Category Archives: Young Adult

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth WeinRose Under Fire – Elizabeth Wein
Disney Hyperion, September 2013

ARC from Netgalley
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When I first heard that Elizabeth Wein would publish a companion novel to Code Name Verity, I admit I was hesitant. Quite simply, it made me nervous because I wasn’t sure if it would not be doomed to fail in comparison. Admittedly, I was not quite as an emotional wreck after Code Name Verity as many, but the story still had a major impact and I definitely loved it and its accomplishments.  So, quite contrary to what you might expect given how much I enjoyed Wein’s first WWI novel, I had low expectations going in to Rose Under Fire.

Rose Under Fire is about an American pilot who is based on the same airbase as Maddie. When she flies a plane to France she is captured by the Nazi’s and interned in Ravensbrück, a women’s concentration camp. There, Rose falls in with a group of fellow prisoners called “the Rabbits”, named for the medical experiments performed on them. It is their friendship and loyalty that gives Rose a shot at surviving.

Now, as much as I am theoretically aware of the importance of retelling the story of World War II, I admit that I often suffer from WWII fatigue when I contemplate reading  another book on the subject. It is unfeeling of me, and I am ashamed of experiencing those feelings. Nevertheless, they are often there at the back of my mind. It definitely played a role in my hesitance to pick up Rose Under Fire. It is completely ridiculous to even ponder if “we need another story about a concentration camp”, but yes, for a moment, that is exactly what I thought.

Now, I am going to come back to that fatigue later, but first let me be quick to assure you that I was mistaken. On so many counts. Yes, there are parallels to Code Name Verity, as there are characters that appear in both novels (one of which I hadn’t realised I had met before until after finishing), and in some ways, both books explore female friendships in strained and difficult circumstances. But the story itself could not be more different. The excitement of Code Name Verity is not copied here, as there are no surprise twists and turns (although definitely the appearance of the character-I-missed-at-first was a surprise in its own right and very interesting). It is, I felt, much more a novel that tells about the disillusionment, fear, and suffering that comes with war, whereas Code Name Verity, without disguising the horrors of war, had a more heroic slant, perhaps? And exactly because this is such a different story, I was able to let go of my hesitance if this would be as good. Instead, I was only a few pages in when I forgot about that worry completely and the story began speaking for itself.

All of this talk about the difference between the excitement of the spy and mystery element in Code Name Verity and this book is not to say that Rose Under Fire is not a compelling read. Honestly? I think it might be more so, at least it had better pace and immediacy at the outset, which I felt was perhaps a little slow in Code Name Verity (though still, also, enjoyable and wonderful). Basically, once I started reading, I did not put it down. Which, in my case, meant that I stayed up the whole night reading it. I was still reading by 6 am. I dozed for 2 hours, before I read it until the very end. Rose’s story is such an emotional journey, on so many levels, that it will not let you go until after you have finished it. And even then, it will probably stay with you for a while.

Rose is a wonderful character. I think writing characters to fall in love with as a reader, be it central or more marginal ones, is definitely one of Wein’s strengths. At the same time, I cannot help but agree with Booksmuggler Ana here that the story is not necessarily that of Rose. It is a story of a collective but many-sided experience made personal through a number of people that is then narrated by Rose. Sometimes more as witness, since she is not in the camp as long as the people she befriends, but Rose’s own experiences also serve as a gradual build-up towards the major things that happen in camp and Rose’s own suffering is never forgotten.

Rose Under Fire consists of different parts that trace Rose’s experience at the airbase before she leaves to France, and then resumes after the war, in the form of memories of what happened. Through these different parts of the novel, we see Rose mature, as people so often have to mature in circumstances of war, while simultaneously contrasting hope with disillusionment. It is really interestingly done, and builds gradually throughout the novel, while at the same time, other ideas of hope and heroism arise in the character’s struggles. No longer just Rose’s, because Rose is now always a part of a larger group, a group that employs different mechanisms to get through the war, while having their eye on a collective idea of hope or survival by getting the truth out to the world.

