Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (YA) 4 Stars ****

Set in 1986 Omaha, Nebraska, sixteen-year-olds Eleanor and Park initially meet each other on the school bus. Eleanor, being the new kid— unattractive, ill-at-ease, poorly dressed, defensive— finds herself the butt of many jokes from the bus and school bullies. Park comes to her defense and soon develops a crush on Eleanor. Eleanor returns the feelings.

The story is told in alternating short narratives which reinforces how different these two characters are from each other. Eleanor is Caucasian, sloppily dressed, wild red curly hair, from a highly dysfunctional, poor family with four siblings and her mother’s drunken husband spreading fear on a daily basis. Eleanor’s mother tries passively to protect her children. Eleanor receives very little encouragement and often bears the brunt of her step-father’s anger which we later learn comes from sexual tension on the stepfather’s part.

Park is a handsome Caucasian-Asian, trendy, well-liked, popular, from a middle class functional family with one brother and two parents who love and respect each other. Park’s mother works as a hairdresser from her home and shares the parental power in the household. Park is guided, encouraged, and treated fairly.

What do they have in common? They both are in some Honors classes together and they share their love of music and poetry. Eleanor loves Park’s steadfast loyalty and Park loves Eleanor’s quiet strength in her difficult situation.

This is a sweet, realistic story of tentative romance demonstrating how sometimes painfully opposites attract. Chapter One starts off with a whole lot of cursing—”It so fucking does!”—”You’re full of shit.”—”Jesus-fuck…”—to name a few. Thankfully, this is not repeated in the rest of the book. The sex scenes are not explicit—mostly very tender undressing, touching, kissing—without intercourse or oral stimulation.

The reader learns that what appears to be may not actually tell the story. Secret, negative actions were attributed to the wrong people. Sometimes people don’t have choices in their lives. For example, if someone dresses “funny” it may mean that’s all they have from donations in clothing boxes, hand-me-downs, clearance merchandise. Not wearing make-up? Some parents do not allow it, so it’s not always a personal choice. You get the idea. Unless we walk a mile in someone’s shoes…

The ending, although realistic in many ways, is not satisfactory. Eleanor is sheltered but she closes herself off to contact with Park. It all hurts too much and she cannot seem to find the words except on the last page when her postcard message “just three words long.” What three words? The reader must surmise. Also, Eleanor does not share any information about her new circumstances at her uncle’s home other than she is enrolled in school to finish the last month before summer vacation. I wanted to hear more from Eleanor, but it seems she is just not capable of sharing her life. The separation from Park and her siblings is just too much to bear.

We believe Eleanor’s siblings and mother may also have been extricated from the horror they lived. For me, it’s unconscionable to show examples of neglect, abuse, and hopelessness and not give explicit information as to how these characters are given a helping hand. After all, this is a story of fiction, not real life, so I do not want to continue to unnecessarily feel the heartache for these characters when the story is finished.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Advertisements

You Can Now Borrow My Books From Syosset & Huntington Libraries, NY!

Great news! Printed copies of my books are now available for borrowing from Syosset Public Library, 225 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Syosset, LI, NY 516-921-7161 AND the Huntington Library, 338 Main St., Huntington, LI, NY 631-427-5165.

Printed copies of my books are also available for inter-library loan at Queens Library, Nassau County Library, and Suffolk County Library in New York.

The digital copies are available in Queens Public Library and may be available in other library systems throughout the country. If your library cannot provide access to these books, please ask them to purchase in digital or paperback formats to add to their collection.

My Book Titles

Middle Grade…(8-12 year olds )

The Science Project
The Ocean’s Way
Who Do Voodoo?
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion

12 – Adult…

Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

In New York, this is where you can find my printed books:

The physical copies are available from the Queens Library system at Central Library, Jamaica; Bay Terrace Library in Bayside; Whitestone Library in Whitestone. Or, you can borrow through inter-library loan if you’re a Queens County library patron.

Also, the physical copies are also located in the East Hampton Library, Huntington Library, Port Washington Library, Manhasset Library, Syosset Library. Suffolk and Nassau County library patrons can borrow through inter-library loan online.

Happy reading! If you do decide to borrow my books from the library, please remember to write a review on the library website.

Thanks,

Elaine

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Book Review: The Road to Ever After by Moira Young (MG)

Book Review: The Road to Ever After by Moira Young (MG) 2 Stars **

We meet thirteen-year-old Davy David, orphaned at birth, now living on his own in Brownvale in the graveyard where his mother, who died giving birth to him, is buried. Davy doesn’t know quite where, but he chooses a spot he likes, tends to a briar rose bush he plants in her memory, and considers this his home. Davy was in an orphanage that went out of business so to speak, and he was left at the age of nine to fend for himself, grateful for the sporadic odd job that enables him to buy food and for the negligible kindness of some local adults.

