Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen

This one was recommended to me by a fellow teacher.  This is the story of Sam, an older teenager with Tourette's syndrome.  He is an introvert who has  suffered at the hands of his abusive step-father.  What follows is a true journey to discover where he really comes from and what potential he has to be released.  Jonathan Friesen (the author) also has Tourette's which made this book particularly insightful.  It is young adult fiction but a good read for young adults and adults alike.

Family Ties by Danielle Steel

This one was more typical Steel style.  It centres on Annie who in her 20's becomes guardian for her sister's 3 children.  The kids grow up and Annie finds herself at a crossroads having 'given up' her youth to raise the kids.  The kids are involved in different lifestyles and the problems that accompany them (abandonment issues, relationship abuse and cross-cultural issues).  It is what it is.  A time passer novel.

Big Girl by Danielle Steel

I could see what Steel was doing with this one before I even opened the book. Look at the cover art - very chick lit.  Her style was slightly different than normal for this one too.  It's a very clever way to build a new, younger audience.  This story centres on Victoria, a girl who never quite fit in with her perfect LA family.  She was always just a little too big, a little too intelligent and chose a career path in teaching that she loves but her parents disapprove on.  There is a journey of self-discover and healing for Victoria along the way, learning to love who she is separate from her family. 
It was an okay read.  I think if you want to read a really good book about a 'big girl' try Meg Cabot's Heather Wells books (Size 12 is Not Fat, Size 14 is Not Fat Either and Big Boned) or for true laughs read Jen Lancaster - she's fantastic!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Amazing Grace by Danielle Steel

It's books like this that I keep coming back to Danielle Steel.  Once in a while she writes one that I don't find to be so frivolous.  This one focuses on many characters who are faced with the tragedy of a big earthquake in San Francisco and the year that follows.
I have to say it was a bit disconcerting in timing to read this book.  I picked it up around the same time as the earthquake in Japan.  For that reason I will put a disclaimer that the effect of the destruction in this book seems a bit small in comparison to what such a large earthquake would actually face.
I also think that there were aspects to the story that could have been developed more.  I would have like to see a more natural progression in the relationship of Melanie and her mother Janet.  I also didn't find the relationship between Everett and Maggie to be completely realistic (but then again, I usually drop my sense of realism when I pick up a Steel novel).  I felt the ended wrapped up a bit too quickly.
The book overall kept my attention and was interesting to read.  I liked the characters and didn't find them to be too over the top, which I really appreciated from Steel.