Books Read October 2008

Flying Changes by Sara Gruen
Annemarie Zimmer's is kind of a neurotic scaredy cat. She worries about her relationship, her daughter Eva's dreams of riding a horse to Olympic glory, and her own demons of a horrible riding accident long ago. This woman just can’t make peace with her past and lets it ruin her present.
Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants was a real gem, so I decided to try one of her earlier works. Sorry Sara, but although Flying Changes was written well, the story was dusty and nothing very special. I’ve got high hopes for her new book Ape House, due out spring 2009.

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III
April is a stripper with a problem – what to do with her three-year old daughter when the usual babysitter ends up in the hospital. Gee, instead of taking the night off and letting somebody else make a few bucks, she decides to have her daughter watch children's videos in the office while she works. Of course something’s gotta’ go wrong at the Puma Club for Men – like er, her daughter goes missing! Could it be the disgruntled patron, the quirky foreigner with loads of money to burn, or some random pedophile? The story is set weeks and days before 9-11, and I felt the same psychological tension, and realism that Dubus's mastered in his previous book House of Sand and Fog — but the ending was weak-weak-weak.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
Twelve year-old Ren was left at the Saint Anthony Orpahnage when he was just an infant. He grew up wondering what events could have lead his Mother to abandon him -- especially since he has tangible proof that she loved him dearly. Like all the residents at the orphanage he longs for a home and parents. But once prospective parents see he’s missing his left hand, well, he’s passed over. Miraculously one day a man appears claiming to be his long-lost brother. So, it’s off with his brother and soon he’s introduced to a world of scam artists and petty thieves. The “brothers” end up in the lucrative, if not messy, business of robbing graves – which is difficult for the pious Ren to cope with.
Wow what a story-line! I thought I’d found a great read because the first half was so intriguing. Unfortunately the story ran out of steam and by the last chapter I was really disappointed.

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
O.K. this is what I’m pretty sure of… there’s an unsolved murder in the small off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The Ojibwe tribe, living on the nearby reservation, and the people of Pluto are at odds for the next generation over this travesty -- even though there are some inner-marriages and their lives intertwine. Everything else is sort of a blur. Maybe I should have taken notes. Help! Is there a Cliff Notes on this book??
Louise Erdrich's is one of my favorite writers and this is her first book in almost three years – but it addles my brain. I honestly don’t think a reader should have to work that hard to keep characters and plot straight. Maybe in college, but not pleasure reading.