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We use a lot of citrus around here – I like lemony flavored dinners and limey flavored drinks – but our current juicer wasn’t really cutting it for me.

 

Here it is:

Old juicer

I searched Amazon, Sur la Table, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target, and couldn’t find this for sale anywhere, so maybe I’m not alone in thinking this could be improved upon.

I mean, it’s FINE, but it tends to get seeds in the food and it requires some elbow grease to extract juice, so it’s not PERFECT.

So the last time my husband and I were at Sur la Table (for a hot! date!), I asked if we could look at the juicers and see if there were any better options.

I was thinking of something like this, where you can use gravity to aid in the juice extraction process.

Glass juicer

Glass Citrus Juicer, $12.00 (photo from Sur la Table)

But instead, during the course of our hot! date!, we got to see THIS juicer in action.

Juicer 2

And lo! it was amazing!

So even though it was $14.99, we bought it. And it is my new favorite thing EVER.

It’s SO easy to use.

But! It is also non-intuitive to use!

If I had bought it on sight rather than after seeing a demonstration, I would never have guessed how to use it properly. And the website is no help. There are multiple photos, including a somewhat disturbing one of juice falling from the juicer, but not ONE showing how you put the fruit into the juicer.

I would have put the cut lemon or lime into the bowl of the juicer with the rind nestled down in the little bowl all snug, and the pulp facing up. So that when I squeezed the arms of the juicer together, they all fit together in a nice nested fashion, and that the emptied-of-juice lemon ended up looking like a little empty bowl at the end.

No!

Instead, you put the lemon in round side UP, and pulp side DOWN. Like so!

Juicer 4

I do know this is a lime and not a lemon. Also, it’s not a FULL lime. There are limits to what I will do for a post.

At the end, you have an inside-out lemon. And lots of delicious juice.

A real live chef showed us this method, so I am choosing to believe that this is The Best and Proper Way to use it. Although I haven’t tried it the other way. So perhaps it works equally well if you put the lemon in round side down.

It is – and I am not being compensated at ALL for this opinion (call me, Sur la Table) – FULLY worth the $14.99. In fact, I plan to buy one for each family member at Christmas. Okay, I also now see that there is a very similar version on Amazon for $8.95. Whatever. I don’t regret a thing.

Perhaps you do not use lemons and limes as frequently as I do. I still recommend this tool because it is AWESOME.

Juicer 1

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One of my husband’s favorite pastimes is wandering through bookstore stacks (or library stacks – he isn’t picky) and adding to the enormous running list of books he needs to read. Sometimes he buys a book right then and there; other times he waits a few days to order online. But he buys multiple books a month. (It’s one of the [many] reasons I love him.)

If I’m with him – and I will state right here for the record that while I LOVE to read and I ADORE buying new books, I HATE browsing through bookstores/libraries – he’ll inevitably hand me a book and direct me to read the back cover.

I don’t like reading the back cover. More often than not, the person who read the copy seems to not have read the book at all. (I just finished a book where the cover copy MISSPELLED the name of a character in the book.) (Deep breaths. We will all get through this.) But even if the person who wrote the cover copy DID read the book, even LOVED the book, well, it’s just too small a space to always convey a book’s awesomeness.

Of course, there is always the misleading cover copy, the kind that tricks you into believing a book will be crazy good… when it is NOT GOOD AT ALL. (Cough cough, Voluntary Madness, My Sister’s Keeper, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter cough.)

That was a long-winded way of telling you that I don’t put much stock in cover copy. If a book woos me with a beautiful title (which is how I judge a book, while my husband literally picks up books based on their covers), I will read a page or two. Sometimes I will flip to a random page and read a few paragraphs. If I’m not won over by these methods, I’m not buying.

Gah, that’s scary. As someone who would like to WRITE and PUBLISH a novel someday, it is pretty terrifying that a reader takes so little time to discard a book from her list of possibilities.

Anyway, The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht was one of the books my husband pulled off the shelf at some point last year. First point against it: It’s got one of those “The [Something] Wife” titles that are far too popular these days. Second point against it: The cover copy was kind of boring. Third point against it: The cover is a mainly black field, topped by the bottom half of a slinking tiger. As in, nothing to write home about.

I did the old flip-open-and-read-a-passage-at-random thing, but I handed it back to my husband. Not for me.

