Just One Day

My resolution to not start a series until all of the books have been released went right out the window!  When I started this book I had no idea that there was going to be a second book, released in October, called Just One Year.  I didn’t realize it until I was half way through the book and happened to glance at the back cover – “Coming Soon!”  Seriously?!  Now I have to wait another 8 months for this story to end??  I HATE it when that happens!
just one dayAllyson is on a trip through Europe before starting college in the fall, boring, reliable, safe Allyson, when she meets Willem, a Dutchman performing Shakespeare, and agrees to spend a day with him in Paris.  Willem dubs her Lulu, and for that one day she allows herself to be, to feel, to experience, to love.

“Because that day with Willem, I may have pretended to be someone named Lulu, but I had never been more honest in my life.  Maybe that’s the thing with liberation. It comes at a price.”

When Allyson wakes up the next day and is unable to find Willem, she has to find herself.  Her one day in Paris changes her life and sends her on a year of self-discovery.

“Part of me knows one more day won’t do anything except postpone the heartbreak. But another part of me believes differently. We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.” 

Allyson is not the only character on a journey of self-discovery – her best friend tries on different personalities as casually as trying on shoes and abandons Allyson in the process.  Dee, her gay friend in college, is also trying to figure out who and how to be, who to show himself to, and what parts of himself to share.  Allyson’s mother is controlling and annoying, but as a mom myself I can appreciate her journey of figuring out who she is if her days are not absorbed with being Allyson’s mom.  How does a young adult break away and how does a parent learn to let go?

Just One Day was a joy to read (even if there is now an 8-month long cliffhanger!), although Allyson’s struggle to find herself does get a little annoying in the middle of the book where she seems to spend far too much time feeling sorry for herself and very little time trying to do something about it!  Having said that, I was racing to the end, found it to be a quick and enjoyable read filled with travel, friendship, and maybe even love…

   Title: Just One Day   
   Author: Gayle Forman   
   Genre: Young Adult Fiction
   Pages: 369
   Publication: Dutton Juvenile, January 2013

Out of the Easy

I’m a grown-up, solidly in middle-age, no longer a teenager.  But I have to admit that some of my favorite books of all time (The Book Thief, The Giver, Between Shades of Gray, The Running Dream, The Fault in our Stars, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, etc) are those that have been categorized as “young adult” books.  There has been an explosion of publishing in this area lately, and while there is plenty of garbage available, there are also many wonderful stories, deep and meaningful, suspenseful, romantic, funny.  Whatever type of book you like to read, there are excellent young adult titles that you will love.  Don’t let the young adult categorization fool you, all it means is that it is a book that is being marketed to teens, most often the protagonist in the story is a “young adult”, or someone between the ages of 14 and 21.  It does NOT mean that the book is silly or juvenile or poorly written (although it could be – plenty of adult books are too!) or that it won’t appeal to an adult.  Actually, today the majority of young adult titles are purchased by adults.  So, all you other “grown-ups” out there – don’t be afraid to browse around in the young adult section of your local library or bookstore, you may be surprised at what great things you can find!

ImageI had read Ruta Sepetys’s previous book, Between Shades of Gray (NO, not 50 Shades!), and absolutely loved it.  It was a little odd how much I liked it.  Historical fiction is not generally my favorite genre.  It has to be really well written for me to become absorbed in another time.  Her story of a Lithuanian family torn apart and sent to prison camps during World War II was gripping and heart-wrenching.

Out of the Easy was just as wonderful and engrossing.  In the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950, Josie is looking for a way to escape poverty, her prostitute mother, and a life full of filth and crime.  Surrounded by a memorable cast of characters that support and hinder Josie along the way, she will have to struggle to make her way, especially when she is caught in the middle of an investigation into a suspicious death.  Faced with a number of difficult situations and complex relationships, the decisions that Josie makes will ultimately determine her fate.

I really LOVED Josie, trying so hard to be different from her mother and trying to build a different kind of life for herself, so mature and self-sufficient, yet also a sad little girl who sometimes still longs for a father and a loving mother.  There are moments of wry humor – “Patrick explained that your father is absent.  What about your mother, dear?”  Mother?   Oh, she’s in a dusty motel in California right now, cooling herself with a cold Schlitz in her cleavage.” and moments of clarity of purpose – “I wasn’t certain of anything anymore, except that New Orleans was a faithless friend and I wanted to leave her.”

The supporting cast of characters, including prostitutes, gangsters, authors, booksellers, and “uptown” folk keep the story moving swiftly, adding heart, humor, and horror.  Among my favorites are Willie, the tough-as-nails madam who loves Josie more than her own mother does, and Cokie, the mulatto driver for Willie’s “establishment”.   Cokie sees the world as it truly is, but remains hopeful and positive, providing true friendship and support to Josie, encouraging her to move on in her life – “Sometimes we set off down a road thinkin’ we’re goin’ one place and we end up another. But that’s okay. The important thing is to start.”  Cokie and Willie, along with several other key characters, provide Josie with a family of sorts, the kind that is made instead of born, and which turns out to be truer anyway.

   Title: Out of the Easy
   Author: Ruta Sepetys
   Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
   Pages: 346
   Publication: Philomel, February 2013

And so it begins…

For awhile I’ve been contemplating of finding a way to share my thoughts on books: what I’m reading, quotes that inspire me, what’s happening in the world of libraries.  Today I woke up and decided I would try to put together this blog as a way of doing that.  I am sure it will take me a little while to work out the kinks, so please be patient and hang in there with me!

A little about me and why I am inspired to do this.  I received my BSEE from Clarkson University in 1995 and spent the next 16 years working in the engineering field.  Feeling unfulfilled by my career, in 2009 I announced to my husband that I was going to go back to school to get my degree in library science.  Why?  Definitely not for the power or the money!  😉  I have long felt that the power of the written word to entertain, inform, educate, and inspire is immeasurable.  To me, there is no greater purpose than to provide everyone with open and free access to books.  There are very few things that have the same capability to change people’s lives.  The greatest good that a community can provide for its citizens is to support a public library.

So began my journey.  For the next two years my family would provide unwavering support as I pursued my MLIS from Drexel University while continuing my engineering career.  In 2011 I received my degree and was fortunate enough to receive a position as the Director of the Sherrill-Kenwood Free Library in Sherrill, NY.  The destination was worth the journey and I now spend my days pursuing my passions.  This blog is my way of reaching out to an even wider audience, sharing what I love.

Why the name “Watching the Words”?  It is part of a quote from what is probably my most treasured book, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  For now, all I will say about the book is that if you have not read it, you should, immediately.

As for a brief summary about me personally, I live in Canastota, NY, a small town in upstate NY in an old farmhouse.  I share this life with my husband, Todd (still an engineer!), and our children William (16) and Madalyn (11).  Other members of our family include a cranky cat (Jo-Jo), our protector Nala (a German Shepherd), and our newest addition Hugo (a Pug puppy).  Our life here is chaotic, fun, and full.  We are truly blessed.