NOS4A2: A Novel, By Joe Hill

 

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Hill, J. (2013). NOS4A2. New York: William Morrow & Co.

Paperback $17.99, Hardcover $28.99, Kindle $9.99, 720 pages

ISBN: 978-0062200587

Author’s Website and Interviews:

http://joehillfiction.com/

http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/nonfiction/interview-joe-hill-part-1/

Online Reviews:

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/books/nos4a2-a-novel-by-joe-hill.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15729539-nos4a2

Annotation: Christmasland was not a festive place full of magic and wonder but rather Charles Manx’s disturbing creation filled with death and madness.

Summary (Warning Semi-Spoiler): Charles Talent Manx had been a notorious child abductor who lured children away in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. Now he lay in a coma on the brink of death at a maximum security prison. The book then shifts back in time to 1986 and introduces Victoria McQueen, a young girl whose bicycle has the power to recall a demolished bridge known as the Shorter Way Bridge which helps her find whatever she is looking for. During one of her journeys through the covered bridge, she meets Maggie a librarian who has the power to cut a knife into reality using Scrabble tiles which she uses to spell out the name of the man hunting Victoria, the “Wraith.” On her way back through the bridge, Vic loses her bike and becomes violently ill. Although everyone believes Manx to have died in prison, he is very much alive and recruits the help of Bing, a mentally deranged chemical plant worker whose job is to use gingerbread flavored gas to abduct the children and their parents, who Manx believes are depraved and unfit. Manx takes the children to his inscape, a twisted reality he has created called Christmasland. Victoria  had managed to escape Manx’s clutches once before but she must use her bridge once again to travel to Christmasland to stop him from taking the one thing that matters most to her, her son Wayne.

Evaluation: I found this book to be extremely creepy and disturbing and there were times I had to put the book down and walk away due to the horribly vivid imagery. Hill’s writing is compelling, disturbing, dark and transports the reader into the mind of Manx and Bing’s madness. The characters are complex and I developed a vested interest in the plight of Victoria, Lou, and their son Wayne. The book is over 700 pages long which I didn’t find to be too much and never felt like the story became redundant. Every page had a new twist and turn and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to see how it would all play out. The writing is horror at its finest and I am still haunted by certain passages, images, and scenes. Perfect book for anyone who enjoys horror mixed with a touch of the supernatural. There were times I felt the writing was somewhat comical, especially at inappropriate times which made it all the more creepy.

Genre: Horror

Appeal Factors: Fast-paced, creepy, suspenseful, compelling, and intricately plotted

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • It, by Stephen King
  • Neverland, by Douglas Clegg
  • The Lake, by Richard Laymon

Awards: Library Journal Top Ten, 2013 School Library Journal’s Adult Books 4 Teens, 2013 Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award-Best Novel

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Hook the reader by reading a very gory or creepy passage. Do not reveal any names and make them guess the character involved.

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. What does the license plate NOS4A2 mean? Why is this word significant to Charles Manx?
  2. How are Victoria McQueen and Charles Manx connected? Did you ever feel like this was all in her mind?
  3. Why did Manx recruit Bing? Did you find his character scarier than Manx’s? If so, why? When you are first introduced to his character did you immediately get a sense that he was “bad”?
  4. What role did Maggie play in helping Vic find Manx? Did her past as a junkie and a prostitute discredit her in anyway? Did you trust her as a character?
  5. Why does Lou smash the ornaments at the end of the book? How does this impact Wayne? Were you surprised by the ending?

The title of the book immediately drew me in and I had to know what it meant. I found this title while browsing through horror books on Amazon and decided to download it on my Kindle after seeing that it had received 4 out 5 stars on Amazon and 4.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I haven’t read many horrors novels and the fact that this one was able to make Christmas look extremely creepy immediately sold me!

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The Boy Next Door, By Meg Cabot

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Cabot, M. (2002). The boy next door. New York: Avon.

Paperback $14.99, Kindle $10.00, 384 pages

ISBN: 978-0060096199

Author’s Website and Interviews:

http://www.megcabot.com/

http://www.authormagazine.org/interviews/interview_page_cabot.htm

Online Reviews:

http://www.theromancereader.com/cabot-boy.html

Annotation: Melissa Fuller couldn’t believe the elaborate lengths he went to deceive her and she questioned whether his feelings  had ever been real.

