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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

Fleeting thoughts (Number the Stars / Bud, not Buddy / The Lonely Hearts Club)

Since I'm way behind on reviews and don't have much to say about these three books, I'm doing some blazing fast reviews, focusing on just what-it's-about and what-it-made-me-feel and did-I-like-it. Couple of them - Number the Stars and Bud, not Buddy are Newbery Medal winners and focused on a younger audience than The Lonely Hearts Club. They cannot be more different in theme and focus, but I enjoyed all three of them.

Number the Stars
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: This is probably one of the most well-known Newbery Medal winners out there. (Maybe I say that because it's the first Newbery Medal winner that I heard of, but I do know that this is quite a popular book.) Number the Stars follows ten-year old Annemarie and her best friend, Ellen, who is Jewish. Their native country - Denmark - has surrendered to the Nazis and these two girls miss life before the Nazis' arrival. However, Jewish people in their town are slowly disappearing - relocated by the Nazis and Anne's family wants to protect Ellen and her parents from that option. Ellen soon moves in with Anne's family and pretends to be one of them. Except it isn't as easy as it sounds, because Nazi soldiers come knocking and want to capture the missing Jew families.

Number the Stars was a refreshing read. I didn't love it, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. The WW2 and the "relocation" of the Jews is an entirely different matter reading from the perspective of a child. The focus is less on hardships and more on a child's perception of the change in circumstances. The Afterword contained some valuable tidbits of history and I loved learning about how many Danes were involved in protecting and hiding several Jews and helping them to Sweden.

Number the Stars won the Newbery medal in 1990.

Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Curtis: Set during the Depression era, Bud (not Buddy, as he keeps reminding people) decides that he has had enough of foster homes and plans to escape from his current one when the foster parents ill-treat him. He is never seen without his suitcase, in which are things that remind him of his mother, who died four years ago. In this suitcase are a bunch of flyers that mention a bandleader, who he assumes to be his father. On he goes on a journey to find his father, and on the way, he meets some really quirky interesting characters.

I listened to Bud, Not Buddy during my road trip to Raleigh couple of weeks ago. And I found that this was a perfect book to listen to. The narrator does a fab job of mimicking the characters and there are some really laugh-out-loud moments. It was funny, light and full of genuine innocence. I admired Bud quite a bit and loved how he has been creating a set of "Bud Caldwall's Rules and Things to have a Funner life and Make a Better Liar Out of Yourself". These rules are really gems - stuff we know instinctively but never appreciate, such as how when someone says 'didn't you hear?', they really mean 'I have some bad news for you', and so on. I was surprised that by the age of ten, he already had made a ton of rules, but then he has been living on his own or in foster homes for quite a while. Bud has a ten-year old's innocence, such as when he meets a man on the road and sees blood bags in his car, he assumes that man is a vampire. All in all, this was a terrific book! And fun to listen on audio, for all you audiogeeks out there!

Bud, Not Buddy won the Newbery medal in 2000.

The Lonely Hearts Club
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg: Penny had all sorts of wonderful plans for a life with her boyfriend, until she walked into him cheating on her. Now she is sick of boys and has completely sworn off dating and boys. There are some of her friends who scoff at her initially, but soon most of the girls want a part of it. Soon, they are the new club - The Lonely Hearts Club - which is getting the boys frustrated and the girls more independent. Except, now there is this one guy that she really likes.

I won this book at Kathy's Bermudaonion's Weblog last year and have since been eager to read it, especially after the many raving reviews I've come across. After being disappointed by a string of young adult novels, I was worried that I won't enjoy this one either, but surprisingly, it worked really well for me. I guess the main reason is The Lonely Hearts Club features a genuinely strong female character, who isn't thinking solely about boys or obsessing about appearance most of the time. I know these two are pivotal themes of high school, but that sometimes tends to come out as shallow in books. I found this book very enjoyable - the kind of book that shows a lot of girl power and you love it for that reason and for everything else the characters do. No, this isn't any hard message kind of book - just a usual girl who's heartbroken after her boyfriend cheated on her, and then she decides to swear off boys. Her parents also happen to be crazy fans of The Beatles, as in, ultra- uber- insanely-crazy, and so there are plenty of music references too.


