Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

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Julie Murphy is one of the brightest stars of her generation of YA authors. No, scratch that. Of her generation of AUTHORS period. I love her books. The characters are vividly drawn, the dialogue is pitch-perfect. The emotions are spot-on to the age group. Everything is …. well… excellent.

There were so many amazing quotes, but, sadly, my week didn’t allow much time to pull over and write them down. I listened to the audio book, and in this case I wish I’d read it. I’d have covered a notebook in quotes.

Maybe the gist of life is learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Ramona Blue

 

The Story

Coming of age is difficult enough when you live in a former FEMA trailer with a decent, hard-working single Dad and your knocked up, but wonderful sister. Add in sister’s obnoxious boy friend, a drunk Mom who left long ago and it gets worse. But then there’s sex.  Or rather sexuality. Now, don’t go rolling your eyes. Ramona, called Ramona Blue by some due to dying her hair blue, has a dilemma that it is sometimes shocking to those of us who grew up when Stonewall meant only a Confederate general. Is she a lesbian? Does she like boys? Too? Only? Both? Neither? Things get wonderfully complicated when Freddy returns to her life.

 

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The Good

I loved every minute of this book because it was all so true. The truth rings from each page of this story. I’ve heard sections of this in conversation with my kids and their friends. I’ve heard more of it from the young man I like who worked at the gas station but now works at the dollar store. It’s American teenage-hood circa today.

I loved that the sister and her boyfriend had to face real-life consequences. The boyfriend’s response was totally true-to-life. The girl friend didn’t get the Kate Middleton or Hollywood Starlet pregnancy. I loved that the someone in this story [no spoilers] stopped to retrieve a condom and put it on–and that he knew how to do it without having slept with half the school. That was amazing. And that they commented on how this was never part of a movie. I loved that drugs were not only not an entertainment option–they weren’t even mentioned except maybe for marijuana. While there was sex, it was not gratuitous nor was the writing graphic. And, no where was religion mocked.

It seems to me that childhood ends and adult life begins the moment you stop believing your parents can rescue you.

Ramon Blue

Ramona’s sense of having to be a grown-up, of having to protect her family is an angst that runs from Princes William and Harry down to the kid living in a beat-up, cast-off trailer in a no-where town. All classes of kids today seem to feel responsible in ways they shouldn’t [and yes, irresponsible in ways they usually should]. The determination she pours into helping her family is something I see kids do in our poor, rural area. They let it rob them of options–steal their own future. That part of the story is so achingly real that I often had tears in my eyes.

The sweetness of Freddy, the presence and authority of parents, the truthful thoughts on Ramona’s weaker parent, the feeling that even that lousy trailer was a home lifted me from my own worries and made me see that parents do their job more than we think. Her Dad did the job well. We hear about the worst stuff–the “where were the parents” stuff–not the good stuff. Parents were mostly obeyed, too. That was heartening to see in a YA novel.

I loved coach Pru. I have been that “coach” to many kids I encounter–pushing them to reach for more than a C.M.A. course–by all means do it to get the job, but don’t stop there–that sort of thing. I loved her. I loved that Ramona had a mentor find HER. That’s how it happens. Her struggle with this was also so painfully real. That pride of a very poor, disenfranchised kid is often their own worst enemy. Once again, Julie Murphy nailed that emotion.

And finally, I am still screaming YES! YES! YES! at Ramona’s excellent mockery of rom-com movies. “Why CAN’T the fat friend ever get the guy?” Plus who wouldn’t love a character who shares your own early adulthood breakfast of two Pop-Tarts and a diet Dr. Pepper?

The Bad The very, very, minor momentary disappointment explained

There really was absolutely nothing “bad.” Not at all. My one teensy, weensy disappointment was that sports were involved in getting to college. Too often poor kids, first generation college students to-be, see sports as the only possible way to get to college, when in fact they are among the worst.  I should have trusted that Julie Murphy would handle it perfectly and she did. The whole thing  was made truthful and real by the need for grants and loans to pursue it. But while I was had just the tiny-est disappointment in this, I know that an individual sport like swimming can be one of the greatest catalysts to personal strength and self-discipline ever. For that I rejoiced! I hope this story line inspires readers to get in the pool or out on the track or just on the sidewalk walking. It’s a great way to work off tension and sort out all the confusion in any mind.

