Book Reviews

Reading Roundup #4

Anne of Green Gables the book

I’ve been a bit sluggish in the reading department this summer but I guess that is the “only” good thing about summer ending-I’ll most likely get back to my normal reading speed and be able to write a reading roundup post a bit more frequently than every couple of months…

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

I first read a Chris Bohjalian novel last year (The Sandcastle Girls) and was immediately hooked on his writing. I followed up by reading The Light in the Ruins. When I first heard about a new book of his coming out this year, I got very excited. My excitement slightly lessened when I found out it wasn’t a historical fiction work. While I will always prefer historical fiction to plain fiction, Bohjalian’s latest work still packs a pretty mean punch (and I mean that in the best of ways). It tells the story of Emily, a teenager who becomes homeless following a meltdown at the local nuclear plant where both of her parents worked. It’s said her dad was drunk on the day of the meltdown and is being blamed for the disaster since he was the one in charge. With both of her parents missing and presumed dead, Emily flees her town rather than be subject to questioning and scrutiny. She ends up homeless and journeys into a world that no one at any age should ever know. It wasn’t necessarily graphic but it was still hard to read in some parts, knowing that there are many real life Emilys out there. As always, Bohjalian does an incredible job in weaving an engrossing story.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Anne of Green Gables

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Anne of Green Gables, through the television movies that were made from the novel. I watched them over and over and could recite dialogue verbatim in some scenes. While I had read an abridged version of the famous classic by L.M. Montgomery, I had never actually read the entire book. So last month I finally did and honestly, in much of the book I could imagine the scenes from the movie. Unlike some novel to screen adaptations in which plots are drastically changed, the movie was just like the book. You will love the character of Anne in either medium. And for anyone not familiar with Anne of Green Gables (I don’t see how this is possible but on the off chance), it tells the story of Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who ends up living with two middle aged siblings on their farm. While they had originally wanted a boy to help with the chores, they end up keeping Anne and it is the best thing for everyone. Anne of Green Gables is a delightful read for people of any age, and if you’re like me, it will not only, take you back to your childhood, but make you so want to visit Prince Edward Island and the house that inspired L.M. Montgomery when she wrote her tale.

Anne of Green Gables the book

Orphan Train

I actually read this last year but never wrote about it before. Christina Baker Kline’s novel tells two stories that are woven together concerning Molly, a teenager in the foster care system who doesn’t quite fit in, and Vivian, an elderly woman with a mysterious past. While Molly and Vivian’s stories are set in the present time, there is also the back story of Vivian as a young girl. When just a child, she was orphaned and sent on an orphan train west out of New York City, to what was supposed to be a better life in the Midwest, even though girls Vivian’s age were generally only adopted to work, not because the adoptive families actually cared about them. I didn’t really care for the modern day parts since I found the character of Molly to be the typical, obnoxious teenager with a chip on her shoulder. However, Vivian’s story from the 1920s and 1930s was particularly interesting and as a reader I found I could connect with her. My heart also broke over the many heartaches and tragedies she endured for someone so young. While it’s still a work of historical fiction, Kline does a great job in providing her readers with a unique and for many people, unknown history lesson.

Orphan Train

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