Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: Night Road

This is a very emotionally engaging book that I couldn't put it down once I started. The story carried me into a very detailed and intimate examination of family dynamics, friendship, love, motherhood, and tragedy. I think the writer is a master in plotting. This is the second book I read from this author. At this point, I can see that she is a genius in elaborating daily events that happen around us, into such compelling and provoking works of fiction. She did a very good job in weaving the cause-and-effects into the problems that were posted throughout the story, be it the distant relationship between Jude and her mother, or Lexi's childhood, or Jude's way of handling her crisis. As I read through the book, I realized everything came in full-circle and were linked together, and yet, I wasn't recognizing it until I read on. Then at the end of the book, I got the full understanding and the satisfying closure. This book is not a thriller, but somehow it kept giving me subtle surprises here and there just when I thought, "well, nothing is really shocking, I'm kind of expecting this to come...". Like her last book I read, this story also has a very sentimental piece of trinket that carries a significant role in the story and anchors the memorable closure. At the end of the book, I had to exclaim, "Brilliant!"

I'm giving this book 4 stars out of 5 because I have very high expectation about this book after I read the author's last book that I really really love. I also have a hard time relating to the story's obsession about USC. As someone who lives in Los Angeles, I never thought about going to USC myself or to send my child there if I have one. I think the story will be perfect if California Institute of Technology, Standford, UC Berkeley or UCLA is used instead of USC. For whatever the obsession of USC has cost the characters in the story, it's just totally not worth it. For all that conflict, it even seems a little silly. I would be happily and proudly moving to Washington to attend U of Washington, if I have to choose to stay here in LA to attend USC or to go to U of Washington. USC is in a very bad neighborhood in Los Angeles and has a small campus that can't compare to the beautiful and sprawling campus in U of Washington. Also, all my friends who couldn't get in UCLA , they got into USC. UCLA is more competitive and will make more sense if this is the school that caused the tragic event in the story. USC is a good school, just not good enough for the bucks and the break up of a family or anything to attend. Just my take.

The following is an interview with the author about "Night Road":

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Club Discussion 4: Question 1

This novel explores a complicated and strained relationship between two sisters. Do you think Meredith is justified in being so angry with Nina? In what ways are the sisters different and in what ways are they alike?

My answer: I don't think Meredith is justified in being so angry with Nina because I personally don't think there is any justification for being angry with one's own family. After all, she only has one sister. Her sister hasn't really done anything bad, she is just more career focused and she is just trying to let Meredith run the show. I think if Meredith thinks it is too much work for her to care for her elderly parents or if she really doesn't feel happy with the burden that comes with it, she should communicate with her sister openly and honestly, and see if there is anything Nina can do to help.

Meredith and Nina are different in a lot of ways, from their preference in their life style to their temperament and their perspectives about life and relationship. They are alike in their desire for their mother's love and their closeness to their father. Click here to read my book review.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reading Guide 1: Chapter 2

Click here to go to the reading guide for Chapter 1 of this book.

The title of this chapter is "The Wheel of Fortune". But it's really about occurrence of accidents that are due to misfortune. This chapter basically says insurance is a major industry in the USA because of all the accidents and disasters that happen on a daily basis. All the readers need to know from this chapter is that there is money to be made in the insurance industry because there are billions of dollars involved. Yes, insurance is a huge industry and it's a big component of the American GDP, this chapter believes that insurance is a good place for someone to build a career. We recommend you to also skip reading this chapter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reading Guide 1: Chapter 1

The title of this chapter is "Born To Be Free". Well, I suggest the readers to free their reading time by skipping this chapter completely. This chapter tells nothing about the job of an adjuster or the business of insurance. It just pitches the same old myth of starting your own business, that is, "freedom". Business owners are not free, most of them are tied to their business, and are held responsible for their own paychecks, their employees' paychecks, their customers' satisfaction, their vendors' demands, etc, etc. We can never be free as long as we have to make a living. So let's move on to the next chapter.