Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (Book 7)

by J.K. Rowling

No spoilers in the this review.

I did extremely enjoy reading the final book of the Harry Potter series. There was humor, suspense, tragedy, tension, and a great, believable ending. As is evident in the 759-page length of the book, Rowling refused to rush to the final confrontation. Answers to all questions remaining from the first six books were neatly and cleverly revealed. Kudos to J.K. for creating such a fascinating world. I'm quite looking forward to rereading the whole series now that all books are finally available.

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The Rag and Bone Shop

by Robert Cormier

This book group selection was offered by Elizabeth. I didn't realize until I had finished the book (about 2 hours after starting it) that the author also wrote I am the Cheese, a book I read and liked in high school, though I don't think I completely understood it at the time.

The protagonist in this book is a 12 year old boy, struggling with the trials of adolescence compounded with shyness and the knowledge that he isn't as intellectually acute as most of his peers. Following the murder of a young neighbor, he becomes the prime suspect and suffers the machinations of a police department and interrogator more interested in validating their theories than actually divining the truth of his involvement. Though the real killer ultimately is revealed, it is revealed at the expense of this young boys innocents and the interrogator's integrity.

I've heard of this having happening in real life (or some version of it) but I couldn't find any info after a quick web search. It's easy to believe, but hard to imagine. As in the finale of the book, such an incident would have incredible life-long, character-altering repercussions for the juvenile. One thing is for sure, though I'll do my best to teach my children respect for law enforcement and the judicial system, they will never be allowed to give official witness without me or Stepan present.

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Allegra Maud Goldman

by Edith Konecky

This bookgroup selection was a wonderfully fast read. It's a coming-of-age story about a young Jewish girl in Depression-era Brooklyn. While I thoroughly enjoyed it, I�m curious to find out what Stepan thinks of it � it is very much a young feminist book and one I would have available for any young girl to read.

Allegra Maud Goldman's father is self-made dress manufacturer and her mother is a society woman whose life is full of gaming (cards and mah-jongg) and socializing. Neither parent seems terribly interested in the development of their precocious daughter, convinced as they are that she�ll marry and have children someday.

It was fascinating to see how this practical young girl made sense of the world around her. She faces the prejudices of being female in pre-WWII America, comes to terms with the inevitability of death, ponders the various meanings of love, and attempts to reconcile her view of what she wants her world to be within the narrow confines placed on her by her family. It�s a book of philosophical conflict between Allegra and the world she was born into, yet she comes to accept the limitations of her world and the struggles she will have to endure to make her world one she can live within.

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