Who’s On Your Burn-Out List?

April 14, 2008 at 6:01 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 4 Comments
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burn·out

  1. a fire that is totally destructive of something.
  2. fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.

After reading Devourer of Books’ review of Change of Heart, I’m beginning to believe there’s something to the concept of being burnt out on an author’s work. This is especially true when there seems to be a formula of some kind involved. I’ve experienced this before. In high school I was in a Danielle Steele phase until I thought I would scream if I ever heard Carmel, CA mentioned ever again (no offense to those who live in and love the city). Once that never was exposed, I’ve never read any of her books again. Now it appears that Jodi Picoult might be added to my Burn-out List.

Also in high school I read several of Stephen King‘s novels. For whatever reason I could never get very far into Cujo without stopping. I would say that he is also a member of my Burn-out List, but for a different reason – gore overexposure. Unlike with Danielle Steele, I do see myself reading more of his work at some point. To this day, Misery holds the distinction of the only book I’ve ever stayed up all night to finish. With the exception of eating dinner, from the moment I got home from the library, I read that novel until it was done. I’ve stayed up well passed my bedtime with other novels, but at some point I have always gone to sleep. Not so with Misery. I physically could not put the book down. It was that good.

So who is on your Burn-Out List? This is your chance to get all of the Carmel, CA’s you’ve got off of your chest. It might also prove to be a public service to others. If this post has even the remotest chance of saving someone else from getting facial ticks at the mere mention of a beautiful coastal town in California, I’ve done my work.

A Change of Heart about Jodi Picoult?

April 8, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Posted in Books, Disappointment, entertainment, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading, Worst of the Year | 18 Comments
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At the time I started this blog, I was very much in to Jodi Picoult. My Sister’s Keeper was the first novel I read, but Plain Truth was my favorite. Before January of 2007 I’d also read and enjoyed The Tenth Circle, Vanishing Acts, Salem Falls, and The Pact. Over the course of ’07, I read three of her books. I enjoyed Nineteen Minutes, finishing it just shy of a month before the Virginia Tech Massacre brought much of Southwest Virginia to it knees. Still, Keeping Faith was just so-so and Perfect Match was such a wall banger that I would have categorized it as the worst book I read in ’07 had it not been for The Emperor’s Children.

I’ve read nine of her books and enjoyed – if not thoroughly enjoyed – seven of them. Still, I am hesitant to even pick up and hold a copy of her latest novel, Change of Heart? It might be because there are some elements involved that are related to the Keeping Faith (miracle healings) and Perfect Match (Catholic priest). I also left Vanishing Acts, The Pact, and Nineteen Minutes feeling I had gotten too much of a real sense of what it was like to be a man imprisoned. Are those connections worth overlooking her novel or is it just that I’m over her? I certainly hope not because when her work is good, it makes for an amazing ride.

If you’re a Jodi Picoult fan, I would like to hear what you have to say. What are your favorite novels? Did you like them all? Why or why not? Have you or are you planning on reading Change of Heart? I’m hoping that I might be able to grab on to the coattails of some enthusiastic readers.

* Comments may contain spoilers *

#35 ~ Perfect Match

August 16, 2007 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Books, Disappointment, Jodi Picoult, Literate Housewives Book Club, Reading | Leave a comment
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Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Check out the LHBC site for my thoughts and opinions.

#12 ~ Nineteen Minutes

March 17, 2007 at 7:10 am | Posted in Books, Culture, Jodi Picoult, My Life with Books, Reading | Leave a comment
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Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite current authors. This book did not disappoint me at all. It was very interesting to get a full view of a school shooting ~ from the perpetrator, from the students, from the parents, and from the community. You usually don’t know what makes someone do what they do. Knowing doesn’t change the way you feel about the act itself, but it humanizes the murderer. It’s easy to brush things off as simply evil, but life is much more complex. In the end, it was everyone brushing Peter’s life and humiliations off that set this book into motion.

