Friday, March 28, 2014

Bethany's Pick: Final Round of the Dubuque Tournament of Books

It's the final round of the 2014 Dubuque Tournament of Books, and the judges are weighing in on the final match-up. Will it be And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini or Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell?
Judge: Bethany
Finding Pins and Needles

Excerpt from Bethany's review of And the Mountains Echoed on Goodreads.
I have to give Hosseini props for orchestrating an intricate book; the number of characters, over many generations made the story very complex and a mystery of sorts. I respect a story teller that can devise a novel of this depth. Here comes the BUT... but in my eyes his talent is a double edged sword, or at least this particular execution of it. Half the time I was playing a "Guess Who" game. Who is this character? How do they relate to the story? By keeping so many of the character's relationship to the story obscure for such a lengthy amount of time, I found myself asking, "Why do I care about you?". Once I'd get comfortable with Who/What/When/Where, never-mind Why, Hosseini would move on to a new character and/or a different decade with no direction. My least favorite part of reading, is having to establish those basics at the start of a book, I want to be comfortable so I can delve into the meat of the story. I want to be entertained by a story (so sue me), and I didn't like being yanked around, having to restart without a compass. Less work, more play please.

Most importantly, with such a complexly orchestrated story, I expected a strong culmination, a crescendo to sum up the story. I wanted an "Aha!" moment, to make all the confusion worth while... or at minimum, a twist. Sadly, all I gleaned was a meandering of details that slowly and loosely tied together the characters by the end.

Bethany's review of Eleanor & Park on Goodreads.
This story is raw. I felt like I was catapulted back to my teen years and the author exposed every insecurity, every thought process and every tiny wonder that is discovering love.

I haven’t read any reviews on this book, but I can’t be the only one who picked up on the Romeo & Juliet foreshadowing. In the story, the characters making such a deal of the ridiculousness and artificialness of Romeo and Juliet's love affair. There was such a parallel, not the death, but the tragedy of it all. This story is REAL tragedy. Sadly this tragedy is far more common than anyone wants to believe and far more authentic than the two star crossed lovers.

Besides being honest, I thought it was funny. A quote that made me laugh out loud, "He put his pen in his pocket, then took her hand and held it to his chest for a minute. It was the nicest thing she could imagine. It made her want to have his babies and give him both her kidneys." Stinkin' adorable.

The dialogue was poignant and gritty, I feel privileged to be let in on this secret love affair of Eleanor and Park.

My vote is for Eleanor & Park

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