Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Title: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Author: Ayelet Waldman

Short Summary:
Emilia is a young New York woman who married a co-worker, Jack, who left his wife to be with her. Along with the marriage comes Jack’s son, William. This child is a know-it-all who Emilia has a very difficult time dealing with, especially while she is mourning the loss of her daughter who died after only a few days of life. This book follows the ups and downs of life as a new wife, step-mother, and woman trying to figure it all out.

My Thoughts:
It’s now been some time since I’ve read this book and before looking through it again, I couldn’t remember too much about it. Obviously, it did not leave a huge impression on me. This was somewhat disappointing since I absolutely adored Waldman’s Daughter’s Keeper.

I found the characters in this book very difficult to like. While I could sympathize with Emilia at times, other times I just wanted to scream at her. William, unlike Emilia, was very difficult to sympathize with. It did not feel like I was reading about a five year old at all. I work with children and can never imagine even the most intelligent five year old say some of the things that came out of this child’s mouth. There were even times when he reminded me of Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin, which is disturbing. He turned out to be not nearly as terrible as Kevin, but he still sometimes made my skin crawl.

Although the characters were not always the most pleasant to read, there were redeeming qualities of this book. The book was written with wit and comic relief that often brought a smile to my lips. I also really enjoyed the details and descriptions of New York. I often enjoy when a location plays such an important role in a story, and this one brought New York to life.

I know from IMDB.com (internet movie database) that there is a movie based on this book staring Natalie Portman as Emilia. I can’t seem to find it on Amazon or Netflix, and am not sure where it was released. I would be curious to see how the story plays out on film.

This book fell a little bit more into the chick-lit category than I was expecting. Although it was not my favorite book, I would still recommend it as a quick, light read with some quirky characters and heartfelt moments to lovers of chick lit.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Half of a Yellow Sun

Book: Half of a Yellow Sun

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Short Summary:
In this story we follow several different characters leading up to and during the Biafran war in Nigeria. We are taken into the heart of the war and the devestation it causes all involved. The plot revolves around Ugwu, a houseboy for Odenigbo who is a professor and a big supporter of the revolution. He is living with the beautiful younger woman Olanna. Olanna’s sister, Kainene is involved with a British man Richard who is living in Nigeria. Together, these characters form bonds, live through betrayal, grow together and apart,  and deal with the horrors of war.

My Thoughts:
This was not only a very well written, engaging book, it was also extremely educational. One reason I love to read is to learn, and this book truly helped me to do that. I knew very, very little about Nigeria before reading this book and had sadly never heard of the Biafran war. Through the pages of this novel I was introduced to an amazing set of characters who taught me about this interesting country and the war they fought with both spirit and despair.

This was a book club choice and led to some great conversation. Some did not particularly enjoy the format of the book. It jumps back and forth before the war and during the war. I actually liked the use of the time changes. It was interesting for me to see what happens and then go back and see how the characters got to where they are. It put a little intrigue in the story for me.

I enjoyed most of the characters. They were interesting and none of them felt one-dimensional. Since the story covered about several years, I really saw the characters grow and change throughout.

This is a book I would recommend. It is long, but very educational, has great character development, and makes for a good discussion.

My Rating: 3.75/5 stars

June in Review

My cruise was fabulous! It was my first one and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to go on another one. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked. There was just so many things on the ship to do! I did get to spend some time in the beautiful library though, which was great.

June was a pretty good reading month for me. Since I’m no longer commuting to work, I have not been listening to audio books. It was kinda strange not to have any this month, but without the commute I don’t have the patience to listen.

I got five books read this month. Here they are:

  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman
  • Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
  • The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum

I’m not sure any of these will go on my favorites of 2010, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good. I think Half a Yellow Sun and The Red Tent were probably the best of the bunch.

July looks promising with so many good books to choose from. I am currently reading Pat Conroy’s South of Broad which I bought at the airport after accidently/stupidly putting my books in with the luggage I checked. I’m glad I did though, or I might not have had the chance to read this great book! I have about 200 pages left, but so far it’s fabulous. I think To Kill a Mockingbird is going to finally be read by me this month. The others I have yet to decide.

I hope everyone had a good June!