Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sex, Lies and Online dating By Rachel Gibson

Sex lies and online dating was one of the few books that captivated me from the start based on the humour. The story is woven around two individuals that got into online dating for work related purposes only to end up liking each other.Rachel Gibson has a very vivid imagination regarding the cheesy characters that date online, especially the names they choose as screen names – Hardluvnman, Bigdaddy182, Luvstick, Klondikemike. I found a portrayal of the characters void of good manners and etiquette, although typical of screen names and personalities, I did wonder if it was a fair presentation of online dating.

What I enjoyed about the book, was the way she brought her characters to life. They weren't Hollywood type with perfect bodies, you tend to feel she's talking about someone you know (or could know). Sometimes you read a book and could predict the characters' reactions to certain situations based on how you perceive them - knowing fully well they're fictional and evolving based on a formula - I didn't feel that with this book.The reactions were realistic and not a formula to make the story flow, which indeed gave it a better flow. How she captured their emotions and reactions was refreshing, there was no exaggeration or purple prose and to me, that was good writing - to remain as real as possible and still be able to capture the readers attention from start to finish.I liked how she resolved the conflict in the end. The only thing I didn't care for was that the main characters got married eventually. I felt the story was complete without that bit.

She left me wanting with the bit about Clare behaving oddly though. Clare was mentioned only a few times in passing so giving her the centre stage that late in the story was distracting. It may be because Ms Gibson had plans of working on a sequel, if not, that last bit didn't blend too well with the rest of the story. However, Rachel Gibson is one writer whose work I am certain to read again.

My Sister's Keeper By Jodi Picoult

Sharing ideas from across the globe exposes a person to different views, but sometimes a book does it even better. For me, that book was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It's a book about the rather difficult choices a family made when a child was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. Her sister was conceived - genetically engineered - to be a perfect match, for procedures that become increasingly invasive, until at the age of 13 she decided to hire a lawyer, and sue her parents, for the right to decide how her body is to be used.

I have a pen pal who suffers from ataxia due to brain damage. It causes her to have seizures, so she uses a service animal, just like the lawyer in Picoult's book, and she's gradually losing her sight as well. Technically, I understood what my friend was going through, but the emotion behind such a life, the hardship of simple daily living, was something I never imagined, until I read the book. And like Katie in Picoult's book, my friend lives one day at a time, knowing there could be no tomorrow. She had been told, just like in the book, that stem cell treatments could give her a better chance at living. She has come close to having a stem cell treatment, using the umbilical cord of her niece, but because it was illegal where she lives, the treatment was never carried out. However, in Picoult's story, it was, several times.

Picoult was able to tackle the issue from various angles, making it hard to take sides, and readers are likely to be sympathetic to all sides of the case. I found it frighteningly thought-provoking. The story shows evidence of thorough research. It does not answer many questions, but it certainly raises some. What I found rather disturbing about it, though, was the protagonist's devotion to the child with leukaemia, which is totally understandable, and her complete lack of sympathy for the donor (sister)'s predicament, as well as neglecting her troubled son. As a mother who loves her child, I just could not understand using one child to save another, despite knowing how profound a mother's love can be.

However, the book gave me a deeper appreciation for my friend, and I am less judgemental about stem cell treatments, because it hit too close to home this time.