Archive | August, 2016

WWW Wednesday, 31-August-2016

31 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


BoySnowCurrently reading: I read very little of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I’m hoping I can find a little time to read it this week, but it’s really not looking good for me. I knew this one would be a long, slow read, but I didn’t think it would take this long.
I’ve made decent progress in World Without End by Ken Follett. It’s a long book to be sure, but I’ve been going on some long runs and getting through good chunks of it on each one. It will be a while, but I’ll make it through.
I just started Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi so I can’t say too certainly what I think of it so far. I’m hoping to finish this one quickly but we’ll see what happens.

OnePersonRecently finished: I made it through In One Person by John Irving a day faster than I thought I would! I finished it Saturday afternoon and I was so excited. It was a good read with some small disappointments toward the end. It had all the classic John Irving elements to it that I love so I can’t say I’m too upset with it. My book club met to talk about it on Monday so I’ll have a reflection up soon. My book review went up on Monday.

Henrietta LacksReading Next: It will be another book club book I suspect. We’re picking up The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for our next selection. This book caught my eye when I was working at a textbook store in college and had to rent it to the entire freshman class of the university across town. I thought it had been out forever because of that but it was probably the year after it was published, in 2011, that this happened. I’m excited to finally see what it’s about!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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How Many Beta Readers?

30 Aug

As I mentioned in my post about fantasy, I’m writing a short piece now for a contest. I’ve edited it based on feedback I got on that post (thank you to everyone who helped out!) and when I was happy with it, my husband read it. He had some good feedback about consistency and a change or two to make and I’ve edited again to a point where we’re both happy with it. My question is, where does this process end?

With such a short piece (500 words) I don’t want to edit the piece to death. With a longer work, I’ll ask multiple people to read it and let me know what they think. Different points will strike home with different people so having multiple beta readers is helpful. But with such a short piece, it’s hard to miss any plot element. I’m thinking of asking one more friend to read it before I submit the piece.

Are two beta readers enough for a 500-word story? What about 5,000 words? Or 50,000? Is there a point where you reach critical mass and more eyes don’t help anymore? Please tell me what you think, reader. I’m trying to find my perfect balance.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: In One Person by John Irving (4/5)

29 Aug

The preambulatory pages to this book include a list of other works by John Irving. It lists 17. Along with this novel and one published since that makes 19 publications (14 of these are novels). I’ve now read 8 of his novels and I have two more on my shelf to read in the future. It’s hard to say why I like Irving’s work so much. I first read A Prayer for Owen Meany (still my favorite) in high school at the recommendation of my favorite English teacher. I stormed through several of his other books through high school and college and since then, this has been my first trip down Irving lane. My library owns a book-club-set of this title and after unsuccessfully petitioning for it six months ago, I got it on the list for this go around. I’m so looking forward to what the club has to say about my favorite writer.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

In One Person by John Irving

Summary from Goodreads:

A New York Times bestselling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love—tormented, funny, and affecting—and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of In One Person, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a “sexual suspect,” a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 in his landmark novel of “terminal cases,” The World According to Garp.

In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy’s friends and lovers—a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself “worthwhile.”

Irving might not have been the best writer to fall in love with at age 15. His books are rather ‘raunchy’ in their own way. Most involve a young sexual experience that sticks with the character for much of his life and many of them don’t shy away from intimate details. There’s usually at least one suicide as well. This novel hit on almost all of the ‘John Irving Tropes’ I’ve come to love. I believe the only one missing was a bear. It had wrestling, a main character with absent/dead parents, living in Europe, boarding schools, a writer for a main character, and theater. I hope this doesn’t sound demeaning because I love that Irving is still finding new and unique ways to use all of these elements. Billy’s bisexuality was different from his previous novels. Irving is no stranger to saying unpopular things or going after subjects that can be sensitive. The Cider House Rules focused on abortion. This novel focuses on gay rights. I commend Irving for saying what might be unpopular and couching it in great fiction.

Irving’s characters are memorable and I love his secondary characters most. We have Emily, the daughter of a friend, who won’t stop screaming when she sees a man. Delacourt, who won’t drink water for fear of gaining weight before wrestling weigh-in and who perpetually rinses and spits into paper cups. These quirky side characters make an Irving novel fun. His main characters, chiefly Billy, Elaine, and Kitteridge, don’t have as many odd quirks, but they’re very deep and well thought out, especially Kitteridge.