Summary: The story is comprised solely of e-mail correspondence between the characters. It opens with an e-mail from Human Resources to Melissa Fuller who is a twenty seven year old gossip columnist who works for The New York Journal. It informs her that she is yet again tardy for work, her 37th one to be exact, and then the story transitions into e-mails to Melissa from her ex-boyfriend Aaron Spender, a senior columnist for The New York Journal, her boss George Sanchez, and her best friend Nadine who also works with her. Melissa is late for work yet again but this time with good reason. As she was leaving for work she notices her eighty year old neighbor Mrs. Friedlander’s dog Paco incessantly barking which is unusual for that time of morning. She realizes Mrs. Friedlander’s door is open and upon entering see’s Mrs. Friedlander lying on her carpet face down from an apparent attack. She is taken to the hospital and remains in a coma. Melissa takes it upon herself to be the sole caretaker of Mrs. Friedlander’s two cats and her dog Paco until she can reach her nephew, Max Friedlander.  Once Max  is contacted about his aunt, he calls in an over due favor from a college friend named John Tent, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Against his better judgement, John goes along with Max’s scheme and assumes his identity while Max is in Florida with her supermodel girlfriend Vivica. John doesn’t realize how much his lie will hurt those around him and how much he stands to lose.

Evaluation: I initially didn’t think I would like a story comprised solely of e-mail exchanges between the various characters but I found it made for a very quick and entertaining read. Although the story is more plot-driven in my opinion, I still felt like Cabot created engaging characters and provided enough background information for them which helped me to become more vested in them, especially the plight of Melissa and John. The writing is witty and humorous which I loved. I was a little disappointed by the ending as it felt rushed. I would have like to have seen more resolution for a few of the characters which to me were left hanging.

Genre: Chick Lit

Appeal Factors: Fast-paced, romantic, upbeat, engaging, experimental, and witty

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • Getting to the Good Part, by Lolita Files
  • One Fifth Avenue, by Candace Bushnell
  • Revenge Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger

Awards: 2004-YALSA  Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers: Fiction

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Read some of the e-mails aloud with the reader/audience to make them feel more part of the story. Ask them questions about Meg or John to put them in their shoes. How would they react or have handled the situation?

Book Discussion Questions: http://www.bookclubgirl.com/book_club_girl/2012/05/its-meg-nificent-the-meg-cabot-read-along-discussion-of-our-first-book-the-boy-next-door.html (has some good discussion questions)

  1. What role did Dolly, George, and other office workers play in the story? Do you think they added or detracted from the story? Did they help give insight into any of the characters?
  2. Were you rooting for John and Melissa? Do you think his actions were forgivable?
  3. Were you surprised by who attacked Mrs. Friedlander or were you able to figure that out early on in the story? Do you think the ending provided closure or did you feel like Cabot left some lose ends, particularly with Nadine and Tom?

I selected this book because it was part of a book discussion led by my peers.  I was intrigued by the fact that the story is told exclusively through a series of e-mail correspondences and I was curious to see how this influenced plot and character development.

Stitches: A Memoir, By David Small

 

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Small, D. (2010). Stitches: A memoir. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Paperback $16.95, Hardcover $27.95, 336 pages

ISBN: 978-0393068573

Author’s Website and Interviews:

http://davidsmallbooks.com/

http://bigthink.com/videos/big-think-interview-with-david-small

 Online Reviews:

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/07/books/07small.html?_r=0

NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2009/10/the_curious_case_of_david_smal_1.html

Annotation: The stitches on my neck are thick and black and as I try to yell all I hear is eerie silence.

Summary: The story begins when David Small is six years old and recounts a troubling childhood in which his mother is both verbally and physically abusive. David had always been a sickly child, suffering from chronic sinus and respiratory issues which his father, a doctor, often diagnosed and treated using x-rays and radiation. When David is fourteen years old he is diagnosed with what is thought to be a sebaceous cyst on his neck that has to be surgically removed. During the operation, his thyroid and one of his vocal chords is removed leaving him unable to speak. One day after discovering a secret letter locked in a desk drawer addressed to his grandma, he learns the truth behind his diagnosis which offers him an odd sense of clarity that both frees and haunts him.

Evaluation: I really loved that the author depicted his painful childhood with raw honesty and used illustrations to capture the horrific nature of child abuse and isolation at the hands of his parents. Although most of the 300+ pages are purely illustrations, when text is used it is powerful and evokes such a strong emotional response from the reader. The “storyline” is creepy and haunting and it left me emotionally drained and pained by the plight of the narrator. The story is a memoir and every facial expression, body language, movement, and word is are expertly crafted to capture the essence of the author’s tragic childhood and the cathartic release he experiences as he becomes an adult and finally finds his voice again.