Rating

4.75 out of 5 Stars

So good! Both Ramona Blue and Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ [my review is here] are destined to be Young Adult classics for years and years to come. I can’t wait for her next book,

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

 

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Let’s Have Some Grown-Up Fun This Summer! Pool Party for the Adults!

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Whether you are pre-,  post-,  or no kids, whether you have a backyard pool,  a lake cottage, a beach house or a place down on the lazy river, now is the time for a grown-ups summer water party!

What to serve

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Keep Food Cool With an Inflatable Cooler. But will it float?

Swimming, floating or just hanging out takes FUEL. Finger foods, snacks, drinks and a barbecue keep guests happy! Remember to have some girly stuff and some guy stuff so everyone is happy. Also respect those who choose not to drink alcohol.

The Finger Food

Sure everyone loves salsa and chips and guac, but mix it up a little!

 

 

Shrimp and Chorizo Bites

Classic Wedge Salad Sticks

Cucumber Bites

Munchies

Break old habits! Put out different dippers–try wild new crackers, gourmet pita chips or a new variety of corn chips for these!  For veggies add yucca or vibrantly colored carrots, golden beets. Live a little! For the cheese ball, we get it–it is for the guys. But they won’t die from having a few multi-grain or seeded crackers in with the Triskets or Ritz!

 

 

Bacon Ranch Beer Cheeseball

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Roasted Jalapeno Hummus

The Drinks

In addition to everyone’s favorites, have a  Margarita sampling bar.  Use these suggestions or concoct your own!

 

Blackberry Lemonade Margaritas

Watermelon Margaritas

Creamsickle Margaritas

But Wait! There’s More!! 22 Best Margarita Recipes!!!!

 

 

The Frozen Drinks

Hey, grown-ups love popsicles, too!

 

Cold Brew Mocha Popsicles

Champaigne and Fruit Popsicles (Includes 16 similar recipes)

Sweet Tea Popsicles

 

The Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Because people who don’t like alcohol still like to have fun drinks!

 

Strawberry Margarita Mocktail  (Post includes a bunch of great non-alcoholic drinks!)

Two-Ingredient Watermelon Limeaide (my son and I LOVE this stuff)

Vanilla Almond Iced Tea

There are zillions of flavored iced tea and flavored water drinks. Here is a collection of iced tea recipes and here are flavored or infused water recipes.

The Real Meal

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Keep it Simple by BBQ-ing meats and setting out fixings for a Fajita Bar

Use the suggestions in the link or use your own favorites. Fajitas just go with fun! But switch it up a little–try some new salsas, add a few different veggies, grill some fish or shrimp, too!

The Deserts

 

 

 

Margarita Ice Cream!!!!

Grilled No-Bake Pineapple Cheesecakes

Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookie and Bacon S’mores

Now, doesn’t that make you want to Party??

#Review: All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

 

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The Story

One summer a small town girl goes missing. 10 years later another girl from the same town goes missing. These are “all” the missing girls, by the way. Two. Still, what makes this story so compelling (once you adjust to it) is that it’s told backwards.  Nicolette comes back from the big city to help with preparing her father’s house for sale. He has developed Alzheimer’s and the house has been standing vacant since he was put into a nursing home.  Her big city lawyer boyfriend has just given her a rock a Royal could wear, but her hometown is just that–home.

The Good

While I sincerely hope this gimmick doesn’t take off and become the new “in” thing for novels, I applaud the author for such a creative story telling device–backwards really gives a different look at a story–especially a thriller. Once I was comfortable with the backwards progression it was very compelling and I wanted to keep listening.

 

The Bad

I felt these were the people I loathed in high school. Each as shallow as I remembered. I felt no sympathy for anyone in the story. The good news is I think that was the point. It’s a hard book to write about without giving spoilers. I must say on audio I got very frustrated trying to keep track of where in time the story was for a while, but I got used to it.

Rating

3.5

As one tweet said “It’s a Mind F#c*.” Indeed. And, that’s a compliment.

I will be reading more from this author.

Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

 

When I was in 3rd and 4th grade my Mom was one of a group of mothers who came to our school and presented great works of art–what we would call today an “enrichment program.” They were The Picture Ladies. Two of those pictures became life-long favorites of mine. The first was, Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LeGrand Jatte and the other was Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth.

So, when I saw Christina Baker Kline’s new novel, A Piece of the World, on my library’s book club shelf, I grabbed it. I knew from the cover it was about the painting in some way.

