Archive | October, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After

5 Oct

I really don’t consider myself a book blogger, but when I find myself overflowing with fuzzy feelings after a great book (and have the necessary time), I suppose I will occasionally blog about books.

ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER was a no-brainer 5-star/2014-favorites type of book. I didn’t expect it to be quite this good, though I knew I’d like it based on the first two in the series, but MAN. SO good! Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it — and seriously hit the spot.

Like I’ve done with the few other book review type posts, I wanted to jot down thoughts and especially the quotes that I loved. But for some reason, I found myself adding more commentary to the quotes than usual. So, if you’ve read it, you’ll hopefully remember and join me in my enthusiasm… and if you haven’t read it yet–I’d hold off. The quotes aren’t organized in a way that’s conducive to introducing someone to the story or characters or anything — they’re more me remembering moments I felt things, and the lines that stuck out.

  • “Ohmygod what the hell did I do last night?????????” (12) — Chapter One felt a little interesting, and Chapter Two simultaneously cracked me up and gave more clarity on how to understand what I’d just read (Stephanie Perkins, I see what you did there…).
  • Note that I was having too much fun to stop and think about grabbing post-its to flag all the wonderful words and phrases I loved for the first hundred pages… which clearly means I’m going to need to read it again.
  • And I also clearly need to re-read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS because I had NO idea that St. Clair was taller than her! Did we know this from ANNA??? From ISLA – Josh talking to Isla: “’You know my friend St. Clair?’ he says after a few minutes. ‘He’s only a few inches taller than you, and his girlfriend, Anna? She’s taller than he is.’” (101) As a taller girl (I’m 5’10” and sometimes 5’11”…), I do lament that there are very few stories of taller girl + shorter guy. I think this happens less frequently than almost any other type of couple… like, with age discrepancies, or ethnic/racial differences, or whatever. HEIGHT!
  • Kurt and Josh’s first happy interaction: “Josh clutches his chest in agony as Kurt explodes into loud belly laughter. My heart might burst from happiness.” (107) I love that her two favorite-est people getting along is what brings her true happiness, especially in light of understanding how two of her previous friendships/relationships ultimately ended because of her friendship with Kurt.
  • Isla and Josh, on their first “date” in Paris:
    “’You know what I like about you?’ I ask, after a few minutes.
    ‘My dynamite moves on the dance floor.’” (131)

    SO unexpected, I think I snorted out loud. I love my heroes witty. And I didn’t even know Josh was witty! And maybe he wasn’t — maybe him being around Isla both makes him wordvomit or them being together brings out new parts of his personality we otherwise wouldn’t have been introduced to.

    Josh reminded me a bit of Levi, from FANGIRL, with his sense of humor and sarcasm, though definitely not as bubbly and positive. If anything, they’re opposites in the way they interact with the world—but I see similarities in how they interact with their significant girl-others. How I remember Levi is this interesting blend of St. Clair’s charisma and Josh’s thoughtfulness.

    Like later, later on in the book, when St. Clair and the gang join the party (which, to be honest, did not feel like a party at the time I read it because I was so deep in Isla’s heartbroken state – but let’s be real, it was a party!) the way he carries himself is so fun, and hilarious. “St. Clair clears his throat. ‘My fiancé and I are headed out for a celebratory dessert. I’d ask you all to join us, but I don’t want you there.’” (315) Charming! Effortlessly oozing charisma, and charming. Lucky Anna.

  • I would pay good money to see the mural Josh painted – and I love, love, love his reaction to her reaction: “’Thank you,’ he says. ‘That was the best reaction that anyone has ever given me. For anything.’” (139)
  • Can someone please create and coordinate a trip to Paris, and then Barcelona? One where we visit the same sites, and maybe mix in a little JUST ONE DAY/JUST ONE YEAR? I’d pay to see that too. Why not combine it with a recreation of Josh’s mural? At THE Treehouse? PLEASE. and Thank You.
  • In Barcelona: “I can’t believe that adults get to do this every day. And I don’t even mean sex, though it’s wonderful, but things like this. Brushing our teeth at the same sink. Do adults realize how lucky they are? Or do they forget that these small moments are actually small miracles? I don’t want to ever forget.” (178)
  • Josh: “’St. Clair can persuade anyone to do anything. He’s like, drowning in charisma. It’s so unfair to the rest of us.’
    ‘Eh,’ I say. ‘He’s okay.’
    Josh pauses. And then I hear a smile in his voice. ‘This must be how you felt when I told you that you’re hotter than your sisters.’” (178)
    WHAT A LOVELY MOMENT. Stephanie Perkins! How do you come up with these things?! (Duh, you’re a writer, and an awesome one at that. These things obviously come to you in your sleep.)
  • And I’m pretty sure editors do not choose font sizes, margin width, and paper in order to make sure certain words or phrases appear at the top (or bottom) of any given page, but CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW the “Uh, no. Not at the moment.” (206) Is at the very. Bottom. Of. The. Page?! Convenient, right?! It could only have been made more convenient if it was on the bottom of the right page, and you had to turn the page to read whatever came next.

