Saturday, June 4, 2016

Books Finished in May

23. Paper Towns by John Green

My first John Green book. I wasn't blown out of my mind, but this book does what it's meant to do. Although it's accused of being an archetypal "manic pixie dream girl" story, I think it actually is meant to (and does) split that myth apart. Margo Roth Spiegelman and her crazy adventures is a persona, a paper girl. Instead of feeding into it, Green shows, in a lighthearted way, how dangerous it can be for a young man to put a young woman on a pedestal.

24. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler (audiobook)

As promised, the story centers around a corgi. This is a deep character study, and also a quirky story, that will hit the spot for those into that sort of thing and predisposed to sympathize with quiet, socially anxious characters (as I certainly am).

25. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

This had been on my list for a while, and I'm really glad I picked it up. Although many of my friends (and my family) come from immigrant backgrounds, I was not prepared for the sheer destitution of the situation the main character finds herself in. It takes true grit and depth of courage for Kimberly to overcome her poverty, exacerbated by linguistic and cultural barriers, and use her mathematical talent to change her social class. While this is an 'American Dream' type immigrant success story, this shouldn't be the message that anyone in this situation could overcome these odds. Kimberly is clearly a rare exception, and other kids without her extreme talent and determination fall through the cracks.

26. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Ever since I heard the title of this book, it's been reverberating in my head. It's the last thing Jeanette's mother says to her when she leaves home at sixteen, after explaining that she loves women the way she's supposed to love men. It's the perfect title for this memoir about Winterson's childhood with her larger-than-life adoptive and abusive Pentecostal mother. It's the perfect encapsulation of the way certain people think, when a mind is so trapped by its devotion to to its own version of social convention that it has substituted it for G-d, happiness, and the people right in front of it. The memoir is clearly Winterson's attempt to grapple with that powerful mentality and also look back on the life she has built because of or in spite of it.

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