Thursday, January 9, 2014
As worker-tenants on a tobacco farm in 1960, 15-year-old Ivy Hart lives with her faltering, temperamental grandmother, mentally slow yet breathtakingly beautiful 17-year-old sister, young nephew “Baby” William, and her own epilepsy. Jane Forrester, an idealistic social worker, whose status-conscious doctor-husband isn’t convinced his wife should hold a job, feels smothered by the social niceties of the early ’60s South and starts to question the boundaries and mutual respect in her own marriage. When Jane becomes Ivy’s family’s social worker, she encounters the state program that seeks to sterilize “mental defectives,” among others with supposedly undesirable characteristics. Through every choice she makes from then on, Jane triggers an inescapable series of events that thrusts everything either she or Ivy ever held to be true into a harsh light, binding them together in ways they do not immediately comprehend or appreciate.
I enjoyed this book. I find the authors writing style very engaging and similar to Jodi Picoult
I have a been a big Dan Brown fan for years. I was very excited to read the latest adventure for Robert Langdon. I found the book to be good but not as great as his other novels. Dan Brown does make me want to follow everywhere Robert Langdon goes and I found myself very interested in Italy and Turkey to see the sites for myself after he described them so beautifully.
The threat of world overpopulation is the latest assignment for Brown's art historian and accidental sleuth Robert Langdon. Awakening in a Florence hospital with no memory of the preceding 36 hours, Langdon and an attractive attending physician with an oversized intellect are immediately pursued by an ominous underground organization and the Italian police. Detailed tours of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul mean to establish setting, but instead bog down the story and border on showoffmanship. Relying on a deceased villain's trail of clues threaded through the text of Dante's The Divine Comedy, the duo attempt to unravel the events leading up to Langdon's amnesia and thwart a global genocide scheme. Suspension of disbelief is required as miraculous coincidences pile upon pure luck. Near the three-quarters point everything established gets upended and Brown, hoping to draw us in deeper, nearly drives us out. Though the prose is fast-paced and sharp, the burdensome dialogue only serves plot and back story, and is interspersed with unfortunate attempts at folksy humor. It's hard not to appreciate a present day mega-selling thriller that attempts a refresher course in Italian literature and European history. But the real mystery is in the book's denouement and how Brown can possibly bring his hero back for more.
Twin sisters Kate Tucker and Violet Schramm are at the heart of Sittenfeld’s (American Wife, 2008) latest novel, which opens with a modest earthquake striking St. Louis. In the aftermath, Violet goes on television predicting that a much larger quake will hit the area, much to her sister’s horror. Kate has spent her life trying to shove aside the psychic abilities she and her sister share, choosing the safe confines of marriage and motherhood over nurturing her gifts the way Violet has. Violet’s prediction becomes national news, thrusting her into the spotlight and causing a mild panic in St. Louis. Kate finds herself under intense scrutiny as well, from acquaintances and even friends, including her husband’s colleague Courtney, a scientist who finds Violet’s prediction absurd. Sittenfeld alternates between the present and the past, revealing the Schramm sisters’ fraught childhood and complex relationship. A late-in-the-game twist makes the final pages fly, but the real strength of this moving story is Sittenfeld’s nuanced examination of the strength of familial bonds, whether they are between sisters or spouses.