Genre: Graphic Novel (Memoir)

Appeal Factors: Character-driven, issue oriented, fast-paced, reflective,disturbing, dark, and  melancholy

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • A Child Called It, by Dave Pelzer
  • Blankets, by Craig Thompson
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel

Awards: New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award Finalist

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Read dialogue aloud to capture the plight of the author and put the audience and/or reader in his shoes. Using dialogue can help the audience feel more connected and intensify the reading experience. For ex. “Her silent fury was like a black tidal wave. Either you get out of the way, or…” (pg.46).

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. What don’t David’s parent’s tell him the truth about his medical condition?
  2. Does David’s father blame himself for his son’s condition? Does he seek to redeem himself in his son’s eyes?
  3. What is David’s relationship with his mother like? Were you surprised by her reaction when she finds out her mother treated David poorly?
  4. How does the author use imagination to escape his reality? What is the significance of Alice in Wonderland and the fact the his therapist is depicted as the White Rabbit?
  5. What is the significance of not speaking in the story? For both David and his parents as they too suffer from lack of speech throughout the story but not for medical reasons like their son.

I read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and wanted to read more graphic novels which dealt with family dynamics in a dark and emotional way.  After reading a review of the book which states that it is a story about a painful childhood and the fact that it was an autobiography is what initially drew me in. David Small also illustrates all of the drawings in the book and I was curious to see how he portrayed his painful past and how text would factor into the book.

The Goldfinch, By Donna Tartt

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Tartt, D. (2013). The goldfinch. Boston, MA: Little Brown & Co.

Paperbook $18.00, Hardcover $30.00, Kindle $7.50, Audible $23.95 32 hours, 784 pages

ISBN: 978-0316055437

Author’s Website and Interviews:

http://www.languageisavirus.com/donna_tartt/#.U1bU4Veyqf4

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/books/donna-tartt-talks-a-bit-about-the-goldfinch.html?_r=0

Online Reviews:

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/books/review/donna-tartts-goldfinch.html

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/31/242105656/dickensian-ambition-and-emotion-make-goldfinch-worth-the-wait

Annotation: After the tragic death of his mother, Theo Decker is left an orphan with nothing but the stolen painting to comfort him. 

Summary: After the tragic death of his mother at the hands of a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, thirteen year old Theo Decker’s life is turned upside down by a series of events triggered by the attack. On the day of the explosion, Theo befriends an elderly man named Welty Blackwell who before dying in the ruble, gives Theo a gold ring and appears to point at the painting of The Golfinch hanging on the wall as if to suggest Theo should take it for safe keeping. Theo steals the painting in his panicked and confused state unknowing how these events will alter the course of his life. Alone and orphaned due to his mother’s death and his father’s abandonment years prior, Theo is taken in my the Barbours, an affluent family who takes him in as one of their own. Months later Theo’s father, Larry resurfaces with his new girlfriend Xandra to bring Theo back to Las Vegas to live with them. Alone in a new place with nothing but his painting to comfort him and sustain his mother’s memory, Theo befriends Boris and embarks on a friendship that will lead him into the dark side of the art world where not even the vast amount of drugs and alcohol Theo consumes will help him to escape the fate the painting has created for him.

Evaluation: The Goldfinch is beautifully written and has a very lyrical quality to it. The characters of Theo, Boris, and Hobie are well developed, layered, and complex. The author recounts their stories of loss, love, and memories in a haunting and vivid way. Although the story is rich and intricately written, the sheer length of the book is the main drawback. At almost 800 pages, I felt like the story could have easily cut out 100+ pages as some of the scenes drug on without really advancing the storyline or characters. I felt many of the interactions between characters were somewhat repetitive but was able to look past this due to the quality of the writing and its ability to draw the reader into the story. I listen to the audio book while I read along and really enjoyed David Pittu’s narration. I thought the tone of his voice and the inflections used enhanced the listening experience. Since the book is so dense and complex I found it difficult to just listen as I found myself not able to grasp names and places fully so I began reading along which helped. Although I enjoyed the audio book, there were times I found the pacing extremely slow and felt I could have read the book faster on my own. I thought the book translated really well to audio as there are so many vivid scenes in the book that the narration seemed to bring them to life.