If that seems vague it is because I am unable to capture the sophistication of what Wein does here. She manages to portray the many sides of war, the collective suffering in the concentration camps, but also the personal side of making sense of what happens, the strategies of survival involved, the diverse emotional responses, and the different ways in which each person “deals” (that seems too soft a word to use, doesn’t it?) with what occurs. Wein never judges, never makes one the better choice, but instead simply manages to evoke the complexity of humanity and war. And while a novel set in a concentration camp necessarily involves the collective suffering involved, it renders these experiences extremely personal and individual.

Rose Under Fire then manages to transport that complexity to the last part of the novel, which I feel I have to talk about, but that some might consider to hold spoilers.

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS WARNING]

Rose Under Fire is a survivors narrative. And this is, I felt, where the novel truly rises above and beyond much of what it had already accomplished. Because, on top of capturing the complexities of war, it also asks the questions that we know many survivors have asked themselves, that is, the guilt in surviving, the “why me and why not..?”, the difficulties of finding a place for your experiences after the war and the different and highly personal approaches to that, in which Wein, again, manages not to label anyone, but instead imparts several perspectives that are different, but not better or worse. In this case, it means that the promise the girls we get to know make to each other, the idea of truth as hope, is dealt with differently than many of them expected when they were in the camp. I would not say that they do not hold on to that thought, although the outside world definitely seems to sanction only one form of witness and this is not the format everyone chooses. But, through these ideas of hope, truth, and survival, Wein shows the different ways in which survivors make sense of a situation that completely alters their life and worldview. (Ana does a much better job than I did at explaining this).

[END OF SPOILERS]

In the end, let me return to this notion of WWII fatigue. What I think Wein managed to accomplish is that she shows how every personal experience deserves to be heard without enforcing the need to tell. It is easy to lose track of the individual in the millions who lost their lives. And that somehow, makes it easier to turn away from a subject because you feel you already know it in its abstract form. But by acknowledging the personal and individual, and how everyone shapes their lives in different, although they might be familiar, ways, abstract stories can be rendered urgent again. It also brings to the fore once more, something which I have discussed many times as a history student: how fictionalised history can  at times bring history to life in ways that are difficult to accomplish if you have to stick to the academic format. It does not make these stories better, or more deserving to be heard. But it can make them more immediate. And in my case, it made me shake of my prejudices and become interested in the Second World War again.

Oh right, one more thing before I forget: Remember how I was not as much of an emotional wreck as everyone else was after reading Code Name Verity? Well, let’s just say that I cannot voice that complaint about Rose Under Fire. If you are going to read this book (and I think you should), be sure to have tissues at hand. I don’t remember exactly where it is in the book page-wise, but somewhere just past the middle? From there on out, I cried and cried and cried. The book is devastating, but as I hope I have shown (strange to say given the subject matter): in a good way.

Other Opinions: The Book Smugglers, Things Mean a Lot, Capricious Reader, Steph Su Reads, Bookworm1858, Chachic’s Book Nook, Yours?

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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E LockhartThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E. Lockhart
Disney Hyperion, 2008

Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *

What can you say about a book that is universally beloved by bloggers and that has, I am sure, been discussed in-depth by many of them? (This seems to be my perpetual difficulty when it comes to blogging lately).

Well.. I could add that I loved it too? Loved it! See, it even deserves to be called loved in italics, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

Frankie Landau-Banks is a fifteen-year-old sophomore at Alabaster, a preparatory boarding school that is mostly attended by children from privileged families. Frankie returns to school after a year of being practically invisible and a painful breakup with her boyfriend after he cheated on her. But this year quickly proves to be different: Frankie’s body has rapidly changed and her new looks mean that suddenly boys start to notice her. Matthew, a senior boy every girl including Frankie has a crush on, singles her out at the beginning of the year and they start dating. This means she becomes acquainted with the group of friends around Matthew: all senior, mostly boys from privileged families, who, as Frankie notes, have enough money and security to not have to care about much and are thus free to enjoy themselves in whatever way.

Frankie is enjoying herself, she enjoys spending time with her new friends and they make dating Matthew even more fun. However, she also notices the exclusionary tendencies of the group Matthew is a part of, and she quickly starts to be annoyed by them. It seems that, as a girl, Frankie is expected to be beautiful, adorable, and not too “think-y”. There are topics the guys can debate, but once Frankie starts to give her opinions there is an awkward silence. Then, when she finds out Matthew has been keeping a secret from her, she decides to take matters into her own hands: showing Matthew and the whole school what a girl, or any person really, is capable of, without them realising it at first.