I’d say Kitteridge is my favorite character, but I was unhappy with how his character resolved at the end. (I won’t spoil it here, but I’ll say it wasn’t what I was hoping for.) I could tell that as a child, he was unhappy with or hiding something. The way he spoke about his mother was very revealing. His relationship with Elaine I thought was more so. I always smile when I go to a high-school stage production and it seems like some of the guys were convinced to fill in roles by their girlfriends and would be much happier on the football field or the wrestling mat. I kept looking for that in Kitteridge, but he really wanted to be there and I would love to know more about what he did with that. I felt he convinced his friends to surround him to make him feel more at home, but he liked pretending to be someone else and he enjoyed looking for motivation and figuring out delivery. He made me think from the beginning and I liked that about him.

 

I related to young Elaine but I felt she was very different after she returned from Europe. She seemed to want and reject attention from boys, her parents, even Billy. I felt that way when I was her age. I wanted to be seen, but only as much as I was comfortable with. I was on stage, but never a leading role. I flirted, but I backed away when anything turned serious. I liked Elaine initially because of this similarity, but in the end, I wasn’t a big fan of her character. I felt she ended up very cold.

John Irving Image via the author's website

John Irving
Image via the author’s website

The time at Favorite River was my favorite. I like the boarding school setting for almost any book (A Separate PeaceHarry Potter) so I loved seeing it in this book. The characters in Billy’s life were consistent while he was at school. He knew them better than I think he knew his friends and lovers later in life. The people he met at school were the ones he remembered the rest of his life. I thought it was very telling that though he didn’t wrestle, he knew Coach Hoyt really well and visited him into old age. That’s the kind of strong relationship that I think makes a good book.

One of the men from my book club sent me his thoughts before I finished the book and the only one I really remember is that he said the ending felt rushed. I thought about this as I read through the end of the book and I can see that. There are elements of an Irving novel that will be important and stressed, but then go without mention for 100+ pages just to pop up again and be important. Kitteridge was one of these and I felt unsatisfied with how he came up again. The duck-under was another which I felt had a very lackluster conclusion. I would have been happier if it ended with the New York Athletic Club.

Billy never seems to feel he fits in anywhere. As a bisexual, he feels mistrusted by straight women and rejected by gay men. He never finds a community that lets him feel he belongs. Even Larry, his long time friend, criticizes his involvement in the AIDS epidemic and says he’s not invested because he didn’t loose someone close to him. A lot of Irving’s characters feel they don’t fit in anywhere and I think Billy was out to prove he did fit in. The ending, with Gee, didn’t seem fitting at first but as I read the final pages and thought about it after, it did fit for me. Gee needed someone like Billy to come into her own and I don’t think anyone else on campus could have done that for her. She’s lucky her parents were so supportive and that they’d send her somewhere where Billy could help her. He made himself an activist and a mentor when it was most needed and I think that was exactly his purpose in life.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’ve had to do some research in Irving and I found that a lot of the ‘Irving tropes’ I spoke of before are things that happened to him. He was a wrestler, competing into his 30s. He went to Exeter (a boarding school). His father wasn’t in his life. He was sexually abused at a young age by an older woman. As much as these elements make for good fiction and some of my favorite books, Irving is writing about what he knows and in a way, is writing about himself. (Many of his protagonists are writers or actors.) It’s not always bad to write what we’re familiar with. I’m sure there’s an interesting part of each of our lives that would make a fascinating story.

A very enjoyable, very Irving-y novel. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
“In One Person” by John Irving | For the Love of Books
Review | In One Person, John Irving | Literary Treats
Too Much Information: John Irving’s In One Person | Frisbee: A Book Journal
John Irving: In One Person | Books We Have Read

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1

25 Aug
Image via Access Hollywood

Image via Access Hollywood

So yes, I caved. I read the first two books of the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series but then I couldn’t do it anymore. They were too long for me and enough out of my genre that I couldn’t keep my interest held the whole time. I caved and watched Season 1. I watched the whole thing with my husband in about a week. Yes, it’s safe to say I’m impressed.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

How close this was to the books. I was really shocked that it was so similar. I kept waiting for something obvious to have changed, but there wasn’t anything. I’m glad Martin insisted on waiting until his books could be done as a TV series, they did them justice.

