Archive for May, 2015

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz

May 5, 2015

[Lesley]¬†From the beginning, I loved the voice of Aristotle Mendez. Much of this book is the interior landscape and monologue of this young Mexican American boy who is coming-of-age. His life is complicated in the usual and unusual ways: his parents drive him crazy (his dad is a Vietnam War veteran who doesn’t talk much and not at all about the war), he doesn’t have a lot of friends (but he is also a bit of a loner who doesn’t wish for lots of friends), he isn’t close to his siblings (twin sisters who are much older and a brother who is in jail and whom no one talks about). Ari meets Dante and through their friendship all the characters seem to come of age – including the adults. At one point, I wondered who the audience for this book was… would many teenage boys see themselves in thoughtful, inquisitive Ari? But, I decided that it didn’t really matter. I have known kids who would have loved this book and even if they are the minority, they are the kids I’ll never forget. I loved this book, loved the characters, and learned things about myself through reading it. I listened to it on audio and the reader (Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda) added a lot to the authenticity and charm of the voice.

Available on Hoopla

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

The Opposite of Spoiled, by Ron Lieber

May 5, 2015

[Lesley] This is a straightforward look at talking with your kids about money. Lieber includes some practical examples of how to deal with allowance, saving, family decisions, etc. but the real value I found was the discussion about the need to talk honestly with kids about all kinds of topics relating to money: what we make, how and why we make decisions about what to buy when, giving, delayed gratification… His approach to allowance wasn’t new to me (don’t use allowance as a reward for chores that kids should be doing as contributing family members) but his thoughtful explanation of why he thinks that way and what consequences result from different methods was illuminating. Not everything in the book felt applicable to me but I appreciated his approach and have been more conscious of how I talk about money with my daughter.

Available on Hoopla

The Opposite of Spoiled

Unforgettable, by Scott Simon

May 5, 2015

[Lesley]¬†Often we think that a book about a lost loved one will be depressing – how couldn’t it be? But, some of the best ones are truly a celebration of that loved one, about the life that person lived and not the sadness of those left behind. Scott Simon manages to tell the story of who his mother was through tweets and short chapters. Her personality, joie de vivre, and love for her family are alive in these pages. Instead of feeling sad at the end of the book, I felt lucky to have gotten a glimpse of someone who made a difference. “It was a sad, cold, raw, rotten day,” she remembered. “So I thought: Let me try to give it a small kindness.” Patricia Lyons Simon Newman was the kind of person I would like to be. Though we know that losing his mother was painful, we are left with her humor, strength, and common sense wisdom rather than pain.

Available on Hoopla

Unforgettable

See also: The End of Your Life Book Club