Friday, April 30, 2010

The Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Coward-McCann, 1954

243 pages

I read this book when I was in 9th grade, but it was an assigned reading. This means that I only read it because I had to, and I did not really get into it. I decided since I had to read an adventure (and fill a "classic" requirement) that I would re-read it. It's an amazing story of struggle in the wilderness and how humans react in desperation to maintain their own lives.

A group of schoolboys are on a plane, being evacuated from their home during a war. Their plane is shot down over a deserted island. Not fully knowing what to do, a couple of boys, Ralph and Piggy, grab a nearby conch shell to use as a horn to gather everyone from the plane who is still alive. After discussing what to do, they vote that Ralph should be their leader on the island until they are rescued. Another boy, Jack, is assigned to hunting for food. After exploring the island for a bit, Ralph decides they should light a fire to signal passing ships or planes for help. They use Piggy's glasses and the sun to heat up some dead wood. They are successful in starting a fire, but the fire soon gets out of control and engulfs the forest, as well as a young classmate.

The group of boys begin to enjoy life on their own- no grownups, no school, no responsibilities, just swimming and playing. However, Ralph sticks to his leader duties, and Jack becomes more and more occupied with hunting. They lose their chance of getting help after a ship passes by the island, and the fire is burned out due to the boys not paying attention. Tension begins to get stronger between Ralph and Jack, because Ralph believes Jack is not keeping up with his responsibilities. Many of the young boys are becoming increasingly afraid, believing there is a sea monster that will kill them all. Soon, the entire group of boys start believing there is a monster among them, so they organize a hunt.

During the hunt, Jack and Ralph begin to argue more, and many of the boys take Jack's side, leaving Ralph to fend for himself. Jack and his hunters successfully kill a pig, and violently ritualize their kill. One boy, Simon, has a vision while looking at the fly-covered head of the killed pig. During his vision, the pig head, which Simon believes is the Lord of the Flies, tells him no one will ever escape. Simon runs to the other boys to tell them what he has seen, but the other boys only see a shadow. Acting out of fear and impulse, the boys attack Simon, not knowing who he was, and kill him.

Piggy is also killed during an argument when one of Jack's followers pushes a boulder down a mountain. Piggy is crushed, but Ralph barely escapes. Ralph hides in the forest, knowing full well that if he encounters any of the other boys, he will be killed. The other boys light the forest on fire in hopes of pushing Ralph out. They succeed, but when Ralph runs out of the forest, he sees a naval officer standing on the beach. The boys will be rescued, and Ralph cries out of exhaustion, relief, and confusion, and the other boys follow suit.

I believe there was a movie made that was based on this book, and I would like to watch it to see how the movie portrays the detail that was in the book. I think this is a lasting story, since it shows the reader the lengths people will go to in order to survive. It's kind of like fight or flight... these boys decided to fight... for rescue, for survival, for each other. It also shows the reader how quickly people can turn against each other when faced with such struggle.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Doing our job

My coworker sent out an email about an interesting topic on NPR’s website. The topic at its base is customer service. More specifically, it’s about the terms we use in libraries and what our patrons understand or don’t understand. I shouldn’t have said “patrons” as more libraries are adopting the term “library users,” which brings me to a funny story.

Working at a public library always makes for good stories. Anyway, I work in Youth Services, but one night an adult woman came into the library. She was very polite at first, asking if she could use our phone. Carol, my coworker, told her “I’m sorry, but we don’t allow patrons to use our business lines. There’s a payphone by the entrance.” The woman said “You don’t allow what?!” Carol repeated what she had said, and the woman started yelling, saying she was not a patron; she is a United States citizen who has the right to use a phone. Obviously, she did not know what “patron” meant. Carol tried to explain further, but the woman was not listening to any of it. She really did believe Carol was insulting her.

