Hard Love – Ellen Wittlinger

October 22, 2008

From amazon.com

John Galardi is a loner, unable to express his feelings except in the pages of his zine, “Bananafish.” He finds inspiration in another zine, “Escape Velocity,” created by Marisol Guzman, a self-proclaimed “rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin.” Her sharp observations make John laugh out loud and he decides he must meet this witty author. By planting himself in Tower Records the day she drops off the latest issue, John manages to arrange a coffee date that extends over several Saturday mornings. They discuss everything from John’s inability to feel and his parent’s divorce to Marisol’s problems with her suffocating adoptive parents. When Marisol casually tells John that she likes him, he is flabbergasted: “Honest to God a shiver ran through my body… Nobody ever said that they liked me. Ever. Not even [my friend] Brian, who probably actually doesn’t.” After a disastrous “just friends” junior prom date and a weekend zine conference spent together, John realizes that his feelings for Marisol are more than platonic. And Marisol, who is exploring her identity as a young lesbian, has no idea how to let John down gently without losing her new best friend.

Hard Love is an enjoyable novel about first love. John Galardi was a great character. I loved seeing how he changed after meeting Marisol. I also liked learning about his family life. His mother and father really intrigued me. His mother couldn’t bear to touch him, and I think that’s just terrible. His father wasn’t any better. I actually think his family life was more interesting than his relationship with Marisol, and I’m glad Wittlinger included it. It really builds John as a character.  I had only one major problem with this novel: the ending. It was just too abrupt. Don’t you just hate that? When you’re really into the book, and then the ending is a big disappointment.

P.S. Because I read this book, right after reading Be More Chill I couldn’t help thinking that John’s friend, Brian, was introduced to a squip. He starts out as a nobody, and then ends up being in a play where he meets his girlfriend and many other drama kids leaving John to the side (well, kind of). 😛

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

October 16, 2008

This is another book I read for class. In Cold Blood is a true account of the Clutter family slaying that took place in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. Herbert Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their two youngest children, Kenyon and Nancy were killed.Their other two daughters, Eveanna and Beverly had already moved out. Capote got material for the novel through interviews of local residents and the killers themselves. In fact, he became close friends with killer Perry Smith.

First of all, I really admire the effort Capote put into this novel. He truly found everything he could about the murders, the killers, the court trials, and just everything really. I can’t imagine anyone else being able to do what he did.

In many ways, In Cold Blood was like a puzzle. The ending is known to readers from the beginning, and the pieces of the puzzle needed to be placed perfectly for the novel to work. I believe Capote did just that. When I got to the part where the Clutters were slayed, I was expecting bone-chilling details. I did not get that. Instead, Capote cut right to the point where  the bodies were found. Now that I’ve read the entire novel, it makes perfect sense to place them later in the novel. Other snippets of important information were also placed at just the right spots.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the novel was how Capote painted faces to the criminals. The reader almost sympathizes with them, in particular, Perry. By characterizing the murderers, Capote makes the novel more realistic and not just some newspaper article. I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading articles on Crime Library in his or her spare time. 😉 If simply reading the novel isn’t creepy enough for you, I also suggest googling pictures of the killers, victims, the house, etc.

Be More Chill – Ned Vizzini

October 13, 2008

After I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I knew I had to read Vizzini’s other works. Be More Chill is about Jeremy Heere, a boy who is anything but cool. He has a crush on Christine and yearns for her, but how could an uncool guy like him get her? This is where the squip comes in. A squip is an illegal pill that will make him cool. Not only can he get Christine now, but any girl he ever wanted. All Jeremy has to do is swallow it, and the squip will talk to him the voice of Keanu Reeves.

While I didn’t enjoy this book near as much as It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I still liked it. Be More Chill definitely had it’s funny parts. One of my favorites included the death of Eminem. I also liked Jeremy’s best friend, Michael who is a big Weezer fan and also has a thing for Asian girls (like Rivers Cuomo). The ending was clever, even if I felt it was a little forced. My main dislike was that it needed more depth. It never really answers just how important popularity is.

Discussion #1

October 5, 2008

In all, I got three replies for my discussion post which should be enough. Two of them were posted in my personal friends-only livejournal if you’re looking back at the Johnny Got His Gun post. 😉 I think I am going to stay away from political questions in the future. Politics and book blogs (unless a book is political) should not be mixed. As a result, I won’t be discussing the questions, but feel free to if you wish in the comments along with the second question.


1. Chartroose

2. Adrienne

3. Maki

Question 1) What is your opinion of war?

Chartroose – I hate war, of course. I don’t think we should ever fight unless under attack. Negotiation works almost all the time.

Adrienne – War is a necessary evil in a world where violence is the answer to all problems. I believe that if it is fought, it should be fought by the people who believe war is the solution–those who vote for it, those who sign off the bill, whatever. All the supporters should have to fight it if they believe in it so strongly, not anyone else.

Maki – I don’t really know how to express my opinion of war. There’s a lot of different aspects to it that are really too complex to get into, and so many different nuances of war depending on who is fighting, and what is being fought that I feel like my opinion would be different depending on each scenario. I mean, war is never good and should never be the first answer to a problem, but sometimes it’s inescapable or necessary for a better future (I am thinking about the French Revolution here which was established through the Civil War which was terrible but how else were these guys going to overthrow the king at Versailles with all their parties and nonchalance to anything that wasn’t themselves?). IDK. IDK AT ALL.

Question 2) What is the most depressing book you have read? If possible, without spoiling the book, what made it so sad?

Chartroose – Probably “How Green Was My Valley” by Richard Llewellyn. He wrote so lyrically and the last paragraph was just a total killer.

Adrienne – I try to read happy novels… but I remember sobbing during Where the Red Fern Grows. Yeah, I can’t really explain why it was so sad without spoiling it, but oh gosh. It made me cry.

Maki – The two saddest books that I read and really enjoyed was The Kite Runner and All Quiet in the Western Front. For me, what gets me the most are the relationships between characters, and I think that is the most I will say about the saddest part about these books. I cried reading both of these books.

Out of these books, Where the Red Fern Grows is the only one I have read. I read it in my fifth grade class, and it was sad. I feel like rereading it one day. While I have not read The Kite Runner or All Quiet in the Western Front, I think I know what Maki means when she says “what gets me the most are the relationships between characters” (correct me if I’m wrong).  To put it in another perspective, it is like hearing that random people were killed on the news. Yeah, it’s sad, but it doesn’t leave the same lasting imprint as knowing the person that was killed. When a book is well-written, it seems that you know the characters; they’re not just some strangers. Therefore, it’s really sad when something terrible happens.

So there is my first discussion post. If you have any suggestions, feel free to offer them. =) I kind of feel like the post is lacking something, but I can’t place my finger on it.