The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank

- by Ellen Feldman

There are very few women my age who have NOT read The Diary of Anne Frank; it is one of the few secular books that have had an impact on my life. The author, Ellen Feldman, draws from that harrowing true life story and offers us a glimpse of what may have happened if Peter - Anne's young love - would have survived the Nazi regime and continued to live his life, after immigrating to America.

The young Jewish boy, Peter van Pels (or van Daan as Anne renames him in her diary) was hidden in the "secret annex" along with the Frank family; he was never reported as dead or alive after the War. What IF Peter van Pels, the boy who loved Anne Frank, survived the Holocaust? Would he have remained trapped in a psychological annex for the rest of his life? That is the story Feldman weaves in this scenario of 'what ifs'. It is written from Peter's perspective as he struggles mentally with what he has been through, what he has survived, and things he will never be able to forget.

While it was not the narrative I was expecting (to be honest, I initially thought it was book about Peter and Anne while they were living in the annex), it was an interesting read and one of those stories that make you think.

Code Name Verity

- by 

This was a very unique book. At times, it was difficult to build a 'relationship' with the main character, due to the jumble of names and information presented in a disjointed style. It felt a bit too much like deciphering 'texting talk.' (Perhaps, because it is classified as a young-adult book? I'm not sure.) I also found it rather confusing when the main character wasn't overly clear regarding her identity, coupled with the often-times baffling stream-of-consciousness writing style and switch in narrators. All the pilot/flying talk was a bit dull and I'll be honest... I found myself skimming through a lot of it. However, the core premise of the plot was well put together and kept you reading. 

The story, of course, was heartbreaking but interestingly written, with a lot of heart. When it all comes down to it and you peel everything else away, this is basically a story about 2 bosom friends who would - and DO - anything for the other.

The Nightingale

-by Kristin Hannah

It appears I am not the only one perplexed by the acclaim this book has received by countless reviewers. Granted, the novel is well-liked by those responding to something in the story that evidently touched them personally; however, I failed to have such an experience.

While the struggles and trials of the characters are weighty, the writing was such that it lent neither power, nor a moving quality to them. The characters themselves seemed two-dimensional and ultimately, failed to strike a chord. 

While facts and events surrounding WWII were obviously quite well-researched, the tale itself was over-written and melodramatic, lacking in depth. The tepid, clich├ęd writing style was overly distracting and, at times, downright cheesy. The reader is all but told what to feel by the author, with copious adverbs and adjectives, which merely detracted from a plot that actually had a lot of potential. I'll be giving her other books a miss.

Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

-by Randy L. Schmidt

I grew up listening to Karen Carpenter's velvet voice wafting from our record player in the late 70s and 80s. My mom always had her records playing, so The Carpenters' music was, in many ways, the soundtrack of my youth. When I was around years old 13 years old, I remember watching the made-for-TV movie of her life. Learning about the sad girl behind the amazing voice always stuck with me. Karen life was obviously tinged with a deep sadness, with hopes unfulfilled.

While Little Girl Blue came across as somewhat cold and factual at times, it was obviously well-researched. I learned many things that I did not know previously about Karen's life.

Karen's story in Little Girl Blue is not a "pleasant" read, by any means, but it is a worthwhile one, even if you aren't a fan of the music.