Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review: Second Glance

So you’ll notice that I fell in love with My Sister’s Keeper, and that Jodi Picoult has one new very big fan. Second Glance was the second novel of hers that I read, and once again, I wasn’t disappointed. I stood in the aisle at Barnes and Noble staring at all her covers and was no more decisive on which one to read next… so my amazing husband read the back of this one and told me to go with this one. He knows me so well!

Synopsis: I wanted to go into detail in the plot of this book, but there is so much to this that it would’ve taken away from the actual review. So again, my synopsis doesn’t contain spoilers.

The book is an interesting one: a ghost story--entwined with a love story--entwined with the study of eugenics. Picoult actually wrote this one before My Sister’s Keeper—and it was the research for Second Glance that actually gave her the inspiration for MSK.

You’ll first meet Ross, a deeply depressed man who lost his fiancĂ©e, Aimee, in a car crash. He considered himself invincible after attempting suicide unsuccessfully several times—including standing outside in a thunderstorm and getting struck by lightning. Instead of dying to get closer to Aimee, he turns to ghost hunting to try and find her.

When a new strip mall begins building over a supposed ancient Indian burial ground, he is summoned to help find and get rid of the ghosts causing trouble throughout the town. With the help of Ross’s sister, Shelby, and Shelby’s son, Ethan, he gets to work. This is where he meets the beautiful and mysterious Lia, who brings him back to life (so to speak). When he discovers a decades-old murder on the land in which he is investigating, he and his family get to work.

You’ll get to meet many different characters in this richly done plot… including Ruby, Meredith and Lucy, a family whose story eventually meets up with Ross and Lia’s.

Picoult uses the back and forth character interaction in a similar way as My Sister’s Keeper. The difference she makes from this book, however, is that instead of each chapter as a new character, she skips around within the chapters. It’s a little distracting in the beginning when you have no idea who is narrating, but doesn’t take long to get acquainted with.

This is a three-part book: books one and three in present day, and book two in the past. There are many parallels with what happens in book two and how it shows in book one.

The premise of the ghost story is a little hokey, I must admit. In fact, the solving of the murder makes me think of a riddle that you’d be able to pick up on very easily. Regardless, Picoult’s books are so well written that you connect with each character and you’re easily rooting for everyone involved. The story is so well-done, that the ghost story aspect is actually a second-tier plot.

You’ll also really see how each individual family copes with what is handed to them—death, illness, depression, etc. It really grabs hold of the theme of the book: how everybody must deal with love and loss.

Although I did really enjoy this book, it’s my least favorite out of the three (Vanishing Acts review coming soon!). I loved the generational aspect of the story, I even loved the mystery part of it, and I really loved learning about eugenics and how it could have so easily been a dark part of American History—so saying that this is my least favorite is still NOT a bad thing! I would suggest reading it if you like love stories and anything mildly suspenseful.

Next Review: The Shack!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

Since Meredith already gave a full plot summary, I'm going to keep this as more of a book club discussion. Things I liked, things I didn't. But WARNING: There will be spoilers in this. Anyone has already read the book, leave comments and feedback!


Okay, so things I liked. I loved reading from the different perspectives of the characters. Simply reading Anna's side makes you think Sarah is a monster. But after reading her perspective of going through Kate's diagnosis, I could do nothing but absolutely relate to her. Having a 2 year old myself, I found myself being unable to judge Sarah because her situation was absolutely unthinkable.

I also liked the bond that seemed to exist between Jesse and Anna. Despite their differences, they shared a lot in that family and Picoult did a great job of showing what I think would be a very accurate relationship in that situation.

I liked the ending. I hate that Anna had to die, but what a great way to end the book. I mean, really... what other outcome or ending would have left you satisfied? And it made me think... after we know that the kidney transplant worked, did some readers change sides? Did people who supported Anna in her medical emancipation suddenly decide against it when they found out the procedure worked? Not that it was relevant any longer, but in a real life scenario (I can only imagine this is what Picoult WANTS us to consider)....

There wasn't much I didn't like about this book. The only thing I could've done without was the side-bar relationship between Campbell and Julia. It was really distracting from the real point of the story, to me. I didn't care what happened between them before while I was reading and at the end, I didn't care if they ended up together at not.

I also didn't like that we never got to hear Kate's side of the story... but at the end you see why it made sense that she wrote it that. It was brilliant writing, really.

As for the issue at hand.. it was a heartbreaking story all the way around. Absolutely heartbreaking. I never took sides with either Sarah or Anna, but when Anna says she's doing this because this is what Kate wants, I have to say that I thought THAT was what was most important.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Notes from a delinquent blogger:

I've read two new books and am currently on the third since My Sister's Keeper. You'll see a couple more from Jodi Picoult on here soon, because after MSK, I fell in love with her writing.

Stay tuned for some more reviews! Coming up from Meredith:
The Shack
Second Glance
Sundays at Tiffany's
Vanishing Acts

And hopefully you'll see your first from Tanya soon enough ;-)