[ARC] All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is a novel I find difficult to comment about and that leaves conflicting emotions.

There is a girl, Wavy, and her bad family: the father produces and sells meth and the mother suffers from depression and clean mania. The traumatic childhood brought Wavy not to trust anyone (most of all her parents), not to talk to anyone, not to be touched by anyone and not to eat with other people in the room.

There is Kellen, a twenty year old thug working for Wavy’s father and who Wavy meets one night. And Wavy finds in Kellen e reference point – he brings her to school, helps her and her little brother Donal – until she falls in love with him, but she is a little girl and also Kellen grows fond of her.

The novel is constructed on various point of views, and among them Wavy’s, and cover a time span of about 15 years, since Wavy is 6 till she is 21. When Wavy is 14 years old, she and Kellen would like to marry, but a dramatic event changes their plans and the girl is sent to her aunt.

The novel conflicting feature are the sensation that transmits to the reader: Kellen falls in love with a child, but he is not a pedophile, instead he is the only one to provide balance in Wavy’s life, but this attachment with Wavy-girl is quite hard to accept; despite the fact that it is moderated by the fact that Wavy’s family is quite awful, from her parents to her aunt, who is unable to understand the girl’s perspective and actually help her.

Reading other reviews I found a phrase that summarize this feeling: during the whole book you hope Kellen and Wavy to be happy together, and then you don’t.

Everything considered, I think the novel is an interesting one, and that it is able to make us think about some issues (and maybe we well contradict our own values), and I liked reading it. Concerning te narrative style it is well done, the POV alternation contributes in building the setting and in developing the characters; the plot is engaging, maybe a little bit slow in the middle part.

However it’s a book difficult to suggest: it’s nice but not everyone will like it, because of the controversial love story.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] Ladivine by Marie NDiaye

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Ladivine by Marie NDiaye is one of the novel in the 2016 Man Booker International Prize’s longlist.

The novel begins with a child, Malinka, unable to see anything in her mother a part from her skin color and her work as a maid. The mother, Ladivine, instead loves her daughter and makes everything she can to let her lives like other children.

Malinka grows up and begins to distance herself from the one she thinks only as “the servant”, and when she finds a job she changes her name in Clarisse, in order to conceal better her ethnicity, already difficult to grasp for her light skin color.

Clarisse then marries and becomes Clarisse Rivière, she has a daughter, Ladivine, and, despite having maintained her relation with her mother (a visit once sa month), she will never let her daughter and her husband meet the old woman. Times goes by and Richard Rivière leaves his wife to have a new family elsewhere, and Clarisse finds love in another relation, with a creepy man; her choice is not supported by her daughter Ladivine and this will increase their distance. Only after a dramatic episode Richard and his daughter will think about Clarisse and reflect about her role in their lives.

The novel faces different thematic: one’s person origins (Clarisse is always trying to run away from them, but she is unable to completely close her mother out of her life), shame and judgment (Clarisse is ashamed by her mother work, but we are told also Richard is sometimes ashamed of Clarisse and her behaviours), the construction of the ideal life in the middle class, marriage issues, mother-daughter relationship. All the above in a setting pervaded by a natural empathy – almost spiritual – that brings things together and comforts the sorrows.

The story follows three points of views: Clarisse, her daughter Ladivine and her husband Richard, but sometimes minor characters have their voice. Honestly I liked the first part of the novel (Clarisse’s pov), the story is well detailed and Clarisse is a peculiar character, both for her ability to estrange herself from situations and emotions (she sees her mother only as a servant).

The other two parts (about Ladivine and Richard) were more slow and redundant (Ladivine’s in particular); the setting was almost unreal and Ladivine’s thoughts keep recurring without evolutions; too bad, considering the very good first part.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* Ladivine by Marie NDiaye ★★☆☆☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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This Is Where It Ends seemed to have all the features of an engaging novel: the story of Tyler, a student, who brings guns at his high school and begins kill his former schoolmates, the narration divided among different characters who once knew the person who became a killer.

But keeping on the reader ends up disappointed, and I agree with other online review that point out two main issues of the story:

  1. the narrating voices in the end seem to be only one: the author creates various characters (and points of view) whohowever share mostly a single kind of feeling. The characterization lacks emotionality and the only way to discriminate characters is for something the book tells us (about their past, about their behaviour).
  2. Tyler was a potentiality for the novel, in understanding or deepen his reasons and his character. Instead the novel, in the various POVs, shows the reader an evil guy, and it adds also other evils to his story, building, in the end, a quite dull and mono-dimensional bad guy.

I did not grow fond of any of the characters, and I think the novel failed in chosing not to talk about the most complex character (ending instead in a simplification of his story), the one so exasperated to take a gun and kill his former schoolmates.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp ★☆☆☆

*I read this book in English

 

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

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Suicide Notes affronta un tema piuttosto difficile, quello del suicidio (derivato da problemi di relazione e emotivi) nei ragazzi.

Jeff si risveglia in un centro psichiatrico dopo aver fallito il proprio suicidio, e il romanzo percorre i 45 giorni del programma di recupero in cui i genitori l’hanno iscritto. La vita di Jeff si divide quindi tra sedute di analisi con lo psichiatra responsabile della struttura e di incontri che coinvolgono anche gli altri giovani, ospiti della struttura per motivi differenti. Nel corso del romanzo Jeff si troverà ad affrontare il problema alla base del suo comportamento, prima di tutto ammettendolo con se stesso.

Grazie all’ironia e sarcasmo di Jeff il romanzo non è drammatico, ma risulta in molte parti anche divertente. Non sono però sicura che alcune immagini siano adatte a un pubblico molto giovane.

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Suicide Notes deals with a difficult theme, the suicide in young people (mainly due to emotional and relational issues).

Jeff wakes up in a psychiatric yard after failing to kill himself. The novel follows Jeff’s story during the 45 days of the rehab program he has to follow for his parent’s decision. Jeff’s life is divided among single therapy with the psychiatrist who manages the structure and with group sessions with the other girls and boys living in the structure. During the novel Jeff has to face the problem behind his behaviours, first of all by analyzing it himself. stesso.

Thanks to Jeff’s irony and sarcasm the novel is not dramatic, and some parts are light and funny. However I’m not sure that some images are quite suited for a young reader.

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Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford ★★★☆

[ARC] Things Withered by Susie Moloney

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The book collects some stories by Susie Moloney, all of them having in common something horror – noir that emerges in the conclusion of each story.

The stories are set in suburbs and in situation of decay, both social – economical and emotional: the main characters are persons unsure of their abilities, of themselves, dishearten and without any perspective for the future.

The stories atmosphere is always dark and emotionally heavy (and depressing), taking the whole collection it seems like all the stories come from the same standard structure (for example the conclusions are quite easy to deduce after reading a couple of stories).

Overall the stories are well written, but, as I said, quite repetitive – not in the plot in se, but in the general structure – and it’s difficult to feel empathy for the characters.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* Things Withered by Susie Moloney ★★★

*I read this book in English

Short fiction – ep. 3

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Third post (the first one is here, the second here) where I speak about some short but beautiful books.

  • Letter from an unknown woman by Stefan Zweig
  • Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

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