octavian Nothing, Book Thief, Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, The Braid, Eva Underground, Hattie Big Sky, Incantation, Lorenzo and the Turncoat, Loving Will Shakespeare, Ophelia, Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You, Plenty Porter, Samurai Shortstop, A True and Faithful Narrative, The Unresolved, Viking Warrior, Waiting for Eugene, The Wish House

Books concerned somehow with World Wars = 6.25% Book Thief, Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, Hattie Big Sky, Traitor, Waiting for Eugene

Death = 7.5% Blind Faith, Love You/Kill You, Pursuit of Happiness, This Is All, This Time Last Year, Viking Warrior

Suicide = 5% Stay With Me, Trigger, Samurai Shortstop, Viking Warrior

Murders = 3.75% The Christopher Killer, In the Garage, Viking Warrior

Genocide = 3.75% Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You, The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, Book Thief

Writers/Artists = 6.25% A True & Faithful Narrative, This Is All, Grist, Fanboy & Gothgirl, Pursuit of Happiness

Popularity = 3.75% The Queen of Cool, How to be Popular, Fringe Girl

Religion = 6.25% Goy Crazy, A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, Simply Divine, Blind Faith, Incantation

Road Trips = 6.25% Abundance of Katherines, The Real Question, Becoming Chloe, Born to Rock, Tallulah Falls

Music = 8.75% Born to Rock, King Dork, Adios to My Old Life, Notes From the Midnight Driver, Nick & Norah, Blind Faith, In the Garage

Latinas! = 3.75% The Hollywood Sisters: Backstage Pass, Estrella's Quinceanera, Adios to My Old Life

Sports = 3.75% Samurai Shortstop, Dairy Queen, Rash

Crime Solvers = 3.75% The Hollywood Sisters: Backstage Pass, Bad Kitty, The Christopher Killers

Sexuality = 7.5% Becoming Chloe, A Bad Boy Can Be Good For a Girl, Between Mom and Jo, In the Garage, This Is All, The Wish House

Mom's Culture or Mine? = 3.75% Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies), Estrella's Quinceanera, Simply Divine

Twue Luv = 26.25% Goy Crazy, Blind Faith, How to Be Popular, Born to Rock, The Braid, Dairy Queen, Eva Underground, Fringe Girl, Incantation, Just Listen, Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet, Lorenzo and the Turncoat, This is All, This Time Last Year, Nick & Norah, Notes From the Midnight Driver, Pursuit of Happiness, The Queen of Cool, The Real Question, Stay With Me, A True & Faithful Narrative

Characters with alter egos named "Sarge" = It's Kind of a Funny Story, Notes From the Midnight Driver

The Actual Official Number That I've Read at This Very Moment = 54/80


From Chronicle Books:

Chronicle Books
The Best Chronicle Children's Books of the Year Contest

Grand Prize

Free gift basket filled with autographed copies of four of the Best Chronicle Children's Books of 2006 and more!

First Prize
Free gift basket filled with copies of four of the Best Chronicle Children's Books of 2006.

One Grand Prize and two First Prize winners will be selected by March 15th.

How do I enter?

  • Click on the e-mail link below.
  • Write Best Books in the subject line of your e-mail. If you are not already a subscriber to the Chroniclekids monthly e-mail bookblast, you will be signed up automatically.
  • You will be entered automatically. Winners will be notified by March 15th!

Enter now! Send an e-mail to kids@chroniclebooks.com.

Looks like they try to have a new contest every 4-6 weeks.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More Notes, Please

Alex is mad. His dad left with Alex's 3rd grade teacher and his mother has started dating. It's all too much, so after he sneaks a little too much of his dad's forgotten booze, he heads off in his mother's car to give his father a piece of his mind. Not only is Alex wasted, he has no driver's license. He doesn't make it. Luckily, the only casualty is ego and a French Lawn Gnome. His punishment? Community service with the most curmudgeonly prankster in the nursing home. Specially selected by his furious mother.

For whatever reason, I hesitated reading Jordan Sonnenblick's Notes From
The Midnight Driver. For no reason, really. The cover is hilarious. I think that when I first saw it I may still have been in the downward spiral that was King Dork and the last thing I wanted to read was another book about some obnoxious teen boy being an idiot. That and drunk driving pisses me off.

Right. So Notes was not that book.

