It's not just the structure of the novel that floored me; the story was great, too. I was 100% invested in Charlie the entire time, even when he changed from a simple-minded sweetheart to, frankly, a know-it-all jerk. There's a romance, too, and I love me a good romance. (It isn't anywhere close to sappy.)
Some books you savor, and some you devour. This, for me, fit into the devour category. I think I read it in two days.
As a caution, this book is gut-wrenchingly sad. If you want to know what reading this book is like, imagine someone rips your heart out, tears it into a million pieces, sews it back together again, and your heart is somehow better than before.
Yet that, I believe, is part of the novel’s genius. I love books that change me. If I feel like a different person after reading a book than I was when I started it, it’s a satisfying experience.
Oh, and the last line of this book is easily the best last line I’ve ever read of any book. Wow. It felt like a punch to the gut. I get chills just thinking about it.
Did you read Flowers for Algernon? What did you think of it?
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Experience the world of Harry Potter all over again in this brilliantly engineered pop-up book that shares secrets about the production of the movies.
Once I went to the bookstore with my mom and took her to the book’s hiding place to show it to her. It was no longer there, and I was upset. Why had I waited to buy something I loved so much?
(It didn’t occur to me that it would be on Amazon. Since I had never seen it before, I thought it was rare and I would never see it again.)
Turns out, the book was gone because my husband had bought it for my birthday. Now it’s sitting proudly on my shelf.
My two daughters ask for the book frequently – sometimes every day – and I have the hardest time keeping their snatching fingers away from all the intricate shapes in the pages.
This book would make a great gift to anyone who loves Harry Potter. So basically anyone who’s read the books, because to read them is to love them.
By the way, if you haven’t bought all the books yet, they have a new set of them that I think looks really great. They also came out with illustrated versions of the story.
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Fifty years after her death, the much-guarded journal of the adored painter Frida Kahlo has been released. Half illustration, half text, the book offers an intimate look into a brilliant yet troubled mind.
Then I’d read the story behind each painting and become stunned by its genius.
For instance, there’s a painting of her lying in bed with a large cone sticking out of her mouth, and inside the cone is vile-looking meat. It’s disturbing, to be honest with you. Come to find out, when her health was failing and her appetite non-existent, her doctor force-fed her pureed fatty meat through a cone. The title of the painting is “Without Hope.”
Wow. As soon as I understood the painting, I felt like I also fully understood how she felt as that disgusting food was shoved down her throat. It’s stunning.
But like I was saying, there was a specific moment when I did a 180 and decided to love her. It was shortly before her death when a gallery hosted her last art showing. No one thought she’d be able to make it, but she got an ambulance to take her to the gallery where a bed was set up for her. Amazing! She never gave up.
The journal is fascinating because I don’t think it was meant for anyone to see, and therefore doesn’t make coherent sense. For me, that makes it fun. It’s a puzzle to figure out. For instance, some people argue that her diary indicates that she committed suicide; I believe it proves that she did not. Also, she wrote a bunch of love letters, and then later in a different colored ink wrote in “Diego” at the top (her husband’s name). Why add it in later? Were the love letters really about him?
It’s also a beautiful journal. While all her paintings are done in a style specific to her, her journal is more liberating, and it contains works of art unlike anything you’ve seen her do before.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves Frida, or who loves art, or who is fascinated by living with disabilities, or who is human.
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When Harry August dies, his life resets – in the exact same way, with the exact same family. He is born over and over and over. But he doesn’t have to make the same choices every time.
It was an extremely violent book. One part was so gratuitous that I had to put the book down and roll my eyes. Yet because of the way the book is structured, it’s hard to say how much of the violence really “counts.”
For example, Harry comes across this serial killer and decides to murder him before he can claim his first victim. Only problem: everything resets when Harry is reborn, so he has to murder the serial killer every single lifetime. If the man keeps coming back to life, did Harry really kill him?
That’s just one of the hundreds of questions in this book to make you think.
He also has a very removed way of talking about the things that happened to him that keeps the readers from being traumatized. For instance, he gets tortured multiple times. The second time, he was more or less like, “So, then I got tortured. Again. It sucked, but then I died, so whatever.” I think since he's telling his story from his fifteenth life, most of the events he talks about happened to him centuries ago, so he's able to distance himself from them.
Let me put it this way; I'm usually very sensitive to what happens to characters, but in this book, I was really only disturbed by it that one time that cued the eye roll.
Did you read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August? What did you think?
Books by Claire North