Monday, October 15, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife

I was staring at my pile of books for the "Something About Me" Reading Challenge and wondering what I should read next. I decided to go with The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, since I had been enjoying the new TV series "Journeyman" and had really liked "Quantum Leap" as well. It was a great choice! The book was absolutely WONDERFUL!!

The novel is about Henry and Clare. Henry, from time to time, and completely outside of his control, "jumps" to another time period in his life or Clare's. Clare meets him when she is six and he is thirty-six, but he doesn't meet her until she is twenty, which is when he is twenty-eight. So when they meet in Henry's "real" time, she knows him very well, yet he doesn't know her at all. I can't talk about this novel in my usual way of what I liked and what I didn't like, because this isn't so much a story with a beginning, middle and end (except from Clare's point of view), as it is a story in which everything takes place simultaneously. So to talk about any particular happening in the story is to possibly give something away, even though for much of the book, the reader knows what is coming, because it already happened from someone's point of view. The only question is from whose point of view and at which point in time the reader will discover the how and why of whatever it was (s)he knows happens. A bit confusing, no? Besides, there was only one thing I didn't like, and it was something that Clare did that, to me, seemed completely out of character for her. I'll have to leave you to figure out what that is when you read this book. Because you should read this book. It immediately became one of my favorites.

I have always had a fascination with quantum physics/mechanics. That is not to say I understand them much, but I find them absolutely intriguing. I think that is why I can't stop thinking about the novel. I keep trying to compare things that happen to Henry in the novel with what little bit I sort of, kind of, but not really understand about quantum physics. Schrödinger's cat kept coming to mind. In what state was Henry at various times in the book? Was he ten, or was he thirty-two? Was he injured or was he perfectly fine? Was he in this state or in that state at any point in time? Well, he was all of the above, all at the same time. Which, of course, makes sense and nonsense simultaneously.

One thing I wonder, and I don't think it gives anything away, is why we never see MORE than two Henrys at a given time. It seems that occasionally, there might be a time when multiple Henrys ended up at the same place at the same time, since he traveled to places and times that held some import in his life.

Although I am not doing my what I liked and didn't like thing, I have to say that I absolutely LOVED the character Kimy. Her complete ho-hum acceptance of a naked Henry suddenly appearing under her dining room table or on her kitchen floor, and the fact that she kept changes of clothes in various sizes for him, and was just exactly the type of neighbor you wish you'd known as a child, or you wish your children had in their lives, and that it's all wrapped up in this tiny elderly Asian woman, was totally endearing and funny. She is a fabulous character.

So to summarize, really only one thing needs to be said: If you haven't read this novel, you should immediately rectify that situation.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Good Grief

I read Good Grief by Lolly Winston for the "Something About Me" Reading Challenge. Before I start this review, I have to take a little break to sing
Lolly Lolly Lolly, get your adverbs here!
Lolly Lolly Lolly, got some adverbs here!
Come on down to Lolly's, get the adverbs here!**
Okay, that's enough. She probably never got THAT growing up.

As I was saying, I read Good Grief by Lolly Winston, which is about a 36 year old woman, Sophie Stanton, who loses her husband to cancer, and her grieving process over the following year or so. It covers her relationship with her mother-in-law, her relationship with her best friend, depression, grief groups, jobs, dating again, psychiatrists and the wonderful medications they prescribe. Written from Sophie's point of view, the novel seems to me to be a realistic portrayal of the feelings someone in Sophie's situation would have and the actions one would take.

What I liked:
I liked Sophie's sense of humor. She couldn't help the things she was doing, but at the same time could see how her behavior might appear to someone else as the behavior of someone at the very least mentally unstable. That was just funny. And I found it SO easy to relate to being able to see a situation from an objective point of view, but still behaving in the situation as someone with a very subjective viewpoint.

My favorite realization Sophie comes to:
Maybe she [Marion, Sophie's mother-in-law] needs me to be her basket case. Just as sometimes you need a person to be strong for you, maybe sometimes you need a person to be weak for you. Maybe I am to Marion what Cops is to me. Kooky screwups who help you tell yourself: Hell, I could be worse.

I liked the relationship between Sophie and her 'Little Sister,' Crystal. Actually, now that I think about it, it was a lot like what Sophie says in the above quote about needing someone to be weak for you. It was when Sophie had to be strong for others, Crystal, her best friend and later her mother-in-law, that she really began to heal.

I'm not going to do a 'what I didn't like' section, because there's nothing that I remember that struck me in an overly negative manner. Overall, it was a fairly quick and enjoyable read with realistic characters.

** As a footnote, I miss "Schoolhouse Rock," and really think it should be brought back to Saturday mornings. Along with Mr. Yuckmouth and the little western dude that made the healthy snacks, the wagonwheels and the pineapple and cottage cheese "sundaes" that I think he called "saturdaes."