The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft ~ Fiction Book Review

23367927I have mixed feelings about this book. It was well written. It told a good story. It was emotionally compelling, crafted in a way that pulled at your heartstrings. It was relatable. It was easy to both identify and sympathize with the characters. But it was also based on an event that actually happened in the author’s life. So while I bought it as a work of fiction, I can’t help but feel that it is more a piece of creative nonfiction. And that leaves me feeling a bit cheated.

It’s not that I completely avoid nonfiction. I just prefer to chose the subject and add it to my reading diet when it  meshes well with my emotional appetite. I’m well aware that most fiction has roots based in real events, but the mere label of fiction allows me to distance myself and read it in an impassive state of  mind. Knowing that the story was based on something someone actually went through messed with my impression on the book.

Were my feelings appropriate? Was I supposed to feel more than I did? Is it strange that the only time I teared up was at the end when I read the author’s acknowledgement page? These are questions that I’m not supposed to have with fiction. That’s why I prefer to read it. I can cry when I want, laugh when I want, and judge the characters however I want because they’re not real. Reading this made me feel awkward and weird, but there is no denying that it was a good book. 4.5 stars.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult ~ Fiction Book Review

book25Another thought provoking read by bestselling author Jodi Picoult, this book pushes the boundaries – of tolerance, of belief, and of religious exploration. In this review, I will discuss more than what you can read on the back cover, so spoiler alert.

The topic is catchy enough – a woman’s daughter is dying and needs a heart transplant; the one offered to her is that of the not-yet dead convicted murderer on death row who killed the woman’s husband and other daughter. As if that weren’t touchy enough, Picoult takes the story a step further and makes the book even more controversial by adding the element of religion. Could the murderer be the messiah? Is the killer Jesus?

As usual, Picoult presents her readers with a well researched book that explores the storyline from every angle. She fearlessly pushes buttons, and for that I have to give her credit. I enjoyed the book and would rate it 4.5 stars. I enjoy fiction that makes you think. That said, I know that there are readers who would absolutely detest this book based on subject matter alone. If that’s you, I suggest that you don’t read it.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult ~ Fiction Review

book9I picked up this book not knowing anything about it but the author. I had no idea about the plot or the significance of 19 minutes. I was pleased to find myself immersed in a controversial subject ripped from the headlines – something that Picoult does well.

Jodi Picoult is a storyteller. I love the way she writes, the way she puts herself (and the reader) in the shoes of such a wide array of characters. I especially love it when she pushes you into the uncomfortable position of considering circumstances from a point of view you’d rather not experience.

The good news, besides really enjoying this book, is that I finally made it through a Jodi Picoult book without crying! The bad news is that once I finish one of her books and pick up something written by another author, it tends to pale in comparison because Picoult has mastered the trifecta of fiction writing – the plot, pacing, and emotion always work together to create a dynamic vehicle that drives the reader to race through the book, unable to put it down.

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