Friday, August 30, 2013

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

When Julie moves to Boston for college, she finds the apartment she rented from Craigslist doesn't actually exist. Stranded in an unknown city, she moves into the home of her mother's old college roommate. The Watkins family is a little strange to say the least. The parents seem a bit absent, one son is traveling the world, the other is practically a social recluse, and the daughter speaks without using contractions and carries around a life-size cutout of her absent brother which she calls "Flat Finn." Julie finds the family odd, but lovable, and quickly finds herself becoming a part of their home.  As she tries to find a way to help the awkward daughter Celeste, she finds herself falling in love with one of the brothers. But which one? The nerdy boy in the bedroom beside her? Or the adventurous traveler that she's been chatting with online? And what is the big secret that everyone seems to be hiding?

Flat Out Love is a sweet story about a girl finding her way and a family finding each other. The characters are quirky and interesting. I have to say the storyline was a little predictable, but I kept reading and second guessing myself right up to the very end. In short, it's a neat little love story that is just different enough from all the others to keep you turning pages well into the night.

**If you love this book, there is a companion piece called Flat Out Matt that retells some of the important chapters of the book from another character's point of view. I haven't read it yet, but my curiosity is piqued!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Thirty-eight year old Bartholomew Neil lived with his mother his entire life.  When she is diagnosed with brain cancer and dies because of it, Bartholomew is left lost and alone.  His assigned grief counselor, Wendy, encourages Bartholomew to set new goals for his life (i.e. having a drink at a bar with someone his own age).  Bartholomew believes he has found a way to deal with his loss when he discovers a letter written to his mother from her favorite actor, Richard Gere.  Because his mother loved Richard Gere so much, Bartholomew decides to correspond with the actor and share about his life and struggles.  The letters written to Gere reveal elements of Bartholomew's past along with his longings for the future and a family of his own.  

My Thoughts: 
As you read Bartholomew's story you will find a lot of sadness, but you will also find an abounding amount of hope.  The Good Luck of Right Now is written completely in letter format. Each letter is written from Bartholomew to Richard Gere.  While it is unclear whether Bartholomew ever actually sends these letters, it is clear that the correspondence is one-sided.  This was a little weird to me at first, but I soon realized that it was perfect for Bartholomew.   

With this being the third Matthew Quick book I have read in the past month, I have to say that I have yet to be disappointed.  Quick does such a fantastic job of creating characters who are quirky, but also genuine.  His first person narratives allow readers to jump inside the minds of his characters and find their way around.  If you haven't picked up a Matthew Quick novel, you are definitely missing out. 

Note:  I received an advanced copy of this title via Edelweiss. The Good Luck of Right Now is expected to be published February 14, 2014.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was—that I couldn't stick around—and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday.  He has big plans for the day that include delivering gifts to four friends, killing his former best friend with his grandfather's WWII pistol, and then shooting himself. Leonard's mother is completely disconnected from her son's life.  Working as a designer in New York, she leaves Leonard to fend for himself in New Jersey.  She doesn't even remember that today is his birthday.  In fact, no one knows that today is his birthday.  

Leonard spends the first hours of his day delivering gifts to the only four people he considers to be his friends.  He first visits his neighbor, Walt,  who is intensely obsessed with Humphrey Bogart films.  He then visits Lauren, a Christian homeschooler who has worked very hard to convert him to Christianity.  At school he delivers gifts to Baback, a violinist whose practice sessions he has listened to for years, and Herr Silverman, his favorite teacher who teaches his Holocaust class.  As Leonard meets with each of these four friends, he reveals not only his past experiences with them, but also what brought him to this day.  

My Thoughts: 
Matthew Quick tackles a very difficult subject in this novel.  In a time where school shootings are prevalent, I very much appreciate a book written from the shooter's perspective.  So often, and rightly so, we focus on the people that are victims of these shootings.  I do feel that we often forget to consider the young teenagers who feel that they are left with no other option than to kill their classmates and then end their own lives. What brings them to this point? Did they ever reach out to parents, friends, or teachers?  Was help offered?  In this novel, Matthew Quick creates a story that gives his readers an opportunity to see where Leonard has come from and why he has been brought to such a dark place.     

Note:  I received an advanced copy of this book to write this review. It is set to release on August 13, 2013