The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This book is on International ray. I got it from taniazed, Australia, and will travel next to Wandering-B, Hong Kong. It had 8 journalers before me. I also read it for the discussion at thereadinglounge.com

I got really annoyed at the beginning of how much the main character (a 16 years old kid) use damn, goddamn, and “… and all”. Not because they’re damn swear words. It’s just that he used it too goddamn much and all. You know the voice in your head when you read and all? I needed to change it to a certain damn pitch. A 16 years old with goddamn thick old American accent. Otherwise I would get goddamn annoyed as hell. After a while his “voice” stuck in my head though and I got through the novel more easily :)

I had no idea what the book was about when I first started, so I had no expectation whatsoever. Do you see the white cover there? That’s exactly how the book is. No blurb at the back cover or anything. I kept waiting for something to happen but nothing did. After a few chapters I just enjoyed the boy’s musings and observations of everything around him and things happened in his life. They’re brutally honest and often downright funny.

My favorite part is probably when Holden (that’s the main character’s name) told a story about his roommate that had a cheap suitcase. How he said people with uglier suitcase depressed the hell out of him.

“At first he only used to be kidding when he called my stuff bourgeois, and I didn’t give a damn- it was sort of funny, in fact. Then, after a while, you could tell he wasn’t kidding any more. The thing is, it’s really hard to be roommates with people if your suitcases are much better than theirs- if yours are really good ones and theirs aren’t. You think if they’re intelligent and all, the other person, and have a good sense of humor, that they don’t give a damn whose suitcases are better, but they do. They really do. It’s one of the reasons why I roomed with a stupid bastard like Stradlater. At least his suitcases were as good as mine.” ~ chapter 15 pg109

I can’t explain why I like this part. Maybe because he’s innocently honest. Things that we don’t want to admit as adults. It’s social strata, starting right there. It’s there and even if you pretend it’s not.

I also found it interesting that the whole book just covered about 2 days. It felt like a lot of time had passed for Holden. Or like how he’d say it, it’s like 50 million years had passed lol.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5
As good as the book is, Holden’s experience is not something I can relate to. I wasn’t born in New York 1950s. I was born in one of the most dangerous countries in the world. If I had decided to run away from home as a teenager and roam around in streets and cheap hotel, somebody probably would’ve stolen my kidney and sold me to beggar pimp or something. Holden is a spoiled brat. The number of times he took cabs and referred to how he “felt like” or “didn’t feel like” to do stuff almost drove me crazy. But I guess any reader would agree that this main character is not exactly likeable :)

More Quotes

“The trouble with girls is, if they like a boy, no matter how big a bastard he is, they’ll say he has an inferiority complex, and if they don’t like him, no matter how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority complex he has, they’ll say he’s conceited. Even smart girls do it.” ~ Holden, pg136

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” ~ pg188

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I picked up the book from Moonriver Cafe (Singapore Official Bookcrossing Zone). It was registered by birmingham-rose in UK, and has got 9 journalers across 5 countries since.

This is the type of book I read because everybody reads it. Quite unexpectedly though, I enjoyed it. It’s quite an easy reading. I’m not sure if it’s really as good as everybody else claims it to be though. I mean, for me it’s definitely not 5 stars, or even 4. Maybe 3.5. But lately I’ve been stingy with my stars, so there you go.

From the back cover:
My name is Salmon, like the fish: first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertiliser.

The story is taken from Susie’s point of view, from heaven. This way she can see everybody and everything. Her family, father, mother, younger sister, and younger brother, her friends, her highschool crush, and, of course, her murderer. I kinda like a lot of the characters in the story, with the exception of her mom. Her selfish selfish mom. I wouldn’t spoil it for you, so go ahead and read it.

I like the description of heaven in the book. How people have different heaven, and how you need to let go of the world if you want to be really in heaven. How you share your heaven with other people, only if you want the same things in your heaven. It makes me almost believe that, yeah maybe heaven IS like that. A good chance that it could be that.

