Friday, February 7, 2014

Natalie's Valentine Book Picks {Literature Contributor}

Hi, new blog friends! I’m Natalie from Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknownand I love books. In my life before my daughter, I was a college professor and gifted and talented teacher; I loved being able to share my love of literature with my students everyday. My baby is a little young to talk about books yet--she much prefers trying to eat them--so I’m excited to get my literature fix each month through my guest posts here on Jillian’s website! Each month, I’ll suggest a few books based on a theme. Hopefully, you’ll find some new favorites!

This month, the theme is “love.” What else did you expect for February?! The two books I recommend for your pre- and post-Valentine’s day reading will make you believe in the power of true love. (So cheesy, but so true!)

Natalie’s pick #1:

I stole this book from my sister’s library years ago, and I am so glad that I did because I loved every page of it!

Raziela Nolan is a fun-loving free spirit who embodies the Roaring Twenties, but her life is cut short when she falls in her boyfriend’s house. Told in the first person by Raziela after her death (yes, the narrator is a ghost), the book explores the impact of Razi’s death on those closest to her, especially her boyfriend, Andrew, and her best friend, Twolly. She spends a portion of her afterlife investigating what happened to Andrew after he was left without her. Her story is intertwined with a modern-day couple who ultimately help Razi find out the destinies of her loved ones.

The author, Ronlyn Domingue, described this book as “a ghost story that’s not a ghost story, and a love story that’s not a love story,” which I think is a perfect description. It’s not scary, nor is it overly sappy. Domingue makes you understand the depth of Razi’s grief as she leaves her human life behind. You completely believe in Razi as a character, even though she’s a ghost (which can be a difficult sell to some readers). The writing is wonderful, and the book is a fairly quick read. I also loved the descriptions of 1920s Louisiana and their clothing.

Natalie’s pick #2

I’ve read a LOT of books between my B.A. and M.A work (both in Literature) and my teaching. So, when I tell you that this book is one of my top two favorite books, you should realize the gravity of that statement.
I found this book in a London bookshop in 2005. When I finished it for the first time, I immediately re-read it because I was mesmerized with the writing, the concept, and the deep emotions that the book stirred in me.

Henry DeTamble is time-challenged. Because of a faulty chromosome, he time travels against his will, especially during times of stress. He enjoys some of these trips, as he gets to experience his mom and dad in their pre-child years, but some of them are torturous, like when he watches his mother’s fatal car accident over and over again. Inside this crazy life, the only thing that makes Henry truly happy is Clare, who he meets for the first time on a time travel trip when he’s 40 and she’s 6 (in real time, they’re 6 years apart). Their love is tested over and over again: Clare and Henry want a regular life, but his chrono-displacement creates conflict as they get married, buy a house and try to start a family. The book covers almost 80 years in their shared lives, and, if you’re not a little weepy-eyed by the end, there’s something wrong with you!

Audrey Niffenegger is an amazing writer: by the end of the book, I felt as if I knew Clare and Henry. I was emotionally invested in them in a way that I rarely am in a novel. Absolutely worth every minute you’ll spend reading it.

Disclaimer: if you’ve seen the movie, you still need to give the book a chance. The book is only a million times better (and yes, that is an exact statistic).


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