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My Reviews

The Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King
 
Inspiring, Gloomy, Unconvincing
Lots of good discussion topics for a bookclub!

Our overall impression was the book is a wonderful account and testimony of the bonds of friendship between women. Particularly the bonds that form during the college years, when boundaries and personal differences are less likely to make a difference in friendships. Once those bonds are formed, the petty differences in life style choices does not determine or threaten friendship.

We all generally felt we would have liked to understand more of the background of each of the women - how they got to be the type of persons they were. We also felt the format of flipping between characters telling the story was very difficult to follow, particularly in the beginning. With so little background information on each individual, it was difficult to keep up with which character was talking - reader's relationship to the storyteller was hard to form.

We did enjoy discussing the various philosophical quotes used throughout the book like "your biography becomes your biology", "when the pupil is ready, a teacher appears", and "I think I"m holding on to a limb to keep from falling into a hole, but the limb turns out to be nothing but a twig, and the hole looks like the Grand Canyon."

Each of us found it easy to identify a little of ourselves within each character. The usage of Walt Whitman's quote at the beginning of the book summed up our feelings of what we gained from reading the book - the bonds of friendship between women are truly more valuable than anything and the feeling of knowing there are people you can count on to be there for you without judgement is true unconditional love.

We chose A Thousand Splendid Suns" as our next book.

 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
Cannot understand what the WOW factor is about this novel.

I found this book interesting but not something I would choose to recommend to others. The only benefit I found from reading the book was a different perspective on the elderly. The author did an excellent job getting inside the mind and thoughts of a person reflecting on their life and past near the end of life. I have a newfound, deepened respect and attitude towards the elderly. I found the story about circus life too drawn out and detailed more than necessary to the point it became rather boring. The graphic horrific treatment of the elephant was difficult to read once, let alone 2 or 3 times. There were long drawn out passages about circus life that could have been entirely left out of the book without losing any value to the story. But, buttom line is that I cannot comprehend what all of the hype is over this book. I don't feel it compares in literary value to another contemporary novel such as A Thousand Splendid Suns.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
 
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Riveting, brilliantly written novel sure to become an all time classic!!

I literally read this book in one day - a book I found impossible to put down. A story full of depth into so many possibile levels of discussion topics. The back drop of a horrible life in Afghanistan without feeling overwhelmed by a historical account of facts - the issues of child abuse and abandonment by both parents, the glimpse of hope shattered by an abusive husband, a look at the suffering of women in the Middle East, a true love story between soul mates for life, the shattered torn lives of those living in war and all it's devastation to life, communities and historical buildings, a glimpse of refugee suffering, the bonds of friendships that can form in the most unlikely of situations, sacrifices made out of love and all of this told with such depth you feel the emotions of all the characters! And in spite of all the horrific tribulations these characters face, the ending is written leaving the reader with hope. It is amazing to see that in spite of all these tragedies the human spirit prevails through the most trying and unimaginable circumstances. Khaled Hosseini has created a masterpiece!!! I would highly recommend this to all book clubs - it is a story you will want to discuss each and every layer of love and tragedy.

 
Slow, Interesting
Great reflection on mid-life questions - how did I get to this point - who have I become??

Although I felt the plot was slow moving and a bit too detailed, the writing style became apparent in making the point of how life is full of the mundane. We wake up and realize where we are and wonder if we have become the person we thought we had set out to be. Life just seems to happen to Beck, as it does to most of us. It is what we do with the mundane and our attitude about our day to day interactions that truly end up mattering - or at least that's the message I got from reading the book. There are many points touched on throughout the book to create good group discussion and reflection on our own lives. Are we true to ourselves and those around us about who we are and do we reflect ourselves in that way? The place where we do try to recapture the grownup we started out being and then the reality of what we have actually become can be quite different. Even if we were not fortunate to grow up in a close knit large family like the Davitch clan, we create our own "families" around us that we interact with on a daily basis. Do we appreciate the people around us each day? Do we see them for who they are and as they truly are and appreciate our differences? I think Anne Tyler shows us, through Beck's eyes - in the end, how to reach that point and causes us to reflect on both how we look at the important people in our lives and how we show up in life. I was glad I took the time to force myself through the beginning chapters which seemed so full of meaningless details to reach the rich lessons learned by the end of the book!

 
Boring, Inspiring, Slow
Oprah - What Were You Thinking???? Sorry I contributed to Ms. Gilbert's bank account!

I found benefit from the sections discussing meditation and various methods of it and have been able to use those. Other than that, I felt the entire book was written by a self-absorbed, whinny, poor little me personality! I found myself thinking this person has gone into a major crisis mode over a bad marriage and an up and down romance - what would she do if real problems actual hit her? The entire book is me, me, me leaving me feeling very frustrated with her. I wanted to shake her and tell her to get a grip and deal with life like the rest of us have to do - it's tough sometimes and it sucks sometimes but hey, do we all get to sell our house in the Hamptons, quit our high paying jobs (if we were so lucky to even have a job) and travel and eat for a year to whine about our heartbreak to every person we encounter? I felt like she was trying to validate herself in the way others saw her by totally controlling conversations, relationships and her own lifestyle and even, at times, that of others! As I said in the heading, and it bears repeating, I am so sorry I contributed one dime to this person's bank account!

Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen
 
Wonderfully written, funny and thought provoking!

Beautifully written story of friendships, love, life's tragedies and lessons learned as senior citizens! Author shows us all the beauty of life as a senior citizen; that neither our learning, love stories, disappointments or friendships stop as we age! A few surprises at the end add to the appeal of the beauty of this wonderfully fun and light hearted book!

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