Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Looking for a quirky, fun romance with unique likeable characters?  Your hunt is over.  The Rosie Project is the story of Don Tillman.  Don knows he is wired differently than everyone else, and lives a very organized life as a professor in Australia.  He decides to enter the dating scene and starts a “wife project” complete with an extensive questionnaire.  He cannot find the “perfect” woman, but hopes his friend Gene can help out.  Gene sends over Rosie for a candidate and Don’s life is changed forever.  Will Don be able to find love?  Will he be able to change his routine?  Is he capable of feeling love?

I really liked how unique Don was and that novel was told from his point of view.  I like that he knows that he is “wired differently” than most people, but doesn’t seem to realize that he probably has Asperger’s like the many children in a seminar that he teaches once for his friend Gene.  Don has a hard time emphasizing with people, but he can make connections.  I loved the sweet story of his dinners with his elderly neighbor Daphne and how his trips continued to see her when she moved on to a nursing home with Alzheimer’s.  He has a hard time seeing beyond his routine and I love how the adventures he has with Rosie break him out of the routine and make him realize there could be fun doing different things.  I also like that Rosie realizes she can have fun with Don doing items in his routine.

This was a fun, quick story that made me laugh a lot.  I loved Don’s “voice” and how he uses logic to try to solve all problems.  As an engineer, I felt like I’ve met a lot of Dons. I read that it has been optioned as a movie and I really hope it is made into a romantic comedy.  There has really been a dearth of good romantic comedies lately.  The story was told from Don’s point of few, I wish we could have gotten more of Rosie’s point of view in the story.  Don is not always the most perceptive when it comes to lady’s feelings so sometimes I was wondering how exactly she felt.

This book was a Kewaunee Library Book Club selection for the month of February and is a great read for the month of Valentine’s Day.  I sadly will miss the meeting next week to discuss this book due to work.

Favorite Quotes:

“Gene and Claudia tried for a while to assist me with the Wife Problem.  Unfortunately, their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experiences.  I am thirty-nine years old, tall, fit and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor.  Logically, I should be attractive to a wide range of women.  In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing.  However, there is something about me that women find unappealing.”

“At 2:50 a.m. I was riding through the inner suburbs.  It was not a totally unpleasant experience.  In fact, I could see major advantages for myself in working at night.  Empty laboratories.  Not students.  Faster response times on the network.  No contact with the Dean.  If I could find a pure research position, with no teaching, it would be entirely feasible.”

“In the last eight weeks I had experienced two of the three best times of my adult life, assuming all visits to the Museum of natural History were treated as one event.  They had both been with Rosie.  Was there a correlation?  It was critical to find out.”

Overall, this was a fun, exceptional book with one of my favorite new literary characters – Don Tillman.  I will be recommending this book to others!

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

August Pullman was born with a rare life-threatening condition that makes his face appear deformed.  After a life time of surgery, August is now a lovable fifth grade boy.  Now that it’s time for fifth grade, his parents have decided he should go to a real school for the first time in his life.  

A bright and funny boy, August joins his new school and is quickly shunned.  There are bright spots at school as a couple of kids get to know August and become his friends.  As the year proceeds there are highs and lows.  What does it mean to be kind?  Can middle school kids find it within them to be kind and accept someone who is different?

I really enjoyed this book.  My husband and boys read it for the library youth book club last year, but I didn’t read it at that time.  I did read it this year for the February selection of the Rogue Book Club (aka FLICKS Book and Movie club).  We had a lightly attended book club meeting last week, but myself and the one other person that read the book both really enjoyed it.  The book touched me as it really hit on a lot of great points and made me think about how I treat people now and how I treated people in the past.

I read about the author after I finished the book and she talked about how she wrote the book after she saw a child with a similar condition and rushed out of the situation, so her kids wouldn’t say anything to hurt the child.  And she thought – how would that make the child feel?  It made me realize I have done that as well as I don’t want my kids to make comments about someone different, when I should probably face the situation head on.  She also had an interesting interview where she said she would have been Charlotte in the book while she was growing up.  Nice, but wouldn’t have been brave enough to be Auggie’s friend.  I was similar.

My 12-year-old son Kile said his favorite scene was when the fifth grade went camping and Auggie really got to see the true colors of his class.  I agreed that it was my favorite as well. Kile’s sixth-grade class went to see the movie this year.  I would like to see it as well!  

I’ll admit I was jarred at first when the book switched from Auggie’s point of view to his sister’s and then on to other characters, but I got used to it and liked seeing how others perceived the same situation.

Favorite quotes:

“I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.  I mean, sure, I do ordinary things.  I eat ice cream.  I ride my bike.  I play ball.  I have an Xbox.  Stuff like that makes me ordinary.  I guess.  And I feel ordinary.  Inside.  But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.  I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.”

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

“The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died.  They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs.  Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you.  That’s why your deeds are like your monument.  Built with memories instead of with stone.”

“I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time.  Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.”

“Jack, sometimes you don’t have to be mean to hurt someone to hurt someone.  You understand?”

“Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.”

“It’s so weird how that can be, how you could have a night that’s the worst in your life, but to everybody else it’s just an ordinary night.”

“There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie.  But I really believe, and Daddy really believers, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other.”

“If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than necessary – the world really would be a better place.”

Overall, Wonder is a special book that really explores kindness and how we can all make the world a better place to live in.  I recommend it to all kids and adults!

Book Source:  I purchased it while out Christmas shopping . . . and I can’t remember where!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Roy has just moved to another new town and school in Coconut Grove, Florida.  He is experiencing bullying on the school bus when he notices a strange barefoot boy running alongside the bus.  He starts to investigate who the boy is and discovers that he is protecting owls that are living on a future construction site.  Will they be able to save the owls?  Will Roy make new friends and learn to love Florida?

Another main part of the story is Officer Delinko.  He is trying to figure out who is vandalizing the construction site with much humor.

My nine-year-old son Daniel and twelve-year-old son Kile read this book for the Kewaunee Library Youth Book Club.  Daniel really enjoyed it and in fact we kept reading it at night instead of his actual book he was supposed to read for school I learned later.    We still “flip flop” read with Daniel reading two pages and then me reading two pages.  Kile reads on his own.  Kile said the book was “meh” although he read it awful fast.  He is more into fantasy and sci-fi books.

Daniel liked the light swearing that was in the novel, much to my dismay.  He really enjoyed the story and had a hard time stopping the reading at night.  Sometimes he would read me to sleep!

I enjoyed that it was a unique story.  I liked that it was a good look at what it means to construct a new facility without looking at the land and what naturally resides at that location – it was a good environmental lesson.  Besides an environmental take, it was a good story of how Roy learned to enjoy his new home in Florida after moving from Montana and to enjoy the natural environment and all its glory.   

Overall, it was an enjoyable story with light humor.  We watched the movie last weekend and Daniel was very irked that the changed the ending so much but enjoyed it as well.

Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library