The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland - Lena is the transcriptionist in a newsroom. She sits, isolated, in a room with headphones on, listening to other people's stories. After a story comes across her desk of a woman who was eaten by lions in the zoo, Lena begins to seek out the woman's history. She realizes that she had an encounter with that very same woman on the bus just a few days prior. A story about language, about technology, about our increasingly isolating culture, The Transcriptionist explores it all. While the story was interesting and captured me, I spent the entire time waiting for something more. I can't explain what exactly that would have been, but I did feel a lack of... something.
Slapstick (or Lonesome No More!) by Kurt Vonnegut - Reading Vonnegut just makes me happy. He's clever and kind and witty and optimistic even in the face of disaster. Slapstick follows the King of Manhattan, former President of the United States, throughout his life, beginning as a monster child and eventually to his untimely death. The story is dark, yet never feels cynical. It was truly a joy to read.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - Late to the game on this one, I know. The novel follows Charlie throughout his freshman year of high school. Somewhat of a loner, Charlie finds himself making unlikely friends in a brother and sister, Patrick and Sam. They open him up to a world full of mix tapes, Rocky Horror, drugs, alcohol, books, and art. The story is told through Charlie's letters to an unknown friend. While I really liked the book, I had some issues with it. Charlie's story is odd. His family life seems off from the beginning, but that's never really addressed. Also, everyone cries all the time. I know it's high school and hormones and all that, but so. much. crying. That being said, the book does capture that feeling of newness, of doing things for the first time, of experiencing certain emotions - love, deep friendship - for the first time.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King - I grew up hiking in the White Mountains, so this book just hit me. Trisha is nine years old, going on a day hike with her mother and brother, when she ducks into the woods to pee. This one choice leads to her wandering the woods for days, lost, with limited supplies, and no idea of where she is or what direction she is headed. Tom Gordon, the Red Sox closer, gets her through this, first by Trisha listening to the games on her headphones, and then later as a hallucination. Maybe because I know those woods, or because I've always been taught just how easy it is to get turned around there, this book socked me in the gut. It was beautifully written, captured the thought patterns of a nine-year-old girl, and, because it's King, I was never quite sure of where he was going to take Trisha (and us).