I think the fact that the story is told by the murdered girl in heaven is the key that makes the book interesting. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be that profound.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5
Easy enjoyable reading. I like Sebold’s style of writing. I would say it’s high 3.5, but I can’t give it 4. At the end of the day, it just didn’t make me go WOW. I don’t know why. Maybe there are some less than satisfying elements in the story. *spoiler alert* (highlight to see) Like the end of the murderer. I guess it would be more satisfying if they caught him at the end for a closure. But on the other hand, it’s a good representation of life. Sometimes you just won’t know everything. You just have to go on with life. I like how the family can go through their misery at the end, even without a proper ‘closure’. It’s life. You survive or you die.

Awards
Longlisted for 2003 Orange Prize for Fiction

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

This book is on International ray. I got it from onniManni, Finland. It’s organized by bearyfriend, Singapore.

Let me start my review by boldly stating that I hated the book. Hate it hate it hate it. There.

Sure, the main plot is good. A doctor who found out that his newborn twins were one healthy and one with down syndrome, decided in split-second that he didn’t want the retarded baby girl. He gave her away to the nurse who helped the birth, asking her to take the baby to an institution who takes care this kind of babies. Instead of doing that, the nurse ran away and raising the baby as her own. The doctor told his wife that the baby’s dead. The story is split in two, taking the view from both families.

Interested? Well, I was too. Until I got to the first chapter, and quickly realized that the author couldn’t pull things together. I couldn’t care about the attempted poetic prose. The author just keeps going on and on, trying to make things sound beautiful, when they’re simply boring. This book can easily be cut in half without losing anything. OR the author could tell us more details about the characters, or the details of events, or more stuff, ANYTHING. Just don’t go one more time about how the blue her eyes are, or how the day is snowy. My Gosh.

I need to quote this hilarious paragraph, just to give you an idea.
“A breeze lifted the curtains. Outside, the dogwood was a bright cloud against the dark planks of the fence. David paused in his reading, watching the white petals fall and drift. He felt both comforted and troubled by their beauty, trying not to notice that they looked, from this distance, like snow.” So what if the petals look like snow? SO WHAT? What’s your point? Why is he trying not to notice that they look like snow? WHY? Really!

Seriously. Just imagine at least 1/3 of the book is full of this crap. On and on and on… It’s like listening to someone who’s trying to show that she’s smart, and failed miserably.

*SPOILER WARNING*

And don’t even get me started on the characters. Gosh. They’re the most shallow, unbelievable, and unlikeable bunch all put together in one novel. David whinny and undecided (confess? or not? confess? or not?). Norah childish and whinny. Caroline boring and pathetic. I cannot feel anything for any of them. They’re not even believable. Somehow the author tried so hard not to go into anything sexual, which I found fair at the beginning, I could think of them as asexual, until one of them starting to have several extra-marital affairs. It’s just ridiculous for one character to do this, moreover without any guilt whatsoever, when the readers are not given any insight into their sexual life! It just doesn’t work that way! Norah stiffed and felt so uncomfortable when David was as much as putting his hand on her back, which drove me crazy with question, so do you guys still have sex? Isn’t it the most natural thing in the world to let the readers know if the husband and wife still have sex or not when one of them starts taking off her clothes and having sex around with stranger? So apparently the characters are as irritating as the author’s writing.

Last but not least, the author KILLED the main character. Can it go any more cliché? Just kill the main character and everything will be resolved, right? Gosh.. And one more thing, how the hell can you just BURY a coffin without anything inside? Doesn’t anyone check? Does it mean people can start killing babies declaring that they died in birth? Nobody checks the coffin nor the baby right? This fact was nagging me at the back of my mind like nuts.

I hated this book with passion. I only finished it because despite all the flaws, I still wanted to see how it ended. Then the author KILLED the main character. Great. My agony was complete.

Ratings: 2 out of 5
At least I could finish it. I didn’t give 1 out of 5 because I know some people enjoy it, so its existence on earth is not entirely futile. I would stay away from Kim Edwards though. She’s blacklisted in my reading world.

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