Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Martian Child

The Martian Child

by David Gerrold


In The Martian Child, Gerrold presents a fictionalized account of his own experience adopting a child. David, a single man, has been researching and preparing to adopt a child for years when he sees a picture of Dennis and realizes that he has found his new son. As a baby, Dennis had been abandoned by his mother, and due to custody and abuse issues, the boy remained in the Los Angeles foster care system for more than six years. Hyperactive and convinced he is an alien from Mars, Dennis is a handful for the inexperienced father. Despite these and other obstacles, the two eventually become a family.

This book is full of many sweet moments such as when David teaches Dennis a joke to help Dennis develop a sense of humor. Dennis has many agressive and self-preserving behaviors from being in the foster care system. David must help Dennis relearn social skills and develop new habits. I love the way that David lovingly speaks to Dennis throughout the book and gently teaches him to love and trust. There are plenty of moments where David seems to be in over his head with Dennis, but the book presents mostly the funny and sweet experiences. My one complaint about the book is the Martian child aspect. Amusing when Dennis believes it, David's obsession with it takes a lot of explanation to be believable and adds very little to the story. But that was only a minor complaint. All in all, I found this book to be a fun and quick read, a really touching story. And yay, the DVD goes on sale today!

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Poison Apples

The Poison Apples

by Lily Archer


Three girls meet at an elite boarding school and find they have one thing in common: wicked step-mothers. The girls join forces and form the Poison Apple club as a way to regain control of their lives. What initially begins as a simple desire for revenge eventually evolves into deep friendships between the three girls.

The three girls featured in this story are each quite different, but equally entertaining: a cocky shopaholic from Los Angeles, a silent almost-Goth girl from New York, and a super-smart small town girl with a passion for the Oxford English Dictionary. The stories about how each girl "aquired" a step-mother are quite sad, ranging from the death of a mother, to mothers having nervous break downs. The step-mothers get all the blame from the girls, but it is clear that many of the problems the girls face can be attributed to the fathers, the mothers, and, even to some extent, the girls themselves. Considering that the title of the book relates to the step-mothers, the women themselves feature very little in the story. Instead the story centers on the girls. They must first learn to be friends to each other, no small task. Then, with the emotional strength gained through these new friendships, they must face and accept their new family situations.

The author could easily have gone the route of hijinx and manipulation a la Parent Trap, instead she focused on the emotional aspects of the changes in the girls lives. This was an emotionally gripping book, and days after I've finished reading, I still can't stop thinking about it.