Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Notes on Some Books

THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE was recommended to me by a customer. She, new to Oregon, came into our store to connect with her new neighborhood bookstore (us!). Wearing olive green cargo shorts, a matching t-shirt, and with very short brown hair, she told me that THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE was the best book she'd ever read.


I don't always pay attention when customers tell me things like that, but this time I'm glad I did. Heather Gudenkauf tells the story of Callie, a young girl who disappears into the woods and went missing for several days. Callie had stopped speaking a few years before her disappearance. Why did she stop speaking? Why did she go missing? Telling the story through several points of view, including her mother, her brother, Callie's friend, the deputy sheriff as well as from Callie's own point of view, each vantage point provided insight into Callie and her family. A very good read.

After seeing one high school's reading list, which included Emma Donoghue's ROOM, Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE, and Tana French's IN THE WOODS, I decided to read Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE. What an excellent choice for a reading list!

Richard Mayhew lives in London. He has a rather boring job and an overbearing fiance. One night he helps a girl named Door, who leads him to London Below, a world Richard didn't know existed. He gets involved in Door's quest, leaving London Above to discover a parallel life inhabited by people (and I use the word "people" loosely here) from other times and places. Great fun.


Tom Perrotta's newest, THE LEFTOVERS, has a great premise. Millions of people all over the world disappear in an instant. It seems random, the people who disappeared are all ages, all religions, all races; there doesn't seem to be a common reason for them all to have left. Called the Sudden Departure by those who remain, it is generally assumed that it was the Rapture, though many of the Christians who are left are sure it was not the Rapture, for if it was, they (obviously) would have been taken too. When I read the premise, I thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity for humor.


Tom Perrotta chose to treat the topic differently. Focusing on the Sudden Departure's effect on one family, this books was rather somber. Laurie, the mother in the family, joins a cult-like group called the Guilty Remnant, who smoke cigarettes as one way to proclaim their beliefs. Kevin, her husband, is the town mayor, and he struggles with not only the loss of friends and family, but also the loss of Laurie and Ben to a cult. Ben first bands with the Holy Wayners, following who they see as a holy man. Jill, the daughter, lost her best friend to the Sudden Departure, but more keenly feels the loss of her mother to the cult, knowing that her mother has a choice about whether to be with her or not. Maybe I wanted this book to be written by someone else...Will Ferguson, perhaps? Christopher Moore?

THE NIGHT CIRCUS was on the best seller list the first week it was released. For a brand new author, that is pretty incredible. It is there for good reason. The circus in the story, Le Cirque des Reves, is a magical venue. At least part of the reason the circus exists is for a challenge. Two children are chosen and trained to be the contestants or challengers. They both learn magic and how to create and change how the world appears. Their canvas is Le Cirque des Reves, the Circus of Dreams.


I was (willingly!) drawn into this story and did not want it to end. It is a love story between two people. In addition it is a love story between people and the circus itself. And, I found it to be a love story between the reader and THE NIGHT CIRCUS.

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