Genre: Literary Fiction (Psychological fiction)

Appeal Factors: Character-driven, leisurely paced, atmospheric, haunting, melancholy, compelling, lyrical, and richly detailed

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • The World to Come, by Dara Horn
  • The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  • The Good Father, by Diana Chamberlain

Awards: 2014 ALA Notable Books-Fiction, 2013 Booklist Editor’s Choice-Best Fiction Books, 2013 New York Times Notable Books-Fiction and Poetry, Pulitzer Prize  for Fiction

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Let the audience in on a secret about one of the characters but don’t reveal it entirely, keep them hanging on and wanting to know more. For example, a secret about Theo and his feelings for Pipa, or Theo’s possession of the painting, or Theo’s dads true intentions when his son returns with him to Las Vegas.

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. What role if any did Boris play in helping Theo deal with his grief? Do you think he was a bad influence on Theo? If so, how?
  2. What is the significance of art throughout the book? How does it shape and/or alter the course of Theo’s life?
  3. How are Theo and the goldfinch similar? Do you feel like Theo is chained to his past unable to move on from the memories of his mother and father?
  4. What did you make of Mrs. Barbour’s relationship with Theo? Did you find her actions genuine?

I had been wanting to read this book for quite some time but hesitated due to its length at almost 800 pages. However, after learning that it was a story about loss, survival, and coming of age I was curious to see how the story and character development would progress over the course of the book and whether the length of the book would detract from the story at all.

Beautiful Ruins, By Jess Walter

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Walter, J. (2012). Beautiful ruins. New York: Harper Collins.

Paperback $15.99, Hardcover $26.99, Kindle $5.99,  Audible 12 hrs and 53 minutes, 352 pages

ISBN: 978-0061928123

Author’s Website and Interviews:

 http://www.jesswalter.com/

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/golear/2012/07/much-more-than-adequate-view-an-interview-with-jess-walter/

Online Reviews:

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/books/review/beautiful-ruins-a-novel-by-jess-walter.html?_r=0

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/18/155097608/beautiful-ruins-both-human-and-architectural

Annotation: Claire Silver’s life is at cross-road until she uncovers a Hollywood scandal involving her boss which alters the course of her career.

Summary (Warning-Semi Spoiler): The story opens in 1962 in Porto Vergogna, Italy when a young inn keeper named Pasquale Tursi encounters a beautiful young American actress named Dee Moray who has come to stay at his isolated hotel which he has taken over after the death of his father. He soon learns that Dee, an actress in the film Cleopatra opposite Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, is dying of stomach cancer. The story then shifts to present day and introduces Claire Silver, Chief Development Assistant for Michael Deane, the once legendary film producer who has a complex history with Dee and Pasquale. Claire encounters Pasquale in her office one day in search of Michael Deane. At the same moment, her four o’clock appoint shows up in hopes of pitching his new film idea. Having studied in Italy, Shane Wheeler is able to serve as translator and informs Claire that it is urgent that Mr. Tursi meet with Deane as soon as possible as he has come in search of Dee. Claire, Pasquale, and Shawn soon learn the role Michael Deane played in Dee’s disappearance from film due to her “stomach cancer” which turns out to have been a huge cover concocted by Deane himself in order to protect an actor involved in his film. As the pasts are explored, painful and powerful truths emerge that have the power to bring Michael Deane’s world crashing down around him.

Evaluation: I really enjoyed the parallel narrative as I felt it gave each character a powerful voice and really helped me to connect with their story. The interlocking plots really helped propel the story forward although I did find the story a bit choppy and hard to follow at times but it always seemed to get back on track eventually. I listened to the Audible version of this book while I read along and it was a great experience. The narrator, Edoardo Ballerini did a fantastic job and captured the Italian language beautifully. His reading was charismatic and breathed new life into the story and the characters. I thought the book translated very well to audio as it captured the cinematic quality of the novel and the characters perfectly. Reading along with the audio narration really helped keep names in check as well as time frames since the book jumps around a lot between past and present.

