Gone Girl

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Gone Girl (Kindle)

by Gillian Flynn

AR Level 5.6, 23 points

I decided to read a grown up book.  I guess adding in a little adult content can’t hurt, especially after feeling like a perv while reading young adult (when the teenagers make out and talk about having sex in juvenile fiction, it just feels inappropriate).  It is absolutely adult fiction.  I would not recommend this to any of my students.  It might even be a little off-putting for someone not married, because while it is a suspenseful “thriller” and being made into a movie (can’t go wrong with Ben Affleck), it dwells on the low points of marriage and doesn’t shine a very bright light on being a wife or husband.

The story follows two characters: Nick and Amy are writers living in New York with drastically different backgrounds and upbringings.  Nick was born in Missouri along the river and lived with an emotionally abusive/distant father and a clingy mother, along with his twin sister.  He meets Amy, a native New Yorker, and the real-life “Amazing Amy” that her parents modeled their book series after.  Both lose their jobs and have to move back to Missouri where Nick’s dad is suffering from dementia and his mom is dying of cancer.  Their marriage starts to go south right away, and I just can’t tell you anymore from there… it’s definitely a good read, as long as we don’t mention the ending.

What I liked about this book was the points of view the story was told.  We read it from Nick’s point of view, and multiple viewpoints of Amy.  I also like a book that will make me read 75% of it in one weekend when I have a million other pressing things to do.  I read at a birthday party, at the mall, in the car, while my kids took a bath, and any other time I was able to get a few minutes in.  I finished it in the parking lot of a Macaroni Grill, and scared passersby when I got to the ending…

What I didn’t like about this book was… the worst.  Ending.  Ever.  I guess I can’t really say that.  It was clever, but it really annoyed me.  I’d rather the wrong person win than a total non-ending.  I just wasn’t satisfied.  It begs the question… what makes a good ending?  Is it and ending that produces the results you want, or that it produces an emotional reaction?  It frustrates me when the book is awesome, and then it was a dissatisfying ending.

Book 26 of 52 (half way there!!!)

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because of mr. terupt

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because of mr. terupt (paperback)

by Rob Buyea

AR Level 3.7, 5 points

As a teacher, I enjoy reading books from a student’s point of view.  I like to read about what my students may or may not be thinking and how they react to different situations.  This book is written from the perspective of 7 different students in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class.  I’m not sure how accurate the writing is to an actual fifth grader’s though process, but if it is even remotely similar, it makes my job more important and crucial to the development of young minds than I currently think, and that is a responsibility that I need to take more seriously.

Mr. Terupt is a new teacher, and we know little about him.  He wrestled, he has not family or pictures on his desk or wedding ring, and he gives his students more respect and responsibility for their actions than he should.  Mr. Terupt teaches his class about life and relationships, and self-esteem and self-control, while math and reading come second.  In turn, he gains the respect and love of his class.  We also learn about what is going on in his 7 students’ lives that affect the way they react to Mr. Terupt’s life lessons.  When an accident happens on the playground, Mr. Terupt’s influence on the students shines through loud and clear, and they are forced to make choices I can only hope my students don’t have to make.

What I liked about this book was that it showed the influence a teacher can have in his or her students’ lives.  We don’t always know what is going on at home, and there is clearly much more than meets the eye.  Whether Mr. Terupt knew about their home lives or not, he taught them life skills that I hope to also teach my own students.  Being a teacher is an important and influential job that I need to take seriously.  I hope that someday my students can look back and see that I cared about them the way Mr. Terupt cared for his class.

What I didn’t like about this book was that we never learned about Mr. Terupt’s background.  I think a teacher’s upbringing and education plays an important part in how he or she sees the job of teaching.  Plus, the students hinted that he had no family, not pictures on his desk, and no wedding ring.  What was Mr. Terupt’s story???  I guess I will just have to buy Mr. Terupt Falls Again, which is like part 2 (electric bugaloo) of the Terupt saga.

Book 25 of 52

Heaven is for Real

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Heaven is for Real (audiobook)

by Todd Burpo

AR Level 6.3, 6 points

This is the story of a boy named Colton who nearly died.  His dad is a pastor and their family lives in a small town.  Colton comes down with a bad case of appendicitis and nearly dies.  While he is in emergency surgery, he is taken to Heaven where he meets Jesus and sees and experiences many things we don’t know about on Earth, unless we’ve read and interpreted little-known parts of the Bible.  Colton’s memories of Heaven and Jesus, as well as things we wouldn’t know, start to come out as he shares from his innocent, child-like point of view.

