Sunday, March 22, 2009

More books read

I've been meaning to write down all the books I read in February and the beginning of March, and life has just been demanding that I do other things... like you know, catch up on work. =) So my grand plans of telling you how fabulous all of these books are foiled, but rest assured that THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is made of awesome, and Lynne Jonell's two volumes remind me strongly of an American Roald Dahl. Which is a very high compliment on my part, and I recommend that any of you with children pick up copies of her two books. And Neil Gaiman needs no endorsement, of course. And honestly, every book on this list is just plain good. =)

7. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman
10. HA'PENNY by Jo Walton
11. HALF A CROWN by Jo Walton
13. SKINNED by Robin Wasserman
14. LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott

An advisory note for LIVING DEAD GIRL: The book is good. It is, in fact, something close to masterpiece. But it is about a highly potent topic, so I feel the need to give the same warning that the editor who gave it to me passed along.

LIVING DEAD GIRL is about a girl who was kidnapped when she was ten years old, sexually abused, and is still living in her kidnapper's clutches at the age of fifteen. It is dark and it is disturbing, but I couldn't put it down once I picked it up. Elizabeth Scott's writing is gorgeous, and she masterfully uses various POVs to tell the story. At times, it's almost like reading a prose poem. It made me cry. I didn't want to read about what happened to the little girl, but I couldn't stop because the writing was *that* good. I can't recommend it highly enough, but if you read it, you should know what it's about.

(I'm probably forgetting some book or other here, so expect it to be added on later.)


Anonymous said...

Oh, man, the Farthing books. Jo is one of my favorite people, but I simply don't have a strong enough stomach to read Holocaust books, so I find myself emotionally invested in people's reactions to books that I haven't read, and know that I'm never going to read. So I'm glad that you liked them!

If you spot a problem with the Jewish details, that's probably either my fault, or my wife's -- I answered her questions while writing those books, and Naomi looked through it when she was done. And made traditional Ashkenazi charoset for her when we were over in Montreal.


Tez Miller said...

I already have Skinned and Living Dead Girl on my wishlist, so thank you for confirming that they're worth reading :-)

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

I loved the Farthing series, although FARTHING scared me far more than HA'PENNY or HALF A CROWN did. FARTHING was truly, truly terrifying.

The Jewish details were actually really accurate; at least to the point where none of them threw me off. But Judaism around the world is so different in different places, that Jo probably had even more leeway in the Seder portions, etc.

I adore charoses. =) I come from a strangeish background: my father's family are Ashkenazi Modern Orthodox, my mother's family are Ashkenazi and more Conservative, but used to be more religious, and I'm the agnostic Jew who married an atheist Italian-American. But at the same time, I still consider myself Jewish. It's a cultural identity even more than it is a religious one for me, I think. Although it has tones of both.

Anonymous said...

My problem is that whenever I read something that touches on the Holocaust, I find myself in a sort of depressive historical fugue -- it took such a confluence of evil and indifference and circumstance that it's hard for me not to dwell on manners in which it could have been avoided. Which isn't a healthy state of mind for me to be in.

I'm glad our work on the Jewish stuff paid off! Of course, it was Jo who did most of the actual work in that regard; for someone whose knowledge of Jewish practice came almost entirely through fannish osmosis, there wasn't much that actually needed changing.

Assuming that members of your father's family attended Yeshiva University, they probably know people from my family; it's a small world that way. As I see it, Judaism is a tangle of stuff -- religion, culture, ethnicity -- and each of those things have widely divergent streams. On the surface, a traditionally religious Ethiopian Jew isn't going to have that much in common with a secular Ashkenazi academic. And yet, there is something there, an angle at which they hold their heads, a certain sort of humor. And, though they approach it differently, they both know what the Shema is.


Anonymous said...

I'm probably going to be in a group of one here, but I was disappointed the The Graveyard Book. I thought the writing was lazy, the characters shallow, and it had a narrative voice that at times is patronising in the way it talks down to the readership.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

dhole, "Assuming that members of your father's family attended Yeshiva University" They actually didn't; more Brooklyn College and NYU people themselves. However, they are highly active in the yeshivas in Brooklyn, so if you know anyone who went to Crown Heights Yeshiva, they'll have met my dad's family. Or me, for that matter, as I used to march with CHY in the Israeli Day Parade as a kid (indoctrinated early, I was!).

But I agree, with what you said about Judaism in your prior post; I like it. =)

lotusgirl said...

Thanks for the recommendations.

Noble M Standing said...

I just finished "Living Dead Girl". Definately an adult book because of subject matter. But you're right I couldn't put it down it was like velcro. A sad but gripping tale. I would have liked the end to be a little diferent but still satisfying.