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ThirteenReasonsWhy__Special (Source)

*********SPOILERS********************SPOILERS*************************

I read this book on the recommendation of the wonderful Mojito Maven. She was talking about great it was and how it made her think and just truly touched her. So instantly I knew I had to read it. Even better, it’s considered a young adult fiction book. And before you scoff that these adults are reading YA books, read this. It can apply to so many people, and even if you don’t know anyone who committed suicide, you can learn lessons from this book about how we affect others, even when we don’t mean to.

The book is told from two points of view. Hannah, through her tapes that she recorded before she committed suicide (the book cover tells you that. I didn’t ruin anything.) and Clay, one of the people on the tapes. This was just such a neat concept. You get to hear Hannah’s stories about the 13 people on the tapes, but you also get Clay’s insights as he’s listening. He adds other information Hannah leaves out and re tells some of stories as he remembers them. Asher really does a fantastic job with this book.

I don’t want to give away everything, but the overall theme is that even small actions, affect other people whether we know it or not. It’s a snowball effect. One minor event can cause a bunch of otherwise seeming unrelated events that just spiral out of control.

Each side of a tape is about a different person and how that person somehow lead to her suicide. Most aren’t obvious, like you might imagine, but rather smaller events that just kept piling up on this girl. Almost every character had done something that hurt Hannah, but also something that they wouldn’t want other people to know about. This is her chance to get it all out there for those listening, but whether the information spreads beyond the 14 people us up to them. If they tell the secrets, then it’s their fault, not hers.

At times I was mad at Hannah. She gave up. Not only did she give up, she, potentially, brought down a lot of other people with her. Yes, some, no, most, completely deserved it and more. But at the same time, she knew she wasn’t going to be around to face them after. But again, I don’t want to call her a coward. I think she honestly believed it was her only choice because her world kept crashing in around her and people kept letting her down. But was this the right course of action? And I thought there were points in the story that she had chances to change what was going on, but she chose to continue on her path of self-destruction. But again, how do I know? And that’s the thing. Like Hannah says in the book, we never truly know what is going on in anyone else’s life or head, other than our own. Even our spouses and closest friends have thoughts and experiences that we know nothing about. So who am I to judge anyone’s decisions because I have no idea what caused those actions.

See, in one paragraph I’ve explored all sorts of angles and I still can’t decide how I feel about. But the book is fascinating and heart wrenching and emotional.

And poor Clay. He always had a crush on Hannah and never really got the chance he should have had with her. But his insight into the events Hannah describes just adds to her story. Her story that people would rather believe rumors than get to know a person. Even Clay admits he believed some of them, even if he didn’t want them to be true.

We all remember high school. Some of you were the popular ones with a million friends and you wouldn’t mind reliving those days. Others, you somehow wonder how you survived. You got picked on or bullied. Or even worse. You were ignored. But either way, everyone can connect and relate to this book. Even if you never experienced the things mentioned, you heard about it or you were hoping no one found out a secret about you. Maybe you’re still hoping no one finds out.

I think this book can be powerful and important for many people on many levels. Sure, it gives high school kids a book that discusses some things that most teachers and parents don’t feel comfortable talking about until it’s too late. It gives teachers a better insight into their students and gives them more of a reason to better pay attention to the warning signs. And with the recent bullying and suicides, just simply look out for the students and do something if you see a student being attacked, whether verbally, physically, or emotionally. And just as human beings, this book truly shows how some small remark or jab at someone can be harmful. And how we’re much more connected than we think.

I really hope you will read it. And when you do, please tell me so we can talk about it. I know I said spoilers, but I also don’t want to give away too much. But I’m dying to know how others feel and what emotions this brought out in them. Go read it and see how your view changes. I promise that it will.

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dooce is my Hero

itsuckedandthenicried (Source)

First of all, if you have not heard of dooce.com, or Heather B. Armstrong, go visit her blog right now. She’s absolutely hysterical and she writes things I think, but am not brave enough to say out loud. She’s honest, funny, smart, and makes herself completely vulnerable by writing about her personal issues, failures, and achievements.

