Monday, December 18, 2006

From the Stacks Challenge: Book #2

Ok, so I'm slow. But I'm plugging along and I am making progress plodding through my Stacks. The bad new is, I've broken the vow not to buy any books until after the holidays. I got a Barnes & Noble gift card as recognition from my company for a job well done recently, and as a reward for avoiding Midnight Munchies (waking up in the middle of the night and eating, which was a habit I'd gotten into for a while) I treated myself to two new books. Both have to do with becoming a more effective reader: Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose and How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. I guess I'll be adding those to my TBR challenge list (which starts in January).

But the good news is, I finished The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult over the weekend. I was loving this story so much that I almost didn't want to finish it. Jodi Picoult has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and this book was no exception.

Here are just a few things I love about Picoult's books, and this one in particular:

  • She has an amazing knack for pacing. Her stories unfold from multiple perspectives in a way that I envy and hope to emulate one day.
  • She researches her novels painstakingly and uses all that she learns to sprinkle her stories with just the right amount of detail. For this book, she was able to give readers a clear understanding of both the social lives of teenagers today, and the culture of the Yup'ik Eskimos.
  • She presents common human struggles beautifully within interesting and powerful situations and against unique backdrops, like the Alaskan tundra.
  • Her characters are deep, well-developed, and perfectly imperfect. For every fault, there is a redeeming quality. For every mistake, there is a chance for redemption. (Ok, maybe not always, but almost always.)
  • Her stories are at once about the specific and the general. She tackles powerful, broad subjects (like rape and suicide and family connectedness) through individual characters as well as the best literary authors I've ever read.

The Tenth Circle tells a story of love--a parent's love for his child, a child's love for her first boyfriend, and a wife's love for her husband. Jodi Picoult show us how easily that love can become twisted and distorted, and how difficult it can be to travel through the levels of hell that we create in order to redeem and mend the mistakes we've made.

I'd love to hear what others have to say about this book (or any other of Jodi Picoult's novels). I'm hoping to finish up Tough Choices by the end of the month, which leaves me with two more to complete by the end of January in order to make good on this challenge. I guess I better get to reading!

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