Book in a Minute: Library Edition

27246115-_uy400_ss400_ I’m doing book reviews for the Baltimore County Public Library‘s Between the Covers blog under my real life name now. At some point in the indefinite future, I’m planning to merge the “real me” website with this site. In the meantime, it seemed to make more sense to post a link to my first review for the library blog here, since this is where I’ve posted all my other book reviews. So here you go, a little review of Delia Ephron’s Siracusa. Enjoy!

Delia Ephron is best-known for her humorous writing and for lighthearted screenplays like You’ve Got Mail and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. But her latest novel, Siracusa, displays a decidedly more cynical view of relationships.

Siracusa begins with Lizzie, who thinks a vacation in Italy is just what she and her husband David need to revive their flagging writing careers and their dwindling passion for one another. They’re joined on the trip by another couple — Finn, Lizzie’s fun-loving old flame from college, and his uptight wife Taylor. Dragged along for the fun is Snow, Finn and Taylor’s sullen preteen daughter. If bringing an old boyfriend and his family along for a vacation sounds like a bad idea to you, you’d be right. In fact, few vacation disasters can rival the nightmarish results when this group makes its way to the ancient island of Siracusa.

Each main character takes a turn recounting the trip’s gradual descent into tragedy.  Without exception, all of them are breathtakingly self-involved or delusional (or both). Thus none of them can see what the reader sees — the huge disaster heading straight for them.

Like The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, Siracusa presents readers with difficult to like protagonists who never tell the whole truth. The crumbling city of Siracusa provides an excellent symbolic backdrop for Ephron’s well-written blend of dark domestic drama and deadly suspense.

And if you aren’t anywhere near the Baltimore County Public Library, find your own library here. Or if you’re in a spendy mood, here’s the Amazon link.

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Steamed about STEM

Everything that’s wrong with the over-emphasis on STEM in today’s educational system, in one simple, badly thought-out ad campaign:

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No, Wells Fargo, being an actor or ballerina is not something you do because you CAN’T be a botanist or engineer. To be a really good dancer, singer, actor or musician takes as much training as (or more than) becoming a scientist. People who succeed in all of these fields, both science and arts, have one thing in common: they choose their paths out of love, not because some statistical trends and educational fads led their parents and teachers (and banks!) to badger them into a particular career.

Arts change lives in ways just as important as the sciences. if you don’t believe that, Wells Fargo, go ask a few engineers why they became engineers. A bunch of them will tell you it was because of watching shows like Star Trek or reading science fiction books by people like Isaac Asimov.

Why is everything in modern society so US versus THEM? People, can’t we all just get along?