Saturday, April 4, 2015

Since You've Been Gone


Emily, the main character in Since You've Been Gone, is suddenly friendless. Her best friend Sloane disappeared at the beginning of what was supposed to be a great summer. Instead, Emily is at odds with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. Sloane didn't leave her new contact information, but did leave a To Do list for Emily. Emily starts working on the list and makes new friends, including her school's Golden Boy, Frank Porter. The blossoming romance between Emily and Frank gave me butterflies in my stomach. So cute. Emily's transformation over the summer is remarkable. The To Do list takes Emily out of her shell.

I'm always a fan of YA romances, especially when they are stand-alones like Since You've Been Gone. I liked this one so much I first read it in October of 2014. And I just reread it again. Also great is Matson's Second Chance Summer.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Extraordinary, Ordinary People

In reading biographies and memoirs, I am always taken aback by how many varied people the subject knew. Condoleezza Rice is no different. Rice knew the girls killed in 16th St. Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963. She was friends with Denver Broncos players. She took a class taught by Madeleine Albright's father. And then, of course, there's all the political figures she met in her roles in the Reagan and Bush (41, she doesn't go into 43's administration) presidencies. 

This memoir, while including Rice's jobs, both academic and political, is the story of her family and the impact of her parents. Rice grew up in Birmingham, then moved to Denver when her father got a job at the University of Denver. After getting her PhD at the University of Denver, she went to Stanford. She also had several periods in Washington, D.C. As it's a story about her family, the book ends when her father dies. It doesn't include the last 15 years of her life. 

One of the funniest stories Rice related was when the Berlin Wall fell. She was working at the National Security Council. They were scooped by CNN and learned about the events on TV like the rest of America.

At the end, when her father dies, he knew she was going to become National Security Adviser, but never knew she would also become Secretary of State. This reminded me a little of Obama's grandmother dying just before the 2008 elections. Rice's father gave so much towards Rice's success that it's sad he never got to see her as Secretary of State. 

Rice's mother died of a brain tumor at 61, which hit a little close to home as my mother-in-law recently passed away from the same thing at 60. I cried through most of that chapter. 

I listened to the audio book, which Rice narrated. I liked the fact that it felt like she was talking to me.

All in all, Rice has a fascinating story. She has been a witness to many important historical events. I don't know what she's been up to in the past few years, but it's probably as diverse and interesting as everything in Extraordinary, Ordinary People.  

One downside of most non-fiction audio books is the lack of pictures included in the paper version. Luckily, my library had a copy of Extraordinary, Ordinary People. One notable exception: Tina Fey's Bossypants, which included some great photos in a PDF.