A few years ago, I treated myself to a designer purse. Not a knock-off, not a “as made for Target by”, not off a folding table at a craft fair or a street corner – a real purse by a real designer. (Though not, sadly, Burberry. I’ll never be that good to myself.) I was on the annual Sister-in-Law Shopathon and just fell in love with a Kate Spade purse that had all the embellishments of Paddington Bear coat. It was glorious. It was on sale. It was all mine and as an added bonus, free, because my mom paid for it as a belated birthday present. That purse has sat on a shelf, in its protective bag, for years. YEARS. Why? Because it was so nice that I didn’t want to “waste it.” However, when I started this project, I realized that the only way to finish in 12 months (and shoehorn in a variety of my own reading choices), would be to carry a book with me at all times. The second book on the list (review to come next week because I am not finished it yet) talked about not saving the good china for a special occasion. Who knows if or when that occasion will ever occur and why should the good dishes go to waste? So, out came the purse. For the next few months (or until the season changes and wool is too warm to carry), I will proudly be carrying my actual, honest-to-God, designer purse with me, with a book neatly tucked away inside. I’m now well-read and well-accessorized!
So, I started the project by reading a book not on the list. There are just too many good books in the world for me to ignore. I spent a lot of time in front of my fireplace instead of in front of my television and I am pretty sure I didn’t miss anything significant. I do feel the clock ticking as I’m sure I’ll blow through some books and plod through others, but at least I’ve started.
#1 - The Boy Who Said No – Patti Sheehy
Recommended by: KR
The book tells the tale of Frank Menderos, a young man who tries to escape from Cuba in 1967.
I liked it, but I didn’t love it. As a rip-roaring yarn told over drinks, this story would be fantastic. You wouldn’t notice the glossing over of details and how whole sections of his life are reduced to an “and then this happened” storytelling device. This book is classified as historical fiction, but if that is the case then I want a lot more history. If this is a true-life story of Frank, as told in the prologue, then it needed a lot less fiction. I can pinpoint the moment the entire book flew off the rails for me, and it was with this sentence: “I can only surmise what transpired.” I wish he hadn’t. His story would have had legs as a memoir and I really wish I was able to read that book instead of this one. All it did was leave me wanting more: more details, more history, and more culture. There were lots and lots of sections about his relationship with his girlfriend, and while that was necessary to inform the choices he made, they tended to drag. I wanted less kissing and more Communism. (That is a sentence that has probably never been said before.) Overall, I think the fault is mine. Like with the Wicked series by Gregory Maguire, where the story he told about Oz was not the story I wanted to read, this story about Cuba was not, unfortunately, the one I wanted to read.
As a side note, I also wish they had given this book a different title. Ugh.