Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saving Max

by Antoinette van Heugten
Mira 375 pages
978-0-7783-2963-3
Submitted by Phoenix and Phoenix
Rating 4.5

Have you ever wondered how far you would go to save your child?
Danielle Parkman is an up-and-coming litigator in a New York law firm which expects much from her. She is also a single mother of Max, a teenager with Aspergers Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Max has recently become more physically violent and Danielle has caught him using drugs. What has prompted the emergency appointment with Max's psychiatrist is the journal Danielle has found under his bed with detailed suicide plans. The psychiatrist recommends that Danielle commit Max to Maitland, an internationally renowned hospital.

Shortly after Max has been admitted he begins to exhibit psychotic and violent behavior. His treatment team holds a meeting with Danielle to tell her of Max's diagnosis. The diagnosis is grave and Danielle doesn't believe it; this is not the Max she's ever known. So she sets about to prove the diagnosis wrong. Then a few days later Danielle finds Max huddled in the corner of another boy's room. The boy is dead and Max is covered in blood and clutching the murder weapon.

Danielle, barred from her son and charged with a few felonies, sets out with the help of her attorney and his private investigator to prove that her son is innocent. She adds another few felonies to her record as she slips her ankle bracelet and travels across the country to gather evidence against the person she is convinced is the real murderer.

This is an enjoyable book, a good read. The plot is deftly executed. The action begins on page 1 and never flags. The resolution is in doubt right up until the last few pages. The characters ring true except possibly parts of Danielle's defense attorney but not other parts, so I'll let you readers make that call. It is my opinion that the thriller genre loses something due to the obligatory romance. I usually find these to be extraneous and a gnat you want to slap. Mercifully, this one is quickly relegated to the back burner so we can get on with the story. The thriller parts as well as the courtroom parts are believable and well drawn. I read for hours at a time to know how it would end. You will too.

I look forward to more from this promising author. I give this a 4.5 on a scale of 5.

Antoinette van Heugten, author of Saving Max, is certainly qualified to write this story. She has two autistic boys, one of which has been hospitalized, and Ms. van Heugten also had problems accepting her son's diagnosis. She too was an attorney. For an interview with the author click on this link http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/44014-a-parent-s-worst-nightmare-pw-talks-with-antoinette-van-heugten.html

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Banned Books Week 2010, Sept 25 - Oct 2!

The main event will be held in Chicago. Please check out the web site http://bannedbooksweek.org/index.html

Everyone please read a banned book this week - it'll be good for your soul

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On Decisions:

"It was one of those moments where you have to make a decision: take it on the ribs or take a shot to the temple on the desk. All part of life's rich pageant."

-regarding his fall in his library, where he was suddenly attacked by, and buried under, the Encyclopedia Brittanica

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Truck a love story

by Michael Perry
Harper Perennial pages 281
ISBN 978-0-06-057117-7
From my personal library
Rating: 3.5

Michael Perry is an interesting man. He leads the life that so many nameless drones in the city think they would trade a left arm for: bucolic, picturesque, wholesome. I'm sorry if that seems somehow snide because Michael's life is all of those things. It certainly is a good life. Although I can't shake the thought that his life is a special order from NPR. And he has been on All Things Considered, more than once.

The author returned home from the city after twelve years. Those drones should take note right here: Michael can work from home. He is a writer so he can work with a modem. He has an impressive catalogue: Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time; Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg; Truck: a Love Story; Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting; Off Main Street: Barnstormers, Prophets and Gatemouth's Gator; and Big Rigs, Elvis &the Grand Dragon Wayne and Why They Killed Big Boy and other stories, collections of his essays.

I find this book difficult to review. I think it's not necessary to review the book because I can just describe the author's life. It's the same thing. Michael Perry's writing is funny and warm and certainly evocative of small town America. But it is sentimental, sometimes a little precious. In this book the truck stands background for a year of his life. During that year Michael obsesses over his backyard garden, leaves for book tours, reports on various family members, saves people from house fires and car wrecks because he is a member of the volunteer fire and rescue, hunts deer and gets married. You are all correct that these things are usually mundane, with maybe the exception of the married part or maybe not. It's Michael Perry's talent and skills of observation that make the reader listen to see what he will say.

In addition to the list of books above Perry does live reading events. He is also a member of a band whose music is a mix of straight-up twang and churchly harmonies, according to his web site http://www.sneezingcow.com/ .
The first album is titled HeadWinded - Michael Perry and the Long Beds and the second is Tiny Pilot - Michael Perry and the Long Beds.

I didn't figure out how to rate this one so I am giving it a 3.5

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On Inner Demons:

"He's still around. Without the dope, we have a bit more of a chat these days. It's been more of a truce."