36: Angel of Brooklyn by Janette Jenkins
An Englishman on vacation in America in the early 1940’s meets, falls in love with, and marries a shop girl (Beatrice) from Coney Island. They move to England together and the novel tells the story of Beatrice’s life – flashbacks to her childhood with a morbid father who is obsessed with taxidermy, her time in Coney Island and the progression of selling post cards to (gasp) being a nude model on a postcard, and her at home alone in England while her new husband fights in WWII. I really fell into this book, in such a way that there would be times where I’d sit up at the end of a chapter and almost forget where I was. This is one of those books that does not necessarily have a happy ending, although I felt the end was fitting. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.
37: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
A young adult novel that I read in a day. The story is about a teen girl who writes a love letter to her crushes when she wants to fall out of love with them. She keeps them in a hatbox in her room, and somehow they end up delivered to their (un)intended recipients – one of whom is her older sister’s ex-boyfriend. Oh yeah – he’s also her next door neighbor! The girl tries to brush it all under the carpet by pretending to date another one of the letter receivers… Lies, chaos, and other high school juiciness ensue. Although the story is kind of too-perfect, made for a movie kind of a plot, I did really enjoy it. The ending however was left COMPLETELY wide open, so if you are the kind of person who likes a book that wraps everything up neatly… Well, this one doesn’t. I have no problem imagining in my head what I would have liked to happen after the story is over. Anyway, the book was cute and an easy read.
38: The Atomic Times: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground by Michael Harris
A memoir by an American soldier on the Eniwetok Island where the US government was doing hydrogen bomb tests and experiments during the 1950s. I am kind of fascinated by this part of history, because it just seems so crazy that people didn’t know how terribly the radiation from these bombs affected people, animals, and the earth. Harris spent a year on the island and never went swimming once… Why? Because the first time he was about to go into the lagoon, he spotted a fish in the water with three eyes. To me, this book was incredibly interesting. I could NOT put it down and stayed up late to finish it (the notable part of that statement is that I was able to stay up without falling asleep).
The negative reviews the book received on Amazon stated that the book wasn’t factual enough, that the author changed the names of people, and there wasn’t much information about the h-bomb tests. Yes, this may be true, but it is a memoir, and Harris was trying to protect the identities of his colleagues. Also, the interesting part to me is the lives of the people there, and the affects things had on them: the soldier whose toenails glowed in the dark from the radiation, the man who sent coral and seashells back to his wife at home and she displayed them in flowerpots, later saying that the coral killed all of the plants, and that the officials on the island denied the fact that there was any radioactive fallout from the bomb tests at all. Or that goggles to protect the soldier’s eyes during these tests were not seen as imperative to their safety (just cover your eyes with your arm, they were told), and the requisition was swapped out so that an officer could get new furniture for his island abode instead.
Anyway, I highly recommend this book. It was a little scary at times, but I learned so much, and it was a pretty easy read considering the topic (sciency science science).