It is quite impossible to do the layers of this book’s plot justice. I wanted to spoil everything just to make sure you understood that this book cannot be dismissed as whatever label you want to use to dismiss it. It is a great story, with great critiques, with the incorporation of grand ideas like Foucault’s commentary on the Panopticon, with a commentary on gender and class that could easily provide a wonderful introduction for any teenager, or adult for that matter..

Frankie is a wonderful heroine. She’s spunky and smart and lovely and she has all the agency in the world without being unrealistic because she also shows us her insecurities. I am nothing like Frankie in that I know I would never have dared do what she did, but that does not matter as she is so admirable and warm that it is quite difficult not to take her into your heart. Honestly, I wanted to stay with Frankie for days after finishing the book, hoping to be able to return to her world in one way or other.

Of course, Frankie is not perfect. She is learning, a work in progress, like everyone else. She judges people in certain ways that are not always great. She dismisses the advise about gender and power from friends and family at certain points in the narrative, though we have to consider that she’s not necessarily wrong in doing so (Ana has written wonderfully about this in her post). But she’s also portrayed as learning from her own experiences. What made me like her was that, even though I wanted to shake her a little with her blind admiration for Matthew at first (okay, not exactly blind, she’s never unobservant really, just not fully seeing beyond her own crush at times), she grows and learns and continues to be her own person in most situations. She remains who she is: a girl who liked to have fun, but who is also willing to work hard for classes that capture her interest, who is proudly part of the Geek Conglomerate, and who loves to read. She is so much her own person. Did I mention I really like her?

Ana recommended this book to me after we extendedly discussed academia and privilege during my visit. Whatever direction the discussion took, it always came down to Ana saying that I really should read The Disreputable History.. And she was right. A lot of the broader discussions surrounding gender, power, and privilege that you will encounter in many places in life, not necessarily only on a posh boarding school, were instantly recognisable. Added to that is the feel-good vibe of Frankie showing it all up. I think this will be a book I return to in the future, whenever I need a pick-me-up that will make me feel justified in my feminism and happy and smiling at the same time.

Other Opinions: As I said, everyone has written about this book.

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Thursday’s Children by Rumer Godden

Thursday's Children - Rumer GoddenThursday’s Children – Rumer Godden
Virago Modern Classics, April 2013 (
First published 1984)
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *

Thursday’s Children is about the Penny family. Mother concentrates all her hopes on Crystal, the fifth child and longer-for girl after four boys. Crystal is to be a ballet dancer, groomed by her mother who was once a chorus girl and longs to see her former dreams realised through her only daughter. Doone, sixth child and clearly an “accident”, has to accompany his sister to ballet class when there is no one to watch over him at home. There, he secretly becomes fascinated by dancing, and he starts practising in the hallway so that no one will see him. Doone has his reasons to keep his dancing a secret. His mother would not understand, focused as her attention is on Crystal, who is her one and all. His father thinks dancing is not suitable for boys. And his brothers never really seem to bother much about him. Nevertheless, Doone is willing to do everything he can to become a ballet dancer.

As many of you predicted in the comments of my library loot post, I really really enjoyed Thursday’s Children. What’s not to love? There’s ballet! And a child overcoming obstacles! There’s heartfelt writing! And social commentary! Basically, I wanted to travel back in time while reading this, and push the book into the hands of my childhood self. The hours I spent dreaming of being a professional dancer back then! The hours I spent dancing in the living room, the bedroom, on the street while walking somewhere, even on my bike.. Godden does a really good job at capturing the fascination for music and movements, the emotions it can evoke, and all the romantic feelings associated with dance. But she also highlights the difficult aspects of pursuing a career in dance: the rivalry and ugliness between children and parents that are all part of this world as well.

However, if you do not care much for ballet yourself, I think this book might still be of interest. The thing is, it really is about pursuing the things you love, the sacrifices you have to make in the process, but also the importance of love and family relations.

