What I Read - July Edition

I first read Louise Erdrich in an American Lit course in college. While I hated the course and most of the reading material, I loved her book Tracks. This is the fourth book of hers I've read and it did not disappoint. The story begins when Faye Travers, and estate appraiser, discovers a painted drum. Recognizing its significance she makes a rash decision to steal the drum and return it to its rightful owner. The book tells the tale of the drum from before its inception to present day.

Erdrich has a wonderful ability to create rich, deep characters that find their ways throughout many of her books. Their lives are intertwined through family and heritage, their stories varied and complex. She is able to make you both love and despise a single character in the same chapter, by capturing their total humanity. She earnestly writes about both their best and worst qualities. I love stumbling on the life of a character I've read about before and learning how they are also tied to the new characters I've just met. I highly recommend picking up any book by Louise Erdrich.

This book is all about football and Texas, two things I cannot relate to in the slightest, so this shaped my opinion dramatically. Shea Rigsby is a lifelong football fan, so much so that she works for the sports department of her alma mater where her best friend's father is the head football coach. Throughout the book her life revolves around the sport: her job, her free time, her dating life. She makes some choices that turn her life upside down and has to figure out how to put it all back together again.

I struggled to get through the book, not connecting with any of the characters and not buying how they related to each other either. I did want to know how it ended but once I found out it was almost too perfect that it was just plain boring. One of those "the whole mess magically fell into place and everyone lived happily ever after" endings. While I love most of Giffin's earlier novels for beach reads, I would recommend letting this one pass you by. Even if you are a football fan, the character development is so poor it's still not worth your time.

A few months ago Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, sent me [and everyone on GoodReads who read his book] a personal message urging me to read this book. Who was I to argue with the recommendation of such a close, personal friend? Fifteen year old Laurel is given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. She starts with Kurt Cobain and continues on with Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, e.e. cummings, and more. It is through these letters that she deals with the death of her older sister May that had happened the year before. She shares her first love, family problems, and fears with these dead icons who she finds inspiring in some way.

While the format of the story was very similar to Chbosky's novel, it was still a very sweet coming of age novel of a girl in crisis. Her sister gone, her family fallen apart, she did her best to find her voice and her place in the world. I fell in love with Laurel and through her her older sister May as well. This Young Adult novel is definitely worth checking out.  

[Disclaimer: If you click on the above Amazon links and purchase anything I receive a small commission from Amazon. Like a few cents, which I appreciate greatly. Buying from Amazon is awesome, but your local library or independent book stores are pretty cool too.]

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