I suppose that story is unnecessary, but it somewhat shows how our library users may not understand what we say. “Circulation,” “stacks,” “OPAC”… those are just a few that come across my mind. What about with Readers Advisory? A patron, or “library user” may not understand when you ask them about their favorite fiction genres. Some may not even know the difference between fiction and non-fiction (I’ve come across this plenty of times.) This ties into a lot of what I learned not only on the job but in my Reference class. It kills me when I see one of my coworkers give a person a slip of paper with the call number written on it, telling them “You can find it over there.” Does it really take that much more energy to get up and show the person where it is? Or simply telling them “Here’s the call number.” They might not even know what a “call number” is.
As I mentioned earlier, I work in Youth Services, which is on the first floor of the library building. Many people who walk in see us first. Plenty of adults come in and ask questions, and most of us do our best at answering them (even if we need to call back-up from Information Services upstairs.) However, I have one or two coworkers who automatically say “This is Youth Services…Information Services is upstairs” whenever they are asked a question by an adult. We are there for the patrons, to provide them materials and services. It shouldn’t matter what department we work in; we should always try to serve those patrons. At least that’s what I believe.

I don’t know why more librarians don’t take the time to provide good customer service. I don’t care if our patrons aren’t customers in the traditional sense (i.e. buying a product from us). They are still coming to us for help, whether it is to find a book, an answer, or to use a computer. When our patrons decide to go to a bookstore because they get better customer service, or turn to Wikipedia or Google for answers, not only are we no longer of good use to them, but we are letting down our profession.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow
Ballantine Books, 2009, 320 pages
ISBN: 0345506200

Molly Marx, the wife of the successful plastic surgeon Barry, dies in a mysterious bicycle accident. She narrates this story from "The Duration," which is part of the afterlife in which a person can watch and listen in on the loved ones they left behind after their death. After Molly dies, she begins to only watch her daughter, Annabel, to make sure she is handling things well and is being taken care of. Slowly, though, Molly begins to watch the mystery of her death unravel by listening in on conversations with Detective Hicks, who has been assigned to solving Molly's... homicide? Suicide? No one quite knows. In "The Duration," people can also hear others' thoughts... while fully equipped with a BS detector. Through this capability, Molly soon finds out that Barry has been cheating on her for quite some time, and her mother-in-law has been very approving of his affair. Molly begins to have flashbacks of her own affair with her co-worker, Luke.

The story, while focusing on the complexity of a failing marriage, also focuses on Molly's relationships with her daughter, sister, and best friend. Molly pays a lot of attention to her sister, Lucy's life and thoughts while she's in "The Duration." This is mostly because Lucy becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Molly.

While I read this for my Women's Lives and Relationships genre pick, it fits into the Mystery genre as well. There are a lot of key players that could be Molly's killer, if, in fact, she was murdered. Did Barry do it so he could start a new life with his lover? Did his lover do it, so she could start a new life with Barry? Did Barry's mom kill Molly? She never really approved of their marriage in the first place, anyway. Did Luke do it? Molly broke things off with him because she couldn't handle the deception anymore. These different mysterious aspects of the story kept me engaged with the story. However, the ending left me wanting something more. I didn't feel satisfied after reading this book. It was a good story, humorous at times, touching, emotional, but the ending just didn't seal the deal.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lab - Graphic Novel Book List

At the library where I work, Hammond Public Library, we have a monthly "Staff Picks" display. I have been noticing more and more graphic novels displayed. I'm not the only staff member who likes to read graphic novels! That means that I'm not the only adult who likes to read them either. I asked our Reader's Advisory Librarian, Mary, if creating a list of graphic novels for adults would be a fruitful endeavor. She said that it would definitely be a great list, since we have so many graphic novels to choose from, and requests for them have been growing.

My coworker was listening to this exchange, and kept asking "Aren't they just like... comic books?" Mary and I explained to her that it's more than the "usual" comic books featuring super heroes and villains, and more than just funny-haha humor. There are several different genres displayed through the medium of graphics, so I kept that in mind while picking books to include in my list.