I'm glad you enjoyed The Lonely Hearts Club!  I loved the Girl Power message in it too.
Misha said…
Like you, I didn't love Number the Stars , but did enjoy it. On the other hand, I had loved Lois Lowry's The Giver. My sister really enjoyed The Lonely Hearts Club  too - I think I will borrow the book from her. I'm glad to hear that it has a strong female character, who isn't shallow. Thanks for the reviews!
Anna said…
My daughter absolutely loved Bud, Not Buddy.  She says it's her new favorite book, and since I love historical fiction, that makes me happy. ;)

Number the Stars is a great way to introduce young children to WWII and the Holocaust.  I think I would have been more affected by it had I read it when I was younger.  I hope it's okay that I linked to your post on War Through the Generations.
Man Of La Book said…
Number the Stars sounds fantastic.
Helen Murdoch said…
Number the Stars, though aimed at younger students, is always a hit with our English Learners and I think it's terrific. Bud Not Buddy is one of my daughter's favorites and I really enjoyed it as she read it aloud to me. Just yesterday I picked up Lonely Hearts Club to read and put it down when I realized I had promised to read something else first. But, it's next on my list so I am glad you've given it a thumbs-up
Ti said…
I see Bud, Not Buddy on reading lists all the time. It never strikes me as something that I want to pick-up though. I keep hoping they will come out with a new cover so that The Boy will at least look at it. He's so picky when it comes to reading. Reluctant is an understatement.

I see from your sidebar that you are reading Annabel right now. I SOOO want to read that one. Can't wait to hear your thoughts.
zibilee said…
All of these sound like really different books. Number the Stars is a book that I have seen touted everywhere, and sort of reminds me of The Diary of Anne Frank, only from a very different perspective. Bud, Not Buddy is the one out of these three that sounds the most engaging to me, and I am wondering if it would be something my daughter might like. I also remember when Kathy read The Lonely Hearts Club and remember thinking that it might be a book that I could enjoy over the summer. All great mini-reviews, by the way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on them with us!
Athira / Aths said…
I'm so glad I found the book via your blog. I doubt I would read it otherwise.
Athira / Aths said…
I need to read The Giver. I've heard mixed reviews of it, but I'll still check it out. I'm listening to most of the Nerbery Medal winners, so if I find this on audio, I'll pick it up. I hope you read The Lonely Hearts Club!
Athira / Aths said…
I did read your daughter's review of Bud, Not Buddy! It's definitely a memorable book! And yeah, I agree Number the Stars is a great book for younger kids. It's so much better than Boy in the Striped Pajamas. And thanks for linking to my review! :)
Athira / Aths said…
It is! I hope you get to read it!
Athira / Aths said…
I'm glad Number the Stars is a hit. It really is a good book for younger readers as an introduction to the WW2. And I'm thrilled you're going to read Lonely Hearts Club! Can't wait to hear what you think!
Athira / Aths said…
@428368854e57be6e02650465d06b70e7:disqus To be honest, I wasn't too sure of Bud, Not Buddy either. I think I chose to read it only because Newbery Medal winners generally seem to be working well for me. And I was going down the list starting from the most recent winner. So this is the first audio I came across in my library. I have to say, I was surprised by the book. And I really liked it. I hope you get to read it.
Athira / Aths said…
I hope you choose to read all three. It's hard to recommend one. Number the Stars is a great book by which to introduce a child to WW2. Bud, Not Buddy is kind of an adventurous and smart kid book. Lonely Hearts Club is for young adults. But I felt all three catered well to their respective genre.
I really want to read The Lonely Hearts Club. It sounds like a book that I really would enjoy. But not so sure about those Beatles references, not a big fan of them. Girl Power? Yay. :)
Athira / Aths said…
Yeah, the Beatles references went over my head. But there is not too much of them and they don't distract from the plot. It's an easy read. You will enjoy it!