This should be required reading for all parents. You get to see what it feels like to be bullied from a kid's perspective, and you get to see in retrospect the mistakes the parents made. The narrator broke my heart, yet I'm inspired by her ability to turn tragedy into inspiration.
Hard to believe I was an English major and was never made to read this book! Although I probably appreciate it more now than I would have back then. I think one of the criteria for a "Great American Novel" is that it is timeless. So many attitudes from this novel prevail today, such as the over-indulgence and self-absorption. I kept thinking that someone should be a re-make of the movie and set it in present-day Hollywood. Anyway, if you're one of those that thinks "Great American Novels" are boring and mere long passages of description, read this one, you'll be pleasantly surprised. And if you like satire, this is the benchmark for that genre. I'm still not convinced though that this is "The Great American Novel", as others are enclined to label it. Personally, I'm still partial to East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath, which I think more encompasses the American experience.
This book should have been right up my alley. I love the idea of epistolary novels, as if we, the readers, are voyeurs upon a character's life. And this is a book about book lovers and how books can help you escape from some of the atrocities of life. Again, right up my alley, which may have given me high expectations. But a book of letters can be a hard thing to pull off and while there were many things to love about this book, there were also many details to be disappointed in. What I loved: -The characters on Guernsey Island: I thought they were real and endearing and I wanted to sit in on one of their meetings and join their discussion. -The setting: learning of the German occupation on the Channel Islands and what the people went through- just another aspect of the horrific reign of Hitler that people should know about. -The literary references. -The end: A satisfying one. What I was disappointed in: -The writing: The letters, especially from Juliet, did not ring true of letters written in 1946, especially in London. They seemed much too modern. -The length: Around about page 200, the book got way too tedious for me. Frankly, I wanted it to end. Perhaps about a fourth of the letters could have been left out, or at least condensed. This style of writing can get boring if it doesn't keep the reader engaged and the writing isn't superb. -Again, the writing: it should have been easier to tell the difference between the "voices" of the characters. I didn't feel they were distinct enough so that you knew without looking that the letter was from Juliet or Dawsey or Amelia.
Loved this! I was skeptical about this book at first as I thought it was going to be some kind of new age woman power book, but I'm glad I was so wrong. This book covers many interesting topics: women in the sixties, the Civil Rights movement, mother-daughter relationships, death of a parent, child abuse, friendship, sisterhood, and I learned some cool things about bees I never knew. The author was able to cover all these topics by simply telling a story about a girl growing up in the midst of all this. I fell in love with the Kidd's characters, especially Lily. Her feelings in coming to terms with her mother's life and death was heartbreaking, yet real, not over the top, yet not sugar-coated either. You know you've read a good book when you feel like you will take a little piece of the characters with you, and I have a feeling I will often think of the Lily and the Boatwright sisters.