Friday, November 21, 2008

Jake, Reinvented

Korman, Gordon. Jake, Reinvented. New York: Hyperion Paperbacks, 2003.

Plot Summary
This is a revised version of The Great Gatsby. It is set in the midwest at F. Scott Fitzgerald High School. The five main characters represent the five of Fitzgerald's famous novel. Jake Garrett (Jay) throws fantastic parties in hopes to impress his love Didi (Daisy).

Critical Analysis
I enjoyed reading the "new" version of Jay Gatz and picking out the similarities between this book and Gatsby. Rick (Nick) is the kicker for the team. Since he is now considered Jake's best friend (after only knowing him two weeks), Rick decides he'll take the popularity. As he states, "We kickers don't get a lot of headlines" (Korman 93).

Once Jake (Jay) and Didi (Daisy) begin their re-acquaintance, the parties become more crowded. Didi's boyfriend Todd (Tom), the star quarterback, picks up on the magnetism between the two, he begins rumors about Jake. "Actually it made perfect sense. Our great and exalted quarterback had soured on Jake. Therefore it was only a matter of time before everyone else fell into line. I love high school. It's a place for individuality to flourish" (Korman 128).

Another line that caught me was when Didi tells Jake, "'Why do you always have to spoil everything? Isn't it enough that I'm with you now?'" I remember that line from Gatsby, so I looked it up and sure enough, Daisy says to Jay, "'Oh, you want too much! I love you now--isn't that enough?'" (Fitzgerald 140).

The title of the book is referenced on page 168.

As Fitzgerald wrote about Daisy, so too does Korman create Didi. An incident occurs and Didi holds true to form: she does not right a wrong that she created. At the pivital moment of Jake's life, only Rick and Dipsy show up. Where are all of his "friends" now?

I feel like I've reread the plot of Gatsby without the complication of reading Fitzgerald. This book was worth spending the day reading.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Wrobleswski, David. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. New York: Harper Collins, 2008.

Plot Summary
This is a story of a mute boy who grows up raising dogs. Through a series of events, he must flee his home and survive on his own. He realizes that he must return home to the memory of his father, confront the evil uncle and make amends with his beloved companion, Almondine.

Critical Analysis
This book is a whopping 562 pages. About 200 or more pages could be eliminated. The author throws out many possible story lines, as if he's not sure himself where the story is going. It took Wroblewski ten years to write this book. Why didn't the editor take some time to pare down the book? Or maybe the editor did (thank goodness because I can't imagine reading 500 more pages!).

I liked the basic story. It shows depth of human compassion and the relationships between humans and dogs. I like many of the descriptions the author used throughout the book. One of my favorites is when Louisa Wilkes enters the story. "Something about the prim way she walked and folded her hands when she sat made Trudy think she was a southerner, though she had no accent" (Wroblewski 39). The characters are memorable. "Ida Paine looked at her from her perch. She wore oversize glasses that magnified her eyes, and behind the lenses those eyes blinked and blinked again" (Wroblewski 37). We as readers get to see the story from all perspectives, including the dogs. This helps complete the story for us.

I didn't read the prologue before reading the book, and I actually think I was more surprised by the ending because I didn't have South Korea in my head. I did, however, have knowledge from a colleague that the last thirty pages were emotional. That tidbit kept me plugging through the book to see what would happen in the last thirty pages.

Like many books, after having read the entire thing for plot content, I could see the clues that Wroblewski dropped throughout the story. One of my favorite parts of the book is what I would call the "life lesson" of the book. "Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed, ready to eat them alive. You swam in a river of chance or coincidence" (Wroblewski 457).

Great story, just too lengthy!