I used a few different tools to create this list. I skimmed through Graphic Novels: a guide to comic books, manga, and more by Michael Pawuk. This is a guide intended for librarians who are considering expanding their graphic novel collection. It has tons of graphic novels listed by genre. I thought this was a great tool, but since I only wanted ten books on my list to make it short and sweet, it was hard to find just ten. Luckily, the March 2010 Booklist came out, with a ten page spread all about graphic novels. I also reviewed the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenberg County's website, as they have a great Reader's Advisory section with all sorts of lists and reviews, including graphic novels for adults. I also took a look at the winners of the Eisner Award, which is an award given to quality graphic novels. Mix all this together, with my picking and choosing from different genres, and I got this, my completed book list.

I chose to include the images of the covers of each book, with a short annotation. I did not include the call number, because many of these are catalogued as "TEEN FICTION." Mary said that sometimes adults will not go any further if they see that. They're adults, you know, and won't want to read fiction for teens. However, many of these books are crossovers, and are pertinent to adult lives as well. By not including the call number, I am hoping to intrigue the patron enough with the covers and annotations to where they won't mind reading a "teen fiction."

If for some reason you cannot access my book list, let me know, and I will find another way to display it for you. The finished, printed product will be a tri-fold brochure.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not what I was expecting..

I conducted my Secret Shopper experiment later than most of you. I will admit I was a little nervous, since many of you had not-so-good experiences. Well, I had the same kind of experience.

I went to a library a couple towns over from me. It is the central branch of a countywide library system that has ten other, smaller branches. I wasn’t sure which desk to approach, but the first desk I saw was the Reference Desk. I was politely acknowledged by the staff member (librarian or not, I did not know). I asked her if she could help me find a book to read. Maybe it was the way I phrased my question, but she responded with, “What’s the title?” I told her I didn’t know yet, and that I was asking for a recommendation. She then asked me if I had a library card. Since this library is under a reciprocal agreement with my library, I do. However, I wondered why she asked me this. Having a library card should not matter if a patron is just browsing for good titles, or if a patron wishes to read a book while in the library. Anyway, she asked what I liked to read. I told her that I like a little bit of everything, but I wanted something with romance in it. Nothing Harlequin Romance-ish, just a good story with a good romantic feel to it. She handed me a printed booklist of Romance Novels, suggested the library’s website section called “The Reader’s Place,” and made sure I was aware of the library’s subscription to NoveList.

Her suggestions were of RA tools, not actual books. The tools, though, are pretty good. I went to the website, and I took a look at “The Reader’s Place.” It is an extensive, well-organized portion of their website dedicated to the different fiction genres and subgenres. However, I left without a book. The staff member never left her desk. She never actually provided me with actual Reader’s Advisory. I left with a piece of paper telling me what Romance Novels I should read, and knowledge of a website that I may just use when I advise reader’s about what to read next.

I gained a little something, but not what I was hoping for.

I love libraries, do you?

I’m without a car for a few days :( so I thought it would be a fantastic time to catch up on my blogs. This is definitely better than unpacking from my move last week.

Since it is National Library Week, I thought I’d write about library advocacy and promotion. What does this mean to you? Do you think “the word” about libraries is getting out? I think so... to an extent.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed more and more people realizing the importance of libraries and what we offer. A friend of a friend just recently said how excited she was that she was able to rent movies for free from the library. My mom has started going to the library again for books because money is tight. A patron came in the other day and said he can no longer afford internet service at home, so he uses the library’s internet service. I’m very happy to see that more people are realizing what we offer, but should we be a “last resort” when money is tight? In my opinion, these people should have known all along that these services are here for them. Why didn’t they? Is there not enough promotion of libraries?

Over the past few years I’ve also noticed a bit more discussion of libraries and the danger that we’re in. The save-your-library attitude may not have to be so strong if we had a similar attitude all along. I’m kind of rambling here, I know. I guess what I’m saying is the appreciation of libraries should be continuous, whether money is tight or not, whether libraries are facing severe budget cuts or not. As future librarians, I think we have a big chance to change the way the public looks at libraries.

