Jeremy reminded me last night that I haven't written any book reviews in a while. I won't write a review of everything I've read recently, but here are a few in the interest of playing catch-up.
I think having seen the BBC miniseries of N&S so many times helped because I had a very strong visualization of all the characters - and they are spot-on loyal to the book.
Anyone who doesn't like Jane Austen but wants to enjoy period literature would probably like this book. It's not as witty as Austen, but its characters are aware of poverty (as in, actual poverty, not, "we only have eight servants" poverty) and social injustice. I really appreciated that extra depth.
I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book. I loved hearing about this unique man, especially the stories from Zeitoun's Syrian childhood. I appreciated learning about someone who really wanted to do some good in those difficult days during Hurricane Katrina.
For the last 1/3 of the book, everything went wrong. It was one of those times where I was repulsed, yet I could not look away.
In the end, I really only just liked the book. However, I do think people should read it. It is a good book - it's just not an easy one to read.
I met Tom Zoellner last year. Uranium did not disappoint. It is seriously a book all about uranium (which earned me some raised eyebrows from people who saw me reading it). I liked how the science of nuclear power was dumbed down just a little so I could understand it. I also appreciated gaining some context for those nuclear-crazy 1960s that my parents are always telling me about. And people, I swear I'm not saying this just because I met him, but Zoellner is a seriously lyrical writer, especially in the first section of this book. Lyrical, even when he's writing about freaking URANIUM.
It was also interesting to learn that the old "hide under your desk in the event of a nuclear bombing" school drill actually has some merit. It really could save you.
However, at times it was a little too touchy-feely. I would have liked to see some hard statistics about survival statistics vs. proximity to Ground Zero, and mortality later in life statistics. But who knows, maybe those stats don't really exist. And come to think of it, what was with the pencil drawings instead of photographs??
I think I would have liked this book more whole-heartedly if one or the other of Elna Baker and I weren't Mormon. Even as it was, I liked it. I thought it was funny, engaging, well written, and thought-provoking. However, Elna Baker is very different from me and I found that I could not distance myself from the choices she made. I disagreed with a lot of what she did, and that grated on me as the book went on.
The Mormon issue aside, this is a great memoir. It's the story of journeys: from fat girl to thin girl, from teen to adult, from directionless to employed, from Mormon to...? all in one person.
I loved the description of "Amber Cunningham." So great.
I didn't love the occasionally explicit content.
As more time has passed since I read this (about two weeks), my opinion of it has fallen a bit. When I first finished it, I was more entertained by the book than I was disturbed. Upon reflection, I am more disturbed than entertained. Make of that what you will.
Thoughts? Agreement? Dissent?