But after it started appearing on all sorts of “Best of 2011” lists… When it made the list of finalists for the National Book Award… And won the Orange Prize… My husband decided I should read it.

So he bought it for me for Christmas.

And I had to read it. For one thing, my dear beloved husband had purchased it for me as a gift. So I had to at least TRY it. For another, I’d managed to fly all the way to Florida for a WEEK without a SINGLE BOOK in my possession.

Internet.

This is the book I want to write.

There. Is that enough to make you buy it?

Because I can’t give it higher praise.

Now, I’m not saying it’s the best book I’ve read EVER. (In fact, I’d give the same high praise to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. And The History of Love. And The Time Traveler’s Wife. Everything Is Illuminated. Lolita. Song of Solomon. Love in the Time of Cholera.)

But it’s up there.

Mini-NO-SPOILER-plot summary:

This story is about Natalia, who is either a med student or a resident or a fairly-new physician, I didn’t pay attention to the details. She and a friend/fellow doctor are journeying across the border to inoculate some orphans who are living at a monastery.

The book is only slightly about that journey. It’s more about other types of journeying. Primarily the journeys that Natalia and her grandfather make in search of answers.

Natalia has a very close bond with her grandfather, and the book is, in part, about their relationship. Like any love, theirs is not a straight line. It has hooks and crags and peaks and valleys.

The book is also about love, in a global sense. Love between parent and child, grandfather and granddaughter. Love between spouses. Love from afar. Love of ritual. Love of countrymen. Love of humanity.

And, perhaps even more so, this book is about the opposite of love: pain.

The pain of love, unrequited and realized. The pain of disrespect. The pain of abuse. The pain of escape. The pain of life. The pain of fear. The pain of knowledge. The pain of uncertainty. The pain of an ending. The pain of war. The pain of peace. The pain of loss. The pain of discovery.

It’s also about mythology, and the role it plays in our lives and behavior and thought-processes. In fact, the bleak reality of the book – which takes place in an unnamed war-torn area of Eastern Europe – is off-set by legend and superstition, both of which are so important a part of the characters’ lives that they become real in their own way: A man becomes a bear. A tiger becomes a husband. Death becomes a human being.

But these wild, fantastical elements are not absurd in the way of much magical realism, nor do they seem out of place or artificial. They are woven so tightly into the fabric of the book’s world that they are almost indistinguishable from fact.

It’s about all of these things and about that single thing we all have in common: death.

So much in this world is horrible. There’s heartbreak and war and murder and indifference and illness and cruelty. And all the struggling just leads us closer to the day when Death will reach out his hand and guide us into his home.

But there’s beauty, too. In the most unexpected places: the brush of tiger fur against skin; a childhood book tucked inside your pocket; boot-legged music played on a car stereo.

And there’s love. Complicated, inexplicable, tangled-up love.

This is the story I want to write.

Should you read it? You know, I recognize that every person reading this post right now has her own idea of what The Perfect Book is. Maybe you won’t think this book is perfect. Maybe you won’t like it one bit. If you don’t, I promise I won’t love you any less.

But oh, Internet.

The prose is lovely, vivid. This is the kind of story told to children in hushed voices as they’re drifting off to sleep. The kind of tale that comes alive in the brain, as real as if you were watching it happen in person.

And it was satisfying in the way only a great book can be. For instance, the plot is twisty and full of mysteries. But there ARE answers. Some, at least. Or at least semi-answers that are complete enough that you can fill in the rest for yourself.

The themes are universal, which means – I think – you will relate to the main characters and their journeys. But even though this is a love story, a death story, a story of loss like so many, many stories are and have been and will be, it plays out in a truly fresh, interesting way.

Will this help persuade you? I got to the end and I wanted to start right over and read it through again. I read every word in the book, from the author bio to the reader questions to the (overall dull, although at times very interesting) conversation between Obreht and Jennifer Egan of Goon Squad fame. I recommended it to my book club – just so I could talk about it with someone, anyone! And I have been thinking about it non-stop since reading the first chapter on Christmas Day.

Now, the book isn’t perfect. I have unanswered questions. I see loose threads wafting in the breeze made by the cover falling shut. Perhaps Obreht intended them to float there, unfinished. Perhaps she couldn’t find a way to do so without tying too neat a bow on the whole thing. Perhaps she recognized that loose ends are part of life.  In any event, I wasn’t frustrated by the loose ends. I didn’t feel let down, the way I did after reading, say, Life of Pi. I felt glad to have read it. And certain that I would read it again.

