Search This Blog

Love reading challenges? Check out my other blog:

2022 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (5)
- Colorado (2)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (1)
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Louisiana
- Maine (1)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (5)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (9)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon (1)
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (2)
- Utah (2)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (4)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)


Antarctica (1)
Australia (2)
Egypt (2)
England (14)
France (1)
Greece (1)
Italy (1)
Nepal (1)
Romania (1)
Scotland (3)
Sweden (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:

31 / 50 states. 62% done!

2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

19 / 50 books. 38% done!

2022 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2022 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge

My Progress:

49 / 53 books. 92% done!

Booklist Queen's 2022 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

40 / 52 books. 77% done!

Aussie Author Reading Challenge 2022

1 / 24 books. 4% done!

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

3 / 20 books. 15% done!

2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

My Progress:

31 / 50 books. 62% done!

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

My Progress:

39 / 52 books. 75% done!

2022 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

34 / 50 books. 68% done!

2022 Support Book Bloggers Challenge

2022 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Monday, May 28, 2012

Things That Make Me Go Meh

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Lula, a 26-year-old immigrant, is living the American dream.  At least, she thinks she is.  She's not sure.  All she knows is that her new life in the U.S. beats her old one in Albania any day.  In fact, Lula's got a lot to be grateful for: she lives in a wealthy New Jersey suburb; she earns money by looking after a 16-year-old boy who really doesn't need a babysitter; and thanks to her employer, the kind Mister Stanley, she's now legally able to stay in the country.  She really can't complain about it all, even if her new American life is a little bit dull.

That all changes when three Albanian men come knocking, asking Lula to do her "brothers" a dangerous favor.  Lula knows she shouldn't oblige them, but she's been waiting for a little excitement and here it is.  Plus, there's Alvo.  He's good-looking and seems as interested in Lula as she is in him.  So what if he runs with a sketchy crowd?  She wanted a thrill—now she's getting one.  But, as things get complicated not just with her new "brothers," but also with Mr. Stanley's family, Lula must decide where her loyalties really lie.  What does she owe her countrymen?  Her employer?  Herself?  Who is she and what does being an American really mean?  

The ho-hum plot summary above reflects my disappointment in Francine Prose's latest novel, My New American Life.  As you can probably tell, it's not big on plot.  Which wouldn't have been a huge problem if the author had managed to make me care about the characters in the story.  Didn't happen.  Why not?  Well, none of them are particularly likable, least of all our heroine.  Lula lies to the people who have been kindest to her, disregards all of her employer's rules, and selfishly puts an already hurting family in jeopardy to satisfy her own lustful urges.  Annoying.  The rest of the cast irritated me, as did the story itself, which just got duller and more depressing as it prattles onward.  Without an interesting plot or engaging characters, this book just kind of goes nowhere.  It's not that Prose doesn't write well—she does—it's just that I didn't connect with My New American Life at all.  If I hadn't promised to review it, I wouldn't have bothered to finish it.      

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  C

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for strong language, depictions of underrage drinking and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of My New American Life from the generous folks at Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!  

Mormon Mentions: Francine Prose

If you're not sure what a Mormon Mention is, allow me to explain:  Every time I see The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also commonly known as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church) mentioned in a book authored by a writer who is not LDS, I post the passage here on my blog.  Why?  Because it's my blog and I can do what I want, of course!  Not really.  I actually do it because, as a lifelong member of the Church, I'm naturally concerned about how my faith is portrayed in books, movies and other forms of media.  Posting about it here gives me a chance to correct false information, offer my opinion, or just laugh about my crazy Mormon culture.  Plus, I just enjoy doing it.  If it's not your thing, feel free to skip this post.  If it is, read on.

I found this passage in My New American Life by Francine Prose:

"Water?'  The woman smiled, setting menus before them.  They nodded. "Beer?  Thai beer?"  Nod nod.  More smiles.  Lula watched her walk toward the kitchen door, where another Asian woman and two blond men in white shirts and ties waited tensely as if to debrief her after a top-secret mission.

"Mormons," Lula said.

"That's what I was thinking," said Alvo.

Lula said, "How did they get in?  Even under heaviest Communism you saw Mormons in Tirana."

Alvo said,  "Someone paid.  Someone always pays" (Page 126—italics were added by me).

I don't pretend to know anything about the history of the LDS Church in the Balkans, but I'm still pretty sure Church officials didn't bribe anyone in Albania to let Mormon missionaries into the country.  How did they come to be there, then?  I did find this explanation from Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  In February of 1992, he gave an address at Brigham Young University in which he said this:

Last April my Church duties took me to Albania. Elder Hans B. Ringger and I were some of the first Western visitors to that newly opened country. We conferred with government officials about the reception our church’s missionaries would receive in Albania, which had banned all churches in 1967. They told us the government regretted its actions against religion, and that it now welcomed churches back to Albania. One explained, “We need the help of churches to rebuild the moral base of our country, which was destroyed by communism.” During the past months I have heard this same reaction during discussions with government and other leaders in Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.
In contrast, consider what we hear about religion from some prominent persons in the United States. Some question the legitimacy of religious-based values in public policy debates. Some question the appropriateness of churches or religious leaders taking any public position on political issues.

(See the full address here)

Interesting, no?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flower


The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

Followin' with Bloglovin'


Followin' with Feedly

follow us in feedly

Grab my Button!

Blog Design by:

Blog Archive