Monday, July 8, 2013

Three Books Recommended by Friends

I recently completed reading three books recommended by various friends.  And while they were all good stories, none of the three really grabbed me.  I guess my taste is different from many others?  I don't could be that I had just come off reading two very excellent books, and so these three didn't seem to meet the standard of the two before???  So readers, that may mean that you will find these three books to be quite good, so don't let my take on them slant or influence your decision to read them or not.

First one-The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I did enjoy this book until the very end,
when I felt as if it ended all too perfectly for the main character, Victoria.

Victoria was a young girl/woman who had grown up in the foster care system.  When she aged out of the system, she was alone, trusting no one and living out on the street.  She realized that perhaps her love for flowers and the meaning of flowers could be put to use in a flower shop.  As a child, she had received a book that had the meaning of flowers and she seemed to have a gift for using that knowledge.  So when she observed a woman who appeared to own a flower shop nearby, she offered her services.  However, while doing the early morning shopping at the Flower Market, she noticed a boy about her age and as they began to get to know each other, she learned that he was a connection to her past that she did not want to remember.  Now Victoria was faced with the dilemma of facing her painful past or letting go of her chance of happiness with Grant (the boy).

As I said, it was a good story, just ended too predictably.  We did end up having a good discussion about the book at book group...lots to examine as far as the foster care system and how that can affect a person's life, etc..And I forgot to add that at the end of the book is "Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers", which I found fascinating!

Next I read The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker.  I did like this book, and the
ending  had a bit of a twist, which was a nice surprise!

Here's how the story started:

"The old man's eyes struck me first.  They rested deep in their sockets, and he seemed unable to take them off me.  Granted, everyone in the teahouse was staring at me more or less unabashedly, but he was the most brazen.  As if I were some exotic creature he'd never seen before."
Julia had gone to Burma to learn more about her father who had disappeared four years earlier.  She did not know much about his earlier life, other than he was Burmese, had come to America, and  married her mother.  He worked as an attorney.  When Julia arrived in Burma, the old man approached her and said:

"Julia Win. Born August 28, 1968, in New York City.  American mother.  Burmese father.  Your family name is a part of my story, has been a part of my life since I was born.  In the past four years I have not passed a single day without thinking of you.  I will explain everything in due course but let me first ask you my question: Do you believe in love?"

Julia's mother had given her a letter that had been written by her father in 1955 to a woman named Mi Mi.  The letter was addressed to Kalaw, a village in Burma.  The letter is all that Julia has to link her father to his past, so she leaves for Burma in search of her father, or news of him.  The old man, U Ba, approached her and began to tell her stories about her father, including his blindness as a child, and his love and devotion to Mi Mi. Mi Mi is unable to walk.  She became Tin Win's eyes, and he became her legs.  When Julia arrived in Burma, it had been 50 years since Tin Win had left Burma.

There was wisdom in this book.  At one point, Tin Win was being taken to a monastery by his "adopted" mother to learn from an eighty year old blind monk...

"Sy Kyi was hoping he would be able to take Tin Win under his wing, too, to coax him out of the darkness that beleaguered him, to teach him what he had taught her: that life is interwoven with suffering.  That in every life, without exception, illnesses are unavoidable.  That we will age, and that we cannot elude death.  These are the laws and conditions of human existence..."

Okay, despite what I said earlier, this was a good book and I do recommend it.

Lastly, I read The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. I know that it has been a wildly popular book, but I just
didn't see it.  While it is not a bad book by any means, it just seemed like a very simple tale that could have been told as a short story.  Perhaps I am wrong. 

The Alchemist is the story of a young shepherd boy seeking treasure.  He travels around to find his treasure.  I won't share the ending (moral of the story), but just think Wizard of Oz.



1 comment:

Susan said...

I think maybe people's tastes are so different when it comes to books. Do they know what you like to read, or wanted you to try something they loved? That makes a world of difference, sometimes I find.

You did get some interesting reviews out of them, one good thing!