I was reminded of Eva Ibbotson when I read Thursday’s Children, although perhaps they are not that much alike. Like Ibbotson, Godden highlights the ugliness of classicism through the interactions of, particularly mother and Crystal with other girls in class.  Perhaps more than Ibbotson, Godden portrays extremes of hurt and ugliness, particularly towards the end of Crystal’s storyline. And in Doone’s portrayal, the sympathy evoked for him, and the overall sympathetic outlook on the world, she occasionally seems to share Ibbotson’s rose-coloured glasses. I somehow feel I am being unfair to both authors by comparing their work, because I think the strength of their writing is that it is so recognisable and individual. I guess what I meant to say is that I felt the same warmth and feeling radiate from Thursday’s Children as I do in Ibbotson’s novels.

Most of all, I think Godden shines in portraying the family interactions between the Pennys. It is hurtful and difficult to read about the treatment of Doone sometimes. Godden walks a fine line between invoking stereotypes of parents pursuing their own hopes and dreams through their children and forgetting about the other children in the family. However, she manages to remain realistic, I think, and handles these storylines really well. Even more so because, especially towards the end, she manages to complicate them: she shows both the hurt and the love that is part of so many families, she shows how every family member might stand up for other things, fight for some while forgetting about others, and how in their effort to do right all of them make mistakes.

Colour me impressed. And a little regretful that I did not discover Rumer Godden earlier. So.. which book should I read next?

Other Opinions: Jenny’s Books, Yours?

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Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty - Robin McKinleyBeauty – Robin McKinley
David Fickling Books, 2003

Originally published in 1978
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[note: this was written late at night, which shows. I hope it's not too difficult to navigate my meandering thoughts.]

I shall always have fond memories when it comes to the story of Beauty and the Beast. I know it might be considered sacrilege to some, but I was introduced to the fairy tale through Disney’s movie version of 1991. I was four, and it was the first movie I saw at the cinema. There I was, with my cousin and my aunt (who used to babysit me), and I remember sitting there, and that movie having such an impact. I don’t remember much of the theatre visit, except that the building was quite stately, and that there was a scene where (in my mind) Belle dances with the Beast in a yellow dress, in the library.

There is a reason why Belle has always been my “favourite princess”, if I were to choose one. It is her bookishness in that Disney movie. Her walking from her house, with a book in her hand and a blue dress on, dancing through the streets, being friendly to everyone, and snubbing Gaston (snubbing the annoying man who thinks he’s all that is an important part of my liking for Belle). I wanted to be her. That’s it, basically.

I was very happy to discover that Beauty, in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (note that it was published many years before the Disney movie!) is also bookish. She is also, in her own estimation, not truly a beauty. It is a nickname given to her, her actual name is Honour (next to her sisters Grace and Hope). One of the wonderful things in this story is that the main character grows into both her nicknames, that she shows them to be a perfect fit, and that she slowly gains confidence about being worthy of them.

It is not that Beauty is not confident. It is her strength as a female character, that we perhaps do not associate with what we have learned to think of as “the princesses in fairy tales”, which, in part, makes this story so enjoyable. Beauty is willing to go against the grain. First, she devotes herself to studies and reading. Then, when the family has to move, she works around the house and does work that requires great physical strength. Then, when she meets the beast, she wonders, she is sometimes naive, but she also has a very strong will and she’s not unwilling to voice her own opinions. I liked her for that. Very much so.

Beauty is the kind of character that makes it easy to sympathise. Even if at times it becomes a little difficult to believe that she really wouldn’t have understood all those hints that are spoken at night, by invisible servants. Even if, having had people remark that she has grown into a great beauty, and that she does not see herself as others do, she struggles against the notion, and rejects the beautiful gowns laid out for her. Then, at the same time, I also appreciated her for that. I’d like a female fairy tale lead to reject dresses. I understand the notion of not feeling comfortable in your skin, or confident in whatever you have doubts about, despite being told otherwise. It is something many will empathise with. It is something I certainly emphasise with.

Robin McKinley does a wonderful job of setting the scenes. She spends a great deal of time describing scenery. She makes sure to evoke moods through that same scenery. She makes sure you know all the characters involved: Beauty’s father, her sisters, I could see faces accompanied with them all.