    My jaw literally dropped, and stayed dropped for quite a bit of time. I knew there had to be a logical explanation, but I was infuriated on Isla’s behalf, and am glad she was equally infuriated with Josh.

    For context – Josh is being interviewed and is asked, “Do you have a girlfriend?” and then responds like so:
    “He pauses before giving another modest laugh. ‘Uh, no. Not at the moment.’ (206)

  • Reading about Isla reading and experiencing Josh’s graphic novel… I feel like I experienced it with her. “It took guts to draw these things. It’s a different kind of excruciating to read about them.” (218) and then, of course, Rashmi. “She’s pretty and smart and sarcastic. And I hate her.” (218).
  • I kind of love the portrayals of the adults in this story. While of course Josh’s parents have their faults (they are human, after all, who are dealing with very high-pressured lives), the adults are quite reasonable, and I love that. Take, for instance, the interaction between the head of school and Josh:

    “’For a certain kind of person, high school will always be brutal,’ the head says. ‘The best advice that I can give you is to figure out what comes next, and work toward that.’” (221) WHAT GREAT ADVICE!

    The banter between Isla and her parents is also sweet – like when Isla’s mom is comforting her before the big gala: “’His father will love you. His mother will learn to love you. You’re intelligent, charming, and kind.’ ‘Of course you think that.’ ‘I would never describe your younger sister as charming.’ That gets me to crack a smile.” (240)

    And even the very brief encounter we have with Kurt’s parents, I love. “Kurt’s parents refuse to let me call them Mr. and Mrs. Bacon, because they refuse to believe that they’re old.” (267) I kind of want to borrow this philosophy when we have children. Please. It’s a genius idea.

    And then Scott (Kurt’s dad): “’Did he hurt you?’ Scott undergoes a Hulk-like transformation, which looks peculiar on his strung-out ex-rocker body. ‘Yes!’ Scott’s body completes the Hulk transformation. ‘No.’ I sob hysterically. ‘Emotionally.’” (268)

  • During their separation: “How did my parents live before texting? Before the internet? I’m used to knowing things and all of this unknowing is driving me mad.” (235) — Taking away their face-to-face and even digital interaction is such a powerful device because the readers of this book (a large chunk of them, any way—myself included!) have never had to carry on a relationship without at least one or the other. The angst of writing letters or waiting weeks and weeks to catch a glimpse or exchange a few lines—that’s the stuff of the classic romance novels we’ve read and swoon over—and now, Stephanie Perkins makes it relevant to us, with Isla.
  • And lastly, can I just say, THANK GOODNESS someone decided to give these books new and improved covers. The title treatment, the colors, the fonts, and that beautiful rose emblem/logo/motif — perfection. Even before I understood the significance of the roses, I thought they were gorgeous — and obviously appreciate them even more now. Great book marketing makes me so happy — and now I want to buy all three books to have them make my bookshelves that much more beautiful.

Harriet the Spy

4 Oct

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One of the few book blogs I follow, The Midnight Garden, chooses one classic Middle Grade/Young Adult book a month to read and then discuss. I’ve read a few lovely books with them so far this year: THE LUCKIEST GIRL (by Beverly Cleary) and A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (by Betty Smith), but September’s book (HARRIET THE SPY) seriously takes the cake.

HARRIET THE SPY is a book I could have sworn I’d read when I was younger, but upon re-reading, realized I didn’t remember *anything* in it–so maybe I never actually read it. Regardless, I was totally charmed by the second page, and proceeded to sticky-note every other page for about 100 pages or so because it was just that good.

The quote on page 2 that I loved:

Harriet is a CHARACTER. She’s precocious, clearly intelligent, a little socially awkward, and brutally honest, both with herself (in her spy notebook — in all caps) and others. There’s a lot of discussion about how she’s not a “nice” girl but let’s be real–girls aren’t nice! Or at least, most kids aren’t when they’re not pretending to say or do the right thing.

