Mini Thoughts on Recent Reads #3

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The Innocents by Francesca Segal – I was reluctant to read this novel because it is an updated version of The Age of Innocence, one of my very favorite books. This contemporary version of Edith Wharton’s classic Pulitzer Prize winning book takes place in northwest London in a tight knit and loyal Jewish community. Adam Newman is on the brink of marrying his childhood sweetheart, Rachel, when Rachel’s cousin Ellie, a stunning American model, returns to the family and subtly intrigues and entices him. She is a startling contrast to the unadventurous and clingy Rachel and Adam wrestles with his conscience as he slowly gravitates toward Ellie. Francesca Segal has done a marvelous job of transforming Wharton’s tale into a 21st century story of duty vs. desire. The setting is brilliant and utterly fascinating and the characters are all complex and sympathetic. The Age of Innocence flickers through this lovely novel, but it is definitely a strong book of its own.

Every Day by David Levithan – A wakes up every day in the body of a different teen. One day he wakes up in the body of Justin, a gruff and mean 16-year-old who mistreats his beautiful girlfriend Rhiannon. A spends the day with her and falls in love – but the next day he leaves her and wakes up as someone else. The rest of the novel finds A trying to connect with Rhiannon through different people and changing their lives in the process. It is a very clever premise for a book and I admit that I raced through the novel, anxious to know if A would ever escape limbo and find a body of his own. However, many of the characters (particularly the fat boy and the black girl) were stereotypes and treated with disrespect by the author. Levithan also has a obvious agenda for his novel, one that may aggravate some readers with its strong tang.

I still haven’t found a rhythm for my blogging this year, but that may change soon. My cousin and best friend, who is also my roommate, is moving to Colorado in a few days and, though I am terribly sad, I am trying to see the positive aspects of living on my own again. One of them is that I will have lots of time in the evenings to read, blog and comment on your blogs. I might have to cry on your shoulder for a while – I hope you will bear with me!

Have a beautiful week!

12 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Interesting, I think I’m going to have to add The Innocents to my ever lengthening list.

    But what a shame that you’re losing your cousin/chum, I’ll buy some extra tissues! Looking on the bright side – there’s always Skype.

    1. My cousin left about 2 hours ago and I’ve cried my eyes out, but I plan to go see her at the end of March and we will keep in touch every day. It is just hard living on my own again. Reading is going to be a big comfort to me – and blogs. I should have a lot more books to write about in the future!

  2. We’ll be here like Katrina says with the tissues and virtual shoulders! hopefully books or book chat will provide some good distraction.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I know that reading is always a comfort. I started Black Beauty right after my cousin left and it has helped to distract me already.

  3. I’m sorry to hear you’ll be losing your cousin/room-mate, there are also positive and negative outcomes from these times of upheaval. I hope there be lots of positive for you too. Glad to hear you’ve still been reading, two very different reads!

    1. Thank you, Jessica, and you’re right about the positive outcomes – thank you for reminding me that there can be good things that come with change!

  4. Sorry to hear about your cousin, the blogosphere is great when you’re feeling down. Interesting to read your thoughts about Every Day. You’ve mentioned things I hadn’t known about before, making me want to read it all the more even if they were problems.

  5. I’m interested in reading The Innocents, but mainly as it’s set in a North London Jewish community, which I find fascinating. Glad it exceeded your expectations 🙂

  6. Roommate changes were always very tumultuous for me, even when it was someone I wasn’t especially close friends with, so I feel for you. Hopefully you’ll soon settle into some of the pleasures of having a place all to yourself. The Innocents had caught my eye in the past, but I was hesitant about it since The Age of Innocence doesn’t seem like the most conducive story for a modern update. I may reconsider it now that you say it’s good.

    1. I had doubts about The Innocents, too, but Segal really translates it well for modern times. It is very enjoyable. Roommate changes are so hard – I know things can’t stay the same, but oh how I wish they would sometimes!

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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