This book centers around two characters: Peter Houghton and Josie Cromier. They grew up as best friends. This friendship superseded the end of the friendships their mothers shared (not the most convincing scene in the book). It did not, however, last through junior high. The pull of popularity was too much for Josie. Peter was “different” and he would never be accepted by the in crowd. As they entered high school, Josie witnessed her friends make fun of Peter. She felt guilty. She was so unsure of herself and her place in life that she participated. When the two were alone, they were able to slip back into a friendship. It’s when that friendship developed into something more that their lives were turned upside down.

After reading my last Picoult book, I was concerned that I had caught on to her literary patterns and could guess what was coming up ahead. There were several occasions while reading this book that I did the same thing. Each time, I was ~ thankfully ~ wrong. Perhaps Keeping Faith just wasn’t one of Picoult’s best.

I would highly recommend Nineteen Minutes. It gives you a feeling of what it’s like to live in a community devastated by school violence.

Update

I finished reading this book only a month before the tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech on 4.16.07.  Living only 45 minutes from Blacksburg, this was a haunting experience for everyone.  Although this book was still fresh in my memory, I can’t say that it was something that I thought that much about at the time.  This book does not in any way glorify school violence.

Fact is very much different than fiction.  I wish our community and the families of all those affected by the massacre didn’t have to know that for a fact.

#04 ~ Keeping Faith

January 31, 2007 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Books, Jodi Picoult, Parenting Dilemmas, Reading, Religion | 4 Comments
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Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

I love Jodi Picoult. The last time I finished one of her books I suffered withdrawal symptoms because I didn’t have another one waiting in the wings. So it was surprising to me as I began this book that I was growing tired of her. I actually was wishing I’d chosen another book. This happened a couple times before while I was in high school. I read so many Steven King and Danielle Steele books that I began to recognize patterns and just couldn’t read them anymore. At one point I swore that if I ever read another book that mentioned Carmel, CA that I would throw it against the wall. Thankfully, as I read further into the story, I got hooked and couldn’t put it down.

This is the story of a messy divorce and custody battle and its effects on an only child named Faith. Mariah, Faith’s mother, suffers from a lack of self esteem. From the moment that Colin shows interest in her in college, she allows him to mold her into the type of wife he wanted. She loses her identity. Colin’s first infidelity drove Mariah to suicide. He had her institutionalized against her will and it was in the hospital that he discovered her pregnancy. That was the only thing that kept their marriage together. The book begins when Mariah and Faith come home to retrieve a lost ballet leotard; they find Colin getting ready to take a shower with another woman. In the aftermath, Colin leaves, Mariah calls in her mother to take care of Faith while she gets herself straightened out, and Faith begins to see and talk to God.

Mariah takes Faith to psychiatrists, doctors, rabies, and even allows interviews with Catholic priests in order to get to the bottom of Faith’s visions. Faith was found by all to be mentally stable, but no one was brave enough to believe that Faith’s visions were actually contacts with the divine. That is, until her touch brings her grandmother back to life after being clinically dead for an hour. Once that story hits the press, people begin to congregate outside of Mariah’s home. The story is spread even further by an atheist televangelist name Ian. He has made it his life’s work to debunk religion and especially the miracles. When Colin returns home from his honeymoon with his pregnant wife, he discovers what is going on and decides to sue for full custody of Faith, using a renowned cutthroat lawyer. Not only does Mariah need to find the inner strength to handle the situation with Faith, she then has to fight to keep custody of her daughter.

Some of the relationships that develop seem too convenient and predictable. As with many other of Picoult’s lead female characters, Mariah is not alone for long. On the other hand, I enjoyed the way in which Mariah interacted with her mother. They have a truly special relationship. Still, the most interesting thing about this particular Picoult novel is the way in which visions, religion, faith, and God are handled by each of the characters. I believe that the book covered this topic and all sides with respect.

This was not one of my favorite Picoult books, but I would recommend the book to others. It provides the opportunity to explore your beliefs about the extraordinary. What would you do if your child began seeing visions of God?

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