Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Summer Reading - Books 34-40

More summer reading!

Book 34: The Weight of Dreams by Jonis Agee
The Weight of Dreams told a story of vengeance that I felt could have been told in half the amount of pages. Set in the West, it gave the reader the impression that the Plains were still very much like the Wild, Wild West we know from the days of cowboys and Indians. For whatever reason, I could not get involved with the characters’ lives and pretty much plodded through this book.

Book 35: Riven Rock by T.C. Boyle
Riven Rock was quite a welcome departure from the previous book. I love T.C. Boyle’s style, and he didn’t disappoint. This was the fictionalized story of the heir to the McCormick reaper fortune and his sad life as a schizophrenic and sex maniac, locked up in his mansion and forbidden to see any women – even his own wife. It was a fascinating look at history, early 20th century mores, and the rudimentary beginnings of the field of psychiatry.

Book 36: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
… And then there was American Psycho … which definitely took abnormal psych to a whole new level. I would not recommend this book for anyone who is squeamish. I vaguely recall this being a movie, but I don’t think I saw it. If I did, I would surely remember it … and not with fondness. Sexual depravity, senseless violence, rampant drug use, all wrapped up in the guise of an ‘80s New York success story. If that’s your cup of tea, this is the book for you.

Book 37: River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
A haunting look at the Georgetown section of Washington, DC, in the early part of the 20th century. Home to a thriving community of African-Americans, this book tells the story of the accidental drowning of a young girl and how the effects of her death ripple throughout the lives of the people who knew her.

Book 38: Chasing Fire by Suzanne Collins
The second in the Hunger Games trilogy, this book has some predictable moments, but there are enough unexpected twists and turns to make it just as hard to put down as the first one. Looking forward to what this author has in store in the final book.

Book 39: The Gathering by Anne Enright
The last of my “summer reading” books, this one tells the story of an Irish family coming together to mourn the passing of one of their siblings. Told from the point of view of the sister, it skillfully weaves together the story of the family’s past and the challenges of the present day as she tries to cope with grief at the same time she is questioning her marriage and her relationships with the surviving members of the family. I’ve never been to Ireland, but I swear I almost felt like I’d just visited by the time this book was done. Well written and engrossing.

Book 40: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
To say that this book is disturbing would be a gross understatement. Lots of books are disturbing, but this one is more so because it is true. Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped at age 11 and was not reunited with her family until she was 29. During those 18 years, she was held prisoner, treated as a sex slave, bore two daughters and feared for her life if she attempted escape. Although her captor was a parolee and received regular visits from his parole officer, no one discovered the girl in the backyard until two astute UC Berkeley police officers investigated the strange behavior of a local “religious” fanatic. The thought of this all taking place in an otherwise unremarkable and well-populated neighborhood is terrifying. The fact that Jaycee Dugard survived with body and soul intact is a miracle.