Reviews by 21621031390949
Elephants are amazing!
An interesting account of a man who really loved and understood elephants, and who used them to help in WWII in Burma.
After all the hype at the time of release and around the Academy Awards, I was expecting a really good movie. I was disappointed. This movie was so slow, with such a poor script and generally poor acting, that my husband and I actually quit the movie about halfway through. Reading the newspaper seemed like a better use of my time. The dialogue was alternately banal and preachy. The actor portraying MLK was disappointingly wooden. And the pace - perhaps meant to be slowly building in intensity - was just plain slow. Aside from the shock of the church bombing deaths of the little girls, I felt distant from the action, disengaged. An unfortunate missed opportunity to portray important real life events.
Wow. Just wow.
Wow. Just wow. This is a wonderful book. Beautifully written, it is a mystery of sorts, but it is so much more than that. Set in a small village in German-occupied France during WWII, it tells a story of the tragedy of that time, but much more, it is a story about the confusion and fierceness of human life, of relationships and emotion.

I didn't connect to this book right away, but gradually it pulled me in until it became a true page-turner in the final third. Highly recommend this book!
I listened to this autobiography by SCOTUS judge Sonia Sotomayor, which was read by actress Rita Moreno. While the narrator was clear and easy to understand, with an appropriate hint of a Puerto Rican accent, she was only moderately expressive. It's sometimes hard to know how this influences the reader's experience.

That said, in the early stages, I really enjoyed this book. Sotomayor is clearly a remarkable woman who has worked tremendously hard to achieve the American rags-to-riches dream of success. Just under 3/4 of the way through, however, I found myself looking ahead to how much farther I had to go, wanting the book to end. This happens to me a lot with autobiographies. I love most memoirs, so I got to pondering what makes the two genres different and why I end up disliking most autobiographies.

My conclusions? Autobiographies tell a full timeline; they cover the subject's life from birth to the present. In this genre, it seems the author - usually a famous or remarkable person - feels compelled to tell us exactly how she became the fabulous/famous/accomplished person she is. Although there may be (as there is in "My Beloved World") some self-deprecating comments or humor, this usually comes off as false modesty, e.g. "yes, I am a brilliant, driven, hard-working woman who has achieved amazing heights, but I have terrible fashion sense." Really? That's like answering the question in a job interview, "My biggest weakness? I work too hard." Oh please.

Memoirs, on the other hand, reflect on a certain time period in the subject's life. They are rarely so single-mindedly focused on the person. More likely, memoirs tell about certain experiences and the subject's reflections about them. Less "these are the things that made me great/I accomplished," and more "what a noteworthy time this was and these are my thoughts about my experiences."

By the end of autobiographies, I'm usually tired of the person and have even grown to dislike them. Well-written memoirs on the other hand, leave me wanting more and happy to have learned about an era, event, or time period.

So, if you like autobiographies, you'll like this one which is interesting and informative. Even if you don't love the genre, you'll learn something about an important person in the life of our nation. If you want to read something that is more likely to change you or how you view the world, read a memoir.
Engaging, but disturbing
I found this short little book to be disturbing. It reminded me of "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls. While many people raved about her book, I was sickened by the terrible parenting and disastrous upbringing she had, and I just couldn't enjoy the book.

I feel similarly about this book; however I have just learned that it is fiction, not a memoir, which is what I thought it was the whole time I was reading it. Somehow this is changing how I view the book. Perhaps as fiction, I can put more distance between myself and the story. Rather than be traumatized by the terrible child-rearing, I can focus the high quality of writing. Torres writes in the chaotic, choppy, fierce style that creates and adds color to the story. The characters' lives are in fact chaotic, choppy and fierce; their truths are brutal.

It's a very short, but powerful read which should spark discussion in a book group.