Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Favorite Book This Year

I've finished two books so far this week, which was pretty productive.
I had been reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter for a few weeks. I can't really afford to buy new books right now, so when I get my weekly email from Borders about new books that I might enjoy I just add them to my Amazon wishlist and/or try to hunt them down at my local library, usually without results. (Side note: I was on a three-month-long waiting list for The Devil Wears Prada. After a few weeks, I got tired of waiting and dropped the 6 bucks for a paperback copy. I'm still trying to decide if it was worth it.) Anyway, I saw a blurb about TMKD a month or so ago and was intrigued by the premise, but because it wasn't readily available I eventually forgot about it and read something else. See previous side note. It was actually quite serendipitous when I went to my sister's house and discovered, nestled among the James Pattersons and Nicholas Sparkses (yarg), the very book I had been looking for! I was extremely impressed with my sister, and I have to admit that my respect for her literary habits increased a bit. She agreed to loan me TMKD with the brief but telling review: "It's good, but sad." Truer words have never been spoken. This book was beautiful. It has an interesting plot: a young doctor delivers his wife's twins, but when he realizes that the daughter has Downs Syndrome, he gives her to the nurse helping him with the delivery and tells her to take the baby to an institution. He tells his wife that their daughter was stillborn, which leads to a sense of grief permeating their marriage and affecting them (and their son) for the rest of their lives. In the meantime, the nurse has decided not to leave the baby girl at the institution, and instead runs away with her and raises her as her own daughter. The story was just incredible, but the characters are what really made the novel for me. Edwards really got into their heads and allowed me to sympathize with each of them, no matter how badly they dealt with the sadness and loss they felt.

My second book, As Simple As Snow, I finished in only two days. My best friend, Fran, read it and loved it, and she told her boyfriend to give me a copy for my birthday. This first sentence on the back cover had me sold: "Anna Cayne had moved here in August, just before our sophomore year in high school, but by February she had, one by one, killed everyone in town." Awesome, right? Anna, as it turns out, writes obituaries for fun. She's one of the quirkiest characters I've ever read, and I absolutely adored her. The book is part coming-of-age, part mystery, part romance, and part I'm-not-sure-what. It's definitely different, though. One of the reviews I read compared it to The Virgin Suicides, which is pretty spot-on. I wasn't even aware ASAS was classified as YA until I went online and started researching it. There's actually a website devoted to the book, which includes an excerpt (entitled "Anna's Room") in which the narrator describes the esoteric music, books, and art found in...you guessed it, Anna's room. The great thing about the internet is, all the allusions have links, so you can see which David Wilson poster Anna has on the back of her door, or find out who the heck Isadora Duncan was. It makes the story that much better, because you gain a better sense of Anna's personality and interests. The mystery of the novel is never resolved, but there are clues and hints, and I'm thinking a second read-through will give me even more to think about. Unfortunately, I raved about this book so much, I now have three friends in line to borrow my copy, so it may be awhile before I get a chance to pick it up again.

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