Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gone Girl


Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl. New York: Crown Publishers, 2012. Print.
image from:  www.amazon.com
My Thoughts
I finally did it and read a "red star" book**. This is not my genre, but I really enjoyed this story. There was more mystery in it than blood and guts (even though one of the main characters is murdered). Additionally, there was a large amount of sex and language that I should put a warning here.
**"red star books" in my library are murder/mystery/drama/blood & guts, scary stuff

Part One: Boy Loses Girl
The story starts simply enough with Nick Dunne as the narrator setting the scene.This married couple has faced hardships and relocation. Now, they are living in his Missouri hometown. The next chapter is Amy Elliott's (Nick's now wife) diary entry. In the diary,we see her side of their marriage. The chapters' narrator is listed at the top so the reader knows from which side of the story we are reading. This is not confusing (and once the characters settle in for the reader, the "named" chapters are almost unnecessary).
It is the couple's fifth wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing.
Amy's expectations of marriage are not met (Flynn 40). Nick lies to the police (admitted to the reader) at least five times in the first encounter (Flynn 37). The mystery begins.

The police detectives who come to investigate Amy's disappearance are named Jim Gilpin and Rhonda Boney. Nick explains that his brain was having "mental gas I couldn't control. Like, I'd started internally singing the lyrics to 'Bony Moronie' whenever I saw my cop friend...my brain would bebop as Detective Rhonda Boney" talked (Flynn 78). I laughed. Not because of the insensitivity of Nick,but it reminded me of my dad teaching this song to my daughter. I didn't know it was a real song.

Another thing that I laughed about was the distinction Amy makes about bulk shoppers. "Republicans go to Sam's Club, Democrats go to Costco" (Flynn 119). HA!

There are many things I read in this first part of the book that I believed to be clues to the story. There is a mistress. Nick says he's a "big fan of the lie of omission" (Flynn 133). He "sees" Amy in a dream crawling on the kitchen floor. It turns out Amy is pregnant. Nick realizes that he got better, smarter, more alive because of Amy. "That was both our making and our undoing...I had pretended to be one kind of many and revealed myself to be quite another" (Flynn 214).  Then...

Part Two: Boy Meets Girl
I AM SHOCKED! I cannot believe what I'm reading! This is quite a twist that I absolutely was not expecting. In fact, I thought I had the story figured out and would have to endure the remainder of the book. I was wrong about what I "knew" from Part One. I don't want to write here what happens because I want future readers to feel the suspense and shock as I did. Part Two kept me reading to get to Part Three. Good job, Gillian Flynn!

Part Three: Boy Gets Girl Back (Or Vice Versa)
These last 46 pages are the resolution to Nick and Amy's story. I am surprised by the ending, but after thinking about the "clues" that were given in the rest of the book, the story could only end in the way it does.

I will chance reading more "red star" books, and especially more of Gillian Flynn.

On a side note, my husband and I watched the movie after I read the book. I liked that the movie stayed pretty close to the book, with some omissions, of course.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Orphan Train

Kline, Christina Baker. Orphan Train: A Novel. New York: William Morrow, 2013. Print.
image from:http://christinabakerkline.com/novels/orphan-train/
My Thoughts
There seems to be a trend in my reading pattern this year. This is the second book I've read that the characters' stories alternate and then come together. Unlike All the Light We Cannot See where the characters' stories run in a parallel time, the main characters in this book mirror each other's stories because there is a wide gap in age between the two main characters.
Another trend I'm seeing this year is what I will call Book Within a Book. In this title, the characters have Jane Eyre and Anne of Green Gables.
Both Molly and Vivian are orphans. Molly was caught stealing a book, so she must do community service hours as punishment. Vivian's attic becomes the community service project. Molly is to help the aging Vivian clean out and organize the contents. When Molly pulls something out of a box, Vivian's memories take over the story and the reader learns why these mementoes are being kept.
The bulk of this book is Vivian's memories of the life she lived. The reader doesn't see as much of Molly's life because it's still to be lived.
"My entire life has felt like chance. Random moments of loss and connection" (Kline 235).
Even though this story is fiction, the actual orphan trains did run. It was interesting to think about how many lives, how many stories, how many different paths those trains changed.
I took notes as I read. I enjoyed the revelations of Vivian's story. I felt the helplessness she felt in her various situations. I was thankful that Miss Larsen was in Vivian's life!
This will be a book I read again. It's my book club's read this month.
Title reference on page 29.

The Truth About Alice

Image result for truth about alice book

Mathieu, Jennifer. The Truth About Alice. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2014. Print.
image from:www.amazon.com
My Thoughts
Something told me to read this book before I put it on the shelf. I thought I needed to know the content (remember reading Go Ask Alice?). I shouldn't have worried.
What happens when the rumor mill starts?

Early in the book, I felt that Mathieu must have visited Stephenville. She describes the fictional town of Healy in ways that I thought she was writing about Stephenville. "Football is enormous in Healy, but Healy itself is not. It's basically...just far enough away from the city that it can't really be considered a suburb, but it's not big enough to be considered much more than just a small town" (Mathieu 5). There is much pride in the town's football program and players. This is important because the star quarterback is involved with Alice's rumors. "The biggest store is a Walmart and we have to drive an hour and ten minutes to go to a real mall" (Mathieu 5). Yep, she's been here.

This is Alice's story, even though she only has one chapter--the last. The story is told from 4 different classmates who all "know" what happened one night at a party.

Elaine is popular and a bully. She has fooled many parents, teachers and community members. Kelsie is the "new girl" who got to reinvent herself when she moved to Healy. She tries to hang on to this new status no matter the cost. Josh is Brandon's best friend. Josh was with Brandon on the night he died. And then there's Kurt. Kurt is the math genius with a crush on Alice. He is also Brandon's neighbor. Mathieu's characters are believable.

As I read this book, I kept thinking about my daughter and how I hope she will avoid the mill. I also thought about students and how they deal with the rumors that circulate. Thinking of both angles made me apprehensive and sad. I remember rumors in high school; how I was part of them and how I probably perpetuated them as well. However, with the use of social media, kids today have an entirely different experience with rumors.

Right after I finished reading this book, I learned that Jennifer Mathieu will be at my library conference this year. I'm going to seek her out and thank her for this book. I think there are many good lessons in here, especially the value of having hope.