{crutching along}

Man, am I sick of crutches. Last night, I dreamt that I was walking with crutches. Then I forgot them somewhere and had to go back and get them. So now I am on crutches even in my dreams. Although I guess the point of that dream was that I don’t need them any more! Would that my physical therapist/parents agreed with me.

This weekend at my gramma’s house, I read two books. They were both about 10-year-old girls, but that was about all that they had in common. Ellen Foster, which I brought with me, is a Southern coming-of-age novella, while Sarah’s Key, which my gramma had, is a Holocaust narrative/present-day journalism project mishmash of a novel. Since two books are the subject of this post, I thought I’d cut things down a bit by doing the old 2&2 review of each.

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Two things I loved:

1. The setting. I have a large, large soft spot for the South. Seriously. Everything from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café to Friday Night Lights gets me going. It’s just a personal weakness.

2. Ellen Foster. This book is her, with one of the clearest, strongest narrative voices I’ve ever read. This smart-as-a-whip 10-year-old has a spirit that rises above her abominable circumstances and horrific family life and gets her reader smiling with admiration. She’s sincere, loyal, caring, and hilarious, in a way that reminds me of my gramma, oddly enough.

The way to shop when you have a limit on money and you don’t want to be bothered picking out and matching up items in your wardrobe is to buy everything alike. . . I always take a long time to try it all on and make sure I feel right. Then I pay for it and make sure I got my receipt in case something falls apart. . . They ought to build things to last. When I get back to where I am living I lay all the clothes on the bed and admire how it all matches.

Two things I didn’t love:

1. The length. I’m a whiner, but I honestly just wanted more of Ellen. 126 pages was not enough.

2. The ending. The book ended on a strong racial message that seemed a little tacked on. Commentary on race issues are sprinkled sparingly throughout the book, but I thought that Ellen’s journey focused more on other themes (family, faith, free will) that could have served as the ending’s focus.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Two things I loved:

1. The historical content. The book covers an event known as the Vel’ d’Hiv’, when over 13,000 Parisian Jews were rounded up by French police and, after being held in horrific conditions, were sent to concentration camps, from which almost none of them returned. After 10 years of French study and a semester abroad, I count myself more informed than the average reader on France’s role in the Holocaust, and I found the book to be well-researched and fascinating.

2. Sarah’s story. Besides being well-researched, de Rosnay’s writing brings the atrocities that she suffered to life without allowing her reader to lose hope. Sarah’s bravery and compassion makes the reader an ally from the beginning.

Two things I didn’t love:

1. The modern storyline. Sarah’s story is mirrored by that of middle-aged American expatriate journalist Julia, whose discovery of Sarah’s history coincides with her own marital troubles. Frankly, I just wasn’t that interested.

2. The writing style. At times, the writing was a little overdone, almost like de Rosnay was trying to imitate great classics. This mainly happened during the modern storyline; again, the parts about Sarah were for the most part very well-done.

What did you read this weekend? I hope it was enjoyable!

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One response

  1. Pingback: {anxiety attack} | On the Verge of a Usual Mistake

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