Monthly Archives: November 2012

#48: Switch by Carol Snow

Quick and easy premise:

Fifteen year old Claire is a girl with normal and fairly easy teenage problems.  Nate, the love of her life, sees her as a bro.  Her body, while strong from swimming, isn’t going to turn any heads.  She’s average.  Well, she would be if it wasn’t for two things: she hangs out with her dead grandmother and she sometimes switches bodies with other girls.

OK, so everything is normal and quiet about her except for that whole switching bodies.  Turns out that electricity does something to her and she wakes up as someone else.  The first time it happened was quick and weird and the result of a science experiment at school.  She tried to put it out of her mind.  But the second time she woke up in a strange body she freaked the fuck out.  Wouldn’t you?  It’s the middle of the night, there’s a crazy thunderstorm, you wonder how you got into someone else’s room and then you catch sight of yourself in the mirror and HOLY SHIT THAT ISN’T YOU!!!

Luckily she falls asleep, wakes up in her own body, and her grandmother is all “Uhm, yeah.  That’s a thing you can do now.”

So she does it.  Grandmother Evelyn hangs out and when electricity shoots Claire into someone else, Evelyn slips into her body and holds it for her until she falls asleep and returns.  The other girl sort of hangs out, neither dead or alive, asleep or awake.  As soon as Claire falls asleep, Evelyn moves out of her body, Claire moves back in, and hover girl returns to her own body.

When the book starts, this whole thing is commonplace to Claire.  There’s been a few uncomfortable nights, but for the most part she waits for a thunderstorm to roll in, closes her eyes, wakes up in a new body, goes back to sleep and wakes up back at home.  Easy, breezy, lemon squeezy.

But then…

When Evelyn is hanging out somewhere else in the house, Claire gives herself one hell of an electrical shock.  Not expecting to be shot into a new body, she sits up in bed and tries to figure out why this happened.  Shrugging, she figures she’ll go back to sleep to reset the whole deal, but she is curious to find out whose body she’s in.

She looks into the mirror and falls in love.

She’s beautiful.  More than beautiful.  She’s perfect.  The kind of girl who looks amazing no matter what she wears.  The kind of girl who makes boys fall over themselves just to get a glimpse of her.  The kind of girl who can roll out of bed and be stunning.

The girl that Nate has been trying to meet.

Larissa.   Even her name sounds luscious.  Gorgeous Larissa, visiting the beach town where Claire lives year round.  Hating the beach town.  Scornful of the boys who think they are worthy enough to even speak to her.

Things get fun for a bit.  Claire, ever unhappy with her swimmer’s body, pulls out just about every article of clothing from Larissa’s closet and has a one woman fashion show.  It’s like playing dress up Barbie, except it’s her body now and she gets to admire it.  Well… it’s not permanently her body, but since she’s borrowing it, she’s going to squeeze as much fun out of it as she can.

But too soon she realizes that she needs to go to sleep so she can go home and give Larissa her body back.

And then she wakes up and she’s still Larissa.

Oh.  Shit.

For the rest of the book, Claire has to figure out why she’s still Larissa, how to get her body back, how to keep people from finding out, and what to do about her grandmother.

Also?  She’s totally going to make out with Nate.  Hard.

This isn’t too challenging of a book and I liked how much fun Claire had in Larissa’s body.  At times she did feel a bit guilty for taking advantage of this body, but on the other hand… just look at this body.

I was a but surprised that she didn’t feel guilty or conflicted about her “relationship” with Nate.  At some point Larissa was going to get her body back and have no memory of Nate.  It’s pretty convenient that she’ll be leaving town as soon as this happens.  Claire creates a fake email account so that Nate can stay in touch with her.  Larissa.  Claire.  Claire/Larissa.

It’s kinda skeezy.

Getting back to the non-challenging parts of the book:

  1. There is a piece of foreshadowing that foreshadows so hard that the only way it could foreshadow more is if there was a bright red arrow pointing at it that said “FORESHADOW!!!”
  2. The set up of who Claire can switch with is a total cop-out.  Snow didn’t want to write a book where Claire could switch into older and younger people, and definitely not boys, so she comes up with a pretty bullshit set of rules that dictates what happens.  I get why she did it, but I rolled my eyes when I read it.
  3. There is very little fallout in this book.  Everything ends well and life goes on.  This goes back to my skeezy feeling about her and Nate.  She knows he’s out of her league, so she’s happy that she got to make out with him as someone else and now she’s probably going to cybersex him all the time with Larissa’s fake email.  Dude.