This isn’t a recap by any means, but a place for me to drop all my favorite quotes… and to ruminate on the parts that stood out to me. Like, how Harriet was so, so attached to Ole Golly, her nurse (aka nanny), and how Ole Golly knew her better than her parents did, always saying (or not saying) the right thing to make Harriet feel heard, loved, or comforted. I love the relationship as a reader, but as a (Lord willing) one-day parent, it makes me all the more uneasy with the idea of having full-time childcare… I want to be the one who knows my kid best, who knows what to say to get them to take dancing lessons, who can read their moods, and who can take away their flashlight when they try to read under the covers. I get that in some families it’s not an option (because both parents need to work) but in the case of Harriet’s family (and many others)–it’s not necessary! <end soapbox>

Without further adieu–some of my favorite quotes. Which, ironically enough, have very little overlap with the most popular quotes on Goodreads.

  • “Then Harriet did what she always did when she was supposed to be asleep. She got out her flashlight, put the book she was currently reading under the covers, and read happily until Ole Golly came in and took the flashlight away as she did every night.” (25) – I wonder if I had read this as a kid… and then proceeded to do it every night!
  • Harriet to the cook: “Ole Golly says find out everything you can cause life is hard enough even if you know a lot” (37)
  • Harriet to the cook: “I do not go out to PLAY, I go out to WORK!” (39) – I love how seriously she takes herself!
  • Sport to Harriet, about his dad: “Writers don’t care what they eat. They just care what you think of them” (49)
  • “’I hate money,’ Harriet said.
    ‘Well, you’d jolly well like it if you didn’t have any,’ Sport said arrogantly. Harriet considered this. It was true. She’d never had to think about it.” (51)
  • “I GUESS IT’S NOT MONEY THAT MAKES PEOPLE DULL. THERE IS A LOT I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THIS THING OF BEING DULL. I BETTER FIND OUT BECAUSE I MIGHT BE IT.” (57) – this made me chuckle
  • Harriet and Ole Golly: “’What’s a high-pressure job?’ ‘It means he’s not allowed to do exactly what he wants with the job, and what he is allowed to do he isn’t given enough time to do it in.’” (62) – SUCH a good, timeless, simple explanation of this. Crazy how the idea of a high-pressure job applied then, and applies now.
  • “I’M GLAD I’M NOT PERFECT–I’D BE BORED TO DEATH.” (68)
  • Harriet’s parents: “’Boy, that Miss Golly is magic, sheer magic. I wonder where we’d be without her?’” (88)
  • “LIFE IS A GREAT MYSTERY. IS EVERYBODY A DIFFERENT PERSON WHEN THEY ARE WITH SOMEBODY ELSE? OLE GOLLY HAS NEVER BEEN THIS WAY. I WONDER IF PEOPLE ACT LIKE THIS WHEN THEY GET MARRIED? HOW COULD SHE GET MARRIED? WOULD MR. WALDENSTEIN COME TO LIVE WITH US THEN? THEY COULD PUT THEIR CHILD IN MY ROOM IF THEY WANTED TO. I WOULDN’T MIND. I DON’T THINK. UNLESS IT WAS A VERY NOSY CHILD WHO TRIED TO READ MY NOTEBOOKS. THEN I WOULD SMASH IT.” (97) – another laugh out loud moment. Oh Harriet. I love the strange progression of her thoughts.
  • Ole Golly to Harriet: “Tears won’t bring me back. Remember that. Tears never bring anything back. Life is a struggle and a good spy gets in there and fights. Remember that. No nonsense.” (132)
  • “The customers stood around like frozen food.” (160) – For some reason, I liked this metaphor/use of imagery a lot.
  • “SHE ALWAYS SAID THAT PEOPLE WHO TRY TO CONTROL PEOPLE AND CHANGE PEOPLES’ HABITS ARE THE ONES THAT MAKE ALL THE TROUBLE. IF YOU DON’T LIKE SOMEBODY, WALK AWAY, SHE SAID, BUT DON’T TRY AND MAKE THEM LIKE YOU.” (226) – Ole Golly is the smartest woman I’ve ever known. And I’m guilty of this so often.
  • Harriet and her mother: “’What do you do?’ ‘A lot of unseen, unappreciated things’” (233)  – The plight of the SAHM

If you read it, let me know! Would love to chat about it more.