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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Language of Flowers/ and Unbroken - Grown up book club books

The Language of Flowers was a book I thought I would love!  I adore flowers, and to learn they had their own language?  What's not to love?  I'll tell you what.  The main character.  Couldn't stand her.  She drove me nuts.  She made terrible choices over and over and over again.  I should have had more sympathy for her, given her background, but I couldn't find it.  I felt kind of bad about it, too.  Still do, actually.  Which is kind of a little weird, isn't it?  I mean, she's not real.

This book, though, led to some awesome discussion in our book club.  Hardly anyone liked that main character, but she gave us lots to talk about and explore.  She made us stop and examine how our society deals with children in foster care, for instance, which most of us never even give a moment's thought to.  She made us think about guilt and how that affect people. We discussed post partum depression and post natal care.  So many rich ideas came out, that while I went into book club feeling like I didn't really like this book, I came out thinking differently.  I didn't like the character, but the book was worth reading.

And the language of flowers itself?  Super cool. Recommended for book groups.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is also an adult book club book which I am sure will lend itself to all kinds of great discussion.  The book chronicles the life of Olympic track runner Louis Zamperini, focusing mostly on the period from when his airplane was shot out of the sky by the Japanese through his capture and imprisonment as a POW. I thought the writing in this book was excellent, and the story was also excellent.  The events are intense and suspenseful, gripping the reader's attention.

There was too much violence for me, though.  I think that some examples of the barbarity and inhumanity inflicted on the prisoners would have been enough to get the point across, but that Hillenbrand put too many examples in the story, and it became wearisome.  I'm not sure if that's more a poor commentary on me - like I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend those horrible things didn't happen - or if she really did put too many details in, but that's how I felt. I did listen to this book on audio which did not allow me to skim sections, which I probably would have done had I had the actual text.

History buffs and those who like biographies and/or war stories will be intrigued by this powerful story.

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