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What I Read Wednesday

Posted Nov 27 2013 6:53am
So last week, it was Wednesday and I was all, "I've only read one book. I'm a failure." Then I realized it was actually THURSDAY, and I was a really big failure. Sorry about that, blog readers.

Light from a Distant Star: A Novel
This is one of those books where a young teen protagonist is set in a situation where she has to make a choice that may disrupt her family life and the world she knows. The book covers a few months in Nellie's life and follows her somewhat boring, but somewhat tumultuous family life. Her dad is a slightly drift less dreamer who is more focused on writing his book than he is on earning money to provide for his family. Her mom is tired of having to provide for everyone. Her older, half-sister Ruth is on the search for her real father, who lives in Australia. Her younger brother Henry is weird and just can't quite fit in. Her grandpa Charlie owns a junkyard and lacks certain moral and ethical guidelines. Add in a vivacious tenant, Dolly, who is a stripper--or a singer and dancer, as Nellie thinks, and Nellie has quite the adult world to learn to navigate. I could see this as a pretty strong coming of age story and really enjoyed the author's prose.

UnSouled (Unwind Dystology)
I thought this was to be the last book in the Unwind series, then realized about 20 pages from the end that unless there was going to be a very rapid tying up of everything, it obviously wasn't. A quick Google search explained that no, it isn't the last book in the series and I have to wait longer for the last book?! No! It's been awhile since I reviewed the first book in the Unwind series and since it's really hard to review the third book, I'll just tell you why you should look into this series. Unwind (book 1) takes place in a dystopian future set after the Heartland War, a war fought over the issue of pro-choice vs. pro-life. Both sides came to an agreement: abortion is illegal, but if you have an unwanted baby, you can leave it on someone's porch, as long as you don't get caught. This is called storking. If you're storked, you're obligated to raise this child. Oh, and there's another catch… somewhere along the way, someone invented a technology that allowed every part of the human body to be harvested as an organ donation. Amazing, right? Except that there's always a need for organ and well, with the public school system in collapse in the midst of the Heartland War, there was this issue of these pesky, feral teens running around. So, a new law was put in place where you can choose to Unwind (full body organ donation) your child at the age of 13. Storked children are often at the most risk, but biological parents choose to Unwind children who misbehave. And children in state homes are at the highest risk, unless they can demonstrate they have something worth saving. This is not a pro-life/pro-choice statement disguised in a book, not by any means, but it is a powerful book on maybe how we treat children and teens in our society. The third book was as strong as the first and I absolutely cannot wait for the fourth and final book.

The Signature of All Things: A Novel
I am one of the five people who did not read Eat, Pray, Love, so I wasn't sure what to expect of this author. I was pleasantly, incredibly surprised. Despite being a pretty big book, I finished this over the weekend because I was very drawn in to the story and characters. This book follows Henry Whittaker and later, his daughter Alma through much of the 18th and 19th century. Both are interested in matters of botany, both of which take them over the globe. Henry was a boy who went from poor to wealth, but despite raising Alma in luxury, Henry and his wife Beatrix still instilled a work ethic in her. Indeed, every night Beatrix would sit with Alma and her adopted sister Prudence and recount how they could have bettered themselves that day. As the story evolves, Alma enters into a tenuous love with a man named Ambrose who makes his living (if you can call it that) drawing orchids. She becomes somewhat of a scholar in the field of studying mosses, yet not as well known as if she'd been a man. She travels to Tahiti and discovers much about life and herself. There's so much more, but you should definitely read this one for yourself.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
I've been wanting to read this book for awhile now and finally got around to it. Junior is a teen growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation who doesn't feel like he belongs. When he gets a math book, opens it and sees his mother's name on the inside cover, he snaps. He realizes they get so little at the reservation that their supplies are outdated by thirty years. He realizes he has to get off the reservation or he will never leave, so he makes the move to transfer to the school for rich white kids, where the only other Indian is their mascot. I loved this book. It was based on the author's own experience and it spoke of the rage and sadness felt at the plight of his people, at the poverty and alcoholism, but it was also so funny and had such strong voice. It was an incredibly easy read, and I found myself feeling like I knew Junior and wanting to read so much more.

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