Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Light on Snow- Anita Shreve

Light on Snow- Anita Shreve

This a compelling story of a young girl and her father. Nicky is 12 and living with her Dad in backwoods New Hampshire. Two years earlier Robert Dillon was a successful architect, with a beautiful wife and two lovely daughters. Then just before Christmas, his wife and toddler daughter were killed in a tragic car accident. In his grief, Robert packs up Nicky and travels north. They stumble upon a small town and try to assemble a new life. Robert begins making and selling furniture. Nicky is struggling to make sense of the loss of her mom and sister and the abandonment of her old life. She never really gets to express her sadness and grief to her father.
Then one day on a cold winter walk, they hear a cry in the woods. They find a newborn girl wrapped in a bloody sleeping bag, left to die. They rescue the baby and save her life. Nicky can’t understand why someone would do this.
Two weeks later a young woman appears at their door. She is the mother of the baby. A fierce winter storm keeps her at the house for several days. Nicky desperate for emotional love, fantasizes about her staying and living with them. Her dad wants her to turn herself in to the police but doesn’t have the heart to do it himself. Over the next few snowbound days, they learn more about each other and about themselves.
Anita Shreve is a wonderful writer. Her words are beautifully descriptive and heartfelt. It was a wonderful read from beginning to end. However, I would have loved to have some sort of peek into the future life of the characters, to see how their lives turned out. This is a great title for a book club group.

Reading Guide- From
1. Nicky notes near the beginning of Light on Snow that her father actively avoids civilization, yet when they find Baby Doris he quickly breaks out of his self-imposed exile to help save the abandoned infant. Why do you think he chooses to become so involved in this situation?

2. Discuss the relationship between Nicky and her father as the novel opens. In what ways is their relationship unique? In what ways does it reflect or subvert the traditional roles of parent and child?

3. The December days through which Light on Snow unfolds represent a rite of passage for Nicky in many ways. How is she ultimately influenced by what she experiences in these weeks? What does Nicky draw from her relationships with the various adults around her? Do you think they learn something from her as well?

4. A great deal about Robert Dillon's pre–New Hampshire life as a successful architect in New York City is revealed when his former colleagues visit his new home. Discuss the distinctions that the author draws between the Dillons' past and their present life.

5. Several scenes in the novel are focused on the preparation and consumption of food. Discuss the significance of these meals to the story.

6. How does Charlotte's arrival affect Robert and Nicky's interaction with the rest of the world?

7. After meeting Charlotte, Nicky's father struggles with the decision of whether or not to turn her in. Does he make a good choice in the end? Why?

8. Nicky's argument with her father after Charlotte leaves becomes a turning point in the novel. What does Nicky discover about herself in this passage? What does she learn about her father?

9. When Nicky overhears Charlotte's confession, she notes, "I want to believe that my father and I were meant to stumble across Baby Doris and give her a chance at life. But I'm not sure. I think about accidents and intersecting footsteps" (page 240). What does she mean by this observation? What role does fate or chance play in Light on Snow? Offer some examples.

10. The morning after the snowstorm, Nicky and Charlotte move a table into the kitchen. What does this action suggest? What exactly has changed?

11. "I know, as one does at twelve or eleven or ten, that I have witnessed something I shouldn't have witnessed, seen something I shouldn't have seen" (page 198). What has Nicky witnessed in this passage and how does what she has seen affect her?

12. Discuss the relationship between Nicky and Charlotte. How does each influence the other?

13. Do you think Charlotte's behavior with respect to her newborn child is justified? Do you think she takes appropriate responsibility for her actions in the end?

14. Although the novel's action takes place when Nicky is twelve years old, she is thirty when she recounts it. Why do you think the author has chosen to have a grown-up Nicky tell the story?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Run For Your Life

Run For Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Michael Bennet is a New York police Detective whose latest case is trying to catch a maniacal killer who calls himself The Teacher. His mission is to teach manners to the world not to flaunt wealth or be obnoxious in any way. The Teacher kills several people in rapid succession at upscale locations. He quickly changes appearance before each one. But in post 9/11 New York, citizens are more observant than ever. Bennet and his team get clues to The Teacher’s identity. The story moves quickly from there in exciting twists and turns with a dramatic ending you may not expect.

Michael Bennet is a likable character. He is a dedicated detective but also a widowed parent to 10 children. During the Teacher’s reign of terror, Mike’s 10 kids are all down with the flu. This epidemic brings some humor to a tension filled story. All parents can relate to puking kids. He manages to do it all with the help of Mary Catherine, the Irish nanny and his dad, Father Seamus Bennet. Mary Catherine is ever present and extremely competent at caring for all the kids. You can easily see a future between her and Mike.

This is the second novel with Mike Bennet. “Step on a Crack “ is the first one and tells the story of his wife’s death from cancer. I think I read it but may have to reread it since I can’t remember it clearly. I’ve always enjoyed reading anything by James Patterson and Run For Your Life was no exception. It was fast paced and surprising. He is s sometimes critized for being formulaic in his writing but I have liked just about every one of his books.
I would definitely recommend this or any of Patterson’s books.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why I Read

Why I Read

I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. As a child my dad would take me to the library, where I would take out as many books as I could. Once we got home I would spend an hour deciding on what order I’d read them in, arranging and rearranging the stack as the afternoon went on. I couldn’t wait to start a new book. I’d read long after bedtime with a flashlight, half listening for footsteps so I wouldn’t get caught. Books have always been great friends to me. I can get lost in a story very easily. In books you can be whoever or whatever you’re reading about. I know I’ll never be a police detective or a heroine in a romance novel but in a book I can pretend and then go back to reality. My favorite novels are murder mystery and suspense. But I’ll read just about anything.
I look forward to sharing my latest reads and am always looking for new books to add to my list.