Book Review Quickies

charlotteThe Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic, by Michael Sims

Although it starts out a bit slow, this biography of E.B. White and it’s focus on the creation of Charlotte’s Web (one of my favorite books) was a fun read and lovely tribute to White.  I wasn’t a fan of the author’s style, so I probably won’t pick up another of his books too soon, (I admit to skimming some of the chapters that were long on detail and short on personality) but in this case the subject matter was interesting enough to overcome the slow pace.  6 mangoes.


zeitounZeitoun, by David Eggers

Zeitoun has been my “gym book” ever since Christmas, when C gave me a Kindle copy.  It tells the story of the Zeitoun family, who were living in New Orleans when Katrina hit.  Abdulrahman (he goes by Zeitoun) stayed behind to watch over their home and business while Kathy took their kids and fled the city.  The book follows the events that happen to both of them over the next several weeks, and briefly, over the next few years.

(Spoilers begin now) Reading this book really brought up how ignorant I am about the events that happened during Katrina.  When Zeitoun is picked up by police and the national guard, I anticipated him being held overnight due to the chaos.  I anticipated that that would be a big trial for someone – to be arrested wrongfully at their own property and held overnight.  Obviously, I had no idea how horrible his experience could be, and how awful the conditions of prisoners held immediately after the storm were.  Reading the book I had to constantly remind myself that it was non-fiction, it was so hard to believe that something like this could happen to someone.  Eggers seemed to be pretty thorough in his research, and given the horrible things that have happened to the couple since the book was published (per wiki, the One True Source), I imagine the depth of the psychological damage done was minimized in the book.  (End spoilers)

I enjoyed the author’s style and tone, and am impressed that he set up the proceeds from the book to fund charity work directly supporting causes that work towards Katrina reconstruction, human rights, and Muslim American causes.  The book was thorough but paced well.  It delved deep in the atrocities that occurred without being too preachy to the distraction of the narrative.  Overall, it’s a heartbreaking story, but one that is important for all of us to be aware of.  9 mangoes


darkroseThe Dark Rose, by Erin Kelly

I enjoyed Ms. Kelly’s debut novel, The Poison Tree, for it’s atmospheric moodiness and sudden explosions of darkness.  I liked it’s ambiguity of morally right and wrong.  I had high hopes for her second book, The Dark Rose, but the only moodiness here was to be found in the cast of sullen teenagers.

Unfortunately, The Dark Rose did not build up tension or interest.  Perhaps it was the subject matter (certainly that many adult readers aren’t interested in the sex lives of teenagers).  I didn’t get really interested until chapter 48, and even then the plot twist ended suddenly to be replaced with another that felt rushed and was a bit of a let down.  4 mangoes

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