After a long break, I'm still catching up on my review backlog. I'm seven reviews behind and while I have a lot to say and share about most of those, there are some that I don't have a whole lot to say without being repetitive.
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool: Navigating Early was a delightful little book packed with a lot of surprises, wonder and beauty. I don't remember all that much about this book now and looks like I didn't take any notes on my reading experience but I remember how much this book warmed me when I read it. At the end of WWII, Jack Baker's navy father moves him from Kansas to a boarding school in Maine, where Jack meets the strangest of boys, Early Auden. To Early, the number Pi is more than a number - it is a boy who travels the world using just the Pole star for guidance. When the two boys embark on a trip to find the great bear that has been terrorizing people for a while, Early compares their story with that of Pi's. As astonishing as Pi's story is, Jack is even more astonished by a lot of things they see en route and also by how much more seriously he feels compelled to take Pi's story.
I picked this book to read mainly because Vanderpool won a Newbery Award for her Moon over Manifest. I tend to have a lot of success with Newbery winners. That said, Navigating Early didn't quite reach my expectations but I soon discovered that my not loving this book much had to do with not discovering one essential fact about Early. I won't reveal what that is but it has to do with his "disorder" (I don't know how I could have missed it - the signs were everywhere). But once I came to know it, the whole story took on a very different meaning for me and that's when I began to notice the sheer power of this book.
I received this book for review from the publisher.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: This book doesn't really need any extra publicity. It's one of the most loved books from last year and after finishing it, I could see why. I didn't love it as much, but I definitely would highly recommend this book for this reason - despite being about cancer, there is so much strength, humor, power of the human spirit and most importantly, genuine people in this book. Cancer is no stranger in my family and it's still not a word we would utter carelessly or unfeelingly around here. I don't know who the author used as reference for the book and I cannot honestly state that he got it right but it felt very right to me.
There were a lot of times I couldn't read past a word or sentence - you know that feeling of something stuck in your throat and you can't swallow because there is so much emotion in your heart that there's no space for an extra lump there. That's how it felt often when I was reading this book. Not because of how sad the book is. Quite the opposite - it was actually cheery and I felt guilty many times of laughing or smiling. I did see the end coming early in the book but that didn't make me disappointed in the book. The only thing that bugged me was how cheesy the book was initially - I really wish I didn't feel bothered by adolescent urges and desires and in fact, I don't - however, I do think there are some authors who get that aspect right while some just suck at it (sorry!). Ultimately, I would recommend this book only if you really can handle crying (a lot).
I borrowed this book from the good old library.