Books of February (2015)

This month I jumped across genres, so there’s a little bit of everything in the comments.

Mrs Dalloway

My edition: Paperback, Collins Classics, published September 12th 2013 by HarperCollins Publishers.

Last semester I had to read Virginia Woolf for two different courses. The first text I picked up was an essay on the modernist writer, in which she talked about how there are no boundaries or rules in literature. She said that a writer must portray life as close to reality as possible, there are no rights or wrongs, and there’s no formula for correct literature. I only understood completely her essay after I finished reading Mrs. Dalloway, and may I just say wow.

The book is about a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway; it starts with Mrs. Dalloway thinking about buying flowers for a party she’s hosting in the evening, and it ends with said party. The greatest thing about this book is not the plot, but the narration and the way the action is presented: you get to see the story through the eyes of the characters. You only see what they are living, thinking, feeling and recalling at that moment.

When discussing this book in class, there were several negative comments (some bordered on the ridiculous) addressing the excessive simplicity of the plot and the lack of real action. To me, the fact that Woolf was able to take her thoughts on modernism and transform them into such a beautifully written story is what makes this book so awesome.

Recommended for fans of the classics and of the Modern Literary Period.

All the Bright Places

This month I also returned to the Young Adult fiction category with All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven. It’s the story of a suicidal boy, a sad girl and the love that grows between them.

My edition: Paperback, published January 8th 2015 by Penguin.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I didn’t like it. The story had potential, but the characters felt too typical, too predictable, like I’ve read them before. The girl is pretty, popular, has a seemingly perfect boyfriend and good parents, but a tragic car accident kills her sister and leaves her scarred for life. The boy has divorced parents, gets beaten up by his dad, and loves to be different/weird/kind-of-douchey. They fall in love for no reason whatsoever and start an unhealthy relationship that isn’t good for anyone. The biggest problem comes towards the last chapters, when tragedy strikes again and the book ends up being a long letter almost directly addressed to suicidal people begging them not to commit suicide. I agree, suicide is a problem and it needs to be addressed, but this was a YA novel, not a self-help book.

I must confess I bought it purely for its cover and because I loved the title.

Recommended only for Young-Adult Fiction fans and people who like quick, sad stories.