All I know is that I love my library, and have loved it since I was a kid. Everyone else should, too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Laughter is the best medicine

I attended a rather interesting program at a public library a few towns over from me. The program was “Laughter Yoga.” I have heard about using laughing and breathing techniques for relieving stress, but I never actually did it. I learned that a doctor from India, Dr. Madan Kataria, developed Laughter Yoga as a wellbeing workout.

There were six of us in the program, plus the presenter. The presenter talked briefly about the premise of Laughter Yoga. Then, we got right to it. We began with a few laughter chants (“Ha Ha Ha, Hee Hee Hee, Ho Ho Ho”). Surprisingly, those simple chants turned into contagious laughter. Once we all settled down, we did more chants, more laughter, and so on. We were encouraged to make silly faces or movements to further our laughter. I laugh just thinking about my experience in this program. I did some more research on Laughter Yoga, and Dr. Kataria states that it is entirely possible to achieve the benefits from laughter just as much as when you are alone or in a group. So, I’m sitting here laughing. My dog is looking at me like I just got out of the loony bin, but it feels good. School, work, boyfriend problems, packing and moving are all stressful things in my life right now, but I’m laughing. All of my stress is on the back burner, even if it is just for a moment.

I highly suggest everyone take some time out during his or her days and laugh. You might feel like a weirdo at first, but it is very refreshing.

I think programs like these, which deviate from book groups, crafts, and other programs usually offered at a public library, are important for all patrons. Different programs offer a new and informative outlook for patrons. Librarians can also create booklists or pathfinders that relate to what is taught in a program, and reach out to their patrons. Reel them in with a fun program, and keep them coming back to the library for more information.

Here is Dr. Kataria's website about Laughter Yoga, and below is a video of Dr. Kataria explaining the premise of Laughter Yoga.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006

335 pages

ISBN: 1-56512-499-5

Jacob Jankowski, an almost-graduate of Cornell Veterinary School during the Great Depression, loses his parents to a car accident. Overcome with grief, sadness, and a loss for what to do, Jacob walks out of his final exams, without answering a single question. He returns home, and stares up at the sign on his father’s Veterinary practice behind the house: E. Jankowski and Son: Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. He soon learns that the bank is taking his parents’ house and his father’s practice, since his father had been taking anything, including food, for payments. Not knowing what to do, Jacob starts walking. He walks until he comes across a slow-moving train, and he decides to jump it. He wants to get away, to wherever this train will take him.

This train belongs to The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus. Jacob soon gets put on the staff as a worker, or a “roustabout,” setting up tents and shows, and feeding the animals. However, Uncle Al, the circus director, and August, the menagerie leader, find out about Jacob’s veterinary background. They promote him to the show’s Veterinarian. He takes a liking to Marlena, the star of the show who creates routines with the horses, and she takes a liking to him as well. Marlena, though, is married to August, who is described as a “paranoid schizophrenic.” At first glance, he is a charming, well-versed man. However, he controls Marlena, as well as the animals, with hostility and anger. After a while, Uncle Al acquires an elephant named Rosie for his show. Rosie is said to be a magnificent performer, yet August cannot seem to even command Rosie to walk off of the train. After witnessing several brutal attacks on Rosie from August, Jacob finds out that Rosie does not understand English, only Polish. Luckily, Jacob speaks Polish, and he teaches August several phrases of command, and Rosie soon becomes the star of the circus, and no longer endures the consistent attacks from August.

August soon discovers the romantic feelings between his wife and Jacob and goes on a tirade. He “redlights” (which means to kick someone off the moving train) several workers as revenge to Jacob, since the workers are Jacob’s friends. He beats the animals, and he even beats Marlena after Jacob intervenes during an argument. A few of the workers who were redlighted survive, and come back to “get even” with August. I will not divulge in how they “got even,” since I don’t want to ruin the ending for those who have not read this book.

