Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Reviews: Never Tell (Burke) & The Story of Beautiful Girl (Simon)

I confess...I have little new to say.  But I do have two book reviews to share:

This is the third book featuring Ellie Hatcher as a New York detective.  I hadn't read the prior ones, which didn't prove any barrier to enjoying Never Tell.  The main story revolves aroud the death of sixteen year-old Julia, a student at a fancy prep school whose death appears to be a suicide but whose mother insists must be a victim of foul-play.  Interlaced with the investigation into Julia's prep-school world is the story of a blogger who is recieving threatening messages as she shares her story of surviving abuse and another plot line involving the release of a convict.  There's also a bit of Detective Hatcher's own story weaved throughout.  The plotlines do eventually tie together with a fairly complete conclusion (i.e. no dangling questions).

I don't read a ton of detective stories but I enjoyed this book.  I found the characters interesting, even some were a bit cliched.  I did feel like the ending was a bit too neat.  I expected the stories to converge and they did but there was one element of the conclusion that just pushed it too far for my tastes.  Still, I enjoyed the read, taking a detective story for what it is.  I'd definitely consider picking up another book in the series (though I am not sure if this book gives away some conclusion-type elements of the prior installments).  3.5 stars, rounded up where needed for "full star only" rating sites. 

It is an ordinary, quiet night when Martha, a retired small-town teacher, finds visitors on her doorstep.  Homan and Lynnie are clearly running from something and they have a newborn baby with them.  It becomes clear they are escaping from the School, an institution where Lynnie has been placed due to her developmental disabilities and where Homan has been as well (he's deaf and unable to communicate when he was found since his signs are not ASL...he is, however, of normal intelligence).  Authorities soon arrive, taking Lynnie back while Homan escapes and Martha hides the newborn.  The chapters rotate between the characters, showing the troublesome world of institutions contrasted with the power of love in many forms. 

I won this book on Goodreads and I'm glad I did.  The story is hard to read at times but there are many moments of hope throughout and it ends up falling into the heart-warming category.  There is also a lot of emphasis on communication and the perils of being trapped without it as shown by both the story of Lynnie, unable to speak of the abuses at the School, and Homan, who spends years on the run and is also unable to communicate.  There's a good bit of cliche, especially in the character of Kate, a teacher who cares for and mentors Lynnie despite the prevailing tone at the School, but I still enjoyed the read.  Parts did drag and it felt a bit predictable, but still rooted a good story with some good folks to cheer for throughout.  I can't really call it "light" given the portrayal of how the mentally disabled were treated fairly recently in our culture (the story opens in 1968), but it was still an easy read for someone who wants a bit more substance than typical summer fare.  Four stars. 

1 comment:

Annabelle said...

Those sound pretty good! I may have to check them out on my new Nook.