Genre: Mainstream Fiction (Parallel narratives)

Appeal Factors: Character-driven, intricately plotted, romantic, upbeat, and engaging

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
  • The Pirate’s Daughter, by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

Awards: 2012-Booklist Editors’ Choice: Best Fiction Books, 2012 Library Journal Best Books, 2012 New York Times Notable Books: Fiction and Poetry

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Use an if/then scenario with the reader and/or audience. Ask questions like, “If Dee Moray wouldn’t have left Porto Vergogna, then she might have ended up with Pasquale. If Michael hadn’t lied to Dee about her medical condition then she wouldn’t have wound up at Porto Vergogna or met Alvis Bender. How would these alternate scenarios impact your view of the characters, storyline. Would it enhance it, detract from it?

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. Why did Pasquale never admit his feelings for Dee? Do you think they could have worked out knowing his situation with Amadea?
  2. Why was Dee so quick to believe the doctor Michael Deane sent her too? Is she just gullible, naive, or enamored with being an actress?
  3. How does meeting Pasquale, Shawn, and Dee alter the course of Claire’s life? Were you surprised she stayed with Daryl despite his many shortcomings?
  4. Why did Dee marry Alvis? Why wasn’t Richard a part of Pat’s life? Do you think she made the right decision not pursuing a relationship with Richard or Pasquale?

I had stumbled across this book at my local book store and was immediately drawn in by the beautiful cover. I love anything to do with the 60’s and Italy so this book appeared to be a perfect combination. I was dying to know the details of this “almost-love affair” and how it was rekindled over 50 years later. The title piqued my curiosity as I wanted to know if it referred to just the town or to its inhabitants as well!

The Cowboy and the Cossack, By Clair Huffaker

Cowboy

Huffaker, C. (1973). The cowboy and the Cossack. New York: Trident Press.

Paperback $14.95, Hardcover $37.95,  Kindle $3.99, Audiobook 13 hours, 352 pages

ISBN: 978-1612183695

Author’s Website and Interviews:  No author website-author is deceased

Blog Post by Clair’s daughter Sam Kirkeby: http://www.nancypearl.com/?p=1224

Online Reviews:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/220812.The_Cowboy_and_the_Cossack

Annotation: Rostov barely hesitated as he pulled the trigger knowing that ending this man’s suffering meant preserving his honor in the face of the enemy.

Summary: Set in 1880, the story charts the journey of 15 Montana cowboys as they sail to Vladivostok, Russia to deliver a herd of 500 longhorns to the small Siberian town of Bakaskaya. Upon arriving in Vladivostok, the men encounter Yakolev, a harbor master intent on denying them permission to deliver their herd, however, Shad, the cowboy’s leader decides to sail to a beach outside of town and proceeds to have his men push the cattle off the boat and have then swim to shore. After reaching shore, the cowboys encounter a band of of 15 Cossacks who have been ordered to escort the men to Bakaskaya to ensure the longhorns are delivered safely. As the group of cowboys and Cossacks make the often treacherous journey across the Siberian wilderness, they are forced to endure a clash of cultures, the Tartar army, and wild animals which they must fight together in order to survive. Rostov, the Cossack leader, and Shad join forces to ensure they safety of their men, often teaching each other about honor and courage, something that seems to transcend language and cultural barriers. Although both sides experience great loss at the hands of the harsh wilderness and opposing soldiers, they form a united front in the name of freedom.

Evaluation: I can’t say enough good things about this book. Superb writing and character development. It is a powerful look at honor and courage from the perspective of two vastly different cultures. Although the differences amongst the men are many, they all find a commonality in their humanness. Huffaker’s writing is beautiful, powerful, and draws the reader into this world where wilderness and man pose the greatest threat. The story moves at a quick enough pace to keep you interested but goes slow enough to ensure you grasp the all of the small details. It definitely rises above western cliches and portrays the men in complex, dynamic, and realistic ways.

Genre: Western

Appeal Factors: Fast-paced, character-driven, humorous, witty, atmospheric, descriptive, and moving

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • Cuba Libre, by Elmore Leonard
  • From the Listening Hills, by Louis L’Amour
  • Shifting Calder Wind, by Janet Dailey

 Awards: This book has not won any awards

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Talk with your reader and/or audience by reading dialogue from the book, especially dialogue between Rostov and Levi, and between Rostov and Shad.
  • Evoke a sense of empathy for one of the characters, make the reader walk in their shoes. Ex. Rostov’s decision to end the suffering of one of the men.