One thing that really pleased me about this book is that it was nothing like Wake by Lisa McMann.  It’s a sort of similar premise and I was worried that this was also going to be shit writing and easy answers.  Happily, the writing was good, there were some challenges in the plot, but it wasn’t anything that was going to keep you up at night.  Well, unless you’re paranoid that someone is going to take over your body during a thunderstorm.

 

 

#47: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Ooof, how to review this?  I need to talk about the book before I can talk about what happens in the book.  Get comfortable because this is going to be long.

The previous knowledge I had of this book wasn’t actually about the book – it was about people’s reactions to the book.  When you pick this up, you’re also picking up the reputation of the book, and for me, it made for incredibly difficult reading.

I’ve heard many people refer to this book as their bible and that they’ve read it until it fell apart, marking up pages with their reactions or because a certain word or sentence or paragraph struck them with beauty or longing.  This concerned me because I was worried I wouldn’t get it.  I want to be in with the Kerouac lovers and their secret ways, but what if I hated it?  What if this was a club that I wanted to join, but the truth of the book went over my head?

I’ve also heard many people say they loved it when they were younger but when they went back and read it years later they didn’t like it.  This makes me suspicious because people say the same thing about Catcher in the Rye.  I love that book, but many people say you only like Holden when you’re young and when you go back and read it later you realize the book isn’t that great.  It also feels snobby.  “Oh yes… that book.  I read it when I didn’t know a thing about life and thought it was great, but now that I’m older and mature and have had real life experiences, I realize how silly and naive it is.”

And this brings me to my next obstacle before I even opened the book: hating something because it’s popular.  I get it.  I understand that there are times when something is so THE BEST THING EVER!!! that you don’t want to have anything to do with it.  I felt this way about the movie Titanic.  Everyone was talking about how it changed their lives and I was all “Yeah, no.”  (I did catch it on HBO or something years later, and yes, it is a good movie.)  My sister feels this way about Facebook.  She is determined to be the last person on Earth who doesn’t have an account.  People feel this way about a lot of authors because it’s cool to not like the mainstream.  Looking at reviews and general conversation about On The Road, there’s a lot of “Ugh.  I have no interest in reading that book.  What’s the point?”  This made me want to like it, because fuck that logic, and it also made me ready to hate it, because fuck Kerouac.  Win win!

With these thoughts, I settled in and began to read.

And stopped.  And started again.  And stopped.  And flipped back a few pages.  And read the wikipedia entry.  And started again.  And was frustrated with it.

I have a confession: I didn’t realize this was a novel until a good way in when people kept referring to the main character as Sal.  Sal?  How is that a nickname?  When I got to the wiki page I was all “Oh.  I feel dumb.”  Of course he changed it into a novel because then he could tell the truth while not having to get the facts perfect.  I approve of this.

I immediately lost track of which character was which.  Because they were based on real people I kept trying to remember who was Allen Ginsberg and forgetting who the characters were.  I felt like I should make a chart of everyone and how they knew each other.

Of course I was able to remember Dean.  Oh, Dean.  We’ll get to you later.

The language threw me for quite awhile.  I tend to like books that have their own rhythm and slang and language and dialect.  It takes me a few pages to get into it, but then I’m good to go.  But I kept getting hung up and getting frustrated and thinking about how people carry around tattered copies with notes frantically scribbled in the margins.  Were the words that I was failing to comprehend someone else’s mantra?

And then I got angry with the entire thing.  I decided that Sal was an elitist white boy who was slumming for fun.  Sure, there were times when he ran out of food and had to suck on cough drops to keep going, but he was able to wire his aunt to get money if he needed it.  I never got the sense that he was going to get abandoned somewhere.  He always had the option to go home.  This made me even angrier when he would wax poetic about how wonderful it must have been to be a slave and only have one purpose in life.  How wonderful it must have been to feel the sun on your back while you worked.  How wonderful it must have been to see a job completed when you returned home from a day of work.  Later he meets up and falls in love with a beautiful Mexican girl.  He gets a job picking cotton and loves the work because he can rest on the warm soil and enjoy the feeling of his body as he moves through the field.  He quickly realizes he’s not cut out for the work and when his Mexican love and her boy come to help, he is heartbroken that their bodies have been designed for this kind of work and his has not.  Happily, he can pick up and leave anytime he wants because he can.  All those other folks who have to do this so they can get paid and just barely get by? How lovely it must be to only have that one purpose in life.