Well, she also wrote a book called It Sucked and then I Cried. It’s basically about her getting pregnant with her first daughter, Leta, and all the funny things that happened, as well as her doubts and things no one ever told her. It then follows through the first 10 months of Leta’s life and chronicles everything that happens.

Now, if you don’t know about her, Heather has battled with depression for most of her life and was on medicine for a long time. She’s very open about this because she believes, and I believe, that the stigma associate with depression, or medication, or seeing a psychiatrist keeps people from getting the help that is there for them and that will make their life bearable, and even enjoyable. There are people that are very close and dear to me who need to be on some sort of anti-anxiety/depression medication or they don’t function very well. They can’t seem to see past the daily problems and see that tomorrow is a new day. Without the meds, they are very edgy and can get angry or upset easily because they are so anxious or worried that they are failing. There is nothing wrong with them. They just need a little help, and Armstrong is a very strong advocate of this.

Now, I don’t have kids and I’m not pregnant, and I still found this to be an incredibly interesting and hysterical book. The way she tells the stories is so honest and I can see myself in a few years thinking and doing some of the exact same things.

Her writing is somewhat stream of conscious, but it made me feel like I could truly relate to the chaos that was going on in her life and better understand her frustrations.

I think a lot of pregnant women feel that if they voice their concerns or anxieties or doubts about being pregnant or being a mom that they are a bad mom. They’re not. They’re just like every other mother (I’m assuming) who sometimes wonder “What the hell did I get myself into?”

Armstrong will be the first one to say that she isn’t perfect, but through her moments of wanting to run out of the house screaming, you can see how much she loves her husband and her daughter. She says at times that the love for Leta felt “like it would tear [her] in two.” She was grateful for her husband who stuck with her as she struggled with her issues with depression and anxiety and, from what I could tell in the book, they have a great dynamic.

Another thing in the book that I appreciated was her honesty about her postpartum depression. She writes about her fight everyday to keep going and not just lay in bed all day long. And, the most intriguing to me, was when she committed herself to a mental hospital for 5 days. She says it’s the greatest thing that she ever did for her family and herself. There came a point when she didn’t know if she had the strength to continue, and she was brave enough to get the help she needed instead of struggling alone, and possibly, doing something that she couldn’t return from.

I think this is a great book for anyone to read. Mom, pregnant, wife, single, never want to have a child. Everyone. It’s funny and, if nothing else, will either solidify your decision to have or not to have a baby. She shows that yes, it’s hard, but it’s also completely worth it. She also gives some tips and advice along the way. Go read it.

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Filed under Favorite Books, Things I Love

Mockingjay

Mockingjay (Source)

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I know. I can’t write a book review without spilling the beans. Oh well.

This third book was loved by some and hated by others. Seeing as I just finished it a couple of hours ago, I haven’t completely made up my mind about it yet.

I have to admit, I didn’t really get into this book until about page 200. I felt it was slow and dragged on and on. I understand they had to have some background so they could get from point A to point B. And I don’t know that I can pinpoint what, if anything, could be cut out to make it less tedious, but that’s how I felt throughout the beginning.

District 13 felt very much like the societies from A Brave New World. Very rigid, and strict, and without fun or life or vitality in its citizens. The printing of the schedules on the arms seems like a way to control everyone, but somehow Katniss was able to walk away, which I also found strange. For a community that is run on strict guidelines and time structures and complete control of the leaders, Katniss was pretty much allowed to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, how ever she wanted. I know she was the Mockingjay, but if Coin was so concerned about her, I would have thought she would have been more controlled.

The relationship between Katniss and Gale also confused me. For their being a supposed love triangle, I never felt much love about Gale. Even his actions towards her didn’t scream “I LOVE YOU” to me. It seemed like maybe he thought he was supposed to fall in love with her since they had been friends for so long and through so much, but it never felt genuine or real. Real or not real?

I love the character of Prim. So small, yet so strong and valuable. She seemed to grow up a lot and was well on her way to being a great doctor. I think it was interesting how strong she seemed to be for Katniss since the whole reason Katniss was in this mess was because she volunteered to go into the Games instead of Prim. She was always able to cheer Katniss up, or at the very least, pull her back from the depths of her depression and freak outs. And then she was destroyed while trying to help others. Something many other adults weren’t willing to do.