It’s a great book, Internet. Beautifully written, beautifully told.

Give it a try, won’t you?

**********

Anybody else read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Warning: May contain spoilers.

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My husband borrowed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson as a book on tape from our local library. The first time we listened to it, I fell asleep in the middle of the prologue. Being the sweetheart that he is, my husband turned off the CD so we could try again at a later date.

Second try: I fell asleep in the middle of the prologue.

Third try: Just kidding. there was no third try. My husband returned it to the library.

Then my book club chose it as our April read. So I went to Costco and bought the paperback.

For the first two weeks, I couldn’t get past the first 20 pages. Even though I skipped the stupid prologue I’d heard twice.

“This is an international bestseller, nay, a phenomenal international SENSATION,” I chided myself. “Why don’t you like it?”

I consoled myself with the fact that I did not like The Da Vinci Code either. Nor have I ever cracked a book by Danielle Steel or The Dude Whose Sappy Best-Sellers Become Blockbuster Movies That Make Chicks Cry.

Then I talked to my friend and co-book club member who said she hated it for 100 pages. And then she couldn’t put it down.

So I kept at it.

For 62 pages, I could only go for one to two pages until I fell asleep from sheer boredom.

But once I hit that sixty-third page, it became one of those books that I read until three o’clock in the morning every night.

Mini-plot summary: One of the great things about this book is that the plot is deliciously complex. You’ve got a financial conspiracy. A bizarre genius with a convoluted past. A disgraced reporter with revenge on his mind. An unsolved disappearance. A crazy, effed-up family – whose members largely live on a single island outside Stockholm. A sadistic lawyer. An Australian sheep farm. Blond wigs. Money laundering. Computer hacking. Animal cruelty. Murder. Rape. Incest. Open-faced sandwiches.

All wrapped up in one shiny, blood-chilling, heart-racing, amazing story.

I am a sucker for great character development. The two main characters? I grew to care about them, root for them to succeed, fear for their safety. Especially the odd, brilliant, fiercely-independent Lisbeth Salander. She’s like a socially-stunted Jason Bourne, and I love her.

Now that I have a little distance from the book, I realize it wasn’t perfect. There were a couple instances of foreshadowing that seemed needless and even forced… like the author thought that point needed something foreboding to set the mood, but maybe was running late for a hot date and asked his little brother to “just put something in.” Then there were a few loose ends that were tied up just a little too neatly. One big aspect of the plot was kind of glossed over. And a couple of characters seemed like they weren’t addressed as fully as they needed to be. (I’m hoping the sequels delve deeper into what happens with them.)

And yet? I don’t care.

That’s how much I loved Salander.

I mourn the loss of Steig Larsson, because I can’t imagine that three books will be enough Lisbeth Salander for me.

Should you read it? I say, give it a go! And if you hate the first 100 pages? Just keep reading. It WILL get better. And better and better and better. (That’s right – this book is 600ish pages.)

I bought the sequel (The Girl Who Played with Fire) before I’d gotten halfway through this book. I started it the second I ended Dragon Tattoo (at 1:17 a.m. on Sunday night). And I’ll be sure to report back.

**********

Anybody else read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Warning: May contain spoilers.

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Some books just hit you. Deep down in the gut, like someone’s rammed into you head first.

This book is one of those. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Mini-plot summary: Sixteen-year-old Little Bee meets Sarah and her husband Andrew on a beach in Nigeria. What happens there changes all of their lives. Two years later, Little Bee is released from a detention center outside of London. She goes to find Andrew and Sarah, arriving at their home in time for another life-changing event.

And that’s all I am going to tell you about the plot, because I don’t want to give anything away.

But, like I said, I can’t stop thinking about this book. So I want to tell you something about it. Something that will make you go out and buy it/borrow it right this instant.

So let’s start with the writing.

I’m a writing snob, I admit it. I have very distinct thoughts about style and pacing and flow. There are some books I just refuse to read because the writing grates on me. Either it’s too clichéd or too simplistic… Or it’s too self-conscious and overly-wrought. I think nothing bugs me more than writing that’s trying too hard to be literary or clever or beautiful.

