Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Title Love

I apologize for a few less blog posts than usual over the last week or so. I have been traveling for the holidays and expected to have more computer access than I had.

But now I'm back to business as usual with an installment of "title love." These books include some seriously fabulous titles that are sure to peak your interest.

1. Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielson

Here's the description:
Violet's TV-director dad has traded a job in Vancouver for one in Los Angeles, their run-down house for a sleek ranch-style home complete with a pool, and, worst of all, Violet's mother for a trophy wife, a blonde actress named Jennica. Violet's younger sister reacts by bed-wetting, and her mother ping-pongs from one loser to another, searching for love. As for Violet, she gets angry in ways that are by turns infuriating, shocking, and hilarious.

When her mother takes up with the unfortunately named Dudley Wiener, Violet and her friend Phoebe decide that they need to take control. If Violet's mom can't pick a decent man herself, they will help her snag George Clooney.

My take:
I previously discussed Theo Nestor's How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed as a title I love. This book is, in some ways, the ying to that yang or vice versa. Nestor's book discussed the emotional trials of woman/mother/wife going through divorce while Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom chronicles a young girl's struggles through her parents' divorce and her mom's mid-life crisis all while dealing with the normal adolescent angst of young adulthood.

The title is really fun as is the George Clooney weave-in in the storyline. More deeply, it reminds us of that cusp of time of being both naive and having our naivete stripped away.

2. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Here's the description:
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

My take:
When I saw this book in the bookstore I had to pick it up. The name was quirky and intriguing plus the cool cover of a delicious piece of cake with a shadow of a person gave a seemingly innocent cover an edge to it.

3. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt also by Aimee Bender

Here's the description:
A grief-stricken librarian decides to have sex with every man who enters her library. A half-mad, unbearably beautiful heiress follows a strange man home, seeking total sexual abandon: He only wants to watch game shows. A woman falls in love with a hunchback; when his deformity turns out to be a prosthesis, she leaves him. A wife whose husband has just returned from the war struggles with the heartrending question: Can she still love a man who has no lips?

Aimee Bender's stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. From the first line of each tale she lets us know she is telling a story, but the moral is never quite what we expect. Bender's prose is glorious: musical and colloquial, inimitable, and heartrending.

My take:
I just stumbled across this book and it's definitely on my "to be read" list. It's rocking 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and I just have such a soft spot for witty titles that make you do a double-take in the store.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Here's a review:
What is most notable about this funny, touching, memorable first novel from Stephen Chbosky is the resounding accuracy with which the author captures the voice of a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood. Charlie is a freshman. And while's he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age, and gender, a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen's story. Charlie encounters the same struggles that many kids face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings:

I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.

With the help of a teacher who recognizes his wisdom and intuition, and his two friends, seniors Samantha and Patrick, Charlie mostly manages to avoid the depression he feels creeping up like kudzu. When it all becomes too much, after a shocking realization about his beloved late Aunt Helen, Charlie retreats from reality for awhile. But he makes it back in due time, ready to face his sophomore year and all that it may bring. Charlie, sincerely searching for that feeling of "being infinite," is a kindred spirit to the generation that's been slapped with the label X.

My take:
A blog I follow and which I highly recommend to you is Confessions From Suite 500, written by a group of young literary agents. This book had previously slipped under my radar until I read this very moving post they wrote about it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower seems to counter the belief--or even pressure--to be outgoing and noticed and notable. It tells us a little about the main character and about their perspective. It's intriguing and evocative.

What great titles have you seen lately?

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