There is one thing though, that I wondered at while reading the book. For the first time while reading this, I realised how Beauty and the Beast is not just a romantic love story to swoon over (which happened, for me, here). But how there are some really problematic things going on in the relationship that is established. Sure, I loved Belle for rejecting Gaston in Disney’s version, but have I ever stopped to think that she fell in love with the person who captured her father, and then held her prisoner instead? In this story, there is the same kind of dynamic going on, to a certain extent. As The Literary Omnivore put it, it’s a little bit like Stockholm Syndrome.

I remember, faintly, that there were moments when Beauty reflected on this herself. Or perhaps, I am editing them in, in my memory, in retrospect (but I think not? Help me out here, fellow readers!). Here is a man, or beast, who lives a life of luxury, even if it is established to be an isolated and sad one, and who can offer Beauty a lot of the things that she always wanted (hello magical library with all the books ever written and yet to be written!). There are moments when I felt that McKinley handled this situation really well, with the reflections, and  the response of Beauty’s family, and Beauty actually makes conscious decisions about staying or returning to the Beast, and she makes them repeatedly.. However, there are moments when they were less overt, or when I felt the tale overrode them, where I would have loved for more questions to have been raised (the ending, for example, and Beauty accepting “the dress” were such moments). But it is a fairy tale, and McKinley makes it easy to go along with these aspects of the story, even if she makes you wonder at the same time. I guess the quality of this story is, in part, that it made me reflect on such things, even if it may not have provided all the answers.¹

I fear I might sound much too critical. The thing is, I did very much enjoy this book. I wanted to keep on reading it. I wanted to hug it close at times. Beauty is a wonderful heroine. It is not that the story is lacking, or at fault. Perhaps it is more that it opened my eyes to the narratives inherent to the fairy tale as it has been told so many times. And that is what made me think. And then, reading this as a retelling, I might think that there were moments where there might have been more subversion, even if there are plenty of moments there. In itself, Beauty does a wonderful job of expanding the story, of giving us a very detailed setting, of offering us a picture of a supportive family and strong girls. In short, it is not my favourite-favourite fairy tale retelling (but who could top Tender Morsels?), but it was wonderful nonetheless. It is definitely going on the re-read pile.

I know there are many more Robin McKinley books out there. I have Deerskin on the shelves, and I cannot wait to get to it (I know it is supposed to be much darker than Beauty - not that that’s better per se, it’s just if people wanted to warn me). Are there any titles you particularly recommend? I think McKinley might very well turn out to be an author of whom I want to read many books.

Other Opinions: There are many.

¹ Can I give an example of such questions the story raised? I’m inserting them as a footnote, because I couldn’t help but ramble a little. Here it is. In her post, The Literary Omnivore also remarked that in Beauty, the Beast does not seem to overcome his nature through Beauty. Instead, he is as he has mostly been. I agree with her. Instead of the Beast (as in the Disney version, which is the only one I know, and I do not know it by heart) going from a more “beastly”, more aggressive, character, to one that is “humane”, tender, and awkward, through Belle’s intercession and for her, in Beauty the Beast is mostly as he has always been (while his beastly outside mostly leads to him becoming more isolated, which is his suffering). He is willing to hope at a better life, meeting Beauty. But a fundamental change? I have seen less of that.

However, after writing that down, there springs a new question to mind. Or really, two questions. One being that that story might be problematic in itself. Beauty might have had more agency in that the Beast not only changed her, but she also changed him (more expressly), and I would definitely cheer for that. But I wonder if in that version is captured the narrative of “if you are a lovely enough girl, you can change the bad boy for the better”, which is not one which can be retold without raising question marks (but which is also part of what I loved about the Disney version. Ugh, I both love and hate discovering problematic things in favourite stories). And then there’s question two, which is the prevailing idea that love will change you at your core. Now, I am a romantic, and I do believe love changes people. But I wonder if it is a good thing if it changed your very nature? Is that romance, or a little scary? Is it not another narrative we are so often told, but that raises complex issues? Should a change always be established through finding your “true love”? Should we think of natures of being “natures”, or “cores”? I hope not, not completely. I don’t know, perhaps this is what McKinley avoids in her tale, as she seems to emphasise that both Beauty and the Beast allow something to flower when they are together, something that was already there but that they could not see? And I like that (romanticised?) idea of love, but even so, I cannot help but wonder at this idea of change through another person too? So, as I said above, this book led me to ask a lot of questions. Questions that are not part of this book per se, that did not detract from my enjoyment, but which led me to wonder and rethink some things, and, as usual, leaving me without any answers (which I do not mind, but you might think I have just wasted your time in having you read this footnote).

