Thursday, May 28, 2009


In my attempt to read books from different genres and authors, I stumbled upon this paperback in our collection. The story opens with two young families waiting for the arrival of their newly adopted babies coming from South Korea. Bitsy and Brad Dickinson-Donaldson are the stereotypical loud, affluent, and overconfident young "American" couple. Sami and Ziba Yazdan are a young Iranian American couple. I don't feel the author takes a lot of time to develop her characters - her focus is more on the relationship issues that come up between the different characters. The only character fully developed was Sami's mother Maryam who immigrated from Iran as a young bride. Bitsy's confidence in her child-rearing ways seems more of a mask - towards the end of the book you see that underneath it is a mask for her uncertainty of who and what she is. She makes strong efforts to preserve her child's Korean heritage by dressing her in traditional costume every year on Arrival Day. Her insistence on celebrating Arrival Day, the day the babies arrived to the United States, is indicative of this. Although birthdays are celebrated, they are overshadowed by the girls' arrival to the United States, as if this is much more important. Ziba, on the other side of the coin, is content to have her child assimilate directly into her Iranian American culture. She does not emphasize the differences between her and her child.
What was most interesting in this book was how cultures can differ. You see the differences between Ziba and Bitsy, between Bitsy and her father, between Sami and his mother Maryam, and even in Maryam and her relatives back in Iran. The assimilation of other cultures into the "American" culture is fascinating. Maryam no longer feels as if she belongs in Iran, although she still feels like a foreigner in the United States 40 years after her arrival. Her feelings of alienation intensify after 9/11 where any person of any Middle East heritage is suspect, regardless of the current political situation.
Maryam is the only shining star in this novel - although I did not always sympathize with her. Her fear of losing her Iranian heritage leads to stubborness, especially when it comes to her relationship with Bitsy's father. SPOILER: The author shows Maryam misinterpreting his motives - assuming that he is disrespectful of her heritage although he tries to integrate it into his marriage proposal. This is where you start to realize that the differences in the culture can cause so much discomfort and pain, although there is no intention of doing so.
Anne Tyler's strength lies in her development of the issues. This book started examining what it means to claim yourself as an American but it was not long enough to come to any conclusion. Fans of Richard Russo or Anna Quindlen will enjoy the everyday characters dealing with everyday issues of their lives. It was not a terrible book, or even a bad book. I didn't enjoy it, mostly because I had trouble identifying or sympathizing with most of the characters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
September 2, 2008

This book captivates the reader but engages the soul. You cannot stop reading; a nightmare awakened with eyes wide open. The story takes us into the point of view of the "too old" teen reflecting from the eyes of abuse. "Alice" was taken at the age of ten and now at fifteen she shares her story with us as we are put aside to witness, to view the pain, the loss, the sadness enraged by this monster who infected his sickness into the world. I was told I would not be able to put this book down, I will go another step saying that even after page 170 and the book is closed, the end reached....its haunting words leave a shadow, an essence imprinted on your do not forget how she won her freedom.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Adventures of Slim and Howdy

The Adventures of Slim and Howdy
by Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn

A couple of Tuesdays ago, I was out browsing the stacks before I started work and happened to find this book sitting on the shelves of the Green Valley Library. I had just recently given up on Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony (good series up to this book, written by Eoin Colfer... still recommend it, but just to warn you that it gets a bit sleepy there.) and several books that I had on hold were either on their way over or I was on the waiting list for them.

Being a country music fan, I was immediately interested to see that Brooks and Dunn of "My Maria", "Only in America", and "Play Something Country" fame had put together a book. I'd been to one of their concerts when I was younger and enjoyed them and they're not too bad when it comes to writing a book either!

The book is the story of two cowboys who run into each other and decide to hit the road. They both happen to be singers, so they go to a few bars and perform nightly. One of the bars' owners is a friend of both of theirs gets kidnapped and the fun continues from there. I actually found the climax of the book to be a bit of a bore and prefered the chemistry that went on between the Slim and Howdy characters (Slim is Ronnie and Howdy is Kix).

All in all, not a bad read, but not something I'd nominate for book of the year. Plus, there's a music disc in the back with a pretty good song! Just as long as they keep to their day jobs, they'll be fine...