Are you fucking kidding me?

At this point I had a long back and forth email conversation with a friend who proudly subscribes to On The Road as a bible.  She has a tattered copy.  She loved it in high school, in college, and now.  She was really depressed that I wasn’t getting it and I felt like I was letting her down.  She pointed out that Sal is sad that his body is useless when it comes to real work and that the only thing he can do is sit and write.  He is jealous of those who can create with their bodies, either through physical work or through jazz.  The black jazz players have experienced things that Sal never can and he is in awe of their music and what it does to him.

I get it, but I was still really aggravated at the romanticized notion of what life must be like if you’re not while.  For a lot of people, it really sucked.

However, this email exchange did get me motivated to get back to the book and just read it without judgement and to put aside its reputation.  This kicked me into a different mindset and I really enjoyed Sal’s last trip.

And now we get to Dean.

Dean exhausted me, and not in a good way.  If you’ve never experienced someone in full on mania, you are very lucky.  Kerouac does an amazing job capturing the nonstop motion of Dean and while I did not enjoy these parts, I do realize that it’s incredibly good writing.  My problem was that Dean frustrated me because he is so out of control and everyone loves it, or at least accepts it.  They let him lead them, they get swept up in his mania, they make excuses for him, and they love him.  It drove me crazy.  At times I actually got physically uncomfortable because I wanted someone to walk away from him and be done or at least try to take control over the relationship or realize how he was not a good friend.  (More on that last part in a bit.)  I hated that he was the energy behind everyone because he’s so destructive.

I don’t know if this was an intentional metaphor or if it came from reality, but Dean’s relationships are just like his cars.  He gets a new one, mostly by stealing it, fills it with friends and plans, and then runs it until it is unfixable.  Several times Sal calculates how long it takes Dean to drive a long distance and it is ridiculous.  He doesn’t need sleep when he’s manic and he pushes the car as hard as he can.  As soon as it won’t run, he grabs another and away he goes.  His friends are the same way.  If someone is useful to him, he latches on.  His energy either willingly sweeps them along or overpowers their hesitance and off they go.  When something happens where a friend slows him down or somehow judges him or angers him, the friend is cast aside.  And when it comes to his women, they are sometimes as wrecked as the cars.

Again, while these passages made me twitchy, I was really impressed by the writing.  I felt out of control.  But I also felt incredibly irritated that no one else seemed to see this as a problem.  Well, not Sal or other main characters.  There were a few stops where Dean was told he couldn’t stay long and it would be a good idea if he didn’t come back.

I’m skipping Dean and his women entirely.  I know people are not going to like this because they see his relationships as a driving and important force in the book, but I can’t do it.  The way women are portrayed in this book would double this review and it’s already exhausting.

We get to Sal’s final trip and I really liked it.  Part of it was because of the emails with my friend, but a bigger part was that Sal was going solo.  His latest book had been published, he had some money in the bank and he realized he could just pick up and go.  This, of course, it was draws many people to this book – the longing to just pick up and go.

And Sal does go.  He decides he wants to visit friends and see parts of the country that he misses.

And then Dean decides he needs to be part of this and Kerouac writes my favorite passage of the entire book:

Suddenly I had a vision of Dean, a burning shuddering frightful Angel, palpitating toward me across the road, approaching like a cloud, with enormous speed, pursuing me like the Shrouded Traveler on the plain, bearing down on me.  I saw his huge face over the plains with the mad, bony purpose and the gleaming eyes; I saw his wings; I saw his old jalopy chariot with thousands of sparking flames shooting out from it; I saw the path it burned over the road; it even made its own road and went over the corn, through cities, destroying bridges, drying rivers.  It came like wrath to the west.  I knew Dean had gone mad again.

My stomach sank at this.  I wanted Sal to be his own man.  I also paused because, holy shit, that is fantastic writing.

And this brings me to my final frustration and the end of this review: Sal’s realization of Dean.  (Spoiler alert!)  Dean, Sal and Stan head to Mexico and full on debauchery.  They want to squeeze every drop out of life in this moment.  They breathe in freedom.  I understand again why people revere this book.