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Gil Marsh by A.C.E. Bauer

Gil Marsh - ACE BauerGil Marsh – A.C.E. Bauer
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012

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Gil Marsh is the name of the main character of this book. He is an athletic and popular boy, who feels threatened when a new boy, Enko, shows up at school at first. Enko seems to be able to run harder than Gil can, and quickly snatches up the girl Gil was supposed to have as a date to a highschool dance. However, Gil soon learns that Enko does not intend him to be jealous, and they become friends. However, that’s when tragedy strikes. Enko dies of an aggressive form of cancer. His parents bury him in Canada and Gil is unable to let go of his former friends. Opposed by his parents, Gil emerges on a trip to find the grave of his friend, and to come to terms with his loss.

A few years ago, in my first year of religious studies, I took a class on the Old Testament in its cultural context. One of the books that was repeatedly mentioned was the Epic of Gilgamesh. I vividly remember the teacher’s descriptions and I admit I cannot hear the name of that tale without some form of fascination taking hold. Of course, I have failed utterly in following up on that impulse and actually reading the epic. I hope that will change someday.

I am not telling you this story to let you in on my failure to read classics. Instead, I hope that it explains why I could not resist requesting the egalley of this Young Adults contemporary retelling of the Gilgamesh epic when it appeared on Netgalley. Due to time restraints and the inevitable expiration date on egalleys I never read it. Now, a few months later, I ended up reading it in print, which is perhaps better because this means I won’t have to sent a disappointed opinion straight to the publisher.

Why was I disappointed?

Firstly, the plot felt a little underdeveloped. The friendship between Gil and Enko felt a little too sudden, especially for Gil to feel so lost when he lost Enko. Sure, we are told that they were the closest of friends before Enko became ill, and yet I would have liked to have read about it more. At the very least that would have enabled me to feel more for Gil.

Which brings me to the second point at which this book disappointed: the characterisation of Gil. We are told that Gil is athletic, smart, and popular, and yet, that smartness never really shows throughout the story. I will allow any character its faults in a book, but the craze with which Gil pursues his idea of finding Enko’s grave, without thinking it through or consulting Enko’s parents for clues.. it’s all a little bit farfetched. I do not know much about the Epic of Gilgamesh, but I can imagine how in that book a search for meaning is explored as a consequence of loss. I feel that the same is attempted in this book, but the circumstances under which Gil pursues meaning are not easy to commit to as a reader. He thinks his parents won’t understand, and he cannot ask for the help of Enko’s parents because they would know where he was once his parents found out he had run away.. I don’t know, it’s all a little too convenient to allow Gil his trip on his own.

And once he’s on that trip, the decisions he makes feel so out of the blue. There are moments when I sighed because of the way he acts. He takes the help of so many strangers for granted, in a naive and sometimes selfish manner. He doesn’t seem to think of consequences before he acts, at any step on the way of his trip. Perhaps this was meant as a “coming of age” theme in the book, but for me personally, it did not work. Instead, I was left with the feeling that Gil was a little too selfish. But most of all, I think I do not like it when teenagers are depicted as solely self-absorbed. Yes, I was selfish in my sadness back when I was fifteen, at times, but it’s a leap to go from that to the behaviour of Gil. I know I was not meant to take it that way, but with the way the story was build up, I feel that my sympathy was lacking exactly because I got so little time to acquire any for him.

And yet, I did finish reading this book. Reading it was not a punishment. I think the problem is that I constantly felt that it could have been so much more. That it might have been a very deep and meaningful exploration of what loss does to people, and how we all have to find a way to deal with that. Or it might have been an exploration of the meaningful friendships humans can establish. Gil Marsh, however, only seems to skim the surface of both themes, which meant that it ended up being unsatisfactory.

P.S. I am starting to think that perhaps I just have trouble with this kind of travel tale. I felt a similar detachment for this story as I felt when I read Away by Amy Bloom, which I also felt only skimmed the surface of what it could have been.

Other Opinions: The Book Smugglers,  bookshelves of doom, Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf, Yours? 

* These are affiliate links. If you buy a product through either of them, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.