The Story

The older I get, the more I believe that the greatest kindness is acceptance.”

(p. 276).

 

Christian Olson and her brother live on their family’s old homestead in Maine. Christian, now in old age, meets Andy Wyeth a painter who befriends a friend of hers. With only limited use of her legs–and most of that even gone with age, Christina becomes a model for what will become Andy’s greatest painting.

“It’s painful to hold out hope for the things that once brought you joy. You ahve to find ways to make yourself forget.”

[Christina on her brother, Al] (p. 219)

She has visible demons: her nearly useless legs. She also has invisible ones–her descent from a judge in the Salem Witch Trials, her ties to author Nathaniel Hawthorne and her refusal of medical treatment in childhood. Then, too,  there is her father’s ending her education and assuming she’ll keep the family and the house going.

Andy too has his demons–notably following his father as an artist and as a man. Their relationship is complicated by the circumstances of his father’s untimely death.

I’m angry at losing him, but I’m also angry at the waste….The time wasted, the energy squandered on meaningless possessions, the compromises…I don’t want to make the same mistakes.

[Andy] (p. 194)

The Good

The book captures the salt air-dried atmosphere of the painting to perfection. I felt I knew Christina pretty well by the end. Andy was a bit more elusive, but a typical artist nonetheless. You can’t pin him down.

I enjoyed the look at Christiana’s life thru the years. I had always envisioned her as a girl though–it was fascinating to learn she was an elderly woman who was respected and accepted by the artist and his wife.

I felt the joy and sadness of Christina’s life as though she was my own relative or dear friend. I felt Andy had a right to be conflicted.  That’s how well-told the story was.

 

The Bad

I really don’t have any complaints. There were a few places where I wanted more to the story but it is a sparse book to go with a sparse life, sparse region and sparse, mysterious painting.

I’m not sure why the Bible was always in lowercase letters. Perhaps that was a style-sheet change at the publisher.  Overall the book was respectful to religion. One busy-body got what she deserved, but that was it.

 

Rating

4 Stars

With two excellent books, this one and Orphan Train (now in a young person’s edition–I love that!) that I’ve enjoyed, Christian Baker Kline is an author whose future books I will eagerly await. I hope to read her past books as well.

 

A Piece of the World by Chrsitina Baker Klein

For more information on Christina and the Wyeths see the Farnsworth Art Museum which includes the Wyeth Center and the Olson House (Christina’s home which is the house in the painting).

 

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Photo credit: The Farnsworth Museum/Olson House

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Coming Out Later This Year

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Like any big reader, I do scan the “forthcoming” listings on Goodreads or elsewhere, hoping for releases from favorite authors or for debuts that sound like my kind of book.  Reading Challenges also come to mind as I look at these lists–Challenges are a great way to broaden your reading horizons. Here then are a few books I’m looking forward to in the last six months of 2017.

Why not go to the Broke and the Bookish and enjoy other great Top Ten Tuesday lists from this week? Or, read the rules and post your own!

Review: Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

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I loved Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy so I was very excited to find her newest book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I listened to the book on my commute.

The Story

Li-yan is a member of an ethnic minority in modern day China. The story begins before Tiananmen Square and before the official push for Chinese to become rich. It is also about the time that foreign families began adopting Chinese orphans–mostly unwanted daughters. Li-yan’s ethnic group has strong beliefs and one is in “human rejects”–twins, children born out-of-marriage and children with disabilities are all left to die or are simply killed outright at birth. Li-yan defies tradition in a few important ways and one is to abandon her newborn daughter to an orphanage.

The book follows the lives of boy Li-yan and her abandoned daughter who grows up in a wealthy California family as Haley.

The Good

If you loved anthropology in college then you’ll love most of this book. It goes into extreme detail on the Akha people, their traditional way of life, beliefs and, courting and marriage customs.

If you are interested in tea, this is also your book. Seemingly no aspect of tea growing or processing is left un-discussed by the story for Li-yan’s family grows tea and tea is what makes the story.

Haley’s adoptive parents do seek therapy for her to help her adjust even though she was an infant when she was adopted. They recognize that adoption starts with loss. That’s good. They also do all the things parents do to try to maintain the child’s links with his or her “birth” culture.  And, Haley gets a fabulously expensive education and trips to China–first when she is 17 and again her senior year at Stanford.