Dothraki language. I watched the extra features on the DVD that went deeper into this. The language creation and how the actors learned to speak it fascinates me. I was a Spanish language major in school so I find linguistics fascinating. I have so much respect for the man who put it together. Kudos.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Less focus on the maesters and septas. While some of these characters serve important roles, to be sure, I felt that there was too much detail placed on them in the books. Maybe it’s coming in future installments, but I got them all mixed up in the book and found that focusing less on them (especially those who didn’t make it, cough) was better for me.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Tyrion in the battles. Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought Tyrion was more involved in the battles with Tywin toward the end. I wanted to see him fight on his pony but had to settle for him being knocked unconscious. I remember him being very involved in battles in the second book/season so maybe they’re running together in my mind.

 

Things That Changed Too Much

 

All the extra sex. It was a bit too much for me. It seems obvious this was to make it more ‘appealing’ on TV, but the books were risqué enough without adding more. There was too much focus on the whore houses in my opinion.

I’ve already started Season 2. I’m really enjoying this now. Is there any dissenting opinion? Do you all like the TV adaptation of A Game of Thrones?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 24-August-2016

24 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


BeastsCurrently reading: I got through very few pages of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I put my ereader on the kitchen table to encourage me to read if I’m eating alone but until school starts back up again, it seems doubtful that will be happening.
I’m trying to get through In One Person by John Irving this week. My book club meets to discuss it on Monday and I’m leading the discussion. I’m planning to leave a lot of time for reading before then and I should be able to power through.
I’m absolutely in love with World Without End by Ken Follett. I was afraid this book would be less enjoyable than the first in the series, but I think it’s even better. I love the characters and the way Follett builds the plot. I can’t wait to listen to more and more of this one.

Recently finished: Sad news! No books finished this week. I knew this would start to happen with a long audiobook so I’m not surprised. I hope to have one for your next week, though!

Just one book reviewed, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I thought the advice in this book was amazing and a lot of it made sense to me. Great reading and I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

BoySnowReading Next: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi is still sitting on my bedside table. I’m really excited to start it and I hope I can dive in soon. I just have to finish Irving first. The plan is to finish it before Monday so I hope to say I’m reading this one next week.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

What makes a piece fantasy?

23 Aug

I’m writing a submission for a fantasy flash fiction contest. Before I knew the publisher specialized in fantasy, I had an idea for a historical piece in the American West dealing with a boy riding a horse and encountering a rattlesnake. My solution? Make him on a mission from a Duke and have him encounter a mythical creature instead of a snake.

But it feels wrong.

It doesn’t feel like fantasy. It feels like a piece set on the Great Plains with a dumb made-up creature. I don’t write fantasy and perhaps it’s wrong to think I can take my historical piece and ‘make it fantasy.’ Perhaps I need to come up with a fantastical idea. But with a 500-word limit, it’s hard to think that anything too out-of-the-ordinary can be explained.

Maybe I need an established or commonly accepted fantasy setting. I’m watching Game of Thrones now so dragons instantly come to mind. I’m not quite the dragon expert, though.

Any advice, dear Reader? What are some generally accepted fantasy elements that might spark a new idea for me? I have a month to write this piece but I start school in two weeks and would like to have it done by then.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Gem in Chatham, MA (Cape Cod) For the Traveling Bibliophile

22 Aug

img_3291My husband and I traveled to Cape Cod, Massachusetts for a family vacation a few weeks ago. We all split up after lunch to explore the town of Chatham on our own and you can bet I headed straight for the bookstore! I’d walked past Yellow Umbrella Books on our way to lunch and I couldn’t wait to head back and check it out.

Chatham is a small town and almost all the shops catered to tourists like us who were there for the summer to enjoy the beach and the warm weather. This bookstore fit that perfectly. The outside had a shelf of used books for sale and it invited us in to take a look around. There were a lot of new books and those that were used tended to be popular titles. Some were rare and out of print and the store had a good collection of bookish accessories. I bought a bookmark with a painted turtle on it myself. It was quite cute! The journals made a good display. A lot of the books prominently displayed were (of course) more of the ‘beach read’ variety. The store knows its audience well!