Sidenote, do we know who exactly blew up the children? I think it was Coin, but just making sure.

Peeta. Poor Peeta. I mean, he did everything under the sun to save the woman he loved, and then he’s captured and tortured. And not only tortured, but brainwashed to believe the woman he love was the same as the reincarnation of the devil. While an obviously effective tactic, it was so hard to read as he tried to determine what she was and how he felt about her. His comments towards her were painful, even if they had some truth to them. I have been in love with Peeta from the beginning and watching his pain and struggle broke my heart. He was even ready for them to kill him so he couldn’t be of harm to the rest of the group. However, when he was hissing Katniss’s name, I had my doubts if he would be able to recover. Creepy.

And then there’s Katniss. She was a mess. Poor girl was put in a position she didn’t want to be in, the keystone to a rebellion that she thought she believed in, but in the end, realized she was just another pawn, another play piece for a larger Games. She seemed to lose a part of herself. She wasn’t the girl who was so focused on saving those around her. I wish there would have been more interaction between Katniss and Prim. I thought she should have tried harder to help Peeta. And yes, her mission was important, but she went from not wanting anyone to die in her first games, to knowing the people helping her would die in the end.

I was sad at how the deaths of Finnick and some of the other characters was handled. I felt they were killed just to make it simpler in the end, to not have to wrap up the stories of more characters. I mean, she never even mentioned how Annie handled it, even though her instability was her main character trait. All we know is that she had a baby, but was she happy? And the other soldiers? We learned to care about them and love them and fear for their safety, yet they were just tossed aside. I think this was a major downfall of this book and why so many people had an issue with it. I know it was realistic. Their deaths were flashes in the battles and Katniss had to move on in order to do what she had to, but it felt insincere.

I had a hard time figuring out Coin. I think I know she was bad and was just as power hungry as Snow, but because they didn’t necessarily lay everything out, I wonder. Was Snow really the better of the two options? When she killed Coin, was she wanting to save Snow, or did she know he was going to die as well?

I think I knew the end of Gale and Katniss for good was when she put two and two together about the parachute bombs. Poor guy’s own invention was used against him/the rebellion.

And while it was a little lame, I was so happy Peeta and Katniss ended up together. I know DuolyNoted doesn’t agree, but I’m such a girl and such a sap that I couldn’t help being overjoyed about their happy little family with no fear of sending their children in the Hunger Games.

All in all, I liked the book, but I think the first two were better, but the first two needed a conclusion, so here it is. I’m so glad that another Hunger Games didn’t have to happen. It would have been hypocritical to put more children and their parents through the terror and grief. I was happy that Coin wasn’t there to cause more problems and possibly off Katniss and Peeta to suit her needs. I think it could have been better, but I wasn’t completely distraught.

 

What did YOU think? I know I’m behind the bandwagon as everyone else finished it two months ago. Did you like it, or were you thrown with how carelessly she killed some of the great characters?

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Catching Fire

catching fire2

****************SPOILERS*********************SPOILERS**************************

I could never be a book reviewer because I wouldn’t be able to write about it without giving away spoiling information and ruining it for everyone. On to other career options…

So, I read Catching Fire.

The other night, my eyes wanted nothing more than to close and drift peacefully off into dreamland. But I had to finish the last 20 pages. No choice. It had to be done.

Some of you may have seen my tweet at 1:30am. The one about my mind being blown? Yeah. The ending to this book was intense. And shocking. I NEVER saw it coming. I knew something had to happen, but not this.

But let me go back to the beginning.

First of all, I’m a HUGE Peeta fan. Like, in love with him. And I think he and Katniss are cuter than anything, if only she could let her guard down and let herself feel for him what she knows is deep down. Gale is nice and all, but there’s something about him I can’t connect to. I can’t see them together and he just seems whiny and moody. Am I alone in my love of Peeta? Yes? Sad day…

Then, when they said that the new players would be other victors, I almost died. It broke my heart. These two had been through enough and I couldn’t stand to see them go back.

Also, do I find out in Mockingjay why Snow’s breath smells like blood? I can’t figure it out and it’s incredibly creepy.

