The Book Blag

Book reviews over anything and everything

Review: Kasey to the Rescue January 22, 2011

Kasey to the RescueIt took me awhile to get through Kasey to the Rescue by Ellen Rogers. Why? I started it over the holidays, then things got hectic. However, the book’s poignant story was strong enough for me to immediately pick it back up and remember what was going on. This sort of tragedy never leaves you. The book’s author, Ellen Rogers, starts the book off in the moment of tragedy as she discovers her son has had a terrible accident. Having always called herself a “tragedy snob” due to many unfortunate events she has weathered in her life, she is thrown into a situation she does not know how to deal with. The book follows her son’s recovery process and the process of integrating a helper monkey–the title character, Kasey–into their home.

Kasey to the Rescue is a book you read for the story. You read it and count your blessings, at the same time acknowledging the good things that have come out of their situation (Kasey, new relationships, emotional strength, etc.). Rogers is great at delivering chaotic moments in a humorous manner, and you feel like you’re actually there. The book made me laugh out loud even as I couldn’t begin to imagine how hopeless they must have felt. Rogers stands out as a great mother who stands strong when many of us would have let our lives crumble around us.

That said, this book is not the sort of book you read for literary value or eloquent writing. The writing style is good in terms of being light and grammatically correct… but it won’t make anyone’s “favorite quotes” section on their Facebook profile, if you know what I mean. The title and prominent picture of the capuchin monkey on the cover of the book leads one to believe the book is all about Kasey, the monkey. This really bothered me at the beginning of the book, when there were chapters where the monkey was not yet present. I think Rogers was aware of this because she added in notes about where Kasey would be at the time (living and working with a trainer), but the transitions were poor and awkward. As I read on, though, it bothered me less. It would have been impossible to separate Kasey’s story from the story of Ned (the son)’s accident and recovery. The story is clearly written from the mother’s point of view, and I like that she didn’t try to speak for her family by representing their opinions in the book. On the other hand, I was curious about what Ned might be feeling/thinking throughout a lot of it. The book does include a short afterword by Ned (and another prominent member of the story), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rogers mentions religion a few times in the work, including the assertion that this was a time when faith could be the strongest because they needed the hope. Religion was not a prominent theme by any means, which I sincerely appreciated. I feel this makes the book much more marketable for a mainstream audience.

Kasey to the Rescue is a fast read and tells a truly inspirational story. I am glad to have read it.

My rating: 4 stars

Where did I get this book? ARC won through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

2010. New York: Hyperion. 270 pages.


Review: Sarah’s Key October 10, 2010

Sarah's KeyJulia Jarmond, an American journalist living in France, is told to write an article on the 60th anniversary of Vel’ d’Hiv, a roundup of Jews by the French police in 1942. As Julia discovers more about the Vel’ d’Hiv, she becomes fascinated with the story of a particular ten year-old girl and her family who were arrested. Julia discovers that Sarah, this girl, locked her little brother in a hidden cupboard during the arrest, thinking they would be back shortly. Julia uses this intricate research as an escape from her own life, her own little girl, and a husband who is becoming increasingly distant. The life of Sarah even begins to parallel Julia’s life in certain ways.
Tatiana de Rosnay wrote a masterpiece in Sarah’s Key. For the first half of the book, the story jumps from Julia’s life with first person narration to Sarah’s life with third person narration. I appreciated that different styles of narration were used because it is more difficult to follow otherwise. Eventually, we stop following Sarah and only find out things about her life as Julia discovers them.
To be completely honest, I was not enamored with Julia as a protagonist. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her and yell that she was doing it all wrong! On the other hand, Sarah’s story was absolutely captivating. I wanted more, more, more! Eventually, I had to just tolerate Julia in order to find out what happens to Sarah. I do not think we are supposed to love Julia as a character–she is meant to be stubborn and self-absorbed (at times). In an author’s interview in the back of my copy (Reading Group Gold), Tatiana de Rosnay states she “created a character who could really exist and that women can identify with!”
I was a child who was always fascinated with the Holocaust. I mainly could not believe people would do something like that! Of course, politics and war are lost on a child, but I could certainly understand the horror and tragedy. There are many children’s books written about the Holocaust, particularly about Jews in hiding, and Sarah’s Key took me back to those. Even if it takes a little while to get into, this book is a must read for people interested in the Holocaust or historical fiction in general.
My rating:
Where did I get this book? Paperback purchase from Amazon

2007. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. 293 pages.


Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain October 5, 2010

Filed under: Book Reviews — Tara @ 2:58 am
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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is the story of a dog and his family from said dog’s point of view. The dog, Enzo, is looking back on his life and telling the story of his masters’ lives as they have unfolded. Enzo’s master is a race car driver (hence the title), and a wife and daughter join him in the course of the story.
I read this book for a book club, and I was surprised at how many people just loved this book. Many online reviews say people don’t like the book because they don’t like dogs or they don’t like car racing. I DO love dogs, and I hate car races… However, I found the dog’s narrative to be lackluster and the race metaphors to be surprisingly interesting. But I do give Enzo props for peeing on something to show his disapproval.
This book made me angry. No spoilers here, but this guy (Enzo’s master) cannot get a break! One bad thing after another keeps happening to him. I was pleased that the book had a somewhat happy ending. At one point, I was skeptical whether a happy ending was even possible. The plotline was what kept me going, though. The book sat unfinished with the bookmark only about 20 pages in for weeks because I couldn’t get into the writing style. When I finally got into the meat of the plot, though, I found myself wanting to finish it.
Although this is a story about loss and fighting to keep what one loves, some of the emotion is taken out of it by the canine narrator. None of the human characters were particularly remarkable, but I did think Enzo’s master was an overall “good guy.” I was very pleased to see the positive portrayal of a straight male/gay male BFF relationship. Such relationships are not represented often enough in any of today’s media.
I hate to start off with a bad review, so I want to say the book is worth reading (once)! I wouldn’t read it again, though.
My rating:
Where did I get this book? Public library