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. How were the cowboys and the Cossacks different? Similar? What was the turning point that brought the men together?
  2. Shad and Rostov are from two different cultures yet seem to see the world through the same lens. What makes both men such great leaders? Do you think one is better at leading his men than the other? If so, why?
  3. Levi grows close to Rostov during their journey.  Why does Levi connect to him and the philosophical stories he tells? What do the stories about the swans represent for both the cowboys and the Cossacks?
  4. Why is the burial of Igor’s horse so significant? What does it say about the Cossacks and honor? Do you think the cowboys would have done the same thing, why or why not?
  5. Did you find Rostov’s actions towards Shad after he is captured by the Tartars honorable? Why is it significant that he was the one to pull the trigger?

This book was a recommendation from one of my professor’s and I wanted to expand my reading in the western genre. I read reviews on Goodreads and was impressed at the positive response. I was intrigued by the premise of the book and wanted to see how cowboys and Cossacks interacted and whether any similarities would be revealed as the book progressed. I have never read a western novel that is set outside of the United States so the fact that it was set in the Siberian wilderness was initially what hooked me.

Waiting for Morning (Forever Faithful Book 1), By Karen Kingsbury

waiting for morning cover

Kingsbury, K. (1999). Waiting for morning. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

Paperback $14.99  Kindle $9.99, 384 pages

ISBN: 978-1590520208

Author’s Website and Interviews:

http://www.karenkingsbury.com/

http://www.titletrakk.com/author-interviews/karen-kingsbury-interview.htm

Online Reviews:

http://faithsimone.com/2013/12/11/book-review-waiting-for-morning-by-karen-kingsbury/

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/177398.Waiting_for_Morning

Annotation: Hannah Ryan suffers a great loss at the hands of a drunk driver but her need for vengeance may destroy the ones she loves.

Summary: Hannah Ryan is a woman of faith but when she suffers a great loss at the hands of a drunk driver her faith is shaken and she turns to vengeance instead of God to help fill the void in her life. While she throws herself into the legal proceedings against the driver, Brian Wesley, she unknowingly pushes her teenage daughter Jenny to wayside, an act that soon has dire consequences. Jenny is filled with guilt and blame over the loss of those closest to her and she is determined to join her family in heaven any way she knows how. After researching how to commit suicide, she overdoses on prescription pills one evening while her mother is preparing for the upcoming trial. As the pills began to take over, Jenny is remorseful and prays to God asking him to let her live. When Hannah and her attorney, Matt Bronzan, return home and discover Jenny’s lifeless body on her bed, Hannah realizes what her desire for vengeance might cost her and she realizes that she must regain her faith and find forgiveness in her heart before she suffers another tragic loss.

Evaluation: I thought this was a very heart wrenching story of unspeakable loss and felt like Kingsbury did a great job of capturing the pain of loss from the point of view of both Hannah and her daughter Jenny. It was beautifully written and had very strong character and plot development. It examines the role faith plays in helping to heal and ultimately forgive those deemed undeserving of forgiveness. Although it was an extremely intricate and well told story, I did find parts of it to be rather “preachy” and there were quite a few references to Bible versus throughout. I find this typical of a lot of Christian Fiction but didn’t feel like it really added or detracted from the overall story and connection with the characters.

Genre: Christian Fiction

Appeal Factors: Heartwarming, inspirational, moving, and plot-driven

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • Dear to Me, by Wanda E. Brunstetter
  • The Englisher, by Beverly Lewis
  • Kingdom Come, by Tim F. LaHaye

Awards: No awards for this title

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Ask questions which evoke an empathic response to one of the characters, Hannah, Jenny, or Brian Wesley. Do you think Hannah’s inability to mother Jenny due to her own grief contributed to Jenny’s isolation?

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. What does the title “Waiting for Morning” refer to? What does this mean for Hannah? for Jenny?
  2. Why did Jenny think suicide was the only option? As a devout Christian, how did Jenny justify taking her own life despite it going against her faith?
  3. Do you think Brian Wesley got what he deserved? Do you believe he truly is a changed man? Would you have been able to forgive him like Hannah did?
  4. Why was Tom Ryan’s second message to Sgt. Miller so important for Hannah? What role did it play in helping her heal and find forgiveness?

I have read a lot of Christian Fiction lately and have really enjoyed it. I have heard great things about the author Karen Kingsbury and really connected to the plot of the story. After reading the back of the book it peaked my interest as I wanted to know if Hannah Ryan, a woman of strong faith, would be able to regain her faith in God despite the horrific tragedies she suffered. It is testament of the power of the human spirit and dependence on one’s faith in times of great loss. I was in the mood for a good cry and this story seemed to be a perfect fit at the time.