This is NOT a book review. It’s an invitation.
By strange coincidence, each of the last three books I’ve read this summer has featured a teenager whose life is wrenched awry by the actions of adults. These are NOT “young adult” novels by any stretch. They are a reminder that young adults can be a microcosm of the human spirit: fate vs. self-determination, culture vs. character, all within the confines of a body whose only constant is change.
Book #1 is the most well-known: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. As I was wolfing it down during a trip, it seemed like everyone I met was reading it too. Problem is, no one who lives close to me has read it, and once I finished it, I was dying to talk about it! So I engaged in a mini-virtual book club with a friend via email, which was so rewarding, I thought of enlarging it to the blogosphere.
Read the book? Post a discussion question, or an observation. Anyone else who’s read it can take it from there.
The Goldfinch is a mind-blowing book, and it will probably be made into a movie. But don’t wait for that. Read it soon. (Not wanting to buy the hardback, not willing to wait for the long library list to dwindle, I snarfed it up on Kindle.) Favorite supporting character: Boris, the Russian teen with the Australian accent and the heart that refuses to harden, no matter what it’s exposed to.
But let me tell you about the other two books! (And maybe The Goldfinch will be out in paper by the time you’re done with them.)
Richard Ford’s Canada is probably the hardest read, in that it takes time. The deliberate pace is, in fact, part of the book’s theme–but you won’t know that until you’ve read it. I’ll borrow the words of a reviewer here to give you a quick idea of it:
“Canada, Richard Ford’s long-awaited new novel, is not one to be rushed. While the plot sounds sensational — robbery, murders, a flight across the Canadian border — Ford’s laconic, measured prose forces the reader to slow the pace and savor the story. This is a novel about actions, intentions, and consequences as well as about belonging, introspection, and the solitary nature of life. Powerful and atmospheric, Canada will excite and gratify Ford’s fans and introduce newcomers to a masterful American writer.” –Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, as cited on Indiebound.org
Favorite supporting character: Canada itself. Yes, the country. Read the book, then we can talk about that.
The third book is probably the fastest and most page-turning read: Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. It features two narrators: Ruth, the middle-aged author who finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the beach of her remote island in western Canada, and Nao, the sixteen year-old Japanese girl who…of course…wrote that diary. Best supporting character: Nao’s 104 year-old great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun, with whom Nao communicates by texting. This book also messes with the whole relationship between author, reader and story. Mind-blowing. But I’ve used that term already, huh.
So…have you read any of these? If so, please chime in! If not, click over to indiebound.org, or rush to your favorite local bookstore to get one, or all three. Read fast, THEN chime in. I’ll wait.
I also LOVED The Goldfinch — and, yes, especially Boris! — though I felt it should have been edited by 100- 200 pages. Ruth Ozeki’s book was one of my top three last year (along with Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and The WOman Upstairs by Claire Messud . (Maybe Massud.) I’ll talk with you about them here on Lopez.
Ooh, goody! Virtual goes local! Life After Life has been on my bookpile for a while–next month, I promise!