Review: Why We Broke Up – moved

Why We Broke Up
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Revolving around Mim and Ed, this is story is told from Mim’s point of view, as she returns items that had significance in her relationship with Ed, and tells us the story of where the item came from and why she is returning it.
While I recognise the quality of the idea behind this book, and the quality of the writing in general, this book felt like it was about 5 objects too long to me. And the upbeat ending, written outside the framework of the returned items, misses a beat in an otherwise emotionally charged story.
Also, I felt cheated that Mim, a strong feminist type, would be so blind to the shitty-ness of Ed. I could see it all unfolding, and I doubted that she would deny his true character so easily.

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Review: Marly’s Ghost – moved

Marly's Ghost
Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Using Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a starting point, Leviathan has re-written the story for a modern age. On Valentine’s Day, Ben cannot face the day without his beloved Marly by his side. Her death has become all too hard for him to cope with, and Ben retreats further and further from life. On Valentine’s Day eve Ben is visited by Marly’s ghost and he feels that his life can get no worse. But Marly has something for Ben and if he can manage to follow her instructions then maybe he will find the thing he desperately needs.

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Grief

Grief can come to you at odd times.
Sitting in a plane. Kilometres above the earth. I’d read the inflight mag, listened to the grand final on and off (and what a great game that was!), and lunch was finished, along with a nice bottle of sav blanc. Over the course of two long flights I had finished off Mr Standdast and read all of the Agatha Christie I’d been reading on my iPhone.
What to read next?
A quick flip through the books on Stanza. There was nothing I hadn’t read already that grabbed me. ‘To the Lighthouse’? Too deep. ‘Emma’? Too frivolous.
Over to iBooks. Damn. I deleted them all to make space for The Chaos Walking trilogy.
And then – Paul Kelly’s ‘How to make gravy’. A weighty tome that I dip in and out of. It’s that sort of book. I was up to ‘Coma’, Kelly’s exploration of his intermittent heroin habit. Then ‘Cradle of Love’, and then…WHAM.
Grief can come to you at odd times.
If you know your Paul Kelly then you might be thinking that the next song is ‘Deeper Water’, and you’d be right. And I was back in 1989 or 90, at a house in Red Hill, at the funeral of a man, a mate, a dad, a husband, a friend. The funeral was sad. Taken too soon in a boating accident leaving a wife a three little kids, a community was grieving. A friend got up and played ‘Deeper Water’ for a man who loved the sea. And the crowd wept.
Grief can come to you at odd times. But it’s good to remember them.

Review: A Straight Line To My Heart

A Straight Line To My Heart
A Straight Line To My Heart by Bill Condon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bill Condon writes wryly moving novels that speak to the heart of family and the teenage experience. His previous novels have dealt with dysfunctional families, naive Catholic adolescents in the 50s, unusual blended families, and hard things to talk about like family violence and grief.
In A Straight Line to my Heart, Tiff lives with Reggie and Bull. The kindness of strangers has saved the younger Tiff from an orphanage. Reggie’s family are friends of Tiff’s aunt, who is unable to care for the little girl, and they take Tiff in and love her as their own. And Tiff repays their love with her own deep and profound love of them.
This story opens as Tiff visits the library, her sanctuary of quiet familiarity at a time of change and upheaval in her life. Tiff and Kayla have just finished their last year of school, and their lives are in a state of flux. A young man approaches Tiff in the library, and Tiff is drawn to him in a way that she doesn’t understand.
There are a number of conflicting and overlapping story lines in this novel – friendship, family, adult- and childhood, first love, grief and change, and Condon handles them all with aplomb and heartfelt authenticity.

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On the Plane

I love being on the plane. There’s so much to look at.

People with kids are always a source of interest when one is kid-free and flying. There was only one noisy baby on today’s flight, and it* was erractically rather than continuously grumpy. And I had Foundling: and Lamplighter: Monster Blood Tattoo to keep me emotionally separated from the angst that creates.

I sat beside a lovely lady who had been on the move all day. Travelling from East Gippsland to Perth, she** has traversed the nation from east to west today – quite literally. Bet is visiting her sister in a town east of Perth***. She hasn’t seen her sister since January, when she flew to Perth on a whim. As we talked further I discovered more and more about Bet and her family. The reason that she flew to Perth in January was that her daughter’s birthday is in January. Not so unusual, except that her daughter died from secondary breast cancer a year and a week ago. Bet’s son-in-law had gone on holiday with their kids, and she was home alone and feeling blue. So a quick hop over to Perth was in order.

Now, I’ve already mentioned that it was a year and a week since her daughter died, and that was part of the reason for today’s trip to Perth, but there was an ulterior motive – Bet and her sister have booked tickets to see ‘Our Boy’ – Damien Leith! She was as pleased-as-punch to be spending 2 weeks with her sister, and it was obvious that seeing Damien Leith was going to be a highlight.

Boab trees. Bet’s sister, Denise, has recently moved from up north, the Kimberley area. She and her partner, Peter, used to own a boab tuber farm. They grew the tubers for sale to people to grow****, but also to use in cooking. I know! Cooking! Denise made boab chutney, boab cookies (really!), and they sold the tubers to restaurants around the world. Apparently they are similar to water chestnuts. Who’d a thunk it?

Bet was great to sit next to. She was interesting to talk to, but also let me go back to my audiobook when I felt like it.

Thanks, Bet! J

And I found it really interesting to watch four tv’s at once, playing Limitless with Bradley Cooper, while listening to Monster Blood Tattoo. Surreal.

* I was going to write ‘she’ but as I didn’t really know the gender of the baby I thought that might not be fair.

** We didn’t exchange names, so I’m going to call her Bet from now on.

*** I don’t know Perth at all, so I’ve already forgotten the name of the town.

**** Who needs a boab tree in their back yard?!