Books I Read in July
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is a Holocaust book, one of many that have been written for the young adult genre (The Devil's Arithmetic, Number the Stars, and, of course, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, which is often required reading in schools). However, its slightly different point of view on the subject makes it extremely interesting: Death himself tells us this story through his own eyes, recounting the millions of people he "collected" during this time in history, and the story of one girl's experiences in particular. It honestly took me quite a while to get into this book; I thought the pace was slow and there was a ton of foreshadowing that I found really confusing. However, like so many books, once I got far enough in, I was completely hooked and there was no way I was going to let this story go. Liesel, our little book thief (but she steals for good reason, I promise!) finds herself given up by her mother to live with a foster family in a tiny village in Nazi Germany. The book follows a few years of her life as her foster parents (you will adore her Papa - I'm getting teary-eyed just thinking about how great he is), her neighborhood, and her town are horrendously affected by the terrors of the Fuhrer. While the story itself is well worth the read, the language that Zusak uses makes it all the more haunting; he uses some of the most beautiful and unexpected similes and metaphors I have ever read in my life (if I was still teaching middle school, these would be some great examples!). Warning: this is a lay-in-your-bed-crying-when-you're-finished sort of book.
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
People magazine recommended this one to me. This novel is actually a series of short, loosely connected stories offering a glimpse into the lives of the men, women, and families of Fort Hood (a gigantic military base in Texas). I lived on an Air Force base in England while I did my student teaching my last semester of college, and the military lifestyle has been sort of fascinating to me ever since, and this book gave me an even better idea of what it would be like to actually be a military spouse. If you're the type of person that likes endings to be wrapped up and tied with a pretty bow, this book probably isn't for you. Each story is beautifully, honestly told--some tragic, some mysterious, some inspiring--but the end of every single chapter left off without perfect resolution. Perhaps as a reader we're supposed to imagine for ourselves what happened next. All in all, it was a quick read that I really enjoyed.
P.S. Books I read in June, May, April, last winter