Thursday, May 20, 2010

Super by Jim Lehrer

"Super" by Jim Lehrer

I am a listener of NPR and often attracted to the author interviews and book reviews. That is how I stumbled upon "Super." Listening to Jim Lehrer talk of the old time trains that were luxury land yachts seemed quite fascinating and I really wanted to read about them. The book itself though was less than fascinating.

The Super Chief train from Chicago to LA was considered the train of the stars. The story is based on an actual train and movie types that rode it in it's hey day. But the timing of the story is nearing the end of the train's hey day. The mystery presented in the story is short and quickly solved with little fan fare.

I am happy it was a short book and I invested only a little time. I think the story could have been richer but really fell short.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Pact, by Jodi Picoult

The Pact, by Jodi Picoult

I finished this book a week or two ago and I still don't know how to review it.

The pact refers to a suicide pact by two teens who have known each other literally all their lives. Emily was born shortly after Chris. Their families were neighbors and good friends. The two children were always together and essentially raised together. The families hoped they would fall in love and marry as adults.

The book starts with the suicide, which only takes the life of Emily and leaves Chris alive. The reader is taken through the horrible moments when the parents discover their children have been hurt or killed and the confusion that surrounds the situation. Soon Chris is charged with Emily's "murder" and goes to trial.

We move back and forth between the present and the past. In the past we glimpse bits and pieces of Emily and Chris's relationship, as carefree children growing into young adults. We learn of secrets that are never revealed to anyone, not even between the closest of friends. We also come to know what secrets or feelings are just too scary to share even with the person you love the most.

In the present we follow the anguish of the families and the torture Chris feels. It's not long before the reader realizes there was no suicide pact and begins to draw her/his own conclusions, or fear what may unbelievably be true.

There is no happy ending in this kind of book. How could there ever be unless the characters can be raised from the dead? Picoult is a good writer and takes the reader through all sorts of probable emotions that would be associated with this story. And through her telling of it, we see the best of people and the worst of people and find hope that eventually alludes us. It's a very sad story but worth reading.