Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This is a Young Adult novel - not what I usually read at all, but I noticed it one day whilst shelving books in the Young Adult section of the library and it immediately appealed to me. I read this beautiful book in just one sitting and I was so moved by this story that is filled with so much tragedy and yet also hope.

It is the story of Junior, a Native American teenager who lives on an Indian Reservation. The book details his life - both on the reservation and at the all white high school he attends. This book beautifully deals with issues of race, poverty and identity.


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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin is loosely based around a true event - Philip Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre on 7 th of August 1974. However, Petit himself is only one of several interconnected characters in this story which explores the way an extraordinary event can impact on the lives of a diverse range of New Yorkers. The other characters include an Irish Priest living in Brooklyn, his brother, a group of prostitutes, two mothers brought together by grief for their sons, and many others.

What I liked most about this book was the compassion with which McCann portrays each of these diverse characters and the glimpse he offers us into their lives.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery

This story is all about food and is the winner of the top French book award for food writing, the Prix du Meilleur Livre de Litterature Gourmande and is the first novel of French author Muriel Barbery, who has also written The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

It tells the story of an old food critic, Pierre Arthens, who is lying on his deathbed. Before he dies he is frustrated trying to remember the most delicious food that he has ever tasted, long before he became a famous food critic. Desperate to taste it one more time, he looks back over the years to all the different meals from his past to try and recall the taste he's trying to remember.

Each chapter is focused on a food, ranging from bread, meat, vegetables to even whisky and ice cream. In each of these food chapters he recalls how he first came to taste them and the impression they left in his mouth and his life. Each food group is described beautifully and you can actually feel the taste sensation as you're reading through the narration.

Other chapters in the book are all written by the other people who were closest to him and their own experience of him. It seems that even though he was the greatest food critic in France, because of his single-minded pursuit of gourmet and sensual delights, he could not be a nice man to his family, especially his children.

This is a wonderful read and if you're like me, you will find you can't put it down. It would also make a great novel to have in a book club as there are discussion questions at the end of the book.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.