Sunday, November 11, 2007

Books and more books...

I just finished reading this book earlier today. I didn't want it to end but I had to find out what happened to Angela Russo. The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline is the story of Angela, an event planner in New York City who lusts for a rustic cabin in Maine. On a whim, she registers with an online dating community where she meets MaineCatch, a fisherman in Maine. What could possibly be better than a handsome rugged fisherman who lives a charming life in Maine? When she loses her job, Angela packs up and heads to Maine to live out her fantasy.

As you might guess, the life Angela envisioned for herself doesn't quite play out the way she intended. MaineCatch is handsome and ruggeed but is playing to a whole string of other women. Not exactly the romantic soul mate she had hoped for. An excellent cook who learned from her beloved Nonna, Angela whips up a little group of friends, a new job and a four legged buddy who keeps her company in her cozy home. It may not be what Angela wanted but it's a charming life on her own terms.

When I was a little girl, my parents took me to Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida. Somewhere there is a photo of me posing on a seahorse, my hair is short and bleached by the sun and my little face is tanned and smiling. Fast forward many years later when I read a snippet about Swim to Me by Betsy Carter, I knew I had to read it. The book takes place at Weeki Wachee, a mermaid inspired park with real live mermaids performing in the water complete with fish tails.

"Delores, eager to escape her dismal family life, heads to Florida, where she is hired as a mermaid for an operation that has fallen on hard times, losing business to the recently opened Walt Disney Resort. Weeki Wachee is run by Thelma Foote, a lonely but tough businesswoman who is all too aware that the tattered, kitschy costumes and tired swim routines are in need of a touch of pizzazz." ---booklist

The author does a great job of painting a picture of life at this Tampa attraction during the 70's. I liked the transformation of Delores from wallflower to star of the show. It's a kind of quirky story about a place that I remember fondly as a child.

Alison Pace is one of my favorite authors. Her books are all good and the characters are like likable with issues and problems we can all identify with. I especially liked Through Thick and Thin because well, the book takes place in my old stomping ground, Ridgewood, New Jersey and talks about my latest obsession, yoga and features an adorable dog named DB Sweeny, reminding me of my own heroine's dog, Johnny Depp.

Sisters Stephanie and Meredith each have their own set of personal problems but they have one thing in common- their quest for an effective diet. Stephanie is married, living in suburban New Jersey with her infant daughter and a husband who may be a prescription drug addict. She is still overweight with pregnancy pounds and is feeling lonely and depressed.

In New York City, Meredith is a restaurant critic who longs to lose weight but can't because how can you count calories when you are dining in the best restaurants in the city? She is also frustrated by her single status. The book is about the relationship between the sisters, through thick and thin- literally. Weight loss, men, jobs, dogs, yoga, sisters- the book has it all. Well done, Alison!

Look Me In The Eye is by John Elder Robison, the older brother of Augusten Burroughs. John struggled through his early life tagged as an odd kid. He didn't know quite what to do in social situations and was awkward and clueless with other kids on the playground.

It took years for him to be diagnosed with having Aspergers, a form of Autism. During his childhood, his father was abusive, his mother mentally unstable. John began to work in the audio-visual department at school in junior high where he was more at home with the broken AV equipment than with other kids. Having a very high aptitude for electronics and mechanics, John went on to work with the band Kiss (reading about the pyrotechnics, circuits and lights made my head spin!) and he went on to work in development at Milton Bradley. It was not until age forty that John was diagnosed with Aspergers. By this point, he was successfully running a company fixing expensive automobiles. It's that brilliant mind which enabled him to understand the complicated workings of the world's finest cars.

The book was thoughtful and at times, funny. Other times, my heart broke for John. This book is a quick read and enjoyable. I appreciated having the chance to read about Aspergers and to remind myself to keep an open mind about those I meet who might be a bit "different".

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