I loved the story of Li-yan meeting a successful, single businessman. That was so sweet. I also loved the “eavesdropping” on Haley’s group therapy.

It was good enough that I kept listening though, especially in the later parts of the book.

The Bad

UGH. Why all the discussion of how people have sex? If I’d read the phrase “doing the intercourse” or just “the intercourse” ONE. MORE. TIME. I’d have given up on this book. Please–we get it! The whole world does it. Cole Porter wrote a song about it for goodness sake! And it’s even all the way back in the Old Testament. That got really, really, really, really OLD. If they didn’t have sex, they’d die out. We get it already.

The cultural anthropology and tea production “lectures” were about as interesting as the average textbook. They also made for a lot of very stilted conversation which is a huge drag. I thought this could have been better handled with a long chapter-starting quote on some aspect of tea production or Akha culture and then they could have just shut up about the intercourse and drank the damned tea and talked about something else like normal people. You know, like, “Say Dad, have you checked the tea prices yet this morning?”  But no! “No Girl [what Li-Yan is called in the family] I was too busy doing the intercourse and making sure first, second, and third brother were doing the intercourse. UGH. lol No wonder Li-yan got out! LOL. [Yes, I’m using text-speak so you know I’m joking.]

While all of Lisa See’s story’s have amazing coincidences or really unlikely happenings, this one really outdid the others. But, like someone once said about James Bond movies, “put your brains under the seat and don’t ask too many questions.” It is a compelling story in spite of my personal dislikes of certain aspects.

And why in novels do the buildings containing records always burn down? And do Chinese orphanages really keep things the kids came into the system with?

Rating

3.5 stars

I will, of course, continue to read Lisa See’s books (or listen to them), but this one was almost thrown back. The later part of the book was  much better, but then came the ending. Oh well…..  Like Anita Shreve’s newest book [review] it was as though Lisa See just said “Oh what the heck….” and ended it. Very cliched and very unlikely.

I felt Shanghai Girls and  Dreams of Joy were much better.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Book Club Bonus

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Author Lisa See’s website offers Book Club Tea Tasting packages for only $25. The kit includes:

Included in this tea tasting kit are:
• 3 premium pu-erh teas
• 2 miniature tea cakes
• brewing instructions
• a discussion guide
• background information on each tea

I LOVE THIS!

I’ve never seen a tea cake, so I’d be especially interested in this tasting. Too bad I’m not in a book club though!

Video–the book’s inspiration

Author Lisa See discusses her inspiration for the book.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Minor Characters–Canine Edition

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Last year I did a Top Ten Tuesday post on this topic, so I decided to spin it a bit differently. Today’s list–favorite minor DOG characters!

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Norman the big, black, cow-sized, farting, loving, protector-dog. All kids who don’t mesh with the so-called popular kids deserve a real animal to love and to be loved and protected by.  Norman went above and beyond the call of duty for his girl. You can read my review here.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

 

 

 

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Barnabas–Father Tim’s, big dog who can only be calmed with Bible verses! Love the big lug.

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Anne Tyler is a favorite of mine and this is one of her best books.  I love Edward–the dog who is the catalyst for the story. It is Edward who brings Macon and Muriel together. He was even cooler in the movie since he was played by a tri-colored Corgi.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

 

 

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Salty is pastry chef Livvy’s wonderful dog who goes to work with her.

City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

 

 

 

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Arthur Guiness–named for the famed brewer of Guiness beer, is a black lab–a big lummox! He retrieves Wellington boots left out on neighbors’ back steps. But Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and his housekeeper, Mrs. Kinky Kincaid, couldn’t get along without him

The Irish Country Doctor series

A Bonus dog

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Hound Penderwick, loyal companion of Batty–the youngest Penderwick sister. He is the dog every kid should get to grow up with.

The Penderwicks series

Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Goodreads. Every Wednesday members post blog or video posts with the week’s list.

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Books I’ve Read in the Summer

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As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, I remember so many of the books I read in the summer as a kid so much better than those assigned in school. As an adult I’ve kept a reading log for many years. As a librarian I am skilled in dredging up books whose title’s I’ve forgotten. It all combines to make book lists like Top Ten Tuesday a passion for me.–in case you didn’t notice already.

From My Teen Years

Note: Whenever possible I’ve used “my” covers for these books. If you purchase one thru the link in this post, (I do NOT make any money) the cover may be different.

