LitPicks Book Reviews—January 2014

Theme—The Cinder-Fella Complex
Young boys, bereft of parents,
struggle to find love, belief in themselves, and maturity—in a hard-knock world that works against them.
 
Labels: A Lighter Touch

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
R.K. Rowling, 1997
309 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January, 2014
Poor little Harry. He sleeps in a closet beneath the stairs, he's bullied by his cousin, despied by his aunt and uncle, and the most memorable gift the world ever saw fit to bestow upon him was a pair of old socks and a wooden hanger. But his world is about to change.

Harry, it turns out, is legendary, so famous—in a different plane of existence—that mere mention of his name elicits oohs and awe. Poor Harry, indeed! Yet until the strike of midnight on the eve of his 11th birthday, the little fellow had not a clue.

 

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The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt, 2013
784 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January 2014
Sometimes a book like this—long anticipated—arrives to such high expectations it can only disappoint. Not so The Goldfinch. Heralded by nearly all, Tartt's third novel can be found on every "Best of 2013" list. It's remarkable.

Theo Decker is 13 when his world is rocked by an explosion in a New York museum. His mother perishes in the blast, but Theo survives, crawling through the wreckage with a priceless Dutch painting in his backpack. This is the Goldfinch of the title, and for Leo it becomes a talisman for all he lost and all he yearns for.

 
Labels: Great Works

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David Copperfield
Charles Dickens, 1850
700-800 pp. (varies by publisher)

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January, 2014

Dickens is wordy—that we know. Yet reading him is to revel in the abundance of the English language. Then there's the length and pacing: plotlines piling up one after another after another, propelling us forward until at last, nearly done in, we reach the end!

And finally—Dickens is funny, very funny. As dire as things get for little Davey Copperfield, it's impossible not to guffaw at the characters and the many turns of phrase that flow from the author's gift for wordplay. All of it makes this work one of the most extraordinary, most exuberant reads of all time. It's pure joy.

 

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