The Rosie Project is a wonderfully light, feel-good, summery read. It follows autistic professor Don Tillman's search for a wife, a project he has aptly named The Wife Project. The rigid scientific process he employs leads him to unsuitable candidate Rosie, but the two of them have some amazing fun together searching for Rosie's father (The FatherProject), a feeling that seeps through the pages to infect the reader as well! ~ Cara
E. Lockhart's YA novel, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks,
is a little bit about growing up and a lot about reminding the people
around you that you're not a child any more. Frankie, tired of being
treated like a child, becomes a behind-the-scenes 'criminal mastermind'
at her rather traditional, 'boys club' turned co-ed boarding school.
She creates and organizes intelligent and symbolic pranks, by
anonymously sending detailed instructions, and convincing an unofficial
fraternity on campus to carry them out. The frat, not realizing, of
course, who is orchestrating the schemes assumes that one of their own
is behind the pranks. A great read for independent thinkers, especially
ones who often feel like they are in a class by themselves. Frankie is
smart and insightful; I suspect many teen readers will relate to her
frustration of not being taken seriously.
E. Lockhart's We Were Liars is a one-of-a-kind summer mystery novel, and one you should definitely read. The story follows Cady Sinclair and her closest cousins as they engage in various summer shenanigans and try to unravel mysteries of summers past. With rapid fire dialogue, a story that will suck you in faster than the event horizon of the NGC 4889 black hole (look it up, this is a great analogy), and what has been described as a "gut punchingly good ending," this is one book you definitely do not want to miss. Also, when you do finish reading, don't forget to lie. ~ Graham
Anthony Doerr's wonderful novel, All the Light We Cannot Se,
weaves together the story of two characters: a blind girl, Marie Laure,
who, with her father, flees Paris in advance of the German occupiers,
and Werner, a young German orphan, who believes his survival is assured
by joining the Hitler Youth. Marie Laure's father, Henri, is the keeper
of the keys for the Paris Museum and may have been entrusted with the
museum's most valuable possession, The Sea of Flames, a rare but cursed
diamond. Father and daughter seek sanctuary with Henri's uncle on the
city-island of Saint-Malo.
Although blind, Marie Laure sees more than the sighted around her. Henri has taught her to navigate her Paris neighborhood and then Saint Malo through his intricately carved models of each city. As the Germans occupy Saint Malo, Marie Laure is forced to remain indoors and then Henri is arrested. Marie Laure must lean on her reclusive uncle and his housekeeper.
Werner has been captivated by a new invention, the radio. He assembled his own from discarded parts and gradually masters this new technology, a skill that earns him a place in Hitler's army. He is assigned to a small unit that tracks French Resistance radio messages; when the operators are located, they are murdered. This unit, tracking a particularly effective Resistance broadcast, ends up on Saint Malo days before the Allies bomb--and level--the entire city.
In alternating chapters, traveling back and then forward in time, Marie Laure and Werner move from innocence into adulthood. Werner, in particular, learns firsthand the evil that is war. Yet, throughout this darkness, Doerr explores light as the metaphor--but what, exactly, is light? Is it something visible, or is it the reflection on the ocean, the colors of a sunset, the warmth felt on our skin, which is perhaps how Marie Laure would describe it. Or is it invisible electromagnetic waves like the radio waves Werner cannot see but captures in his radios?
A dictionary definition of light--"the natural element that stimulates sight and makes things visible," and "understanding of a problem of mystery, enlightenment"-- best describes the effect of light in this novel. Marie Laure is sightless and cannot experience light as we do, yet she is the most enlightened character in the novel. Werner operates in the world of radio waves, unseen yet a powerful propaganda tool in the hands of the Nazis and a counter to this propaganda in the hands of the Resistance.
Marie Laure's uncle has come out of his shell, and is now transmitting messages for the Resistance. Werner is attempting to find the radio source of these transmissions, which results in his landing on Saint Malo just before the Allies attack. Marie Laure is trapped in her house, with The Star of the Sea and a German officer on the trail of this diamond, as the Allied bombing begins. Werner and Marie Laure's paths finally cross as the air clears, and the tension mounts.
Doerr depicts the evil, horror and lasting effects of war on a civilian population. Yet his novel also lifts us above this horror, showing us that there can be light, and therefore hope, even in the darkest times. I wholeheartedly recommend this beautifully written novel whose characters will remain with the reader long after the final page is turned.
~ Mary Fran
Tasha and Lola's Book Corner
At 15 months, it seems that Lola learns something new every day. When we read and play together, she likes books and toys that allow her to practice her skills. Touch-and-Feel Kitten is one of her current favorites. We have two cats at home, and she likes not only the book's textures, but the familiar animal images as well. With a flap to lift on each page, Where's Spot? is another hit these days. And toys for ages 1+, like the Melissa & Doug Jumbo Knob puzzles, are great for helping her practice her coordination.