This story is told through memories of Jacob Jankowski, who is now “90 or 93 years old.” He lives in a nursing home, next door to which a circus has come into town. A fellow resident of the nursing home begins to tell stories of carrying water for elephants when he was young man working in a circus. Jacob is upset by this, since there is no such thing as carrying water for elephants. He does not explain why he is upset, since he never tells anyone about his working for the circus. The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth is brought to life through Jacob’s memories. Gruen uses information she learned from circus museums and experts, which in my opinion, really added to the historical significance of the book. The cynical “90 or 93 year old” Jacob adds humor to the story. He reminds me of my grandfather, who constantly recounted his memories, whether he knew he was doing it or not. The romance between Marlena and Jacob adds another layer to the story. Marlena is seen as somewhat untouchable since she is with August, but Jacob does not let that stand in his way. Gruen does an exceptional job in describing her characters. I felt love for Jacob and Marlena, hope for Jacob’s friends who have nothing but the circus in their lives, disgust for August and Uncle Al, and despair for the defenseless animals. The true life, behind-the-scenes views of a circus drew me into this story, as I’m sure it will for other readers.

Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs

Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs
Scribner, 1997
411 pages
ISBN: 0-684-84117-7

Temperance “Tempe” Brennan, a forensic anthropologist in Montreal, Quebec, struggles with overcoming her instincts in this mystery novel by Kathy Reichs. Tempe is called to a crime scene near a burial site to determine if a body found is from an unearthed grave or if the body is a new homicide case for the Montreal Police. She soon realizes that this body is dismembered and stored in plastic bags; therefore, it is not simply an unearthed grave. As soon as she returns to the crime lab to investigate the dismembered body, she is overcome with a familiar feeling that she has dealt with similar cases in the past. She remembers the case of sixteen-year-old Cantale Trottier, who arrived at the crime lab almost one year ago, with her body parts stored in plastic bags. New victims begin showing up in the crime lab, which convinces Tempe that these murders are correlated. After being told by the detectives with whom she works that there is no substantial evidence to prove there is a serial killer on the loose, Tempe decides to take things into her own hands. She begins to gather evidence, follow potential suspects as well as her instincts, to not only prove that there is a killer on the loose, but also to prove herself to the detectives. Tempe soon puts her life, as well as her friend and daughter’s lives in danger, as the killer finds out she is “meddling” with his business.

There are a few twists and turns in the novel, as well as a light, budding romance between Tempe and one of the detectives, Andrew Ryan. Readers will connect themselves to Tempe, as she is a believable character. Tempe struggles with a divorce, a college-aged daughter who is thinking of quitting school to follow her boyfriend to Europe, trying to be a supportive best friend, and trying to prove herself to those who do not believe in her capabilities. She is also quite stubborn, and does not give up on anything until she finishes what she has set out to do.

Mystery lovers will enjoy this book as it displays several characteristics of the mystery genre, such as a fast-paced “whodunit” story line, a wide range of mood from dark to light with a bit of humor along the way, and rich description of the investigation of itself as well as the investigative team. Mystery lovers also tend to enjoy serial novels, and Déjà Dead is the first book in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Just a sidenote...

With our discussion on fake memoirs, I was reminded of a movie I saw a few days ago. World's Greatest Dad. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a really funny storyline... good soundtrack, too!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Vanishing…

The Vanishing by Bentley Little

Signet, New York, 2007

386 pages.

ISBN: 978-0-451-22185-8

The Vanishing by Bentley Little is a horror novel about strange happenings in California, such as serial killings and creature-children. Throughout the book, Carrie, a social worker, and Brian, a reporter, venture out to determine what exactly is happening… and why.

The book begins by describing seemingly different and unrelated characters and events. Brian, a reporter, is involved in the storyline of wealthy CEOs apparently going off the deep end and brutally killing their families and loved ones. Carrie, a social worker, is involved in the storyline of deformed children in California who are also being killed, such as a Rhino-Boy and a Llama-Boy. There is a line in the book that says "He has the face of a llama." He really does. He is part llama, part boy. Little doesn't let in on why this is happening until the middle of the book, when he introduces a new storyline, starring James Marshall, which is set in the 1840s during the California gold rush.

