Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Review: That Summer

The inundation of book reviews and lack of real entries? That's because I'm doing nothing but reading and studying for the GRE....

that summer

That Summer has the hallmarks I love and find unique about Sarah Dessen's books. Her protagonists aren't extraordinary, and the world does not shift with their movements. Indeed, Haven's life during That Summer is not too different from any teenager's life during a particularly difficult summer. She does not fall in love, have tragedy occur or encounter significant loss or disease. Indeed, this changes in Dessen's later books, so I enjoyed it here. Her writing style is also evident in this first novel, with a tendency to revel the past in long explanation, which though possibly frowned upon, I sort of like.

The thing is, I can definitely pin this as a first novel. Some plot points could use definite revision. For instance, Haven's revelation about her sister's ex-boyfriend was not a revelation to me. As soon as the second girl, the sister's friend, was introduced I knew that something had happened between them. Having this girl be a member of her sister's friends-group before the boyfriend might have made things a little bit more mysterious. Really, I wouldn't have minded a relationship between Haven and Sumner. Nice and scandalous that, but I guess it doesn't happen in real life....

On a side note, it was fun reading this thirteen years after its publication. No cellphones, no internet. Kids lazily wandering the neighborhood on a summer's day, not engrossed by Gameboys. Oh how we change...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review: Shadow of the Giant


I read Shadow of the Giant in one day, after ordering it from my Amazon wishlist. As opposed to Shadow Puppets which I grabbed as soon as it came out I forgot about this one for a long time, though I did want to know what happened to Petra, Bean and their babies. I have to say that I was a little disappointed. The overall story is good, but I felt there was too much focus on the third-party characters who do not mean as much to the reader. Also, and though I have noticed in Card's books before it was more here, there are huge chunks of plot-revealing dialogue that just get old. I also feel that sending Bean out to space just as he did Ender was a bit of a cop-out, though the one-missing child arc is interesting. I also predicted the Peter and Petra ending during the first chapter of the book. I feel like Card is stretching these out unnecessarily, to be honest, as a fan of the Ender's Game/Shadow books since I was fourteen I kind of wish he would stop and leave us with the glory that is the first few books.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mobility vs. Independence

I've decided that this is something that you may only think about when your mobility is hindered and you are already also mindful of disability in general. Perhaps not, but I know my view is skewed by both.

Today the doctor rebandaged my leg, complete with splint. After a Must Get it Off panic attack last night left me hating the splint I was not pleased. I'm moving around pretty well, can get up and down the stairs, but cannot be my bouncy self and I do NOT like it. Part of my dislike may initiate from my knowledge that I am potentially messing up my gait with the heavy limp, combined with my dislike of the inherent reliance woven into the use of a wheelchair by a girl with weak upper-body muscles.

This duality has got me thinking. My predicament should only last another week at most; I should have the stitches out before I return to school, but it gives me a different view on a question I've often pondered. Wheelchair use by those who could have limited mobility with mobility-aids. To me the question used to be a no-brainer. Use the most easily-wielded aid to gain independence and avoid the difficulties of the life of a chair-user.

Yet, with the advent of more user-friendly electric chairs I often see those who have mobility opting for the chair. This is a different level from the dependence that the traditional chair implies; there is more mobility involved with the electric chair as well, but there is still a certain degree of dependence that even a walker or crutches do not lead to.

It's all up to personal choice, of course. Crutches vs. Walker vs. Chair, and what one's body can tolerate for any period of time. I've certainly opted for chair instead of cane a few times this weekend, but I have healing to take into consideration and stitches that must be out before the 20th August. Still, for one who has always prized both mobility and independence to have both limited is eye-opening.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Presenting Myself

I was going to update immediately after my surgery,  but there was not much to say except "doing better than expected "and "ow". This weekend, though, my friend Sarah and I drove over to Ft Walton where Mom's conference was. I was presenting the "this is what happens when a child is mainstreamed" story and Sarah was my helper, pushing the wheelchair and such. Having her tagging along with me made me realize some things about perspective.

For her it was the first time hearing some of my story, including the difficulty I was going through when we first became friends. She was one of the first people from high school who I remember really asking for help after the eye surgery and leg infection that categorized my junior year. We had just become friends over the few days of the Florida State Thespian Festival in Tampa and she just happened to be near me in a crowd when I really needed an arm to hold onto. The rest is kind of history. She went to boarding school and we just kept in touch. We see each other every Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer and I've gone up to NYU to visit her a few times.

My point is this: she's never known me not needing a little help, or cared, which is why it made it easier this weekend when she was helping with the chair. If I need it at school in a few weeks it might be harder because they've never really seen the worst. Perspective.

My leg seems to be doing pretty well. A little painful in places, with a massive splint, but he should reassess and hopefully bandage it more loosely on Monday. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Growing up I used to say that if I could write a book like Ella Enchanted I would be happy. Now I still love the book and audiobook, but I don't write fantasy. The goal is there, to be able to craft language in that way, but the world building isn't me. It's funny when you look at my bookshelves; I read so much fantasy and historical fiction, but I write neither.

Rereading I Capture The Castle, I think my goal has shifted. To write with the elegant grasp on prose that Dodie Smith grasps in a timeless novel that way.... well it would be amazing. I'm not sure I will ever get there, nor be able to create a scene like that magical Midsummer's Eve that Cassandra spends with Simon, but it would be amazing.

I spent this morning lying in bed reading the book; not unlike the first time I read it lying in the hotel room at the Hilton Orly in Paris. Now the book is coupled with a longing for London that every glimpse of the city in media gives me, but also a longing for love. Though Cassandra does not end up in the happily married way of Eliza Bennett, she gets love, and magic, and beauty. This summer, when so much is on the cusp, even the yellow light of my bedroom against the pink of my quilt seemed anticipatory. Funny how that can be in a moment of doing nothing.

Well, time to go get lunch. I think we're getting sushi, last-meal style before tomorrow's surgery. This moment is odd.... Today I can move freely and tomorrow I won't be able to. Still, a month from now a lot will as  be better. Or, hopefully.

I'm fighting pessimism a little, because it is rare that things go just as planned, and my mother's worries seep into my conscious. The hope of youth, though, is everlasting and...

After the surgery on my right foot at a later date there will be boots and Converse hightops calling my name!!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Charting the Course

Today my mother and I set off for Ft. Walton. I had knitting in hand, so I was set, right?

Except I didn't have my chart. Quite the conundrum. Do you assume that you know it well enough to just keep going? A sleeve with three repeats done says you do. But is it worth the frogging if you mess it up?

In the end, I knit for a little ways, just as far as I was sure and then read. I'm rereading I Capture The Castle, because it's not summer if I don't.

In disability news, I'm having surgery Wednesday to do something about the excess skin on my ankles. Just the left this time, but the right at either Christmas or next summer. I am SO excited. This means high-tops and boots which I have not been able to wear since the lymph-node injuring accident of 2000. Then I was eleven and not interested in such paragons of fashion. I am scared, a tad, because I always am about surgery, but hopefully all will be well.

I think I may attempt Blog a Day in September. Not that I have, you know, scholarships to apply for or recruitment to deal with....