Saturday, July 5, 2008


I don't want to take the time to do full-fledged reviews of the books I read for the read-a-thon last week or the couple of audiobooks I've read recently, but I do want to give them a mention, so I'll do minireviews.

First off, read-a-thon.

It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris. I already wrote a short blurb about this during the actual read-a-thon, but I'll mention it again here. This book has been challenged left and right for its sexual content. Duh. It's a sex ed book; of course it contains sexual content. I think people that challenge material like this are afraid. Afraid that if their children know more than the little bit of information they eek out, they will end up sexually promiscuous, or even just sexually active. I, personally, think the opposite is true. In my opinion, the more well-informed children are, the more likely they are to make wise decisions when it comes to sex. At least, that is the philosophy we have adopted in our family. I have no hesitations whatsoever in letting my children read It's Perfectly Normal. I think Harris presents a very balanced resource on puberty, sex, and birth.

Life on the Refrigerator Door. While this book is 200+ pages, it is a very quick read - I read it in less than an hour. As it consists of notes written between a mother and her teenage daughter, many pages hold only 1 or 2 sentences. Short though it is, I found this book very sad. Early in the book the mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, so many of the notes are reminders of appointments and quick check-ins. I found it so sad that in a time of such despair, so little face-to-face communication occurred between mother and daughter. I would hope that were I ever, god forbid, in the same situation, that I would make more time for my family and that they would do the same for me.

No Girls Allowed! This one was an ARC I picked up at TLA and hasn't been published yet. This book is in graphic format and presents the stories of several women throughout history who dressed as men in order to be successful. The targeted age for this book is 9-12 years, which feels about right. The stories were simple; the drawings all in black and white (I think this is final formatting, but the official release may have colored illustrations). I enjoyed it, but I can't see it being hugely popular. It would make a nice addition to a classroom library.

Doctor Illuminatus. Laura and I listened to this one while she was attending a 3-week band camp. It is the story of two kids (whose names I have already forgotten) who have recently moved into a very old manor house in England. They soon meet Sebastian, who, while appears to only be 12 years old, is actually nearly 600 years old. Sebastian's father was an alchemist who discovered a way to manipulate time and Sebastian is the benefactor of this gift. In this book, Sebastian enlists the help of the two children to stop the villain (whose name I can't spell - that's the problem with audiobooks sometimes), who also was privy to Sebastian's father's knowledge. The book was fast-paced and had lots of humor and lots of pseudoscience. We enjoyed it, but it wasn't remarkable. I'm sure my husband would have torn apart the science had we been reading it aloud!

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. I admit it. I'm a Picoult junkie. She is actually the only pop-fiction author I read, at least on a regular basis. I was hooked when I first read The Pact more than 7 years ago. In this book, a man convicted of murdering a police officer and his young stepdaughter decides he wants to donate his heart when he is executed to the daughter of the little girl he killed. Due to remarkable events, people begin to think Shay (the inmate) could be a messiah. There is a lot of religion in this book. One of the main characters is a priest who served on the jury that convicted Shay, and he undergoes a crisis of faith. Another character, an ACLU lawyer representing Shay, is the atheist daughter of a rabbi. I was afraid the religious content was going to be turn-off, but as Picoult does with many issues, she makes religion a point of debate. I was impressed that she used the gnostic gospels in her arguments. As a freethinker, I would be interested to hear what others with firm religious beliefs think about this book.

And finally, Little Women. I finally finished this one last night. I had tried to read this a few times over they years but could never settle on it long enough. I finally stuck with it, and I'm so glad I did. I can't say that it makes my list of favorites, but I really did enjoy it. I feel like I'm finally part of the club and can know what people are talking about when discussing this book. And I did love the characters. And I did almost cry several times (which does say a lot about the impression the book had on me). And I laughed out loud several times. I found Jo so refreshing. And the sarcasm and teasing between Laurie and the girls - so many books of this time (in the ohsomany I've read...yeah, right) portray young women as still and really prescribing to social norms. It was really cool to see that girls back then could be just as spunky and opinionated as girls today.

1 comment:

Debi said...

Oh man, this was such a good idea, all these mini-reviews! I think I might have to steal it, as I still haven't reviewed all my books from the read-a-thon.

I think a few of these will be making their way onto my wish list. I have a couple of Picoult books, but have yet to read one. I really have a feeling that I'm going to be hooked once I try them, but then again I worry that I won't like them and will wonder what's wrong with me since everyone else seems to love them. Stupid, huh?

Anyway, I think I might have to find Life on the Refrigerator Door, too.

And I couldn't agree more with your comments about It's Perfectly Normal. Educating your children about sex is not the same as encouraging your children to have sex. I can't for the life of me understand how some people think that ignoring the issue makes it somehow not exist. Anyway, this sounds like a great book!