Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third book in the series, however I had heard that it could be read as a stand alone. So, I decided to read this book before reading the first two. I am uncertain how much would be added by reading the books in order. Although, I did not feel lost at any point in the series. The setting and situation was perfectly described. If anything, I think I may have just not read about previous adventures. I plan to go back to the first two books to find out.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a play on all the adolescent fantasy novels where children escape our work into their own fantasy world. What happens to the children when they come back? This is a story about children trying to re-find their world. The worlds are whimsical and different. I almost found myself believing. I was reminded of my own desire in adolescence, to find my own magical world.
What I did not enjoy was the constant references to being fat. It was not shamming, and was more a traumatic reaction to being shamming. Yet, it seemed overdone. It seems like the defining of a child before finding her world, not after. The positives were displayed. She was a strong swimmer, a fast runner, and healthy. Yet, she kept going back to her weight as her defining feature. Why would it not be her time as a mermaid? How could that not define her after finding her own world? Beyond being overdone, it just did not fit for me.
The Great Alone is one of those rare masterpiece novels. Kristin Hannah told a story that was vivid, alive, and full of emotion. She told the story of Leni, who at the age of 13 was brought to the wildness of Alaska by her parents. They were unprepared and hiding a volatile family life. Her father was a POW in the Vietnam war and suffered from PTSD, although that was not labeled during the 197o's, and the family was left to deal with his violent and paranoid behavior.
The novel is a journey through Leni's life. I feel like I have lived another lifetime within the pages of these books. It was a good, but troubled life, full of adventure and tragedy. It was so real that I could see the harsh Alaska winters and the wild variety of love. Part of Leni will live inside of every reader.
This was my first novel by Kristin Hannah. Yet, I do not want it to be my last.
The Things They Carried is written as a collection of short stories that combine to make a mostly unified novel. It is a look on the Vietnam war from the perspective of a soldier and his unit.
From a literary perspective, this book is amazing. The writing is well played out. The chapters could mostly read exclusively on their own, yet they combine together to create a picture of a unit in the Vietnam war. Yet it is a fuzzy picture purposely left to make the reader wonder how much of this novel is fiction and how much was based on "facts." It is impossible to understand a war unless you were there, yet O'Brien utilizes this writing style to help the reader to understand. Even then I know it only helps to a small degree. Even with his vivid writing, the various perspective of the members of the unit, and showing Vietnam from multiple perspectives I am left knowing that I will never understand what it was like to be in Vietnam.
This novel is a work of art. I understand why it is taught in schools as both an amazing novel as well as a way to help students understand Vietnam.
This site may contain affiliate links, these links refer back to products. They do not cost the consumer any additional money. They do help fund the blog. In addition, some books may be provided to the site for free in exchange for an honest review, others come from the library, others are obtained for free off Amazon, some come from my private purchase. Regardless of how the books were obtained all reviews are my honest opinion.