And then Sal gets sick.

He becomes a useless car and Dean must abandon him.

In this moment, Sal realizes who Dean is and that while people want this madness, at some point it will burn.  You can’t expect him to be faithful to his friends.  Everyone in his life shrugs his madness off and excuses him as just being Dean.  The few people who do cut him loose still make excuses for  him, knowing he’ll never change and why would you want him to?

I was really looking forward to this moment.  The entire book was a love letter to Dean, and now that Sal realizes that he too can be set aside, there was going to be a flowing chapter about realization and despair and longing and abandonment.

One sentence.

Forty-five words.

And in the middle of this, he forgives him.  He at least knows Dean’s life is a mess and understands that Dean had to leave him behind in order to get back to it.  But still…  This entire madness leads up to forty-five words.

But this isn’t my story.  This isn’t me wanting to express my anger and irritation at Dean.  This is Sal’s story and his Dean and his understanding of who the man is.

I understand why this book is worshiped.  I understand why people clutch it to their hearts and want to be on the road.  I understand how and why people love it so much.

I didn’t, but I’m OK with that.  It wasn’t my language and it wasn’t my journey.

For those of you who have had to replace your copy because the spine finally gave up and pages fell out, I get it.

#46: A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

I’m coming right out with it:

There’s a cat in this book and it dies.

I knew it was going to die from the moment it appeared, but FFS!  Can we get some books where stuff happens that doesn’t involve the death of a beloved pet?

Our protagonist in A Mang0-Shaped Space is Mia Winchell.  She’s been keeping a secret from everyone since she was eight years old and learned it had to be kept a secret.  She has synesthesia, only she’s never heard that term before and doesn’t know it’s a thing.  All her life she’s seen letters and words as colors and textures.  Intense sounds explode into colors in her head.  When she realized that other people don’t see the same things, she learned to pretend and hide it from everyone.

But she’s thirteen now and school is finally falling apart.  She can’t make the numbers be something different in math and she can’t make words match up to the wrong colors in Spanish.  After another F in math, she decides it’s time to tell her parents.

After a trip to the pediatrician and a disastrous visit with a cruel psychotherapist, Mia is sent to a neurologist to see if she has a brain tumor.  Lucky for her, the nearby neurologist is studying synesthesia and is able to tell Mia and her parents that while it isn’t a normal thing, it’s not going to kill her and it’s not something that needs to be cured.

Mia then explores her brain to see what else it can do.  She learns from others who have synesthesia and experiments with different stimuli to increase the sensations and intensify her reactions.

While she does this, it looks like she’s going to lose her best friend, have her first romance, continue to fail at school, and help a five year old boy.

I didn’t love it.

When the book started I was really into it.  You see Mia panicking and holding everyone at a distance.  She’s mourning the death of her grandfather and coming to terms with starting a new year in school.  She knows she’s not normal and wishes that she could just be liked everyone else.  It’s painful.  No one needs extra pain on top of the run of the mill teenage angst.  She has no one to talk to.

I thought that it was going to take a while for her to get caught or willingly reveal her secret, but it happens fairly quickly.   And then she takes off on a mad path to see what else she can do and how much she could control.

Here’s where things got weird for me.  On the one hand, I totally understood her celebration.  For the first time in her life she has a name for what she has… for what she IS.  She doesn’t have to hide it and she has an online connection to other people who have the same thing.  It makes sense that she’s eager to explore and share and learn.

But for some reason it fell apart for me here.  I didn’t feel like it fit her personality to shut everyone else out so completely even though she had kept them away from her secret for so long.  I wish there had been more exploration for this giant shift in personality.  I know that it makes sense, but at the same time I wish Mass had shown it more.

Mia’s friendship issues worked well.  A lot changes for girls in the eighth grade.  Boobs start appearing.  Priorities change.  Boys become interesting.  Schoolwork become challenging in different ways.  There are plenty of books that just explore these issues.  Throw synesthesia in and you’ve got an entirely new path to explore these problems with.  Along with her best friend, Mia has other girl friends to share with and push away.  For the most part, I liked these scenes.

I did feel like some of the the conflicts got too easy.  Mia has a huge falling out with her best friend.  There are a few moments where the friend explains why she’s so hurt and it makes sense.  We see their relationships before Mia tells people her secret and to have it change so drastically so quickly didn’t work for me.