Brian discovers that his father, who abandoned his family, is a part of the wealthy serial killers. He also discovers that each killer exhibits similar physical qualities, which resemble some sort of animal. He receives a letter that he assumes is from his father that is written in a hieroglyphic-like code. While he attempts to decipher this code, he meets Carrie, who is also attempting to put pieces of this mysterious puzzle together while being haunted with nightmares of the creature-children in her cases.

Horror fans will most likely enjoy this book as it displays the classic characteristics of the Horror genre, such as monsters and creatures framing the story, rich descriptions of settings and characters, and the protagonists' (Brian and Carrie) being haunted, shattered individuals.

For me, the title of the book was appropriate after reading the book… I returned it to the library and felt good to have it "vanish" into the book drop. There is an abundance of graphic language, violence, and sex in this novel. I'm not sensitive to these characteristics, but much of the time, the graphic descriptions were unnecessary, adding little to the actual story.

If you're a horror fan, if you enjoy …unique stories, and if you can follow multiple storylines until the middle to the end of a novel, this book is for you.

"Graphic Grown Up"

I'm still chewing on the topic of quality vs. demand. Until I can (if I can) coherently gather my thoughts on that topic, I wanted to discuss another topic of interest.

A coworker recently recommended for me to read a graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson. She had picked it for her "Staff Picks," and just raved about it. I loved it. While I will admit that I read an awful lot of Young Adult Fiction, I had never before read a graphic novel. By no means am I now an avid graphic novel reader, but I do keep them in mind when choosing a book to read.

I came across an article by Ann Kim, "Graphic Grown up," that discusses these questions. Kim states that what we, as Reader's Advisors, take into consideration when recommending any other book is similar to what we should take into consideration when recommending graphic novels. However, she reminds us that "applying what a reader likes in prose to GNs can pose difficulties; pacing, tone, and atmosphere in a graphic novel are strongly affected by the artwork, so there's an additional visual/aesthetic aspect to consider in recommendations." Kim also provides an annotated list of graphic novels for adults who are new to reading such books. PLCMC's "Reader's Club" also contains a list of graphic novels... for adults.

This topic also stems out to adults reading Young Adult Fiction (like me :)). I work in a youth department of a public library, and more often than not, I get adults visiting our department for YA books. When I was a junior in college, I had a Children's Literature professor who thought this was simply preposterous. Is it odd for adults to read YA books? I don't think so. Some of the best books I have read are YA fiction.

I guess the point of this blog is to ask the question: "Are adults reading graphic novels?"

If they are, what are they reading? Are librarians recommending graphic novels to adults? Are graphic novels included in readalike lists? If so, which titles are included? If not, why aren't they included? Many graphic novels exhibit the same likable qualities of other novels, such as fast-pacing, suspense, romance, character development, rich descriptions of the setting, etc. These qualities exist in graphic novels, and are enhanced by the visual aspects from the artist.

While I understand that graphic novels do not appeal to many people, I still think it's worth a shot for us librarians to shine some more light on them. Some adult readers may not be aware of this format, and we can introduce them to a new way of reading.

This may not be too "deep" of a topic, but it is definitely worth thinking about.

Kim, Ann. "Graphic Grown up." Library Journal (1976) 134, no. 13 (August 2009): 20-2. Library Lit & Inf Full Text, WilsonWeb (accessed February 20, 2010).

Friday, February 12, 2010

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

ISBN: 0743247531

Simon & Schuster, 2005

304 pages

Written by journalist Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle is a recollection of growing up poor with parents constantly on the move.

