Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre:  Classic
Pages:  165
Published:  5/27/03 by Simon and Schuster
Format:  ebook

My rating:
4 out of 5 stars

This was my first time to read The Great Gatsby.  I managed to escape my school years without it being assigned reading.  Now that I've read it, I'm having a difficult time writing my review. What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? I'm going to skip the usual summary of the plot and just jump straight to my thoughts on this American classic.

I really did like this book. It was interesting and easy to read and enjoyable. But at the same time, I couldn't help but wonder: what is the big deal about this book? It's a short little novel, and just as I was really getting into it, it was over. How has it managed to stand the test of time and remain so well loved?

To answer my own question, this story of a wealthy many trying to find true happiness and love does have a timeless quality to it. Though set in the 1920s, it seems that it could also be written about people today. Especially in America, where living the "American dream" continues to be an ideal for so many. This story demonstrates the downfalls of living a life focused on wealth, material possessions, and social status.

I knew when I started reading that there were some shallow characters in this story. But wow, they were really shallow! At one point, Gatsby is giving a tour of his house, and he begins to pull all of his shirts out of his wardrobe to show off to his guests. Daisy, seeing his shirts, begins to cry and says something like, "I just can't help crying. Those shirts are just so beautiful!" Seriously...who would do that??? Moments like those made it hard for me to take some of the characters seriously. People that shallow surely do not exist in real life, do they?

My final stance on The Great Gatsby: It's a good book that teaches a good lesson on how money and fame cannot buy happiness. Probably not going to go on my list of all time favorite books, but I did enjoy it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey through Hell and Back

Come Back
by Claire and Mia Fontaine
Genre:  Memoir
Pages:  336
Published:  10/6/2009 by Harper Collins
Format: ebook

My Rating: 
3.5 out of 5 stars


This memoir, written in alternate voices by mother and daughter, tells the story of Claire and Mia Fontaine. After suffering abuse from her father as a child, Mia becomes rebellious and troubled during her teen years. Addicted to drugs, she runs away from home and leads her mother Claire on a chase around the country in an attempt to bring her home safely. Ultimately, Claire decides to send Mia to an extreme reform school in the Czech Republic. The second half of the book chronicles both Claire and Mia's therapy and recovery.

As a mother to two daughters, I am always drawn to mother/daughter stories. This one definitely grabbed my attention from the beginning. As a mother, I cannot even imagine what this experiences was like for Claire. I don't even want to think about being in her shoes and experiencing the fear and helplessness she felt as she watched her daughter go through this. I also cannot imagine ever having the courage to send my daughter halfway across the world, then leave her alone there with strangers in a strange school! In this case, I believe this was the right thing to do for Mia, but it is just so hard to comprehend what that would have been like for Claire.

My biggest complaint about this book is Claire's portion of the writing. I found myself more drawn to Mia's sections. After a while, I started to get a little bored/annoyed with Claire. Even though Claire should have been the one that I most identified with, it was Mia that I wanted to read more about.

And with both Claire and Mia, by the end, I was just ready for the book to be over. I know that the road to recovery and self-awareness was not easy, but the therapy session descriptions started to feel very redundant.

In the end, this was an eye-opening, interesting and encouraging book about what mothers and daughters are able to endure together. While things looked incredibly grim for Mia and Claire's relationship for much of the book, I loved seeing how they were able to be honest with each and grow their relationship into something strong, real and lasting.