Cat’s Eye details the life of stream-of-consciousness narrator Elaine as she reflects as an aged artist on her years growing up in the time after World War II in Toronto. Elaine has recently returned to Toronto in order to manage a retrospective gallery of her own critically acclaimed work. She reconnects with specters from her past, like the phantom Cordelia who tormented her as a child, whom she now sees and hears everywhere she goes even though she is long gone. Atwood captures Elaine’s apathetic, passerby-like thoughts and describes her world in the most visceral way, making her writing a true joy to behold as it brings the story to life. Atwood also uses Elaine as a lens through which she can explore her own judgments and thoughts about growing up as a girl through elementary, middle, high school, and university, finding love, hate, strength, and weakness in all of these events that seem so cataclysmic when undergone for the first time. Cat’s Eye is a true masterpiece, recommended to anyone for a more adult spin on a coming of age story.
Though intimidating because of its subject matter, Wintergirls yields a reward high enough at the end to make reading it well worthwhile. Anderson’s writing is always visceral and heartbreaking, but the harsh reality of eating disorders makes it even more gritty. When I was not transfixed by the story, I was admiring Anderson’s writing style and the perfect way that she captures the first person speaker, Lia. Lia’s best friend Cassie was recently found dead in a motel room of an overdose. The book details their past together, including Cassie’s bulimia (which eventually led to her downfalll), Lia’s anorexia, and the pact they made together when they were younger. Lia’s anorexia resurfaces, for the guilt that Lia feels about Cassie serves as a trigger. The author’s voice is strong in this book, with truly believable characters and a singular writing style. I recommend this book to any reader looking to really feel for a character and who isn’t at risk of being triggered by the subject matter. – Elizabeth S. ’16
Suddenly dealt with the responsibilities of motherhood, Kristina Snow must somehow raise a child while battling her addiction to “the monster,” known as crystal meth. Despite her love for her child, Kristina finds herself becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the monotony of her daily life in comparison to the excitement of her past. In Glass, the second sequel in the Crank series, Ellen Hopkins once again brings to life the story of a confused, desperate teenager who has become swept up in a world she is not ready for. Although the average reader has not necessarily shared Kristina’s experiences, any teenager or adult will understand her emotions and decisions. This book is a must-read, for teenagers especially. – Nikita R. ‘16
Down on his luck journalist Scott McGrath teams up with perky coat-check girl Nora and spoiled, strung-out and fiercely handsome Hopper to investigate the mysterious death of the brilliant Ashley Cordova, daughter of reclusive horror film director Stanislas Cordova. Wending their way through the tangle of her father’s cultish fans, dysfunctional family history and their own personal baggage, the quirky trio stumbles upon circumstances that suggest abduction, black magic and murder. Pessl’s willingness to weave in trendy New York settings and fictional connections to the truly famous adds an immediacy to her story. So too, do the inclusion of pages featuring screen shots of websites, police reports and a myriad of other pretend, but authentic looking documents. For all that, the mystery is less satisfying than Pessl’s previous title, Special Topics in Calamity Physics which was brilliantly paced and highly believable. Unfortunately, the mystery of Miss Cordova fails to build and reads like one trip to sexy NYC destination to the next. Night Film will appeal to folks who want to feel like they are a part of the in crowd of Manhattan society – so much that this reader wonders if the positive reviews are a result of Pessl’s successful stroking of her critics’ egos. Still, patient readers who enjoy a creepy tale that doesn’t get especially bloody and isn’t big on intriguing twists or satisfying endings will enjoy Night Film. Let’s hope Pessl is back on her game next time around. – Mrs. Vaughan, Harker librarian
Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi discusses stereotypic threats, their effects, and solutions to alleviate the problem. Steele’s tremendous knowledge in psychology is evident from the excellent studies and the anecdotes that make the research more personable. He grasps the sense of conscience with a twist; for example, he flips the stereotypical underdog in his anecdote about a white male’s conscience while attending a college class about African American history. On the other hand, the author’s verbose writing style, overuse of the pronoun I in describing research, and repetitious ideas prevent the reader from benefiting much from the book. Furthermore, he overemphasizes the stereotyped groups, such as African Americans and women, while neglecting to incorporate other minorities. Nevertheless, the author, a Columbia professor, is clearly an expert in his field. If you are interested in studying stereotypes, this is the book for you. – Zina J. ’14
Ready for a literary treat? The Dinner, by Herman Koch, follows two Dutch couples meeting for dinner to discuss a moral dilemma revolving around their sons. Reading about four adults eating for an entire book may not sound appetizing, but The Dinner is a riveting page-turner. In a style characteristic of the postmodern era, Koch focuses more on character development than plot twists like explosions and bar fights (not to say there aren’t any of those). Even though it takes place over a very short period of time, the book manages to stay interesting by incorporating multiple flashbacks. It even has humorous moments thanks to the narrator’s amusing view of the world, despite the heavy subject matter. The Dinner is a fantastic book full of surprises that will make you think. The Dinner will not entice everyone. Lovers of action/adventure/romance/fantasy may have difficulty finishing it. – Meilan S. ‘17