ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 6-8

6. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Wow. I've heard this recommended many times, and it did not disappoint. I was also warned to have hankies on hand for the final few chapters. Yes, that was good advice as well. I finished this in two days. The protagonist is Hazel, 17, who has terminal cancer. A new drug has bought her some time, but she is acutely aware of her own mortality. In many ways, she is a typical teen, trying to find her place in the world, but at the beginning you get the sense that she's (understandably) discouraged and frustrated by her limitations. One night, however, during a support group meeting she's dragged to by her mother, she meets Augustus, a cancer survivor, and they both share strong feelings for each other. Their journey includes a trip to Amsterdam to meet the author of Hazel's favorite book. This story is humorous and heartbreaking by turns (the later especially in the final chapters), with fantastic characters. The book doesn't whitewash going through cancer. What I really liked, too, were Hazel's parents. They are good, ordinary people - neither horrible nor saintly- trying their best under incredibly difficult circumstances (and that is putting it mildly).

7. Flora and Ulysses, the Illuminated Adventures, by Kate DiCamillo, with illustrations by K.G. Campbell. This is a charming and quirky story good for older grade school. The story is embellished with wonderful black and white illustrations. Flora, a young girl who latches on to the label of "cynic" that her mother has given her, loves comics, much to her mother's chagrin. Her life changes when she rescues a squirrel and adopts him. The squirrel had a near-death experience after being sucked into an overly powerful vacuum cleaner belonging to a neighbor but comes back to the brink with the power to fly, to write and to understand the humans around him. Together, Flora and Ulysses seek adventures. Parts of the book are told from Flora's point of view, and others from the squirrel's. Only complaint is labeling the mother a villain early on (although in the end she does come around). I realize this is for children, and from a child's point of view, but a lot of literature and television portray parents as dumb and to be disobeyed. It bothered me here.

8. Me talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris. One word can describe this collection of essays from Sedaris: hilarious! This compilation includes several stories about his family, including his early childhood, his battle of wills with his elementary school speech therapist, his brief "career" in jazz, his brief stint as a performance artist, and his trips to France. The opening story on his dealings with his speech therapist and his stories on trying to learn French were among my favorites. Definitely want to read more of his books!

Currently reading: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (a little more than halfway through), and Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut (just started)
Tags: comedy, fiction, non-fiction, young adult

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