I loved that Peeta and Katniss continually fought back, whether intentionally or not. Offering their winnings. The noose and painting with the Gamemakers during training. The pregnancy. The outfits. Etc. Also, whenever they make this movie, I can’t wait to see Cinna’s outfits. I hope they stay true to the descriptions in the books. They seem fantastic.

And then there’s the Games themselves.

WOW.

The only thing I was confused about after reading was who all was involved in the plan and who wasn’t. Obviously Finnick and Johanna and Beetee and Wires. Duh. But the others? Were they just there, fighting each other, trying to be the ultimate victor, or were they trying to save Peeta too? Especially when the Careers attacked at the cornucopia.

I love how Collins wrote the ending.

It was fast paced and confusing and hard to quite figure out what was going on. She wrote it just like Katniss was experiencing it. It threw me off and I loved it. Especially when I found out what was really going on. I never saw the ending coming, and I’m the person that usually figures out books and movies halfway through. I knew the chink was important, but I never would have imagined what they would do.

These books are captivating.

I know they’re YA (young adult) fiction, but who cares? They are written so well and the story just draws you in. As a teacher, I would want to teach it along with either Communist societies, or even the Holocaust and talk about people doing what they are told and ignoring the atrocities happening around them. I think this would be a powerful book in any classroom. Also, it would be a book to draw in the boys. Traditionally, boys don’t want to read and too many books can’t keep their attention. However, this would be great for both. Yes, it’s violent, but so is The Great Gatsby and Killer Angels and The Odyssey and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This book would also be a gateway book. Many would want to know what happens in the rest of the story, and anything that gets kids to read is great. I may just talk to some teacher friends and see if they would teach it. I know there may not be a lot of lee-way in curriculum, but I think this would be good.

So, if you’ve read it, what did you think? Any big surprises headed my way in Mockingjay? Am I going to be devastated? Will Peeta and Katniss finally be together for real? Probably not, but a girl can dream….

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The Hunger Games

*************SPOILERS********************SPOILERS**********************

hungergames (Source)

 

I know. I’m so late to this bandwagon that the wagon has already forged the river and all my oxen have died. I probably have a snake bite and running out of food. I miss Oregon Trail.

But you were all right. This book was so good.

I know others have made the comparison, and while the content and writing are very different, it had a Harry Potter-esque feel to it. More in the way Collins created a new society that was still new and intriguing, but not so far fetched that I couldn’t connect or understand what was happening. At times I wanted a little more detail, but I am glad it didn’t drag on about all the minute details that I would have forgotten anyways.

I loved (in a morbid and “it makes an interesting story kind of way”) the concept of the Hunger Games. I would love to know more about the original rebellion and who and why District 13 was obliterated, but maybe in Catching Fire? I’m wondering also about how Panem came to be, but that’s probably along the lines of more detail than anyone cares about.

Katniss made for a great protagonist. Her attitude and drive to do anything to save her family was admirable. Also, I liked Gale, but after meeting Peeta and the progression of events, I can’t really cheer for him. I like Peeta too much. He’s sweet and genuine. I think his simpleness is endearing and I honestly believe Katniss had/has real feelings for him.

The only issue I forsee is my connection to characters and the very strong possibility that they will die. Rue? Too precious and then destroyed. I was so sad for her.

I think it will be interesting what duties Katniss has to take on when she’s the one advising and training the new tributes. What will happen when she goes to visit District 11? What will the Capitol try to do to her and Peeta? Will they stay together? (Man I hope so…) What will happen with Prim? Who will get picked for the next Hunger Games? And what insanely awesome costumes does Cinna have hiding up his sleeves?

So many questions!!!!

I was so hooked and had to continue, I looked to see if I could get it from the library. My library had it checked out, so I tried the interlibrary loan. I guess because the series is popular, the other libraries won’t place a hold on it. WHAT??

Luckily, my husband is super sweet and knows my boredom is reaching epic levels, we went to Walmart and bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I’m about 20 pages into Catching Fire and just as hooked. I’m a little nervous for Mockingjay since there were so many mixed reviews about it.

I can’t wait and I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Tomorrow will probably be spent reading as well. I love a good book.

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Told Ya

I told you I would be back to my chipper self in no time.