Well, yeah, there was the drunk driving, but Alex was held completely responsible for it - there were consequences that led our boy to grow from the point of a "but nobody got hurt!" defense to the acceptance of guilt & repercussions. It was great. It was funny and touching, and I read it in one sitting, simply because I could. Alex was dynamic and his growth was believable. My only quibble was that I wish that there had been more actual notes. They were some of the books finest moments, and obviously the inspiration for the title. More would have been better.

I have not read Sonnenblick's other title, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, but I've heard wonderful things. Easy sell to fans of Abundance of Katherines and Born to Rock.

Monday, February 05, 2007

No, seriously, OMG.

More than any scary movie or horror novel, Life as We Knew It freaked me out. I desperately wanted to read this months ago, but I had to wait for my part of the Cybils (winner announced Feb. 14th!) to be over before I could indulge this purely pleasurable read.

Like the rest of the country, Miranda, is planning on watching the meteor strike the moon, but when the scientists are wrong and the meteor proves to be larger than anyone thought, life as everyone knows it changes. The climate falls apart, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis kill millions and Miranda and her family must fight to survive.

This book makes me want to buy a house in the country with a wood stove and a well. It makes me want to start stocking my pantry with food for an army. Initially, right after reading it, every time I went anywhere near the grocery store I felt a compulsion to buy LOTS of bottled water and canned goods. Susan Beth Pfeffer made her entire scenario so plausible that for weeks after reading it I was still feeling its effects. She immersed me in the plot, and Miranda's voice was so authentic and understandable that I had to remind myself that it was all FICTION. Really. Cohort Sara had a similar reaction.

Fans of Francine Prose's After and Rosoff's How I Live Now should like it. That book freaked me out too. Or fans of that movie with Jake Gyllenthaal and the wolves that made me laugh. Where they took refuge in the library? Um... Oh right, The Day After Tomorrow.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Death & Libraries - The Great Equalizers

Horrifying and Fascinating.

Never underestimate a librarian.

(Also, $.02 fines? in 1961? Are you telling me in 45 years fines have only gone up $.13?)

Viewing Habits

What will I be watching on Sunday? No, not that.


Why? Because I loved the books as a teen. Billie Piper was awesome in Dr. Who, and seems like a perfect fit for Sally Lockhart. I liked them better than Pullman's far better known "His Dark Materials" trilogy, but had my mother not handed me The Golden Compass, I never would have found Sally.

So, I cannot wait until 8pm Sunday for Ruby in the Smoke.

Add the fact that I'm going to the Symphony for a George Gershwin extravaganza on Saturday, this is shaping up to be a pretty cool/dorky/happy weekend for me! Yay!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If I finish it, I talk about it...

Jean has cerebral palsy. She's lived her life as though she were normal and now she's at a summer camp for disabled kids, alone for the first time, and about to encounter Sara, another camper who will show her a whole new way to look at the world, and herself.

Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson has a lot of fans. I'm not one of them. It's been popping up here and there on best lists, and I realize I'm probably in the minority here, so I'll get right to the crux of my issue. I felt the author's presence throughout the book. I felt that I was given a naive narrator in order to highlight an exalted secondary character that felt, to me, idealized. Because of the author's presence, it was as though she had cast her adult self as Sara. Jean, the narrator, felt like a foil.

Now, for me, this threw me out of the story and took away from the topic, which is undeniably important. I find it interesting that Johnson decided to set this in 1970. I understand that you have to write the novel that is in you, but I ask if the topic suffers for being almost 40 years out of date. That is, if the purpose of the novel is to show disabled people are no less than anyone, why the setting; was it necessary? If the purpose is to start discussion about the treatment of them prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act, cool, perhaps there should have been more on that. Is the book supposed to inspire us to fight for rights? There was definitely an attitude of bitterness and anger often manifesting as rights rebellion, but I don't know how effective or productive the 'stand up for yourself' message was. One does not need to have just one purpose, but in this case, I think that the juggling of so many made them all suffer. And seriously, what was UP with that ending? It just clinches to me the argument that the noble Sara was the real focus of the novel - not Jean, and that Sara is the fictional manifestation of Johnson.

It's not horrible. Really, it's not. I don't hate it. I just don't really like it, either. I felt as though it should have been a memoir; that it might have been more effective for me that way. I recognize that this title speaks to many people; and I'll be able to put it into the correct hands, but give me Terry Trueman any day. All said, the title should be definitely be included in lists for tolerance and disabilities, but it certainly doesn't make any of my best lists. Of course, this is all my opinion, and I know that most of you disagree, but just stop for a minute and think about whether it is the topic, the author or the writing you are praising. Feel free to hate me up in the comments.