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Eric–who didn’t fall in love with the sweet, kind, jock who died of leukemia back in the ’70s. Patricia Neal played his mother in a worked over tv movie version of this book later in the decade. I read and re-read this book!  And he played….soccer! So exotic in Indiana in the early 1970s when soccer was a sport played at schools with “Prep” or “Academy” in their names and most were in New England and charged ridiculous tuition to students with Kennedy, Buckley or even Roosevelt as last names. Eric by Doris Lund. [Note: Doris Lund’s picture book was featured in this summer fun post last year].

I love big, sprawly multi-generational family sagas or other big, sprawling books. The 1970s were a fabulous decade for such books. R. F. Delderfield and Herman Wouk were among the best-selling authors of this type book. Belva Plain hit the scene with her first, Evergreen, too. These books more than stand the test of time. I highly recommend these–an others by the same authors.

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Wednesday’s post told about this book–which I read in the summer of 1976, including while at band camp. In those days I could read with all kinds of chaos around me. Today, I can rarely do that. I usually need earbuds or white noise if there are people around. Show Boat by Edna Ferber and Giant by Edna Ferber–a later summer read.

Later Summers

I’ve chosen randomly from my reading logs to introduce books I enjoyed that I haven’t written as much, if anything, about before.

These are all such compelling stories! Two are historical, one very recent history. All three are so worth the time.

 

Looking forward to reading during this summer…

 

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I’m reading this with a not-really-a-book-club-book-club. Totally out of my comfort zone, but I’m going to try.

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan.

 

 

 

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I loved Julie Murphy’s Dumplin (read my post on it here) so I can’t wait to get my hands on this one! Ramona Blue

 

 

 

 

 

Why not go to the Broke and the Bookish and enjoy other great Top Ten Tuesday lists from this week? Or, read the rules and post your own!

 

Review: The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

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I admire Anita Shreve as an author. She must work non-stop to produce all those best-selling books. She has legions of fans–including Oprah who is surely an author’s best advocate. This is my second time reading one of her books. The first, A Change in Altitude, was a huge disappointment. (You can read my review here.) Happily, her newest book, Stars are Fire, is much better, but still lacking… something….

The Story

Gene and Grace Holland area  young couple with a dubious marital dynamic. We are, of course, treated to a thorough discussion of their sex life and Gene’s puzzling preference for a non-missionary position. Why in God’s name we needed to know this is never made clear. The story though gets a lot more umph when one of the state of Maine’s greatest natural tragedy’s occurs–the 1947 wild fire that wiped out a number of towns along it’s coast. Now it gets pretty interesting.

The Good

Grace shows amazing knowledge of how to survive a wildfire raging thru a town. Girl Scouts? Bluebirds? Red Cross training? Anyway, as you likely guessed, she and her children and her best buddy, Rosie and her kids, survive. That was a relief.

I loved that she did NOT have ultra-modern views on everything. She accepted that she was married, that her husband was head of the family, that her role was to raise the children, keep the house and give her husband his interesting sexual release just like all good wives in 1947.  But then came the fire….

The Bad

Trying to say this without spoilers…. She wasn’t much of a detective after the fire. She needs to read the great Clovis Anderson’s Principles of Private Detection (see the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith) or read a few mysteries while the kids nap.  That she jumps to a huge and obviously erroneous conclusion after the fire….oh geesh… as one reviewer said–inspires a Lifetime movie.

I really did not like Grace or her husband. I DID like Rosie. I wish there was a book on Rosie–she was full of life.  And I loved John. John should have been the story in my humble opinion. I think he had backstory to carry a great book. Grace and Gene and lovely Aiden were…well, pretty generic in spite of Gene’s “odd” preference in the bedroom. (The Kinsey Report came out in this era. I doubt Gene’s preference was very shocking.) Grace was generic in spite of being a heroic mother. In spite of showing the girt to survive that would make Scarlett O’Hara happy. In spite of being an amazingly modern mother who reasons with her children and apparently has the touch of Princess Di with her kids–always hunkering down to look them in the eye and all that. In spite of taking her homeless mother in to be the drudge. In spite of being nice to people. Generic.

The ending? Ugh. Cue song “The Times of Your Life” or “The Way We Were” or…. you get the idea. It was like Bobby Ewing’s dream. I had to wonder if she was finishing on the last final day and just said “Oh, to hell with it….”  And we never found out why it was so necessary to discuss their sex life, either. “Enquiring,” prurient, annoyed minds want to know now that it’s stuck in our brains. Otherwise, please pass the brain bleach.