Anyway, from the very first sentence, Little Bee is beautifully written. Some of the imagery is what I would describe as poetic. Which is not to say that it’s flowery or anything. I just think it’s extremely evocative. It shows you the world of this book in a new and utterly fresh (and utterly charming) manner.

Let me quote from the book, one of the most beautiful and romantic passages I’ve ever read:

“Whenever I need to stop and remind myself how much I once loved Andrew, I only need to think about this. That the ocean covers seven tenths of the earth’s surface, and yet my husband could make me not notice it. That is how big he was for me.”

This makes my heart ache, it is so apt and yet so freshly described.

Anyway. The writing. The beautifully-crafted phrases, the imagery, the metaphor. These alone are worth reading Little Bee.

But then there are the characters.

It’s a book of few characters. Really, the story is Sarah’s and Little Bee’s story. The others (Andrew, Lawrence, Batman, Clarissa) are sort of just along for the ride. Important in that they are responsible for a lot of what happens to Sarah and Little Bee throughout the novel. But it’s not really about them.

Sarah and Little Bee take turns narrating the novel, chapter by chapter. Which I know has become a little over-used of late, and no longer carries the power it had in Ulysses and As I Lay Dying or even in Everything Is Illuminated. But it works really well in Little Bee. Sarah and Little Bee come from different worlds. And you get to see how their lives join from both sides.

Sarah Summers: Sarah irritates me a little. She’s such a first world person, with first world problems and the first world belief that she can – and indeed is entitled to – fix everything. But I think what irritates me most is that she is so real. I could be Sarah, in the situation she found herself in. I hope I would be as brave as she is. As determined. I suspect I would be just as stupid, just as short-sighted, just as over-confident in my chances of making a difference.

Little Bee: This teenager is wise beyond her years. She’s seen and done things that no one should ever have to see or do, especially not a sixteen-year-old. She is funny and kind and surprisingly fierce (and not in a Christian Siriano way – but in a feisty little bulldog sort of way).

Batman: Yes, I said that Batman was a character in this book. That’s Sarah’s little boy, Charlie. He’s four. He wears his Batman costume at all times, except while bathing. He is the most realistic little boy, with his stubbornness and his sweetness and his complete inability to understand the world in any way except his own.

Andrew O’Rourke: Oh Andrew. I hate you and yet I understand why you did what you did.

And finally, there’s the plot.

This plot is the stuff of action movies. I think it would make for a super blockbuster film.

But it’s not pretty stuff, the things that happen in this book. It’s torturous. I could feel myself tensing up at certain points, knowing what would happen, not wanting to read on, willing it not to happen. Spoiler Alert: It happened anyway.

(Side Note: I’m not saying that the plot was in any way predictable. It was surprising and entirely captivating.)

There’s so much to think about once you’ve read this book…

* The horrors that exist in the world. The way that we first worlders are so oblivious to what’s really happening.

* What it means to be a woman. How vulnerable a state that can be. How strong it can make you.

* The difference between right and wrong. How something can be wrong for you and your family but can still be right and necessary and good. How something can be wrong and still be justifiable. How something can be legal and “just” and still be so wrong.

* What it is to be a family.

* What it is to be afraid. How fear affects us. How we protect ourselves, and how we strive to protect others.

* How impossible and necessary and difficult and critical it is to do something, even if it goes horribly horribly wrong.

Should you read it? Yes, yes God yes.

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I have not read Running with Scissors. There was a huge furor about this book a couple of years ago. I believe it may have even become a movie.

But even though I never read this book, it put the author – Augusten Burroughs – on my radar.

Now, I think it’s necessary to tell you that I do NOT choose books by their covers. (My husband does that.) Instead, I choose a book by its title.

So when I saw A Wolf at the Table on a “Noteworthy Paperbacks” display at Barnes & Noble, I was intrigued. (I have a thing about wolves.)

Spoiler Alert: This book has nothing to do with wolves.

It’s a memoir – the prequel to Running with Scissors – a genre which I have recently come to enjoy. What can I say? I love the little voyeuristic thrill of peeking inside someone’s life.

I am torn about how to describe this book to you. Hence the stall tactics of the previous six paragraphs.

Mini plot summary: Augusten Burroughs gives a first-person account of his extremely dysfunctional upbringing. He grew up with a mother who was abused, psychologically fragile, and who constantly retreated to her safe little bubble of art…. A brother who was emotionally or physically absent… and a father who was at best a neglectful and disinterested parent, at worst, a psychotic alcoholic on the verge of murder.

