Mini Reviews #2

Home Economics was a very popular class for women to take decades ago.  Education for women wasn’t held in as high regard and it was deemed more important for a woman to be able to care for the family and household. Some Home Economics classes even provided students with a real live trial baby to practice their parenting skills on.  Yes, I am dead serious!

Set at a college university, Martha Gaines is the head of the Home Economics program and every two years she takes in a local orphan to use as a practice baby for a group of girls in her class. Henry House is one of the practice babies, and the book follows him throughout his life, showing the ramifications of such a strange child rearing process.  Henry has trouble forming relationships with others, due to the fact that he was raised by so many different “mothers”.  That, coupled with the rigid style of parenting practiced (never comfort a crying baby, that type of thing), caused Henry to grow up into a more despondent adult.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about The Irresistable Henry House.  At times the length did seem to be a bit much, but Grunwald did a great job of fictionalizing such an interesting piece of history, not to mention conveying the possible psychological issues that could arise after such a practice.

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Oh my goodness.  Yet another fantastic teen dystopian series.  It is getting harder for me to keep up at this point!

Beatrice is 16 and living in Chicago, where every teenager has to choose a faction once they come of age. They are forced to choose between candor (to be unflinchingly honest at all times), abnegation (the selfless), dauntless (the brave), amity (the peaceful) and erudite (the intelligent).  Most teens choose to stay in the faction in which they were raised, which in Beatrice’s caise is abnegation.  If you choose to join a different faction, you are essentially turning your back on your family and friends and being cut off from everything you knew previously. So you can see why Beatrice has a hard decision to make!

As is always the case with YA dystopian fiction, there IS a love interest for Beatrice.  I don’t always find that to be a necessary component of this type of novel, and sometimes the romantic aspect can actually detract from the story.  Luckily, that wasn’t the case with Divergent.  I thought Roth juggled the plot points very well.

Suffice it to say I preordered book #2, Insurgent, the second I finished this one!

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Because I have been having a difficult time a few months ago, it was really hard for me to focus on reading. I picked this one up because I had already read it before and figured it would be a nice distraction.

The Devil in the White City is a dual novel that focuses on the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.  Daniel Burnham is the architect in charge of constructing the entire fair under ridiculous time constraints.  His experience is coupled with infamous Chicagoan HH Holmes, who was reinventing himself over and over again as a charming, successful doctor while he is in fact preying on women. 

Honestly, this one bored me the second time around.  I wanted a good crime/murder story, so reading the lengthy descriptions of the the World’s Fair was tedious.  I don’t say that to dissuade anyone from reading it, because I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time, but this time around I think it boiled down to a case of being the wrong book at the wrong time.

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11 Responses

  1. Everyone, even people whose opinion I trust, goes on about Divergent. OK, then! On my list it goes. 🙂

  2. I go back and forth on the Larson – should I? should I skip? I think I will never decide and my indecision will decide for me.

  3. My book club had a great discussion after we read Henry House… hard to believe that stuff actually happened! I listened to The Devil in the White City and enjoyed it overall – long, with lots of detail, but a good listen.

  4. That is so funny about Devil in the White City because I was just the opposite – I loved the World’s Fair stuff but hated the murder stuff! And I agree – Divergent is definitely one of the better dystopian series!

  5. I really want to read Henry House – it sounds interesting to me. Everyone loves Divergent, but I’m not sure it’s for me.

  6. All of these are books that I want to read, and that I do own. I have heard such amazing things about Devil in the White City and Divergent, and I need to rush out and grab a copy of The Irresistable Henry House as well. These were really wonderful mini-reviews. I really appreciated them!

  7. I loved Divergent, even though I’m not usually a fan of the romance aspects of most YA, like you. That said, I did like Four and how their romance was sudden, instant ‘Oh my god, I love you forever!’ type stuff.

    My boyfriend was talking about Devil in the White City not so long ago, funnily enough. I’ve never heard anybody else even mention it. I think it might creep me out a little too much though!

  8. I can totally see that about re-reading Devil in the White City. Even the first time around I remember wanting more about Holmes than the fair. Think I saw something recently about a movie being made?

  9. That is too bad that your re-read of Devil in the White City didn’t live up to the first reading. The first book you review here sounds really neat though. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  10. It is hard to imagine real live babies being “loaned out” to teens to learn how to raise kids!! I remember kids in my high school aking care of eggs though. I imagine it would be more instructive (and a great deterrent to teen pregnancy) to be able to “practice “with a real kid though.

    I’ve heard so many good things about The Devil in the White City that I still plan on giving it a go. Like you said, it wasn’t the best time to reread it.

    And Divergent was one of the better YA dystopias. And I agree that the romance didn’t “get in the way” of the story. I’ll be curious to see where the series goes next.

  11. I loved Divergent when I read it as well and am looking forward to grabbing a copy of Insurgent as soon as it comes out. I literally could not put that book down! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well 🙂

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