Her first romance, on the other hand, did work for me.  It was awkward and unexpected and it felt very realistic.

And then, of course, her cat dies and things change.

Why do the pets always have to die?

I think this is a great book to learn about synesthesia.  I liked the characters and the story, but overall it wasn’t a huge win for me.  It did make me wonder about my own math games.  Growing up, I assigned personalities to the numbers one – ten to help myself get work done, especially when it came to multiplication.  I always figured I had an overactive imagination.  Was that a mild form of synesthesia or did I just like to make up stories?

In case you’re wondering, eight is a fucking bully.  I hated that guy.

#45: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is a book that has been on a ton of READ THESE BOOKS OR DIE! lists since it was published last year.  I kept flipping through when I saw it in the store and added it to my TBR list, but for whatever reason, I didn’t pick it up.  Since the paperback was recently released, my book group decided it would be a good choice for October, so here we are.

There have been many reviews of The Night Circus in this and last year’s CBR. Several friends gave it five star reviews and have added it to their lists of favorites.  I liked it a lot, but don’t have the passionate love that they do.

It’s a fairly simple plot, which I like because then the details can get insane.  Two magicians have been dueling for ages, only they never go after each other directly, each choosing a student to fight for them instead.  Prospero the Enchanter is delighted that he has found a winning player when his five year old daughter is delivered to him.  Testing her skills he knows that she will be able to destroy anything Mr. A.H. can find.  The two agree to the same rules, although Mr. H. does pause and ask Prospero if he is sure he wants to bet his own daughter.  The pact is made and the game begins when Mr. A.H. plucks an orphan from obscurity and surrounds him with books to prepare him for the challenge.

Celia and Marco are doomed without knowing what has happened.

The two magicians leave much of the competition to fate.  They do not know how the game will be played, when it will start, or even what it will look like.  Years pass and the two students train constantly, even though they don’t know each other, don’t know the rules, and don’t know how the game is played.  All they know is that they will compete and one must win.

Fate chooses the game to be held as a circus.  Chandresh Christophe Lefevre is chosen by Prospero to bring Celia and Marco together.  Chandresh doesn’t know what’s happening, only that he wants to create an amazing circus, something no one has ever seen before.

Almost without realizing it, Celia and Marco begin the challenge within the circus itself.

Things get very confusing at this point, but it works because Celia and Marco don’t know what’s going on.  Marco isn’t able to travel with the circus and had to bind himself to it on opening day so he can keep track of Celia.  Celia doesn’t realize that Marco is her competition for some time, but knows that she must keep growing the circus from within.  She uses her magic to create amazement for the visitors.  They are enthralled with the tents, the food, the music, and the performers and are swept up in the fantasy.  No one ever pushes themselves to look for the wires and strings that must be holding everything together.  They simply smile and enjoy the magic, not realizing that it actually is magic.

It was obvious early on that Celia and Marco would fall in love, and of course they do, and of course this causes problems.  They still don’t know how the game ends.  If they try to quit or walk away, they can’t.  So, they keep creating magic and pushing themselves to strengthen their skills and create new levels of magic. Their respect for each other pushes them to create more and more powerful pieces and it seems that neither will win.

Eventually things are built too high and begin to crumble.  Marco realizes he made an unforgivable mistake when he bound the circus.  Chandresh and the other architects begin to push against the magic, not realizing what is happening. Celia slowly begins to understand the rules and doesn’t know what will happen to the circus performers once the competition is won.  They have become her family and she is terrified to hurt them, but knows she cannot walk away.

For me, the strongest aspect of this book was the supporting characters.  At times Celia and Marco’s story doesn’t feel like the main one, even though everything revolves around the two.  We have moments from other POVs and get to see the circus in very different way.  I wanted to know what the sacrifice was going to be and where it was going to touch.  No one was safe and I quickly sped through the last part to find out how it would end.  These characters played wonderfully against Celia and Marco because there was so much love and friendship.  Neither of them was raised with kindness, yet they responded to it and wanted to protect the others even if it meant losing the game.
I also enjoyed the pacing of the book because time felt fluid.  It was confusing at times to flip back and forth between the chapter headers to see when you were and what had already happened or hadn’t happened.  Thing slowed down a lot in the middle, but this worked for me because I felt like Celia and Marco were in a holding pattern.  They knew what they had to do, but not how to do it.  Or where.  Or when.  Or to whom.  When things started revealing themselves, the book began to pick up speed and fly to the end.

