Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #35 - Hillbilly Elegy

I did fit one more book in before the month ended

Today I am reviewing Hillbilly Elegy

It is under the category:  Free Choice

This is a true story of the author who grew up in the Rust Belt between Kentucky and Ohio.  He tells the story of a culture in crisis - white working class Americans.  He has a biological father he didn't know until he was older.  A slew of men in and out of his life while his mother - who abused alcohol and drugs - barely could raise him.  His was basically raised by his grandparents who he credits for saving him and turning him into the man he is today.

He is now a marine veteran who went to Yale Law School.  He talks how it took him a long time to trust people and let his guard down due to his upbringing in such an unstable environment.

I really liked this book.  I grew up in a VERY stable family, but in a very UNSTABLE town.  A town full of families just like the authors (I grew up in Western Pennsylvania near the Appalachian mountains).  I watched families struggle every day and watched the cycle repeat itself generation after generation.  And when a kid broke the cycle, like the author did, it was amazing to see.  The author talks extensively how the support and stability of his grandmother's home saved him.  That seems to be the bottom line.  A kid needs stability and love to break a cycle.  The author could have ended up like his mother - a drug and alcohol abuser with a very bleak future.  But due to the grandparents, his broke away.

Great, great book.  Highly recommend!

Stars: 5

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #34- Christine

I have been on vacation for 2 weeks this month, so reading took a dip.  Since I wasn't sitting on a beach, but touring endlessly around Italy, we were too exhausted each evening to do much.

The book I am reviewing today is:  Christine

It was under the category:  A Book From Rory Gilmore's Reading List  (Gilmore Girls!!)

This story is mostly told from high school senior, Dennis, whose friend, Arnie, has just past a car he cannot live without.  It is an old 1958 Fury that he saw sitting in the front yard of an old, retired army man named Mr. Lebay.  The car hasn't run in year and needs tons of work but Arnie has to have it.   The car has a name - Christine. Dennis helps him get it to a car storage garage where Arnie begins to work on it.  He makes miraculous progress on it over the summer - much to his parents dismay (who would rather him be concentrating on college and school) and has it running by the time school starts.  Arnie also starts to change himself - he goes from a geeky kid with lots of pimples to a handsome young man who attracts the attention of the pretty new girl in school.

By Christmas time, Arnie is completely obsessed with the car and has very little time for his friends, his family or his girl.  The car is not liked by anyone else - it gives everyone a bad feeling.  It also gives off a really weird smell that everyone says smells like death.  The school bullies start to pick on Arnie and try and destroy his car.  But Christine has a plan of her own.  The car gets revenge on the bullies and starts to pick off all the people in Arnie's life that don't like him or the car.

Soon his friend Dennis and Arnie's now ex-girlfriend, Leigh, have decided it is time for Christine to go.  Something is wrong with that car and it has destroyed the person they once new.

This was a pretty good book.  I try to read at least one Stephen King a year.  I have always been curious about this one.  It had some parts where I rolled my eyes - I hate when authors stray off course with "filler" text.  But for the most part, it help my interest, and I am glad I read it.  I am anxious to see the movie to see it played out.

Stars: 4

Thursday, April 6, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #33 - Endurance - Shackleton's Journey

This book is the last I will get in before we leave on vacation.

Today I am reviewing - Endurance - Shackleton's Journey

It is under the category - A Book Set On Another Continent

This is a non-fiction book about the voyage of Ernest Shackleton in 1914.  He traveled to Antartica with 27 men with a plan to cross the continent on foot.  After going through 1000 miles of packed ice, the Endurance got stuck in a patch of ice and could not get free.  Eventually, the ship sunk and the men were stranded.  The floated on ice for over 850 miles in a harrowing journey to be rescued.  This journey took 5 months and they survived by eating their sled dogs, and various seals and penguins that came upon their drift.  The entire group survived.

This was a pretty good book.  I cannot believe this entire group of men survived these 5 months in the freezing cold off of the coldest continent in the world.  They had very little shelter and very little food.  They spent most of those 5 months wet and cold.  Every minute must have been torture, but they stayed level headed and survived,

Try this book.  It is amazing what lengths people will go to for survival.

Stars: 4 1/2

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Challenge - Book #32 - The Story of My Life

First book of April in the books

The Story of My Life

This was under the category: An Autobiography

This is a composition of Helen Keller's diaries, notes, and observations from her childhood up through her time in college.  She talks openly of what it was like to be blind and deaf, to finally learn once a teacher was brought to her that could help her learn to communicate, and how she decided what she was going to study in college.  She talks openly about her disability and how hard it was for her to go to college knowing her professors could not communicate well with her and it would be hard for her to access the curriculum.

The story of Helen Keller is near and dear to me.  Having a daughter who is legally blind, Helen Keller is an inspiration.  I see what she was able to accomplish at the turn of the century, and how far accessibility has come for the blind.  Helen was reliant on her teacher so much more than students today are.  Technology for the blind plus the development of cochlear implants for the deaf has changed the world for these two classes of disabilities.

As for the book, was fine.  IT was a little boring - as I am sure more people would find reading anyone's diary a bit boring.  I wanted to hear more about her story and and her struggle, but what it mostly was - was her mundane day to day activities.  Almost to a fault she would explain visits from people in great detail.  It was constant positive spin from Helen's point of view.  She seemed to live an extremely normal life according to her account.  What was revealing was actually notes at the end that spoke more of the truth about Helen and her daily life.  (as in - she still had a very difficult getting around even her most familiar environments).  I would rather it has been more truthful than all rainbows and sunshine.

Stars: 2