Thursday, September 2, 2010

August Book Reviews: "Lamb," "Their Eyes Were Watching God," "Teacher Man," "Norwegian Wood," & "Stolen Innocence"

My rating scale: *OK, ** Good, *** Great

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore
Rating: *+

This book was basically a re-telling of Christ's life from the viewpoint of his friend Biff (aka Levi). This book covers a lot of the missing parts of Christ's childhood and teenage years and adds in some events that help explain some future events.

The audioversion of this wasn't the best quality... the sound levels were all over the place making constant adjustments to the volume necessary. I had high hopes for this book given the title. I thought the story itself was amusing though not as funny and clever as it could have been. It was a little more "in your face" obvious funny than witty. A lot of the middle portion of the book could have been cut out without affecting the story. There were some parts where they go live as Buddist monks and such which were good, but just unnecessarily long. I did like that this book gave Christ and a few of the other common bible characters a little more personality. If you want to read this I'm not sure the audiobook is the best way to go. I don't think I'll ever view the bible the same way again. Ever.

by Zora Neale Hurston

I found this book at a library sale and finally decided to read it being that it's a classic of sorts. I wasn't really sure what it was about except that it was a pivotal book in African American culture. "Their Eyes" follows a young black woman through her life, several marriages, and a few major path-changing decisions. It was an important book at the time because #1 It has a strong, female, black main character and #2 It talks about a town solely run by black men and women.

This wasn't a very long book, but I was still able to immediately connect with the main character and ride the rollercoaster of emotions that she constantly experiences. It was a little tough to read with the phonetic dialect style of writing, but in this case I think it added to the characters and it was easier to read after a few chapters. This turned out to be a classic worthy of the title and worth all of the $0.25 I paid for it.

by Frank McCourt

After reading "Angela's Ashes" I knew I had to read more of Frank McCourt's books. Ok so I listened to them... but still. Teacher Man is a book about McCourt's years as a high school teacher in New York. I love the way he relates his experiences. I could just picture all of these things happening and I felt like I knew his students. It's very easy to relate to him in this book because we've all had that high school experience and know what we and other students were like. I highly recommend you get the audioversion of McCourt's books. His voice and Irish accent add so much to the story and give it a character that wouldn't be there otherwise. McCourt's books have by far been my most favorite to listen to. I'm always sad when they end. I can't wait to read "Tis."

by Haruki Murakami
Rating: -

I made it about 1/3 of the way through this book and couldn't read anymore. The plot was almost non-existent and uninteresting. I didn't care about any of the characters and found them annoying at best. Not even a Beatles reference could keep me interested in this one.

by Elissa Wall
Rating: **

This was another library sale book. Being that I grew up Mormon, this book had a certain amount of intrigue and it did not disappoint. Sure, Elissa Wall isn't a great novelist by any means. This isn't going to be a classic. However, her story was so horrifying and heart wrenching I couldn't put this down.

The FLDS way of life was both better and worse than I'd imagined. Sure, growing up in Utah I saw polygamist people at the grocery store and heard rumors and such, but I never had an in-depth knowledge of their culture and beliefs. This book was such an eye opener.

There was actually less physical abuse than I thought, barring the rape and sexual abuse of minor girls in marriage situations. Overall Wall's childhood sounded a lot like mine for the most part... loving parents and neighbors were the norm.

I was surprised, however, by the level of brainwashing going on, with Warren Jeffs at the helm especially. It was almost 24 hours of indoctrination. Basically, multiply the Mormon standard by several times. What a mind job! Makes me sick.

If you don't get unreasonably upset about young girls being forced to do things against their will, I highly recommend this one. Actually, I highly recommend this for anyone. If you don't believe me take this as a testimony.... Seth was sick one day and stayed home from work. He spent the whole day reading this book and finished it. It was that engaging. This is some crazy shiz y'all.


heidi said...

Ooh, I'm glad for the lengthy review of "Stolen Innoncence"! I was so curious about it, but I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle something so upsetting just yet. I'm trying to maintain my open-mindedness towards everything about being raised in a "weird" religion. But I'm still curious.

AND I'm intrigued by "Teacher Man." It sounds more upbeat than Angela's Ashes. (Plus, of course, I'm a Teacher Woman, myself, so teaching tales interest me.)

It's Me said...

Wow, you were one reading (listening) machine this month. I am surprised at myself for not reading any other books by Frank McCourt since I loved Angelas Ashes so much. I'm going to add those to my reading list.

Collette said...

I read "Their Eyes Were Watching God" a few year ago and loved it. I haven't read "Stolen Innocence", but I did read "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop, an FLDS woman who ran away from her rotten husband. That book made an impression on me. It was eerily fascinating to mark the similarities--and differences-- between the FLDS branch of Mormonism and their "wayward" cousins, the mainstream Mormons.

Holly said...

I love your book reviews - I always end up with a few to add to my ever-growing list to read.

I read "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop, too, and thought it was a very interesting book.