Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

When you hear the writer Wally Lamb's name, you expect nothing but great writing. After all he did bring us She's Come Undone & I Know This Much is True.  His new book We Are Water, due out in November, is a very good book.
It is the story of the Oh family.  Annie Oh is a housewife to Orion Oh who is a college pysch counselor. They have three children, a boy & two girls. Annie discovers her artistic side when she starts making collage type pieces of art work in the basement of the family home while the kids are sleeping. These pieces of work tend to lean toward anger and violence, so you begin to wonder what secrets Annie is hiding. But wait... there is a  story within the story ... a tale of a talented black artist, working as a laborer many years before, who happened to live on the same property as the Oh's now do.  Annie's work brings Viveca, a NY art dealer into her life and after 27 years of marriage, Annie decides to divorce Orion and marry Viveca. Add murder and floods, and you have a story that is just barreling toward a tragic end.
This is a complex story, where the past and the present are uniquely intertwined. There came a point in the reading of this book that I really believed the Oh family had to have been cursed somewhere along the line. So many just plain bad things were happening to good people.

I did enjoy Lamb's "We Are Water"   and recommend it for good fall reading.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau

It's 1983 in Berkeley, California. Twenty-year-old Allie Dodgson is a straitlaced college student working part-time at a dress shop to make ends meet. But when the shop turns out to be a front for a dangerous drug-dealing business, Allie finds herself on the lam, speeding toward Los Angeles in her best friend's Prelude with a Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine riding shotgun and a hit man named Vice Versa on her tail.

And so I decided this would be a good summer read. I was thinking it would kind of be Thelma & Louise-y, in the beginning. As the story moves on, it gets a bit out there and a bit unbelievable. Straightlaced girl gets involved in drugs and sex, literally overnight? Not that I am a stickler for true to life, by any means. But I mean this girl makes one wrong move after another. She has an ultra beautiful mother, who left the family to join an aging rock star and his band. Her dad had a restaurant and then he mysteriously closes shop and she loses contact. Her closest friend is held captive by drug dealers as Allie runs around trying to sell the stolen cocaine (in a Wonder bread bag)  to raise money for her college tuition. All while avoiding this hit man called Vice Versa who is after her. 

The story was very fast paced, true and may be a good read for a college student, but not for a seasoned reader.  I just could not connect with any of the characters or story line for that matter. The writing just didn't hook me. So you can pass this one by, there are sooo many other great books out there:)