The mean-spirited parson is a hypocritical, secret drunk who cheats on his wife. The neighborhood boys bully poor Davy. A homeless, scruffy dog attaches himself to Davy. Davy does not attend school but is a frequent visitor to the public library where he educates himself, especially about angels found in classic books of art. Davy is also an exceptional artist who leaves etchings of angels in the dirt wherever he goes. Just as his “home” is destroyed by the nefarious parson, Davy meets wealthy Miss Elizabeth Flint, an about to turn eighty, witchy, crotchety old woman who drafts Davy into her service. She pays him for driving her to her ancestral home to attend to her important business—” a three-day passage of the soul to its final embarkation point to the great beyond.”   A friendship develops and Davy’s life is changed forever.

Does this remind you of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist?

While this is a somewhat charming book, I’m not sure how relatable this story is for today’s young reader. The book has a copyright date of 2016. It has an old-fashioned feel but the setting’s time and place are ambiguous. The reader must suspend belief to accept that thirteen year old Davy can suddenly drive cars, motorcycles, and trucks while being chased by their rightful owners and the police. Is this child actually living unattended on the streets and in a cemetery of this unholy town?  Where in the world is Brownvale, anyway? The book is meant to portray a spiritual journey—Davy helps Miss Flint’s spirit travel to its final resting place. After all, Miss Flint is already dead!  Yes, and they even hold a wake with Miss Flint’s restless soul, Davy, and George , the dog, in attendance. Let’s not forget that Miss Flint is now aging backwards and has the beauty and physical stamina that were hers when she was in her twenties. Admirable, of course, but the entire book lacks spirit and has so much thrown in, it’s a hodge-podge of many different books. Disjointed. Disconnected. Out of context. Everything comes out of left field.

By the way, I hate, hate, hate the ending. SPOILER ALERT! Guess who inherits all of Miss Flint’s wealth and property? BUT, Davy will still be alone in the world, although next door to kindly Mr. Blye, his sweet wife, his mother-in-law, and his friendly, loving four children. Is this supposed to be a satisfactory ending for an orphan, still only thirteen years of age, to have great neighbors? Is this supposed to fill the hole in Davy’s heart?

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Many Thanks to Debbie DeLouise & St. Stephen’s For a Wonderful Authors Fair

Many thanks to Debbie DeLouise and St. Stephen’s Church, Hicksville, NY for a wonderful Authors Fair November 3, 2018!

Book Review: Hero by Jennifer Li Shotz

Book Review: Hero by Jennifer Li Shotz  (MG) 3 Stars ***

A charming story for dog lovers and kids. Hero, a highly skilled black Labrador , now retired police dog, lives with twelve-year-old Ben and his family in Gulfport, Mississippi. “Hero was more than just a regular police dog in the K-9 unit—he was also trained as a search-and-rescue dog. Hero and Ben’s dad had been partners on the Gulfport police force for eight years. In that time, Hero had busted a lot of criminals—and saved a lot of lives.” And to boot, Hero also saved Ben’s life! No exaggeration.

Hero and Ben are inseparable. One fateful day, they encounter an adorable, terrified puppy that shows signs of painful wounds indicative of being prey at the local, hard to locate dog fighting ring. Ben takes the puppy to the veterinarian for emergency treatment, names him Scout, and is given parental  permission for temporary foster care until they can find the true owner or another permanent home.

A suspicious looking man is often seen lurking around Ben’s house. Whenever Scout sees him, he trembles and whines. Hero stands between Mitch, Ben, and Scout a number of times letting Mitch know he’d better keep his distance. Ben later finds out this man, Mitch, runs the dog fighting ring. Suddenly, Hero and Scout are missing. Ben takes his best friend Noah on a dangerous quest to search for the beloved dogs. After bloody traumatic injuries, confrontations, and threats, Ben’s father shows up in the nick of time to save the day. This vicious, heartless ring is broken up and all participants are brought to justice.

Ben is an admirable character —responsible, hard working, caring, generous, and fair-minded. However, his independent spirit causes him to put himself, Hero, and Noah in a dangerous situation. The story is pleasant and changes to exciting near the end, but not anything we haven’t heard before. The reader must sometimes suspend belief. Interactions with the “bad guys” are unrealistic and might serve to set a bad example for young readers to think they can outwit adult criminal types. Overall, a pleasant dog story of friendship and integrity.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

St. Stephen’s Fall Author Fair-Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, Hicksville, NY-Please Join Me!

Please Join Me!

St. Stephen’s Fall Author Fair

2-5 PM

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Book Review: Once by Morris Gleitzman (MG) (YA)

Book Review: Once by Morris Gleitzman 4 Stars ****

A Holocaust story from a child’s perspective. MG for language and plot complexity. YA for seriousness of subject.

Young Polish Jewish boy Felix, lives in a Catholic orphanage with other children who are being shielded from Nazi cruelty. It’s been 3 years 8 months since Felix’s parents sent him to hide in this mountainous institution run by Catholic nuns. Felix is old enough to take on some responsibilities, but young enough to believe his parents are alive and in trouble because they sold books, which in his mind is obviously something Nazis just don’t like. His superficial, naive view of events has a twofold effect: exasperation for his denial and heartache that his young mind cannot comprehend the horror that has overtaken the  people in that part of the world.

