I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson
Ah, the teenage idol! He's Bieber for the current generation, Justin Timberlake for mine, and if you're Petra Williams in 70s Wales, that object of desire was David Cassidy. I Think I Love You neatly splits Petra's life into two halves. The first half covers her 13-year-old burgeoning obsession with Mr. Cassidy and a strained relationship with her mother. The second half is her pushing-forties crisis, a trip to Vegas to see David Cassidy, and a failed relationship with her husband. (See also: A strained relationship with her own daughter.) Petra herself is slightly grating, but the best character by far is Bill, who starts his career as a writer/fabricator for a Cassidy fan mag. Petra's BFF, Sharon, shares her teen idol love and is also kind of a hoot. I was happily surprised with the wry tone of the book and the memorable backdrop of the U.K. I was at work when I read it, but I Think I Love You fits my billing for the perfect airplane book--a light, charming page-turner.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
I stopped in my tracks when I saw a new (to me) Jennifer Donnelly book on the shelves at my bookstore. I loved A Northern Light. Loved it. Revolution is staggering and heartbreaking and just oh-so-lovely. It's the sort of book where you know the author poured everything she possessed into the story. The plot, in short, concerns Andi from our day who finds the diary of Alexandrine, a girl from Revolutionary France. As a main character, Andi is riveting. She's caustic, talented, and broken due to her majorly messed-up parents and the death of her little brother. Without going into too many details, just know that you should probably read this, although you do have to suspend your belief in a few key places. Trust me--it works. (Not recommended for younger readers, however.) Revolution is drenched with history and resonates with the music that Andi holds so dear.
Don't You Forget About Me by Jancee Dunn
I wish I could forgot about this book. It was...not good.
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
I loved Life of Pi, but I don't think I picked up on all of the nuances of that story. With Beatrice and Virgil, I caught the nuances yet I did not love it. The execution itself is beautiful, layered, and deeply symbolic of the Holocaust--ultimately, it just didn't do it for me. (Which is odd, because I love Holocaust stories like the Academy loves Holocaust stories.) My favorite parts were the snippets of the play featuring Beatrice and Virgil.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Fairly compelling and horrifying. Once you start to read it, you really have no choice but to finish. (Even if I did sort of despise the second half, but I can't get into that without spoilers.) The narration is endearing and the trials of Jack and his ma are so haunting.
Dye It Blonde by Smith Westerns
I get to see these guys open for Wilco in May, so I figured I should check them out ahead of time. It makes so much sense that they're opening for Jeff Tweedy & Co. because their sound is very reminiscent of a young Wilco. (And we all know that's the best Wilco.) They're a bit Sonic Youth-y and a tad Flaming Lips-y and a whole lot awesome-y. Recommended listening: Weekend
Angles by The Strokes
In all of the SXSW madness here in Austin, a group of us went to see The Strokes for free on St. Patrick's Day and braved the raging flood of hipsters. We felt like salmon swimming upstream, except instead of water, we were inundated with TOMS and tote bags. Anyhow, the concert was rocking--mostly their hits since they were playing to a crowd of 30,000 casual fans. For us that are more than casual, they also snuck in 3 or 4 songs from their newest album, Angles. (Also meant so the said casual fans would go forth and buy.) The record itself escapes from being totally predictable--it keeps you hanging on but sounds enough like the classic Strokes to keep you satisfied. Recommend listening: Under Cover of Darkness and You're So Right
One of the last remnants of my mission list, I felt good about finally watching Up. Pixar proved in this movie that they can take an absolutely surreal concept and still make it heartwarming. It'd feel manipulative if it weren't so darn adorable. New goal for the summer: Make my own adventure book.
It's Kind of a Funny Story
Say this next bit in your best Stefon-from-SNL voice.
This movie has everything--teenage crazies, Egyptian recluses, Zach Galifianakis, and a Hasidic Jew with super sensitive hearing. (Yay, Stefon!)
Keir Gilchrist sells the heck out of his role as Craig, a depressed New York teen. The end result is sensitive and smart with a killer soundtrack. "Kind of" may be underselling it just a little.