What really captured my attention was the decorations they still had up for their Harry Potter and the Cursed Child release. They were spectacular and this is just the type of place I would want to find if I was on vacation for the release. It looks like a great party!

I’ll be sure to report out on my next adventure! Planning is still in process to be prepared for anything!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (4/5)

18 Aug

When I was in college, my roommate read this book. She told me about it and how it made sense in her relationship and helped her think about how to best communicate with her long-distance boyfriend. I liked the idea of it and I’ve actually purchased it for friends as a wedding gift but I haven’t read it myself. While waiting for an audiobook hold to come it, I figured I’d have just about enough time to get through it and I’m really glad I read it.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

Summary from Goodreads:

Marriage should be based on love, right? But does it seem as though you and your spouse are speaking two different languages? #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language-quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.

By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other. Chapters are categorized by love language for easy reference, and each one ends with simple steps to express a specific language to your spouse and guide your marriage in the right direction. A newly designed love languages assessment will help you understand and strengthen your relationship. You can build a lasting, loving marriage together.

This book makes a lot of sense. When I thought about what my husband does that shows me he loves me, it seemed really obvious that acts of service are important to me. I also value quality time and I know gifts matter the least to me. It was very eye-opening to go through this book and see different couples and how they interacted with each other and how their marriages were impacted by the love language they valued most. I’m still trying to figure out my husband’s primary love language but I’ve narrowed it down to two.

 

Thankfully, I couldn’t relate to any of the stories in the book. I’m three years into my marriage and I either still have the ‘in love’ feeling, or my husband is speaking my love language because I’m beyond happy. It was incredible to hear stories of marriages that were turned around with this practice and Dr. Chapman’s book. It makes sense to me and it makes me really happy to hear that this book really helps people. I thought it was fun to hear that the book has been translated into many languages and is read in many cultures where it still makes sense. We’re not all that different around the world after all.

Dr. Gary Chapman Image via the 5 Love Languages website

Dr. Gary Chapman
Image via the 5 Love Languages website

I thought Chapman used a good mix of examples and teaching. It helped explain and highlight his points well. I liked that he used personal examples, too. It’s good that he’s open about the marital trouble he had early in his relationship with his wife, it helps solidify his point.

I felt that a lot of the examples and stories stuck to very traditional gender roles. A lot of the stories talked about women living at home and raising children while the men worked and how a man didn’t think he should have to clean because a woman would do that. This upset me a lot because it’s not what I grew up with and it’s not like my marriage now. My mom worked from the time I was nine and my dad always washed the dishes and took out the trash. I cook in my home but my husband cleans the bathroom. I felt it was a little off-putting to use only examples with strong traditional gender roles because it made me wonder how the advice would apply to my life.

Chapman narrates the book himself and I think he did well. There was an interview with him at the beginning so I was ready for his soft Southern accent. He had good inflection through the book and he was easy to understand without speaking too quietly.

I think this would be a good book for anyone in marital difficult to read and even for those without problems or not yet married. It’s helped me see how I could better demonstrate my love to my husband and that the things I want him to do for me might not mean the same things to him. I think I might start making this a standard wedding gift from us again.

Writer’s Takeaway: I don’t write much non-fiction but I liked Chapman’s storytelling style. He was very conversational and told his anecdotes simply, not dressing up or dramatizing the details. The tone made me feel like I might be at one of his seminars or reading his presentation notes. I think it was a very effective style for this subject matter and genre.

I really enjoyed this quick book and I got a lot out of reading it. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
The 5 Love Languages | Covenant Couples

WWW Wednesday, 17-August-2016

17 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


WithoutEndCurrently reading: Unfortunately, I have no new update on In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I was out-of-town for the weekend (again) and couldn’t find the time. I hope to make some more progress soon.
I’m really enjoying In One Person by John Irving. It has all of the classic Irving tropes so far and for some reason, they never get old for me. I have two weeks to finish this for my book club and it’s a bit long so I hope I make it!
I started the audiobook for World Without End by Ken Follett and so far I absolutely love it. Follett is an amazing writer and this one is just as enjoyable as the first. It’s 26 files on my phone and I’m on file three. It’s going to be a long run.

5LL-7.09.F.inddRecently finished:I really enjoyed The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman a lot more than I thought I would. His advice makes sound sense to me and I’ve been trying it out a bit with my husband. I’m still trying to figure out his language by speaking them all and seeing what he responds to.