Although he is very well treated at the orphanage, Felix runs away to find his parents. It is during this journey of fear, horrors, and deprivation that the reality of the situation slowly unfolds in Felix’s consciousness. He meets up with a brave Polish Jewish man, Barney, who has made it his mission to save Jewish children from the Nazis. Felix demonstrates bravery, empathy, and responsibility when he assumes the role of caretaker for needy children and endangers his own life in helping Barney keep the other children safe and in good health.

I hate, hate, hate the ending of this story. No, actually it does not end. It stops. Just when Felix and a younger child come to a crossroads, that’s where the story stops. So, what happens to them? Felix tells us, “I don’t know what the rest of my story will be. It could end in  a few minutes, or tomorrow, or next year…However my story turns out, I’ll never forget how lucky I am. Barney said everybody deserves to have something good in their life at least once. I have. More than once.”

Come on, Morris. You couldn’t write one more chapter to give the reader a satisfactory ending?

“This story is inspired by the real Janusz Korczak, a Polish Jewish doctor and children’s author who devoted his life to caring for young people. Over many years he helped run an orphanage for two hundred Jewish children. In 1942, when the Nazis murdered these orphans, Janusz Korczak was offered his freedom but chose to die with the children rather than abandon them.”

Despite the author’s statement of idolizing Janusz Korczak, he short changes this heroic man and his main character, Felix, by not developing the story in more detail. The light-hearted, wide-eyed tone of voice detracts from the seriousness of the story. Still, it made its point. How could it not?

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Book Signing at St. Stephen’s, Hicksville, NY-Please Join Me!

Please Join Me!                                          

St. Stephen’s Fall Author Fair

2-5 PM

Saturday, November 3, 2018

 

Book Review: The Confidence Code For Girls by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

Book Review: The Confidence Code For Girls by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (MG) (YA) 5 Stars *****

By the way, I don’t see why this book wouldn’t be helpful to boys also.

What’s the message of this book? ” Taking Risks, Messing Up, & Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self!” This is a how-to book with lots of visuals—cartoons, speech bubbles, different fonts, cute little quizzes and assessments, outlines for setting goals—with input from women in a multi-generational, high achieving family with their heads on straight. Great for middle grade and high school girls who need a self-confidence boost and/ or a guide for setting and achieving goals despite negative comments and subversive actions from people who need to be ignored! A fun and helpful, user-friendly read.

“What is confidence, anyway? Confidence is what turns our thoughts into action. You can think of it like a math formula:
Thoughts + Confidence=Action.

“One big thing that confidence is NOT: It’s not about how you look. It’s about how you act, and who you are.

* Find Role Models-look for daring, incredible girls and women
* Look Out For Fakers-those who put others down to puff themselves up
* Shout It Out-praise others who show confidence by taking positive action

“Break it down, assess risks, break out of comfort zones, take small steps, get comfortable being uncomfortable, be your own coach, don’t be afraid of failure, stop trying to be perfect, set goals, ask for help, and say it like you mean it!”

That’s all? Yes, it’s as easy as that.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Book Review: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (YA)

Book Review: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (Young Adult) 3 Stars ***

I’m always on the look-out for books that represent a different segment of the population—different countries, different problems, different solutions. Books should be relatable for the reader. All books may not touch our hearts in the same way. We might identify directly with the main character’s situation, or we might know of someone whose life is portrayed in the story. This book tells about Veda, a teenager living in India, whose avocation is dancing, but who has lost her right leg below the knee in a terrible car accident.

Veda is fitted with a prosthetic device that enables her to dance again after much struggle and determination. Veda has a love interest. She receives negative attention and taunts from strangers and school mates respectively. The problem for me is the author does a lot of telling, and not enough showing. While I intellectually felt bad for Veda, my heart was not touched by her story. The story lacks heart and emotional involvement.

The story is written in verse, but not consistently good verse. Instead of paragraphs, the author uses line breaks. There is little rhythm, pattern, or reason here. To me, it’s disjointed and choppy, and not a technique to be imitated unless the student knows to use it sparingly, at poignant moments, and not as a narrative device. When used appropriately, it’s an effective imagistic device. When used throughout to move the story along, it tends to pretend events are far more important than what they are. I believe a combination of narrative and verse would have made a more effective book.

Examples of successful verse showing Veda’s strength of character:

At the beginning of the story, “Veda tells us,
” I’m a palm tree swaying in a storm wind.”

Immediately after a successful performance, Veda says,
” I can dance beauty into my body.”

After her terrible car accident Veda says,”
“I want to tell the nurses no scale can measure
the pain of my dreams
dancing beyond reach.”

After an outstanding performance with the help of her prosthetic device Veda tells the reader,
“Music
fills and lifts
me.

My body feels small as a speck of silvered dust
swirling upward in a cone of moonlight.

I dance
dance
dance.

Beyond
movement
for one long moment:
shared
stillness.”

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: