ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
ningerbil
ningerbil
50bookchallenge

Books 53 and 54

53. Return to Sender, by Julia Alvarez. 2010 Pura Belpre Award Winner. This should be required reading for anyone with a strong opinion on the immigration issue. I don't know if it will change minds, but perhaps it will put a human face, as well as a different perspective, on the issue so that perhaps the varying sides on immigration reform can come together and come up with a true solution. I am probably dreaming, but one can wish, right? At any rate, the Paquettes, who own a dairy farm in Vermont, hire undocumented workers for their farm after the grandfather dies and the father becomes severely injured. One of the workers has three daughters. The oldest, Mari, is about the same age as the Paquette's youngest son Tyler. The two form a friendship, which has its share of ups and downs as Tyler realizes just why he can't tell his classmates too much about the new hired help, and as they grow up. The story is told alternately from Tyler's point of view and from Mari's letters and diary entries. The ending is far from tidy and happily ever after, which I appreciate, given the complexity of the issue.

54. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larrson. Don't let the near 600 pages fool you; this book moves fast. There actually are two main stories covered in this first book of Larrson's trilogy, both of them concerning Mikael Blomkvist, a well-known financial journalist. Blomkvist's stellar career is tarnished after he loses a high-profile libel case. Just as he's trying to decide his next steps, he's approached by the aging patriarch of a wealthy family. Vanger, whose family owns a once dominant business, wants to hire Blomkvist to search for clues in the murder case involving his young niece. Blomkvist winds up stumbling into more than a few family skeletons as he tries to look for information on a nearly 40 year old case. He also winds up teaming with Lisbeth Salander, a strangely introverted young woman who has an uncanny knack for research and ferreting out information. Being a top computer hacker helps. Larrson created two intriguing heroes for his stories. They are almost polar opposites. Blomkvist is almost an idealist. He's not starry-eyed, but he has a very strong code of ethics, especially in regards to his industry, and he doesn't mind making enemies because of it. Lisbeth, on the other hand, is more of "the ends justify the means" sort who has no trust in authority. One of the most cringe-worthy scenes involves her revenge against someone who sexually assaults her. Not that he didn't have it coming, but Lisbeth does not go in halves when setting out to correct a wrong. In some ways, it would be easy to feel sorry for her; Lisbeth's life, you get the impression, is a tragic one. But she doesn't really feel sorry for herself, and the young woman has nerves of steel.

Also started to read Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French. Great book, and I'm planning to reorder it after I've returned it. Alas, with my schedule, I couldn't finish. Drat, drat, drat!
Tags: mystery
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