“Every Heart a Doorway” by Seanan McGuire
One of our sons recommended I read this book after we both read “The 10 Thousand Doors of January” by Harrow. He liked McGuire’s book better.
I myself have mixed feelings about both books.
This book has doorways that lead to other worlds but the story takes place in this world. A world where teenagers who have spent time in other worlds and desperately want to return there, are stuck, unable to find the right portal again. Their parents, who don’t know what to do with them, have sent them to a special boarding school, where they meet each other.
At first, I was quite enthusiastic about this book as the reading flows and the movement between present-day reality and the descriptions of truly interesting “other worlds” was quite engaging. The names of the worlds were of interest as well (compared to some of the names in Harrow’s book). The angst of being a teenager and the struggle to find your place in the world is certainly portrayed cleverly.
However, the book then morphed into two things which I’m less fond of, and left me with no desire to continue reading the series:
a – a “whodunnit” crime mystery
b- a classic boarding school tale of a small band of kids or teens who form a group, supposedly the oddballs of the school but always end up saving the day…
Nevertheless, the book is worth reading and I’m not sorry to have read it. In addition, it is always a pleasure to share book experiences with family members.
“Less” by Andrew Sean Greer
This showed up on my LIBBY account as an available audiobook just when I needed a book to listen to.
All I knew about “Less” in advance was that it had won a Pulitzer Prize. I must admit that at first I went and checked again that it really had won the prize, as it took me some time to figure out what was going on in this book. My first impressions were that there didn’t seem to be a plot at all!
But once I realized that “Less” is also about “doorways” and “coming of age” (except this time the age to contend with is turning 50!) I started enjoying myself, particularly as the audiobook reader was so good at presenting the colorful characters that appear in the book.
Arthur Less is about to turn 50 and the man he loves has invited him to his wedding with another man. Each stage of his comic journey (not laugh aloud comic but full of misadventures and comic characters) around the world (his excuse for not attending the wedding), he basically sheds layers of his fears, beliefs, and insecurity while moving toward a new stage in life.
Just so you know (without it being an actual spoiler):
There is a very real, actual (an ancient, thick) door the writer goes through at the climax of this story, so “doorways” are not just metaphorical in this book.
“Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu
It is fortunate that I had this book as an audiobook (once again, courtesy of Libby!) as the talented reader helped me deal with this book. It was somewhat of a struggle for me.
On one hand, this is clearly a clever book. It is told as if you are watching a “police/crime” T.V show being filmed in the fictional “The Golden Palace” Restaurant in Chinatown, getting the “behind the scenes” story as viewed by the protagonist, who is usually known as “generic Asian Man”. By using this show, the author hammers home a message of discrimination against Asian people in the United States in general and its reflection in Hollywood. You are made to understand every nuance of the term “Generic Asian” – not only are the individual people not visible, but people from so many different places and cultures are also lumped together as if they were one – “Asian”.
As someone who is interested in genealogy and immigrants, I found the personal histories of the people very interesting. While I had known a bit about immigrants from China to the West Coast, I was not aware of all the discriminatory LAWS that existed in the USA. Another thing you don’t learn in school perhaps.
On the other hand, I’m not particularly interested in Hollywood, and aspirations of “making it” in Hollywood. I found bits difficult to get through and had fleeting thoughts of not finishing the book despite it being a comparatively short book. I felt that the message was already clear enough.
But then I would have missed the ending.
An ending that is worth reading.
Once again, I thank a library for getting me to read books outside of my “comfort zone”.