Sunday, January 11, 2009

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield

For my book club, we read Sittenfield's book Prep. I hated it, absolutely hated it. The main character was so weak, so desperate to please and be wanted. The explicit sex in the book was so awkward, which I suspect was appropriate considering the subject matter -- confused teenagers fucking.

But I was curious about Sittenfield's fictionalized take of Laura Bush.

Surely we all had moments where we wondered what Laura Bush thought about her husband and his policies. Was she angry, sad, encouraging, proud? Impossible to know behind the frozen expression on her face. The robot wife.

Some chose to believe that she must not approve. She's a woman who claims to love books and libraries. How can she stand by a man who so strongly disapproves of education and instead represents the antithesis of advancement through education?

No one understands the makings of a marriage except the two people involved. As viewers on the outside, we've no right to judge. But that doesn't mean we aren't at least curious.

After reading part of this though, I started feeling very angry for Laura Bush. Sittenfield has used some details about her life but added the same explicit sex that bothered me so much about Prep. Why would a person project those ideas onto the president's wife? Her intent could only be malicious. I doubt there was any sort of information to support what she wrote. The fact that she even thought this grossed me out.

I didn't finish reading the book. I tried reading the book, and then I listened to it on CD for a while during my daily commute, but one day I just quit because I realized I was bored.

Wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell is one of my favorite writers and I'll read just about anything she writes.

This wasn't a favorite though. Family secrets and lies and unhappy relationships. The story was interesting enough, but it took me a long time to get through this book. I finally picked up a copy of the audiobook to listen to on a long drive over the holidays. I found the ending to be shocking and not necessary. The ending had nothing to do with the story, but was horrible and sad.

Breaking Dawn

This is the fourth book in the Twilight series. I was so anxious for it to come out. I pre-ordered it at Borders and I stood in line with all the teenagers to get my copy at midnight the day it was released.

I was getting on a plane to Paris the next day. I didn't like taking such a large book with me, but I was glad to have the reading material. (Especially since I ended up sitting next to someone who didn't speak English, and the video system didn't work. That's right, ten hours in a plane with no TV - and it's nearly impossible for me to sleep on planes, especially at the beginning of the trip.)

I hated this book so much. And I felt so trapped with it. I couldn't discard the book because I had nothing else to read and nothing to watch and no one to talk to.

The book was absurd, filled with coincidences and convenient twists. Everything that had been said in the past books suddenly no longer held true. Becoming a vampire is a terrible process -- but oh wait, now it's suddenly simple and easy! Vampires can't have children. Well, this time they can! Just this once. Children are difficult and require a lot of work -- except for this one. She's special, grows at a rapid rate and is talking and walking in weeks. Brilliant! If the vampires in charge get angry, they'll show up and kill the people that angered them -- unless you talk a whole lot, then they'll just say okay and go back home.

As much as I defended the first three books and said they aren't harmful to teenage girls, I feel the exact opposite about this book. Never, never tell a teenage girl that having unprotected sex and an unplanned pregnancy will turn out all wonderful and happy. The author could have used this opportunity to make a statement, at least show the new parents struggling to figure out how to raise a child for which they were not prepared.

And the bit with Jacob. I almost forgot about that because it was so disgusting I've tried to block it out of my mind. Jacob is a pedophile. Nice. No, not nice, gross. So all you Team Jacob-ers, be ready, your guy is disgusting.

I hated this book. I'm angry that I wasted quality reading time trapped with this book. I wish I had never read it, then I could have gone on enjoying this series. But this book ruined it. I always tell people to avoid this book. But of course, it's the last book in a series, so they're going to read it, and in most cases, they will later with they hadn't.