The writing gene often runs in the family. For this challenge, you need to find two authors from the same family (either by blood or by marriage) and read a book by each of the authors and then write about both books.At first I was going to read books by Michael Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman but changed my mind when another pair came across the radar -- Roald Dahl and his granddaughter, Sophie Dahl.
The best part of this book might have been Dahl's love for his close-knit family -- his grandparents in Norway who they saw only once a year, his brave mother who was left with five children when her husband died prematurely and his siblings that looked out for each other. While he was frequently away at boarding schools, he wrote to his mother every week. In fact, he wrote to her every time he was away until the day he died.
I really want to pick up Going Solo next which continues from the point that this one leaves off. Dahl's real life is just as fascinating as the imaginary ones he creates!
called the novel "somewhat autobiographical". I thought it was somewhat awful. It was like an accident that you can't look away from. Because it's a coming-of-age story, it's hard to summarize because it's simply a girl's trip from childhood to near-adulthood. It just happens that this girl's trip includes a highly dysfunctional mother, experimentation with all sorts of substances and a generally weak will -- all before the age of fifteen.
This book highlighted something that I am really getting tired of in memoirs and coming-of-age stories -- the blaming of bad behavior on dysfunctional parents. I'm sorry but just because your mom snorts coke in front of you doesn't mean that you, at fourteen, can't exercise judgment of your own and choose not to do it. Too many adults are copping out and not taking responsibility for their own choices. I'm not denying that they had bad parents but there are enough other influences in most children's lives--friends, friends' parents, grandparents--that there are examples of good behavior around as well. It's as if the author is admitting that they had no brain or will of their own -- a sad statement. This book mostly just made me feel ill and actually made it difficult to choose my next read because I needed just the right book to cleanse my palate after this one.
This turned out to be a very interesting challenge! While Roald Dahl grew up in a wealthy family, they still valued work and didn't have a sense of entitlement. These are values that don't seem to have remained in the family. I also wasn't really a fan of Sophie's writing style. There were too many places where time passed without any indication -- conversations ending with one line and the same speaker starting on the next line in another conversation in the future. It was very confusing and broke the flow of the narrative. Overall, these two books couldn't have been more different!
Thinking about nature versus nurture,
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