Book Review

Book Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Title: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Author: Lionel Shriver

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Quick Takeaway: This is a fascinating read that explores the issues of nature vs. nurture using the subject matter of a mother who never wanted children and her deeply troubled child.

Who Should Read This? I would absolutely recommend this book to lovers of psychology because of the “nature vs. nurture” theme. It is also very dark, so I would also recommend it to anyone looking for character-driven horror.

Review: This is a brilliant book about the nature of evil. Are people born evil? Is evil a learned behavior? I don’t want to go into the details about the plot of the book because I don’t want to give anything away, but this is the type of book that is character-driven while still including a lot of plot and suspense elements. Eva is an absolutely fascinating character. I found that I could relate a lot to her, but it would not at all surprise me if others find her to be very unlikable. I have never been particularly interested in having children, and this is a major theme in the book. Are there some people who should never be parents? Are some children just born bad?  As a character study, I found the character of the mother Eva to be far more interesting than the character study of the son Kevin, but the bits that focused on him were also very well-written and intriguing.

Final Thoughts: This is a great book about human nature and the nature of darkness. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is sure to be a great conversation starter for a book club.

 

 

Book Review

Book Review: Veronika Decides to Die

Title: Veronika Decides to Die

Author: Paulo Coelho

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Quick Takeaway: The book’s subtitle sums this book up brilliantly: “A Novel of Redemption.” Don’t be dissuaded by the dark title. This is ultimately a very uplifting book.

Who Should Read this Book? People interested in human nature, psychology, and sociology

Review: Veronika, a young woman who thinks she has nothing to live for, attempts but fails at suicide. As she recovers in a mental hospital, she learns that her suicide attempt has done damage to her heart and she has very little time to live. But her time in the hospital helps her to regain the joy of living and the freedom of being herself.

This book has many very sad moments, but it has a very triumphant feel. The life lessons that Veronika learns during her stay in the mental hospital are very universally valuable. There are some very profound moments here. I’ve actually read this book several times. Whenever I’m feeling like I’m in a rut, or when I feel like I’m not experiencing all the joys that life has to offer, I reread this book in order to be reminded of the importance of being myself and never giving up on the beauty that can be found in the most unlikely places.

Final Thoughts: This is a very powerful book. I think that it has many timeless qualities, and it expertly delves into many aspects of the human condition.

Book Review

Book Review: The Art Forger

Title: The Art Forger

Author: Barbara A. Shapiro

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Quick Takeaway: I read this for a book club that I lead for the library. While it did meander at times, I enjoyed it overall and we were able to have a great discussion for our book club.

Who Should Read This? This is a great read for art lovers and those looking for a mystery that focuses more on character than plot.

Review: While this is a mystery, it is not very traditional. I absolutely love mysteries, but I was much less interested in the mystery aspects of this book than I was the central characters. The main character Claire, a professional art forger whose career is legally forging famous art for commercial purposes, is commissioned to forge a famous stolen painting. The circumstances under which she is asked to perform this task are suspect, but she finds herself falling for the enigmatic art dealer Aiden Markel  who may not be as he seems.

I really enjoyed the character of Claire. She was sympathetic and she was really put through a lot of relatable tragedies. She is a very talented artist, but she has a terrible reputation in the art world, and she struggles to overcome the decisions she’s made.

I also really enjoyed learning more about the process of painting, especially the process of forgery. I’ve dabbled in abstract painting but only as a hobby, so I felt like this was a really interesting learning experience about the world of art, especially classic art.

Final Thoughts: I don’t think this book will appeal to everyone. If someone loves a good traditional mystery and has little interest in learning about the creation of art, this may be a bit of a letdown. However, if you’re more interested in character and you’re fascinated by art, go ahead and give this one a try!