Saturday, April 30, 2011

Touch (Alexi Zentner)

How do you know what is real and what is not? That is the question posed to readers of Alexi Zentner's Touch. One never knows who (or what) is going to pop up in the woods of Sawgamet. Your deceased grandmother? A golden caribou?

The setting is the best thing (to me) about Touch. Zentner vividly describes the Sawgamet woods through the seasons, including the utterly dangerous winters. This is the story of Stephen, a pastor, coming home to care for his dying mother, his father, Pierre, and his grandfather, Jeannot. Death is very prevalent in Touch. The tragedies that end Stephen's father's and sister's lives and that which ends his grandmother's, seem to interconnect in ways that the reader can only imagine.

As the chapters connect and intertwine, the reader meets fantastical creatures and sometimes goes through shocking events. The atmosphere is strange but sinister. Whom to trust? When will actions that you regret come back to haunt you? They do to Jeannot in a way he cannot even begin to imagine.

Touch was a fine book until the end. The ending was too dull for such a mythical novel. Then again, can a book filled with surprises and fantasy at every turn ever really end in a traditional way?


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sing You Home (Jodi Picoult)

As you know, I look forward to March every year (even though in Philadelphia it is still so blasted cold out), because Jodi Picoult puts out her new book. Nothing is better to me than snuggling under a warm blanket and diving in to her books. However, I must admit something to my readers. I finished Sing You Home about three weeks ago, but I just could not bring myself to write a review of it. I pride myself on being a completely unbiased reviewer, except when it comes to Miss Jodi. I sing her praises to everyone I meet. Unfortunately, and it breaks my heart to say this, I cannot sing her praises about this one.

We begin Sing You Home with Zoe, a music therapist, and Max, a couple who seem very much in love and struggling with infertility. A string of miscarriages brings them to the brink of despair, until Zoe finally becomes pregnant. Tragedy strikes at her baby shower, which tears the couple apart. Zoe begins a relationship with Vanessa, a high school guidance counselor. After legally marrying, they decide that they would like a baby. They ask permission from Max to use Zoe's stored embryos, but Max has other plans for them. What ensues is the standard trial that ends most Picoult novels.

To me, it seems like Jodi was trying to stuff as much "ripped-from-the-headlines", controversial material into one book as possible. She also tried the "free gift with purchase" approach, enclosing a CD with the book (apparently to listen to a song after each chapter? Zoe was a music therapist, get it?). I was able to put this book down a lot, which is not what I have come to know from Picoult books. Better luck next year, Jodi. I still love you.

MY RATING - 2????????????????????????