Walls writes about her rags-to-riches life, from her childhood neglect by her artsy and libertarian parents to her (and her siblings') escape to New York City. Her father, an "entrepreneur" and an alcoholic, is portrayed as a freedom-loving individual with distaste for authority (especially creditors). He dreams big, with his invention of a gold-digging tool, The Prospector, and his plans for an energy efficient home, The Glass Castle. This distaste for authority convinces him to "do the skedaddle," gathering his belongings, wife, and children and moving from town to town. Walls' mother is also a freedom-loving individual, who would rather paint than nurture her four children. Walls and her siblings are forced to fend for themselves throughout their lives, after being taught by their parents to con and shoplift. Walls even fashions her own braces to fix her buckteeth. After growing up watching their parents con their way out of and escape trouble, Walls and her siblings create a plan in which each of them, one by one, leave for New York City for a better life. Not long after Walls and her siblings move, Walls discovers her mother in New York City, sifting through a dumpster for food. Walls' mother tells her "Being homeless is an adventure." Walls and her siblings leave their parents to fend for themselves, since that is how their parents have lived and always will live. However, Walls' love and respect for her parents, despite their self-absorption, flows through the book.

This tell-it-like-it-is memoir of Walls' childhood neglect is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story in one. Sad and compassionate, yet empowering.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Truth Catcher, Suspense Annotation

Truth Catcher by Anna Salter combines suspense, love, and relationships all focusing on a central character, Breeze Copen. Breeze narrates the majority of the book, and introduces herself as a synesthete – a person who sees colors when someone speaks. This condition is a central theme in the book, as it helps her determine the truth (hence the title.) Her condition also adds to the suspense of the story, since nobody but a few close friends know Breeze sees colors when people speak. There are two main story lines throughout the book, one of which is suspenseful. Breeze is a forensic psychologist who interviews and evaluates sex offenders to determine if they should be allowed to leave prison, or be civilly committed for treatment. The book begins with Breeze interviewing Daryl Collins, a “common criminal” whose prison sentence was increased after raping and beating a previous therapist. His argument for release is strong, as he is “born again” and has committed no other crimes while in prison. However, Breeze can see what others cannot see. The colors surrounding his voice tell her that he is lying. On paper, he passes all evaluations and should be released. It isn’t until Breeze notices a figure of a young girl among Daryl’s colors that she decides he is hiding something. The young girl she sees sticks in Breeze’s mind, and she does whatever she can to find out who that little girl is.

While Breeze is attempting to figure out how she can find the true story of the little girl and Daryl Collins, she is encountered with a life-changing moment. Breeze finds out that a long-lost childhood friend is in an abusive relationship. Through quite a twist of events, Breeze ends up with her friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Lily. The majority of the book is about Breeze balancing Lily and chasing the truth about Collins. Breeze’s life is endangered after Collin’s brother, “Trash,” finds out about a psychologist snooping around their past. Trash’s name fits him, and he is a dangerous criminal who has an ability to escape being tied to and caught for his crimes.

While there are elements of suspense in this book, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone looking for that “on the edge of your seat” feeling. When I read this book, I was more involved in the storyline of Breeze’s friend and Lily. Salter also focuses a lot of attention on Breeze’s relationship with her own mother. The end of the book focused more on this situation, and very quickly summed up the outcome of Daryl Collins and his brother. However, it is a fast-paced read, and the disbursement of suspenseful scenarios kept me turning the pages.

Truth Catcher by Anna Salter (ISBN: 1-933648-25-2)

Published by Pegasus Books LLC, 2006.

Suspense Fiction, 281 pages

Monday, January 18, 2010

What about me?

Hello, all! I'm Allison and this is my blog for S524 - Adult Reader's Advisory. I am 23 years young, and in my last semester of IUPUI's SLIS program. I work part-time at Hammond Public Library in the Youth Services department. After I graduate I would like to go into Reference. This semester is going to be a rough one for me, as I am commuting from Northwest Indiana ("The Region") to Indianapolis twice a week. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, right?

I have little spare time, but when I do have some, I enjoy baking, crafting, reading, and spending time with my wonderful family, friends, and boyfriend. As for my interests in books, I like just about everything. I really enjoy memoirs. My interest in graphic novels peaked after reading Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Blankets by Craig Thompson. One of my favorite books is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. No, I haven't seen the movie yet.

I'm looking forward to this class; nothing is better than learning more about the varieties of books.

Just for fun, this is my new best friend - My sister's dog, Sadie. I recently moved in with my sister and her husband, and Sadie keeps me company... and keeps me warm after she sneaks into my bed at night!