I was pleased with the ending of this book because a choice had to be made.  Neither could walk away and someone had to win.  The way they created the circus meant that it couldn’t continue forever, no matter how powerful their magic was, together or as individuals.

I wish the Night Circus was real.  Not so much the part with the cruel competition, but I want there to be a place where everyone believes in magic and  pauses for a moment to watch it happen all around them.

#44: Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell

I love Sarah Vowell because she loves America.  Not in the scary “We need to take our country back!” kind of way where things can go real bad real fast if you don’t believe in the right god or have the right skin color, but in the kind of way where she ponders our history and realizes, fuck yeah!  America!  See the difference?

I really enjoy all of her books because she is so smart and so funny.  I always feel like we’re BFFs and she’s excitedly telling me about the latest thing she’s discovered in the library or sharing a tale of bemused exasperation at her family.  Yes, I know I don’t know her in real life and I’m not going to stalk her and pet her hair until she hugs me or anything, but she is awesome and if I ever saw her in real life I would probably panic and either look away or be all “I know about assassinations because of YOU!!!  …  Because of your book!  YOUR BOOK ABOUT ASSASSINATIONS!” and then other people would be all “WTF?” and if we weren’t in NYC when this happened then the cops would be called but if we were in NYC then, honestly, people would probably just shrug and go about their business.  They might not even shrug.

Anyway…

Take the Cannoli is a collection of previously published essays.  From watching her dad shoot off his homemade cannon while she belts out The Star Spangled Banner to a tale of the depression that is Disney World (did you know Chester A. Arthur was a person?  AND THAT THIS PERSON WAS PRESIDENT?  OF THE UNITED STATES???), this book is everything a Sarah Vowell fan could hope for.

Seriously, she works in the phrase “without the men jerking each other off” when talking about Tom Sawyer Island at Disney World.  And it makes sense.

I was very disappointed when I could get my hands on the audio version of this book.  I’m not even sure there is an audio version, which is sad because if you’re going to read a Sarah Vowell book, have her read it to you.  She’s super sarcastic and a simple sentence becomes a tear inducing belly laugh when she puts in the right pauses and tones.  I’ve had her audio books before and laughed so hard that I thought I should pull over before I drove into something from not being able to see through the tears.

Some people reading this might be wondering what in the hell is wrong with me.  (People who know me in real life don’t need this review to ask themselves that.)  I realize that she is a very specific taste and I’m sure there are many who think she’s boring, unfunny, and that her voice is unpleasant.

Those people are dead to me.  SHE IS A NATIONAL TREASURE.

These stories aren’t connected in any way, other than some reoccurring themes.  There isn’t a vacation to Hawaii or to presidential assassination sites.  She’s not telling the tale of America by discussing the Puritans.  These essays were published at different times in different publications, all gathered together for my enjoyment.  In some ways, this was a little disappointing because I really enjoyed her other books that followed a clear path to tell a tale, either historical or personal… or both.  On the other hand, there was something wonderful about reading her account of hiring people to make her goth, then flipping a few pages to see her learning how to drive, then reading another story about Frank Sinatra.

She loves America because she is so much of it.  She loves The Godfather, as referenced by title of the book.  (Which I didn’t recognize because I haven’t seen The Godfather.  Shut up.  SHUT UP!  I KNOW!!!)  She loves aspects of Disney World.  She loves politics.  She’s part Cherokee, so she’s part Original America.  Did I mention that she’s smart and sarcastic?

For me, the most powerful piece is when she and her sister drove the Trail of Tears.  She wants to know more about where this part of her came from.  She already knew the details from books, but she wanted to feel the ground beneath her feet and measure off the steps as they drove.  I liked this part a lot because she already had the book experience, but now she was getting the reality experience.  Reading about something is one thing, but then standing somewhere where bones are probably buried is something entirely different.  She was angry and sad and argumentative and horrified that people don’t know what happened and aren’t as angry as she is.  The Trail ends where she is from and as she processes the experience she is surrounded by family, friends, and home.  It’s confusing because she straddles different parts of America, but it also makes sense because it’s who she is.

If you love people who love intelligence, start reading Sarah Vowell’s books.  And please get the audio versions if you can.