Monday, June 1, 2009

oh my stars

Time for (actually way overdue on) another book giveaway.
This was our latest book club read for May. I missed our meeting, but I'm happy that I still read the book. I really liked this one.

Lorna Landvik's Oh My Stars.
It's the story of a young woman named Violet who has had her share of struggles in her eighteen years; growing up in the Great Depression, mother left when she was six, an angry emotional wreck of a father, a hard time throughout school being tall and ugly and lonely (her own mother told her that often -before she left her), and then ultimately an accident at the age of sixteen in which she lost her arm. By the time she turned eighteen she had had enough of her depressing life and decided to take a bus across the country to the Golden Gate Bridge... to jump off. But along the way Life interferes and she finds herself along for a ride in a new life she never dreamed of and wanting to very much be alive for it.

It took me a chapter or two to get into the book. At first it seemed to me a rather typical woe-is-me story of an emotionally-void (other than abuse) single-parent kid and how would she come into her own. The intro of each chapter is the voice of Violet herself, as an elderly woman, sitting in a diner telling life stories to whoever is listening. Then each chapter morphs into a third person narrative of the happenings and personalities that are Violets' stories. I have to admit I liked the main meat of the chapters, the "narrator" or impartial commentator, rather than Violet's stories in her own voice. It's almost like those short intros were trying too hard... too much emotion, too much reflection, too many vague references. I just wanted to get on with the story.

To give you a taste, one of the 'Deep thoughts by Violet Mathers' quips though, that did really stand out to me was this one:
What are your thoughts on Nature vs. Nurture when it comes to personality? Do you believe that we come out of the chute with our personalities already in place, or do you believe that our upbringin is the bigger determiner of our natures?
My tent is staked in the first camp-- I know I was born with a good sense of humor (I don't believe it arises as a defense mechanism; if it did, all criminals would be funny) and a mean streak. But, if my mother had stuck around and my dad thought I was his greatest achievement, they would have applauded the humor and tempered the mean streak, so they wouldn't have bled so much into each other. They would have built up my assets and tamped down my liabilities. That's where the importance of nurturing comes in ; the already sculpted personality is not recast, but refined. Loving, caring families can sand and polish, but they can't chip away at a a lawn ornament and turn in into Michealangelo's David. Or vice versa.
Want another analogy? Regarding personality, I am convinced that at birth the cake is already baked. That's the Nature. Nurture is the nuts or the frosting, but if you're a spice cake you're a spice cake and nothing is going to change you into an angel food.

Love that :)

I found the characters in this book fabulous and I think they were written to be very real and relative. The emotional ups and downs, of not only Violet, but of all the characters and the relationships were intriguing and rang true.
What I loved was that there were quite a few bumps in the story. You'd be reading along thinking you've got the characters figured out, that you know where the story is leading, but then suddenly you don't. In a good way.
I even liked the ending, which is usually a sticky part for me. Especially in a story like this, with so many involved characters and different paths and choices each could have made, the different ways the story could turn out, it's easy to be disappointed in the end result. But this one was completely satisfying to me.

All that to say, I can't wait to pass this one on! I think you'll like it.
If you're interested in a slightly used paperback copy of Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik, I'm ready to send it right to your door. That is if you leave a comment on this post and if I randomly select your name as the winner on oh, shall we say, this Friday June 5th. (that means you need to leave a comment before Friday!)
Be sure your comment has a link back to your blog or your email so I can get ahold of the winner.

Thanks for reading about my reading! :)
Stay tuned for more giveaways!


Misti said...

Sounds good, I'm in!

anne said...

I think I've read two of her books (she's a native Minnesotan, and her daughter attended the school I used to work at). I was kind of "meh" about the books of hers I've read, but I'd love to give this one a try. Count me in!

Jac said...

That sounds interesting, Heather. I really like the quote as well. I am always up for a book recmmendation.

jessica said...

Just bought five books at a used bookstore, but I am always looking for a good read. This sounds good. I loved the quote too. I think it's right on.

Anyway, miss you, and count me in.

Mom said...

Sounds like a book I'd like to read,so throw my name in the pot.XOXOX

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