The story was chilling. Captivating. If you can’t stand for pets to die in books, don’t read this one.

The sick relationship between Augusten’s parents was one of those things you can’t help gawking at. After physical and psychological abuse, I wondered over and over, why does this woman stay with her husband? How can she allow her two sons to live in this atmosphere? Yes, she left on occasion. But she always returned. The classic abuse cycle, right?

The things Augusten’s father did were… unthinkable.

But then again… The story is told from the point of view of a child. A child who doesn’t have all the facts. A child who doesn’t fully understand the things he sees and hears. And – while he portrays his father as someone who is always on the edge of killing – the end of the book raises the possibility that perhaps young Augusten misread or overdramatized the extent of his father’s homicidal tendencies. This is supported in part by Augusten’s mother’s failure to see or believe or react properly to the father’s misdeeds.

But then again, again… Augusten’s brother leaves home at a young age, ostensibly to get away from the unhealthy atmosphere. And he teaches Augusten how to shoot a gun, presumably to ensure that Augusten can protect himself against their father.

My big issue with this book is that it’s entirely plot-driven. The prose wasn’t horrible or anything. It was okay. But the entire meat of the book is the plot. I suppose that’s fine. I mean, I read the book pretty quickly. I was interested until the last page. But I like writing for its beauty, too. You can have both. See: anything by Jonathan Safran Foer, Audrey Niffenegger, Vladimir Nabokov, or Jhumpa Lahiri.

Also, I think Augusten takes some liberties with the plot that were unsatisfying. There’s a particular scene at Martha’s Vineyard where he pretty much invents a scene… and you don’t find out until afterward that it was a fantasy. Which seems like cheating to me. Writers – of memoirs and non fiction – should be able to make the truth sing. They shouldn’t need to bolster it with fiction or fantasy.

The other thing… I guess my hope for memoirists is that they take the bad in their lives and turn it into something. I didn’t get that sense with this book. Yes, I know that there’s another book out there, another chapter of Augusten’s life that he wrote about. So perhaps he redeems himself in that one. But in A Wolf at the Table, I never felt like Augusten was able to transcend the horrible things that happened to him. He remained broken, somehow, even after the people who murdered his childhood were dead and gone. Maybe this is an honest portrayal of life. Maybe you can’t always make something good out of the horrible. Maybe once you are broken, you stay broken.

But I guess, to me, if you write about your life, you are hoping to find that good side. You feel like you have something to share with others, something that will teach them something about life or pain or themselves. I didn’t learn anything about myself or life from this book, other than the well-known fact that life is hard for some. Atrocious, even. That unthinkable things happen in this world. That an innocent child can be irreparably damaged by others, even by the very people who are supposed to love and protect him.

I guess my disappointment here is my own fault. I am an idealist, a romantic. I want to believe that good – even if it is a tiny silver – can come out of horror and evil. The only good that came of Augusten’s horrible childhood is that his mother finally finally rescued him. But the rescue was temporary. Small. And she removed Augusten to a place that held even more horrors.

Maybe the good that we’re supposed to find is survival. That you can live in the worst conditions – unfathomable conditions, really – and still survive. This is the message of many Holocaust books, after all. But somehow, it doesn’t resonate here – not for me.

Should you read this book? It was a page turner, that’s for sure. So sure, go ahead and pick it up. But don’t expect it to make your list of Best Written Books of All Time.

Now I’m going to pick up Running with Scissors.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book, if you’ve read it. Have at it in the comments – but beware that there may be spoilers.

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Film Review: Rocket Science

I fell in love with a high schooler last weekend.

Okay, before you call the kiddie police, it wasn’t an actual high schooler. It was a film character, Hal Hefner. And he was played by actor Reece Thompson who is now 21. Yes, much much too young for me, but safely out of the “disturbingly young” category.

Anyway. Hal Hefner is the protagonist of an utterly charming film from 2007, Rocket Science.

I shouldn’t be surprised that I so thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz, who brought us the wonderfully funny documentary Spellbound in 2002.

Mini plot summary: Hal has a debilitating stutter. Ginny – high school debater extraordinaire – recruits him for the debate team, on the premise that kids with flaws like Hal’s have something to prove and work harder. Hal falls for Ginny. Heartbreak and hilarity ensue.