I grew up in and out of church.  I was baptized Episcopalian, went to a non-denominational church in high school, attended a Nazarene college, and became a Roman Catholic when I was dating my husband.  I have been in a lot of churches, I’ve read the Bible and heard many interpretations, and I have had my ups and downs with what I believe and what it means to be a “good” Christian.  This book made me consider my faith and what I believe to be true.

What I liked about this book was that it caused me to have chills and chicken skin many, many times.  For example, Colton and his family had an ongoing joke about what Jesus looked like, and they’d often point out paintings of Jesus for Colton to say that didn’t look like Him.  Then, his father heard about a girl who painted pictures based on visions she received, and he pulled up her portrait of Jesus on his laptop.  THAT was the picture Colton stopped dead in his tracks and stared at, and eventually said looked like Jesus.  Ugh.  Chills.

What I didn’t like about this book… well, there were two things.  The first is the emphasis (for several chapters) on spiders and vomit, my two least favorite things in the world.  There was excruciating detail about their visit to a museum where there was a big tarantula exhibit.  Uh, no thank you.  I don’t need to hear about their hairy bodies or what color they are or how they move or escape from their habitats.  Second, and I get it, but there was a lot of barf.  Colton was sick, and non-stop vomiting was a symptom.  It was so sad that a little boy was so devastatingly sick.  The second thing that bothered me was the WANT to believe everything in this book without actually being able to believe it all.  That kind of bothered me.  If I don’t believe it, is it because I don’t have enough faith?  If I do, am I naive?  It is a book based on a “true” story.  I really want to believe that, but it is hard for me to do that.

I know there is a movie, but I heard it wasn’t great, so I do not plan to see it.  I don’t want anything negative to taint my feelings about this book.

Book 24 of 52

Maus

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Maus: My Father Bleeds History

by Art Spiegelman

AR Level 3.2, 3 points

Maus tells the story from two perspectives: the author and his father.  Artie is a graphic novelist who wants to tell his father’s story of the Holocaust, so he interviews him and is creating comics about his experience.  Vladek is now an elderly man living in New York with his second wife, Mala.  Mala is also a survivor.  Artie and Vladek have a strained relationship due to Vladek’s miserly, nagging, and paranoid nature, as well as Artie’s mother’s suicide.  We learn what it was like to survive the Holocaust as a Polish Jew, although the story mainly focuses on the living conditions leading up to Vladek’s capture and placement in Auschwitz.  The story is dark, due to the obviously dark period of history, but Artie and Vladek are clearly unhappy and have had a difficult relationship.  Artie is suffering from events that occurred before and after he was born.  They’ve made a lot of mistakes, and neither are willing to see their part in the strain.  The story answers questions in the end, but there are several companion graphic novels to this story.

The reason I read this book (I never would have chosen it off the shelf myself) is because it was another of my husband’s highschool’s required summer reading books.  He brought it home 2 years ago, and I doubt he even opened it (as he is not a “pleasure” reader).  I decided to give it a try, and was pleasantly surprised, although I had some trouble getting used to the graphic novel format.  I later discovered it is a Pulitzer Prize winner, as well, and deservedly so.

What I liked about this book was the perspective. I’ve read lots of books about the Holocaust- what it was like in concentration camps, living in the ghetto, hiding, even from the perspective of those helping the Jewish escape being found.  I can’t say I’ve read the long term effects of living through that period.  Post traumatic stress and depression obviously had long term effects, even on those who weren’t born at the time.  I can’t say I liked learning about the sadness, but I enjoy learning and building my schema on this subject, as unpleasant (and that’s putting it mildly) as it is.

Also, it was really neat the way the Germans were cats and the Jews were mice.  That was an interesting touch.

What I didn’t like about this book was that this little family unit was so unhappy and unable to be in touch with their own feelings.  I miss my family and wish I could be with them, even though we’ve had (and still have) our disfunctions.  Artie was unable to cope with his misunderstanding, and Vladek was still suffering from what he’d lived through.

Book 23 of 52