Not everything is fixed or better, but I can’t obsess over them or things will just get worse. I did it when I had to go to school at home for a year and I added more pounds than I’ll admit on the internet and all self esteem went out the window.

Must. Stay. Positive.

So, on that note, I give you some things that make me so ridiculously happy. Probably more than they should, but whatever.

1. GLEE. I know you already know this. I LOVE GLEE. So wonderful. No, not all the acting is great and some episodes are better than others, but being a huge theater fan and the fact that I love swing choir (my high school version of GLEE club minus the competing), GLEE is wonderful. I love the music and the dancing and the bizarre plot lines. I was so happy tonight with the premier. Mr. A even watched with me and it was wonderful. He even ordered the entire 1st season for me. (He had an Amazon gift card AND it was on sale, NEW, on Amazon tonight. He’s super.)

2. Duoly Noted’s bruschetta. People. You don’t understand how truly fantastic this is. I also made her linguine with clam sauce and it was also amazing, but the bruschetta. I almost wished my husband wasn’t eating so I could have had it all to myself. I learned I loved bruschetta in Chicago at one of the famous pizza places. I’ve tried to make it myself and it would turn out okay, but nothing great. Tonight it was mouthwatering and better than the restaurant. No exaggeration. Husband thought the same. Probably going to have an entire meal of it next week. And I don’t like tomatoes. So if you don’t like tomatoes either, try this recipe. It will change your life.

3. Puppies. I already wrote a ridiculously long post about this, so I’ll leave it at that.

4. Wine. We went to a wine festival here a couple weekends ago and we found some local wines that we LOVE. We bought a couple bottles and I could drink them all by myself. I love white wine that isn’t too dry. We found a Vignoles that is so yummy with just about any meal you put in front of me.

5. Hunger Games. I know I’m late to this party and pretty much all of you have already read the entire series, but it is so good! I’m about 90 pages in and I’m hooked. I would have spent all night reading if it hadn’t been the premiere of GLEE and then Biggest Loser. I can’t wait to read all of them and I hope Catching Fire and Mockingjay are just as involving. **Sidenote: I am DREADING when the games start because I’ve already fallen in love with Peeta and how the heck am I supposed to cheer for Katniss to kill him?? I must read more tonight.

6. Bubble Baths. I love them. More than an adult should love a bubble bath. a couple times a week I take one and read whatever book I’m on at the time. I usually have to re-warm the water because I’m in there long enough for the water to cool. In This Wonderful Life is hosting a “Keep Calm and…” giveaway. I was looking at the possible prints and they have a “Keep Calm and Soak On” print with a bathtub on it. I’m so hoping I win so I can get it. It will fit in our bathroom so well and it fits me perfectly! Probably going to go take a bubble bath and read as soon as I finish this.

7. Jillian Michaels. Not really. I really more hate her. And her perfect abs. And the other girls’ perfect legs. I want to watch other out of shape people struggle through the workout like I do, not girls who wish the video would end so they can get to their real workouts. BUT I can tell it’s doing something. Actually, it worked SO well yesterday, that I couldn’t hardly walk today. Or move. Or bend. Or breathe. I found 3 positions that were comfortable and didn’t make me want to cut off my legs. It goes without saying that I couldn’t do the workout today, but I have every intention of doing it tomorrow. Even if I can’t do everything or all the reps, I WILL workout again tomorrow. Jillian knows what she’s doing and I love that. I might have a chance to lose the weight I want. If I can eat better, smaller portions, and keep with this workout, I hope I can get there.

8. That my husband doesn’t freak out when I tell him I chose the wrong career path. He even TRULY thinks I should go back to school now and we’ll live off loans. All to make me happy and get the career I want. He’s a doll sometimes. This will be it’s own blog post, but it’s good to know that he will support me should I choose that path because my parents might try to commit me. Not even kidding.

9. Blogging. All of you who read and comment and give advice and encouragement and tell me you’ve been there and it will get better. I love the blogs and I love Twitter for connecting me to bloggers. We tweet about shows and celebrities. We ask questions. Vent about whatever is going on. Tell funny stories. Share pictures that are in the moment. I love this community I have found. YOU have helped me in more ways that you probably know. You’ve gotten me through this very difficult and stressful time with your humor and sarcasm and dry senses of humor. Snarky blogs? One of my favorites. Thanks for sticking with me and keep the comments coming. They make my day.

