Reviews by Dorothy T.

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The Lacuna: A Novel
by Barbara Kingsolver
Nothing is missing here (5/18/2010)
Barbara Kingsolver is an amazing author. If you liked "The Poisonwood Bible" you will also want to read this new novel. It reads so much like truth you might be tempted to look up the main character Harrison Shepherd on the internet. I finished the book wondering if the author was indicting the media that publishes whatever it wants, regardless of the truth, or the people who accept everything without thinking or questioning about the other side of the story. I think perhaps both are at fault.

This is a very satisfying read on many levels.
The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
Not to be missed (4/22/2010)
In spite of some historical inaccuracies, this novel rings true and kept me engaged from beginning to end. (I admit, though, that I did get a little distracted at times trying to figure out which actresses would play which characters in the movie that inevitably will be made.) The characters are well-developed, and there is the right combination of suspense and humor.

This is another story that points out the inconsistencies in the relationships between whites and their black servants. On the one hand the blacks were considered inferior morally and dangerous to the health of the whites. Yet at the same time the black maids were entrusted with their most precious things: their children. These absentee mothers underestimated the influence their maids had on the children and the affection their children had for the maids. As long as the help didn’t use the same toilet, their white employers thought they had control of the situation. Kathryn Stockett does an excellent job with this contradiction.
A Thread of Sky: A Novel
by Deanna Fei
This one's just OK (4/5/2010)
I had a difficult time connecting with the characters in this book. The poor choices these women make did nothing to invoke my sympathies, especially in view of the fact that they are supposed to be liberated and educated. Maybe that is the author's point. Her treatment of the themes of forgiveness and the complicated tangle of mothers, daughters and sisters might make this worthy of a reading.
Shanghai Girls: A Novel
by Lisa See
Not to be missed! (3/16/2010)
Lisa See has written a great book! This story is satisfying on many levels, some scenes horrifying, but seemingly truthful, and her handling of the relationship between sisters exactly right, if not (thankfully) the story of all sister relationships. I especially urge all readers to take the time to read the acknowledgment section and reprint of a LA Times article at the end of the novel.
Secret Daughter: A Novel
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Heartbreak and Hope (1/18/2010)
The loss of a child takes varied forms, but each is a cause of unspeakable grief and heartache. The Secret Daughter enlightens us about a place and a culture that might be unfamiliar to some readers, but the essence of the story is that loss, whether it comes as a result of miscarriage, sacrifice, or life decisions. But I was not left with a sense of hopelessness, rather just the opposite. The author handles all this with great skill and a style that kept me involved with the characters and their story to the very end. I encourage anyone who likes engaging fiction with a chance to learn something about India and its culture to read this one: it will stay with you long after you finish the last page.
Alice I Have Been
by Melanie Benjamin
An Enjoyable Read (10/21/2009)
Melanie Benjamin had some unanswered and even controversial issues to deal with when she took on the life story of Alice Liddell Hargreaves, including her relationship with Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which was inspired by Alice as a young girl. Because fiction is the medium she chooses, the author is able to take a well-reasoned stand on these issues and gives her readers answers in absence of missing facts (I personally like her version). She does so with a gift that makes this an enjoyable read.

Although the second section almost seems to sink into the realm of the romance novel, even to the point of melodrama, the first and third sections ring with mystery and the emotion of family dynamics and Alice’s personal inner journey. The first section is filled with wonderful descriptions of life in Victorian England: childhood, fashion, society functions, and the social and moral expectations of the time.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel
by David Wroblewski
Great read until the end (9/18/2009)
I read this book inside of a week (a tribute to its engrossing nature) and I really liked it, but when I finished it I felt I was cheated. Maybe I mean to say that the author cheated. Instead of finishing the story, it appears he either could not or wished not to resolve the conflicts and answer some questions, so he just wrote an ending that was convenient for him.

Much has already been said here about the characters and the wonderful dogs, so I see no need to add my praise to the others who already spoke theirs. I will recommend this to other readers who like to tackle this sort of thing, and maybe someone else can help me figure out the answers that David Wroblewski didn't give his readers.
Water for Elephants: A Novel
by Sara Gruen
Don't waste my time (6/2/2009)
I rarely put a book away without finishing it. I am supposed to lead a discussion on this book (I took over as facilitator of a book club after it was chosen), and I regret to have to bow out this time. Some of the passages are disgusting and not necessary in their entirety for the story or the reader. I gave it a try, but it's not worth my time or worth the sleazy images it left in my mind for a while after reading them.

The only reason I give it a 2 instead of 1 is because the author does show some skill in plot structure. Over all, skip this one.
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
by Greg Mortenson, David O. Relin
The hope of education through a real page-turner! (4/15/2009)
I read only a few of the other comments, and although I did notice some writing problems, I was definitely not bored! I was glad to get another viewpoint on the Muslim culture and a clearer understanding of how the Taliban came about and who the members are, although I keep in mind that this viewpoint is also somewhat slanted.

The true importance of this book is the exposition of the need for education and educational facilities in this area and culture, and of the hope for the future it holds. This is true for all parts of the world. Greg Mortenson is to be commended for his determination in the face of all the sacrifices he has made and risks he has taken.

Read this one and see what I mean.

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