Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Keeping the Moon" by Sarah Dessen

Impossibook Review # 11

I have actually read Keeping the Moon before, but I am a big Sarah Dessen fan and I felt like reading it again to refresh my memory. I also can't buy her newest book because of this Impossibook Challenge. Except for her newest book I have read every Sarah Dessen book. She is coming to Toronto in September. I. Will. Be. There.

Most of Dessen's books take place during the summer and therefore that's my favourite time to read them. They also usually consist of a girl who has low self-esteem, shyness... the usual teen fiction ingredients. This may seem dry to you all, but there is something about Sarah Dessen's books that I just love. Most of her stories are simple but many of her characters (they seem to all be the same person. Still love her!) I feel like I can relate to in some way from when I was in high school.

Colie is sent to live with her aunt Mira for the summer in the small town of Colby. Colie and her mother, Kiki Sparks, used to be overweight. Colie refers to this time in her life as the "fat years." Her and her mother would jump from town to town where her mother would take on odd jobs. Kiki hits the jack pot when she starts working at a gym and because of her amazing personality she becomes a huge workout/diet celebrity. Her new success also meant that Kiki and Colie were no longer overweight.

Colie sometimes misses the "fat years" because her mother had more time for her and she found her layers of flab comforting, as they shielded her from the teasing of classmates. Colie, no longer big, comes to Colby with no friends back home, a lip ring, and poorly-died black hair. Guess what folks?! She is going to find out who she really is in this small town!

Colie makes some new friends at the Quick Stop restaurant, Isabelle and Morgan, who help her become a stronger teenager who can take on any snooty blonde popular girl back home. Colie also learns from her aunt Mira that it doesn't matter what people think of you as long as you are happy with who you are. Norman the art boy who also works as the cook at the Quick Stop becomes the love interest later on in the book. Colie leaves the novel with way more friends than she started out with. This is usually the case with most of Dessen's book. Happy Endings.

I know I poke fun at Sarah Dessen but I do really love her books. I am a big fan of Teen Fiction (I hope none of you took the Wall Street Journal article too seriously. Click here to read if you have not --> Stupid. ) and it is nice to see simple stories that teens love and can relate to... and is a break from the vampire scene.

Even if you are not a teen give Sarah Dessen a try! It is summer time! The perfect time to start!

Impossibook Rating: A 

Random Musings
  • Did Morgan and Isabelle own the Quick Stop? They hired Colie without a resume and didn't even call her references? They came and went as they pleased? It didn't seem like they owned it though? 
  • Most of Sarah Dessen's books take place in the summer and take place in a nice small town near the beach. Who couldn't reinvent themselves near the beach? WHO? 
  • Keeping the Moon is Sarah Dessen's third novel. She now has 10 books!  
  • Sarah Dessen also has a habit of creating perfect boys in her novels. She admits this and also admits that she hopes they exist in the real world. Here is a video where she talks about her new book and boys. (I feel so young when I use the word "boys". All my friends who are male are now men... even if they sometimes act like boys...or all of the time)  

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz

Impossibook Review # 10

I purchased The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao just before this past Christmas. I had a 50 dollar gift card for Chapters and I needed some reading material for my winter break. Obviously I did not read it over the winter break and it got put on my Impossibookshelf. This book also took me FOREVER to read.

The book is about Oscar Wao and his unfortunate size, appearance and general interests and how they ultimately lead to his death. Oscar and his family are Dominicans living in New Jersey. The Narrator of the novel is unknown at first (later revealed to be Yunior who is Oscar's sister Lola's on and off boyfriend)  but he explains the family's tragic Dominican curse called "fuku." The fuku curse is then explained as being in Oscar's family for generations. I think this book took me a long time to read because it felt like a collection of short stories. The novel is divided into stories about not only Oscar, but also his sister Lola, his mother Bani, his grandfather Abelard, and Yunior.

Throughout the book there are numerous footnotes that make reference to historical figures and events such as the terrible Rafael Trujillo who reined over the Domincan from 1930 to 1961. The footnotes at first fill you in on some historical significance about Dominican culture, but eventually they cleverly become part of the story.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was a beautifully written book and the historical facts were nicely tied with the fiction. However, this book was not a page turner for me and I always felt so sad for Oscar and the rest of his family. Oscar was such a good person but trapped in a body that limited his success in life.

 Like Oscars Wao's Life...this review is also brief. This book is too intricate to explain coherently. Just read it if you are interested.

Impossibook Rating: B

Random Musings
  • I am glad I have read and seen the movie Watchmen. A lot of references and metaphors! 
  • As I said earlier about the book being a collection of short stories, the title is meant to be similar to Ernest Hemingway's short story, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". (Thank you Wikipedia) 
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. 
  • I hate when you know the main character is going to die (if the word "brief" in the title didn't tip you off), or something tragic is going to happen. Like in the new X-Men: First Class movie. You know that eventually Xavier is going to end up in a wheelchair and you know Erik will eventually become Magneto. THEY WERE SUCH GOOD FRIENDS TOO!