Then there is the name thing. Claire! Ugh! Claire! I have a spreadsheet of all the Claires in novels I’ve read. Editors? Take not, please. No More Claires. (Or Tess or Grace or Kate). Ok??  That, obviously is  a pet peeve, but truly so many different authors landing on the same over-used name gets old.

Rating

3.5

In spite of my bad comments, I do love Anita Shreve’s writing style. Her descriptions are so vivid and, even when I don’t like the story, her writing is compelling and keeps me going, wanting to finish the story. Sorry, though. I doubt this one is depressing enough for Oprah’s Book Club (O Magazine’s I suppose it is now).

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Review: The Last Girls by Lee Smith

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When I find an author I like, I tend to go on and read all (or at least most) of what they’ve published. I started this in high school with Herman Wouk, then in college with Chaim Potok and have kept up the habit with several others over the years. In this era of Reading Challenges there are some aimed at doing this and others at clearing your To Be Read list/pile. Lee Smith’s The Last Girls is one of those books. I read her novel Oral History when it came out then lost track of her. Recently I read (and reviewed here) her memoir, Dimestore: A Writer’s Life and decided she’d be one of the author’s whose backlist (prior books) I’d tackle gradually. (I posted about the other author’s I’d read in this Top 5 Wednesday post).

Best Quote

”…she has given her body nearly away already, to her children and her husbands, and now she wants to hold on to what she can.”

The Story

In 1965 a group of girls (including the author in her real life) went down the Mississippi by raft. All were students at a Southern women’s college. In the book they all reunite after one dies and go on a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi to remember their lost friend.

The Good

I’m one of those readers who loves the backstories of the characters. I like to know all about them.  I loved learning about each of their childhoods, what they were like in college, where they were today. The title comes from the old news story about the trip–they were referred to as “girls” and not women. One of them remarks that that could not happen today.  Hence they are the “last” girls to do such a trip.

The plot may have been a standard reunion story (a plot I usually really enjoy, by the way), but the characters each had unexpected, if not really “secret-secret” aspects of their life and of their inner “person.” I found myself really looking forward to the drive to and from work (an hour and 15 minutes each way) so I could listen to more of their stories.

I related best to Anna who, in college, planned to write serious fiction but settled for making great money writing formula romances. And I loved Pete–the “River Lore-ian” [I listened to the audio. I don’t think it was laureate. I think he was about River Lore, hence Lore-ian.] I enjoyed that entire story line. And, ugh! Bridgette and Leonard–who hasn’t been trapped with people like them?

An aside: I loved learning that “Mary Scott College” was, in real life, Virginia’s Hollis College where a friend’s mother, who became a poet, went. That was a fun “extra” connection.

The Bad

In spite of all the great backstory, I didn’t come away feeling I knew the characters.

I couldn’t stand Baby. There, I’ve said it! She was…well…a baby! I realize she was mentally ill and in 1962–1965 there were no medications that helped. That part was very sad–and I completely sympathized with even a fictional person suffering in that era. But I still couldn’t stand her little, whiney, manipulative, entitled self!  I could see dear Jeff adoring her–the “Soldier boy” protecting a “baby” and all. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t see why Harriet stayed friends with her! I’d have been at the college housing office in a week begging to move ANYWHERE to avoid her! Even marrying an older man didn’t make her more endearing–and I usually love any story of that sort.

I also kind of hoped Courtney would follow dear Baby’s ashes off the side of the ole Showboat Paddle Wheeler. Another lady who lunches who wasn’t satisfied with all she had. Catherine wasn’t annoying but her husband sure was. Nice, but annoying.

Picky, picky stuff: While panty hose had technically come out in 1962 they were far from common yet and, there was no diet Coke in ’65. Minor stuff–very, very minor stuff.

Rating

3.5 Star

That I didn’t like the main character was personal preference. The writing is wonderful! If you like reunion stories as much as I do, you will still enjoy this one, in spite of my dislikes.

I look forward to another Lee Smith novel before too long. I am going to read them all still., in my own sweet time. As an author, Lee Smith inspires me.

Here’s a link to the author’s story of her own raft trip.

The Last Girls by Lee Smith

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Is it me, or are those bathing suits more suited to the 1940’s than to the Annettte and Frankie years?