My Name is Lucy Barton
Elizabeth Strout (Adult Fiction)
Lucy Barton is a woman recovering from what should have been a simple operation. During her convalescence, her mother sits by her hospital bed and the two begin to idly gossip about hometown neighbors while languishing in their own shortcomings.
This book received mostly positive reviews and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, although it’s hard for me to understand why. The story was forgettable, uninspiring, and left me with little to no lasting impression. Lucy and her mother are unsympathetic, and their constant self-pitying and self-loathing become quite tedious and tiresome.
Tween & Teen Tuesday
Every Tuesday, we review either a juvenile (J) or young adult (YA) book
The Devil’s Arithmetic
Jane Yolen (Young Adult Historical Fiction)
The goal is to stay alive. One day after the next after the next. One plus one plus one. The devil’s arithmetic.
Thirteen-year old Hannah Stern is not looking forward to celebrating the upcoming Passover Seder. She is bored with her family’s stories of the past. In fact, every Jewish holiday seems to be yet another occasion to relive those bad memories. But this year, Hannah will be transported into the past and it won’t be long before she desires the comfort and safety of what the future once held.
This period in history is horrific and harrowing, and the stories told by the Holocaust survivors still tear at our very soul and question our humanity. In the afterward, Yolen describes the heroism of the camp’s survivors: “To witness. To remember. These were the only victories of the camps.” This story and its characters will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page. May we never forget.