My Own Little Book Corner

Saturday, March 3, 2007

February Book Reviews

I was able to read 6 books this month and while they weren't quite the "jackpot" of January, they were good books. Here's a quick review of each one.

"Split Second" by David Baldacci was the first book of the month. I've read several of his books and generally enjoy them. While this one was an easy read and entertaining, I found there were several weak spots in the plot. The basic story is about one ex-secret service agent and a current secret service agent who both had "lost" presidential candidates - one through an assassination and the other through a kidnapping. They join in an investigation of the latest event. Not my favorite book, but not a complete waste of time either. This one gets 3 1/2 stars from me for being barely above average.

The next book, "Life on the Color Line:The True Story of A White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black" by Gregory Howard Williams was a disappointment to me. I think I expected too much from it. Last year our city began a program - "One Book, One Community". The idea is to choose a book that is good for the whole community to read and to provide discussion groups, lectures, movies, etc. that goes along with the book. Sort of a community wide book group. This was the first book chosen. I did not read it then, but was interested in it, so that is why it made my list of TBR. I think the disappointment stemmed from the hype. It is an interesting story of poverty and racism, but it was not exactly what I thought it would be. I found myself wondering why he chose the title that he did because the story could have been about several people (unfortunately) who had always known their race from birth. It is a story of a brutal, poor childhood and the triumph of a man through it all. Not something to be taken lightly. I give this book 3 and 1/2 stars, however if I had just picked it up off the shelf without hearing anything about it in advance, it may have gotten an additional star.

From these books, I went for one that in my mind is a little harder to take. I returned to a Richard North Patterson book and read "Protect and Defend". This novel explores late term abortions and parental consent laws and the parallel plot of appointing a new Supreme Court Justice. The story centers around a teenage daughter of conservative parents who becomes pregnant. The parents are supportive and plan on helping her raise the child. The big change comes when during a sonogram the doctor discovers the baby has hydrocephalus. In fact, it appears the baby does not have a brain. The teenager decides that instead of risking the small percentage of chance that she will become sterile by having a classical c-section to deliver a baby that appears dead already, she will have an abortion. The parents cannot accept that as an alternative, so off to court they go. I found several things in the novel that were a little offensive to me. According to this story, the anti-abortionists are stupid, ruled only by emotion - or the love of money, violent, mean people while the pro-abortionists are kind, loving people who base their opinion on fact. I also found it interesting in the area of parental consent that mere lip service was given to the fact that a minor can't have a tooth pulled without parental consent, yet should be able to have an abortion. The parents were painted as pulling the family apart by not agreeing to the abortion while the daughter was not to be "blamed" for that. I don't think it is that simple or that one sided.

While this book is predictable and does not completely follow my views, it was a book that made me think - and did make me angry at times and feel great compassion at times. It's not a book that will change any one's mind about abortion - or I hope it's not because there are too many holes in this fictional account in my mind on both sides. But it was a book that drew me in so I give it 4 1/2 stars.

After reading a heavier fare, I opted for some light reading with "Independence Day" by Richard Ford. This was a good story about a divorced man, Frank Bascombe, and a long Fourth of July weekend in which he does his job as a real estate agent, has a personal life, and spends time with his teenage son that has a few quirks in his personality. This was a very entertaining book and an easy read. I mainly enjoyed the book after the son joined him on the trip. 4 stars for this one.

Not being one to leave heavier fare alone, I dove into "The Pact". This novel by Jodi Picoult addresses teen suicide. It is the story of two families who live next door to each other, are best friends and long for their son and daughter to one day join the families as in-laws. It all takes a turn for the worse when the daughter, Emily, is found dead, and the son, Chris, is accused of murder. Immediately Chris tells that it was a botched up suicide pact. Investigation shows otherwise. The story unfolds going back and forth through time and relates how all of this effects each parent, the families relationship, the relationship of Chris to both sets of parents with a lawyer thrown in for good effect. Very good story, very well written. There were a few things I would have liked to have seen covered in a more detail, but well worth the read. About all I can say is WOW and of course it's a 5 star book.

I ended the month of February with a classic - Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". While it always takes me a while to get into the style of the classics, I do enjoy them. This is a wonderful love story and character story too. It's fun to see the relationships between the characters change over time. I know it's probably required reading for a lot of students, but that shouldn't keep you away if you have never read this classic. 5 stars.

Happy Reading!

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