Three reviews for you all this week! It’s crazy, I know. Last Thursday was 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I enjoyed the book for its memoir qualities but I’m not going to start meditating anytime soon. Three out of Five stars.
The second is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. No surprise here, I loved it. A full Five out of Five stars and a possible reread at any point in the future.
The third is Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. This was a solid read that reminded me of A Separate Peace but was enjoyable in its own way. Four out of Five stars.

BoySnowReading Next: I’ve got Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi on my bedside table. I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to pick it up, but I’m looking forward to this one. So many people have said wonderful things.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles (4/5)

16 Aug

This was one of the books I would never have known about if it wasn’t for Goodreads. I loved A Separate Peace and I didn’t realize there was a sequel until I added it on Goodreads and saw Knowles’ other books. I’ve been wanting to read it for ages and I’m so glad I finally have.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles

Summary from Goodreads:

In the uneasy peace after World War II, the senior year at Devan School for Boys in New Hampshire changes from a time of friendship into a stunning drama of tragic betrayal.

Knowles has a way of writing a book about schoolboys that is so much more than a book about schoolboys. Instead of dealing with being prepared for war and what war really means, we have boys dealing with an absence of war. They were mentally prepared to become soldiers and deal with fighting and death when they graduated and suddenly, their lives are peaceful again. I’d never considered the impact of an armistice on the boys who were gearing up to fight. I liked that Knowles picked a lesser-discussed group to focus on in this novel.

His characters were amazing. Wexford was a great mix of cunning, smart, and ambitious. I liked watching him play with the minds of the students around him because he was so fun to hate. I liked Tug and Nick a lot as well. Their relationship was fun for Knowles to play with, I’m sure. I liked how Nick idolized Tug but at the same time, I had more respect for Nick because he was an independent thinker whereas Tug followed his friends. Pete was the straight man, but he was no less enjoyable for that. The companion novel (because this isn’t much of a sequel) did a great job of living up to my expectation of great characters.

I liked Wexford best. I didn’t find his motivation completely believable, but he was explained enough to be compelling. He was very smart and as Pete says at the end, he’ll probably end up in a high and influential position which is completely terrifying. He was so fun to hate and at the same time, I almost wanted to root for him. Well, until the end was revealed. Then I hated him again.

One of the more compelling parts of the novel was that the boys seemed so different from me. I couldn’t imagine growing up, priming myself to be a soldier to have it all wiped clean. The title is very fitting. Peace has come over Devon as maliciously as war. I could most relate to Pete because he was the observer. He was powerless to stop the anger seething around him and I think it scared him.

I liked the ski trips. At first, I was afraid someone was going to die in a skiing accident and I thought that would be very unfitting to the theme of the book, but when I realized what Knowles was going to do with the trip, I was impressed. He used the trips as a critical plot point. I thought the circumstances of their skiing were really fun, too. I liked that they stayed in barns and carried all the food themselves, walking up the mountain and sleeping in a shack. It makes skiing seem much more dangerous and rugged than it does today.

I thought Hochschwender got a bad reputation in the book and that bothered me. At one point, I thought he was playing everyone else by writing the editorial for the school newspaper and I wish that had gone somewhere more. I think he was up to something and I would have liked to see him go head-to-head with Wexford a bit more. I think he could have stood a good chance but got cut out too soon.

It’s hard for me to pick out a specific theme for this book. The problem these boys have seems to be an outlet for their aggression. They are lacking someone to direct their anger toward so they are picking on each other. There was no war to fight in so they created one. More than anything, I think this book is speaking about those we didn’t consider in the aftermath of the war. The veterans came home as heroes, but the boys that never left had no reason to be applauded. Pete can’t figure out why they wanted to fight. He knew how dangerous and miserable being a soldier could be, but these boys would hear none of it.

Writer’s Takeaway: The two things that I loved most about this book were the complex and well-developed characters and the subject. Having a unique subject, like those boys who missed the war, makes for a very interesting book. I’ve never read anything else about these boys. Having unique and defined characters like Knowles wrote makes the story so much richer. There was a lot to enjoy in this book by such an iconic writer.

I really enjoyed the book and I’d recommend it to those who were fans of A Separate Peace. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles | Pages Unbound Reviews