First of all:
Aw, thanks, Ryan. It was the least I could do for you…and your mischievous grin…and your shoulders…and your back…and your shoulders.
(Side note: Ryan Gosling has been filming a movie here in Austin, and EVERYONE now has a Ryan spotting story. Everyone except me. My roommate’s cousin even saw him playing with puppies while they filmed a scene. Ryan Gosling playing with puppies. Yeah. Just thinking about it makes me quivery. Good Lord.)
Anyway, I managed to read three, YES THREE, books this week. Two of them are middle grades books, so they were easy to devour in an hour or so — the perfect study/work break! So, in order of awesomeness to not so awesomeness:
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Miranda, a sixth grader in 1978 NYC, has a lot to deal with — friendships falling apart, new friendships forming, avoiding crazy people on the street, helping her mom win the $20,000 Pyramid — without having to figure out the mystery of the anonymous letters she keeps receiving. The weird thing about the letters? They seem to know what will happen in the future. This middle grades novel won the 2010 Newbery Medal, and it’s easy to see why. All the characters (even the adults!) are fleshed out perfectly. The plot is twisty enough for even adult readers to feel satisfied. And to top it all off, it nods fairly consistently to A Wrinkle in Time. Awesome.
Jade Green: A Ghost Story by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
I have no idea where this book came from. Seriously. It just appeared on my living room coffee table. I assume that one of my roommates put it there (though what they were doing with a childrens’ novel I have no idea), but a mysteriously appearing book would fit in with this novel’s creepy plotline. This book is your pretty typical children’s ghost story. A scrappy, recently orphaned teenager moves into her uncle’s quiet, spooky mansion in 19th century South Carolina. The only rule for her — don’t bring anything green into the house. Of course she disobeys, and pretty soon haunted house things start happening. This was a super quick read and definitely aimed at younger readers. The twists are fairly easy to see coming, but it was still a satisfying story.
Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
And the one adult book I read this week. Blood, Bones and Butter has been a huge hit with both critics and bookbuyers…and I just don’t get it. Hamilton’s writing is certainly impressive. She can definitely craft a sentence. But, man, I really found it hard work to have to read about her. She likes to think of herself as an outsider, as one who is never fully any group, whether it’s her family, other chefs, her MFA cohort or even her husband. Although this leads her to make some interesting observations about these other folks, it also means that there is a whole lot of self-righteous victim playing. I just wanted to shake her sometimes. Straighten up. Smile. Stop grousing. Let me relax just a tiny bit while I read your book. I want to think about the delicious food you make, not how much I would side with your husband during divorce proceedings.