I don’t know if Reece Thompson’s portrayal of a stutterer was realistic. My husband didn’t think so. But I was so convinced I looked him up to see if that’s why he was chosen as the lead. (It wasn’t.) And I never for one second felt like the film was exploiting his speech disorder. It was handled with sensitivity and realism, while at the same time using it as a thematic device.

One reason I loved this movie was that it wasn’t (totally) unrealistic. Hal’s character was adorable and charming and (almost entirely) believable. But while I would have loved to see him win the big state debate tournament, I was more pleased when he didn’t. (Sorry to spoil it for you.) But he won something that was, I think, more important.

Ostensibly, the overarching theme of this movie is about finding one’s voice – both literally and figuratively. But what seemed even more prominent, and, in its way, poignant, was the theme of small victories. And how those may sometimes be the most formative and critical of all.

Getting respect from your brother. Having a long conversation with a debate legend. Talking to your father about love. Changing someone’s opinion about you. Being noticed for something other than your speech disorder. Ordering a piece of pizza.

These are the victories that make up a normal life. These are the victories that matter.

Aside from provoking thought, this film was hilarious. Hal’s brother was a caricature of the stereotypical bullying older brother. Hal’s mother’s love interest had bouts of inappropriate laughter. There’s the eleven-year-old who lives across the street from Ginny Ryerson, loves to play Cowboys and Indians, and has a big ‘ol bra stashed behind his bed.  There’s the chubby philosopher who tries to get Hal to join his club by assuring him that they won’t cover Hegel. (My husband didn’t find this funny, but I laughed out loud.) Hal himself announces to his love interest’s mother that he’s “done with masturbation” and ready to prove it.

And of course, there’s former debate legend Ben Wekselbaum (played by the delicious Nicholas D’Agosto) who went silent mid debate about farm subsidies, quit high school, and went to work for a drycleaner in Trenton.

Should you see it? Absolutely. It’s a film that is funny, heartbreaking, and surprisingly tender. I strongly recommend it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this film, if you’ve seen it. Have at it in the comments – but beware that there may be spoilers.

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Aimee Bender won me over a few years back with her incredible short-story collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt.

Which is why I was so eager to read Love Invents Us when I saw it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until much later that Aimee Bender is not the author of Love Invents Us. (The real author is Amy Bloom.) Luckily, I didn’t realize my mistake until after I’d devoured the book.

It was one of those books that kept me up until 3:00 am, reading and reading. It was one of those books I read in three days.

But looking back on it, I’m not quite sure why I sped through it so quickly. It’s not one of my favorite books. Despite the clean, lovely prose and the vivid depiction of the main character, I don’t even think it would make my top 50.

Mini plot summary: Elizabeth lives in a cold and not-very-loving home. She finds love with a series of questionable partners. She falls particularly hard for two men. One of them leaves her. She leaves the other. She finds them both again, to find one dying and the other married.

This book was easy to read. It was easy to love Elizabeth, the protagonist. But she was not easy to understand, at least for me. I couldn’t quite understand her motivation. You see, she doesn’t have a close relationship with her parents, and she uses sex as a way to get at the love she lacks in her home life. Understandable enough, and a theme that permeates literature and film. But the “love” she gets in return is hard to swallow. One “lover” gives her rides home from school and lets her wear fur coats. Another has her babysit for his three young sons and, ahem, pleasures her with a large electric device. Another “lover” (though not in a sexual sense) gives her beautiful old tea spoons and teaches her to cook.

I’m not sure what I came away with, once the book ended. Perhaps, the idea that love doesn’t fit some specific Hollywood ideal. That it is unique and un-asked for. That it can be transformative and beautiful. That it can be painful and sometimes ugly. Perhaps, the idea that love is enduring, even if you don’t choose it for yourself. That it persists, despite spouses or alcoholism or angry fathers or even death.

I enjoyed reading it. It had some lovely, quotable lines. And I ached for Elizabeth. Her initial “sexual” experience led her down a path that she could not deviate from, even though it sometimes repulsed her.

Should you read it? There are millions of books to read. Many of them are better and more thought-provoking than this one. But if it takes you just three nights to read… if you find yourself caught up in Elizabeth’s misguided life… if you find yourself rooting for her… if you find yourself re-reading a perfectly-phrased line a time or two… then I’d say it’s worthwhile.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book, if you’ve read it. Have at it in the comments – but beware that there may be spoilers.

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