I have quite a few book reviews to get through, so I'm going to put a few short reviews together. Today I'm giving you a mashup of three books that couldn't be more different :p A children's book that's sweet with a heart of gold, a horrific tale of death and destruction, and a young adult dystopic tale that stole my heart. So here you go...
In this tale, she gives us Flora, a young girl who is the child of a mother who's a romance novel author and often cold and distant and recently divorced from her father, a man she loves but doesn't get to see often now since the divorce. Flora loves comic books but her mother thinks they're useless and wants to put a stop to her reading them. One day while looking out the window, Flora sees her neighbor vacuum up a squirrel into her vacuum cleaner. Flora immediately puts to use the rescue techniques she's learned from reading her comics and saves the squirrel who gets named after the vacuum cleaner, Ulysses.
What follows is a beautiful, often hilarious tale of friendship and a search for balance between Flora and her new friend, the super hero squirrel, Ulysses. I love what DiCamillo did with this tale too, telling it in alternation novel and comic form. The illustrations were fantastic, which they normally are with her novels and this story truly stole my heart.
Ready for a shift of gears? The second book I'm reviewing today is Carrie by Stephen King. I'm not Carrie, as I'm sure most people are familiar with it. It's become one of those stories that everyone knows. In a sentence, young telekinetic girl forever protected by her religiously crazed mother seeks revenge on her town after they humiliate her to the extreme. Though there's much more to the story than that and what I learned from reading King's book is that Hollywood can be real assholes. Well, I always knew that, but this was just reassurance of that fact.
going to bother giving you the plot summary of
I have to hand it to Stephen King for what he did with this novel. I also didn't realize that this was actually his first published novel. Carrie and her mother have both always been represented in the movies as stick figures, plain jane girls. And there's nothing wrong with that. Some people have that body type naturally....except...King describes Carrie in the novel as being overweight but still being attractive and having a "striking" appearance despite being "plain". He describes her mother as being overweight to the point of it putting pressure on her ankles. When I read that it just struck me that Hollywood really does everything it can to NOT ever show an overweight person in an attractive light...unless that's the "point" of the movie. There can never just be a female who's overweight and attractive or just herself without the weight being an issue and I'd love to see that happen one day. And kudos to Stephen King for doing just that back in the 1970s. I smiled a little when I read that in this bloodbath of a novel.
But Pen has woken up alive and at first she's positive that she's the only person left alive. Her parents and brother are gone. As she searches her city, Los Angeles, for any sign of life or just for food for herself, she soon meets a boy named Hex, and later they'll meet a few more survivors. But as they struggle to stay alive themselves and hope to maybe find their own loved ones, she notices that she's beginning to have feelings for Hex.
I wish I could tell you more about this novel, but I can't. It's one you have to read for yourself. However, I can tell you that it's Francesca Lia Block at her best doing what Block does best, and that's focusing on her characters. About halfway through the novel is when I fell in love with it...and that was when a character was developed even more fully and the way she handled the situation. Block is true treasure of our generation and I'm just so happy to be along for the ride as she continues to give us stories that will always stay with me.