10. I’m doing this for Life of a Doctor’s Wife. She has to end lists at 10. Figure if I keep her OCD calm, she’ll keep reading.

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Filed under Happy little posts, Life in Law School (even if I'm not in it)

“American Wife”

*****THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!! THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!! You have been warned….*****

American Wife

I wrote about this book this past week before I was finished. This is what I said:

I’ve been reading this book. Several of you told me it was one of your favorites. Reading the summary, it looked like a story I would love. Are you sensing my hesitation?? The book…it’s dragging. I have about 40 pages left and I will finish it, but it’s been tedious. The story as a whole: yes. It’s intriguing. But I thought this was more about a woman who entered the White House as the President’s wife, but didn’t really want to. Didn’t fit in. As someone who answered that I would love to be Michelle Obama for a day to see what it’s really like to live in the White House, I was so excited about this. But, (and if you are planning to read this, maybe skip to my next bullet) only the last section is about her time in the White House. Also, the first 3 sections are fairly sequential. They will mention past events or give a little anecdote to supplement what is happening, but mostly it’s in order. The last section? Bounces all over. You never see what it was like during the campaign. The time is 2008, but most of the last section spends its time in the previous years. Throwing in tidbits that are important to the story, but apparently not important enough to actually be in the story. It just frustrates me. I feel she knew she wanted this story to include time in the White House, but she let the rest of the story go on too long, so it got shoved into the end of the book. Maybe the last 40 pages will save it? Maybe?

…………………

I’m torn. Very torn. Like I said, I thought it would be more about the time in the White House, so I was very disappointed in that respect. I think more time could have been given to that and it would have added to the story instead of the time shuffling in the last section.

Also, before reading, I had no clue it was based on Laura Bush. When I read that in the foreword, I paused. I won’t discuss politics, but I wasn’t a Bush fan for my own reasons. I was afraid this was going to be a political book and I wasn’t into that. I wanted a good romance book with a little intrigue. But I read anyways.

And I liked it. Truthfully, until the last section, I liked it a lot. I loved that it wasn’t cliché and that she was such a devoted librarian. I personally want the Giving Tree she made. And the Yertle the Turtle.

I thought she should have talked to her friend earlier about her romance with “Charlie”, but I liked them. I think he brought some life to her otherwise mundane life, and I think she settled him down. The way Sittenfeld describes Charlie makes it hard for me to see George in him, but I’ll give it to her. I saw “W”. I can use my imagination.

I thought she was very human and very real. I liked that not everything worked out perfectly, but she was still so very likeable.

My issues with the book are these:

1. I think the summary on the book presents it as a different story. There is nothing wrong with the story that it is, but it’s not what would be expected when you read the jacket of the book.

2. The last section needed to be expanded to really do it justice. I won’t pretend I know how to write a novel or I could write a better book, but if it’s based on Laura Bush, at least give more insight into the beginnings at the White House. Moving in. Getting used to the staff. Campaigning. Those things. Don’t skip ALL of that and just have the last 100 pages be a throw together. It drove me nuts. The back and forth, the commentary, that at times felt preachy. Gah.

Basically, the end ruined the book. Maybe I needed it to end in section 3 and then she could write an entire other book for the last section.

*****BIG SPOILER*************

However, I liked that she didn’t vote for him. I found it amusing. Then wondered if I could have done that or would I have just done what was expected? I like that she could still be her own person and she wouldn’t bend her beliefs just because her husband decided to run for President.

I was 13 when Bush was elected. My biggest concerns were when the next Backstreet Boy concert was and how to convince my dad to buy tickets. Oh, and who was my friend that week. And learning I liked boys. 13 was a lame year.

So as I was reading the book, I was constantly wondering what had really happened in her past and what was made up for the book.

The car accident? Real. Her views on abortion? Real. No clue if she really had one, however. Personally, none of our business.

It actually makes me want to read her biography and I don’t usually like or read non-fiction.

So that’s my review. I liked the first part. I didn’t like the end until the last 5 pages.

What are your views about this? I know some of you shared, but now that I’m finished and know the end, what were your thoughts?

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