February 25, 2015

The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers

Wow, this is one that really sticks with you.  I just found it on my bookshelf one day (I'm really not sure where it came from) and finally picked it up and read through it.  And kept reading almost straight through because I was that entranced by it.  It's not that it's a pleasant story; far from it in fact.  But it is an important story, and based on glimpses of real life.

Lulu and Merry don't have the most conventional childhood, but they have parents.  That is until their father in a drunken rage kills their mother and severely injures Merry in the process.  Now parentless, they are sent to an orphanage where survival is a daily thing with the other girls.  They have family, but none that can actually take care of them want them and so until they are fostered by a well to do family, the orphanage is their existence.  Merry still visits her father and has become his link to the world and it weighs heavy on her shoulders.  Lulu prefers to think that he doesn't exist and throws herself into her studies.  As the years go by the events haunt them deeply and have an impact on every decision they make.

Lulu and Merry are both terrific characters.  Although I preferred Lulu and her storyline, both were well developed and you could feel empathy towards them.  And they were very realistic in what domestic violence does to families and how it impacts the children.  The rest of the characters were pretty much side characters.  I can't say they were as fully developed.  But they were all important and as much as you didn't like the father, he was still an integral piece of the story.  And I could feel myself growing angry at the orphanage and the people in it, which means you know the characterization was done well if you feel actual emotion.

It's a sad novel.  Very sad because it is a completely plausible situation to happen in real life.  And things like this happen all the time.  There is violence done everywhere.  But reading how these girls coped (or didn't cope) was somewhat inspiring as they were still trying to make their life and go on.  Meyers has a way for really evoking emotion from the reader and the level of detail was just right (although perhaps not quite palatable for those who can't handle violence and descriptions of violence).  I think the social message is important too.  Domestic violence can be unexpected sometimes and support for the victims is not always there.  So anything that increases awareness helps.

A very thought provoking book and one I would highly recommend.  Lulu and Merry's stories will make you want to cry and change the world.

The Murderer's Daughters
Copyright 2009
310 pages

February 13, 2015

The Poser by Jacob Rubin

I really didn't think I was going to make it through this one.  It just started out so slow and lost my attention.  But seeing as how I loathe to never finish a book I kept going, and ended up enjoying "The Poser" if only just a little.

Giovanni has never known his father but has been especially close with his mother.  So much so, that even into his adult life she runs the show and he returns to her home every night after being a ticket collector.  But Giovanni does have one talent.  Or maybe not a talent but an innate trait that he was born with.  He can imitate anyone.  And he can do it fairly quickly upon meeting them.  He just has to find what he calls, "their thread" and that allows him to unravel a whole person, see them for who they are, and do an impression.  So when he's discovered, it's this trait that bursts him into stardom and places not even his mama imagined he would go.

I did not like Giovanni's mother.  I thought that in the beginning she was necessary, but that her latter actions in the story were just to help move it along and cause a bit of strife.  Her personality and wants for Giovanni seem to shift and I can't say that I ever really got a definite hold on her motivations.  But she is the one person Giovanni doesn't need to imitate.  I also thought that Lucy was a great character and was swept aside too quickly for playing such a pivotal person in Giovanni's life.  But maybe that's show biz eh?  Giovanni himself is all characters and none.  He wasn't really supposed to have his own personality (although he kind of does) and instead mirrors everything around him (which is insinuated in the book with the usage of mirrors).

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I read the description of the book.  I thought it would be about an imitator who is so caught up in other people that he forgets his own personality, but this book has Giovanni have no personality of his own from the beginning, not something that he would lose.  I did think that the initial break into show business and all of the details of the stage and people and really the first half of the book were slow paced and I didn't enjoy it.  But I am glad that I persevered because I did enjoy the second half of the book.  I liked Giovanni's descent into something he didn't fully understand and his exploration of a different set of people.  It seemed more authentic and less gaudy, which may have been the author's intent for all I know.  I do have to warn for the casual reader that the book can get a bit raunchy at times.  And by raunchy I mean there was a sleazier part of Giovanni's life and Rubin describes them fully.  So if you're looking for something light and comedic I would say that this book instead falls into the category of dark and not so much comedic as an exploration of humanness. 

Hard to start, slow to continue, but by the end it will be hard to put down.  I'd recommend this book and would probably check out other novels that Rubin will write.

The Poser
Copyright 2015
242 pages

**This book was received through the Amazon Vine Program**