My book review Monday is quickly becoming a meaningless name, but I am okay with it. Life is continuing on at a drastic breakneck speed, and I’m finding it harder and harder to stay on top of things as of late. But all will settle down in awhile (I truly hope), and in the meantime, I’ll do these reviews when I can.
Just One Year, by Gayle Forman
Book description: When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .
My review: I love stories about colliding worlds, or sliding doors, figuring out where paths have crossed even when it didn’t seem likely. Just One Year, Willem’s response to what happened after his gorgeous one day with his American Lulu, totally satisfies that. Willem is as lost as Allyson is, but in a very different way. I loved seeing how he also pulled himself together, with the promise of this one day that changed him, just as Allyson did. In essence, neither of these books are about a love story, although there is a very romantic love story in there. Instead, it’s about discovering oneself, whether it’s by traveling the world or floundering in university. Forman so perfectly taps into that early-twenties mindset – I find this book as enjoyable as the first one.
Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O’Neill
Book description: Heather O’Neill dazzles with a first novel of extraordinary prescience and power, a subtly understated yet searingly effective story of a young life on the streets; and the strength, wits, and luck necessary for survival.
At thirteen, Baby vacillates between childhood comforts and adult temptation: still young enough to drag her dolls around in a vinyl suitcase yet old enough to know more than she should about urban cruelties. Motherless, she lives with her father, Jules, who takes better care of his heroin habit than he does of his daughter. Baby’s gift is a genius for spinning stories and for cherishing the small crumbs of happiness that fall into her lap. But her blossoming beauty has captured the attention of a charismatic and dangerous local pimp who runs an army of sad, slavishly devoted girls; a volatile situation even the normally oblivious Jules cannot ignore. And when an escape disguised as betrayal threatens to crush Baby’s spirit, she will ultimately realize that the power of salvation rests in her hands alone.
My review: This book is beautiful but so desperately sad I’ve been melancholy for the past few days. It made me run to my little boy and hug him every five minutes, telling him I loved him until he happily pushed me away. Both her words and her story have made Heather O’Neill a person and an author I am completely fascinated by.
Like her ability to break my heart. One passage that stuck with me: “If you want to get a child to love you, then you should just go and hide in the closet for three or four hours. They get down on their knees and pray for you to return. That child will turn you into God. Lonely children probably wrote the Bible.”
O’Neill’s Baby is so incredibly naive and innocent, even as she descends into prostitution and addiction at the tender age of thirteen. Her voice is so clear, and so damaged, I found it difficult to read sometimes. The horrible decisions she would make, each time so she could find a little piece of love, makes you realize what a child she is, and wants to be.
This was a beautiful work, and will haunt me, I think. It’s one I know I’ll come back to reread.
Word of the day:
Cognoscenti: persons who have superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, especially in the fine arts, literature, and world of fashion