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February 13, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

lamb, wally - i know this much is truethumbs_up ) So Wally Lamb is my current favorite author, and he brought it to another excellent level with this book.

The story is told by the identical twin of a schizophrenic. It follows him through his fight for his brother’s rights and wellness, after a highly publicized incident where the mentally ill brother cuts his arm off in public in protest of the war.

The story is very detailed, drawn-out, and intricate. No wonder it’s 900 pages long. But it’s well worth it. The story has intense drama and twists and turn at every end, but still very gritty and down-to-earth.

I highly recommend this book if you don’t mind spending a long time reading one thing. It can be a bit slow in the first half, but it picks up with force and you’ll have trouble putting it down.

February 4, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

Hot (Broke) Messes by Nancy Trejos

trejos, nancy - hot broke messes( thumbs_side ) Now this is the first personal financing book I’ve ever read, so bare that in mind. Perhaps if I was more familiar with the other literature that is out there, I would have a different opinion.

I like that this book is tailored to helping one balance living life fully while getting out of debt (for those that have made big financial mistakes). I have only the standard auto and school loans to pay back, but I need all the help I can get in doing this asap as well as bringing up my currently negative net worth.

Trejos has a unique perspective to share with how she grew up with immigrant parents who penny-pinched and worked incredibly hard. However, she didn’t learn from their practices, and squandered her money. Even with an $80,000 plus salary, she was swimming in miscellaneous debt for her expensive lifestyle.

Ironically, she became a personal finance columnist. With this new assignment, she came to the realization she needed to practice what she was going to preach. So she hired a financial advisor as well as did her own research.

This book is a compilation of what she’s learned, experienced and gathered. Overall, it’s useful, but not great to the point that I’d recommend it to anyone. Also, it’s a little outdated in 2015 (it’s copyrighted 2010) with some of its references and facts.

January 16, 2015 / Melanie Rosson

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, PhD

jay, meg - the defining decade( thumbs_up ) You could say I’ve had a bit of a quarter century crisis, and this book helped me navigate through some of it.

Nowadays it’s common for people in their twenties to care little about their jobs or families, and instead value socializing, slacking off, or partying. Society tells us 20-somethings are more of an extended youth.

However, Jay tells us this should not be so. She goes through the consequences we’ll face if we are to put things off in our lives for too long. Some examples include very little 401ks, children that will just become adults when you are a senior, lessening pools of singles, unexplainable gaps in resumes, and the list goes on.

The way she writes is down to earth. It has just enough science and real talk to make it a really great read. I highly recommend this to any 20-something struggling with progressing in life.

November 11, 2014 / Melanie Rosson

Wasted by Marya Hornbacher

hornbacher, marya - wasted( thumbs_up ) Hornbacher is a brilliant writer and has gone through hell with her mental illness. Wasted is what I believe is her first memoir on one of her dual diagnoses – a NOS eating disorder. Her second memoir is a chronicle of her struggle with bipolar disorder, Madness: A Bipolar Life.

This was written when she was only 23 years old. It begins by describing problems in her youth and warning signs of the disease to develop. First, she becomes extremely bulimic. Then, out of desire to have more restraint and more substantial weight loss, she devotes herself to anorexia.

At a very young age she develops habits and ways of thinking that obsess over food and her own body. She sees no limit on how thin she needs to be. She desires to wither away to nothing.

She becomes emaciated to the point where she is told she has one week left to live. Only this, did she see as a turning point to change her behavior. Now, she is living, but still in a continuous struggle with the disease.

I love this book for how much detail it provides, the plentiful research and observation it contains, and how much great analyses the author has put into to trying to understand her condition and circumstances. It’s intense and honest, and made me cringe the whole time I was reading it because I’m disgusted by the idea of someone starving to death – especially by their own will. It’s great – but like I said –  an intense read.

November 4, 2014 / Melanie Rosson

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

sheff, david - beautiful boy ( thumbs_up ) Meth is a hell of a drug. As this book will tell you, probably the worst and most far-reaching drug to have hit America yet. Now, imagine loving someone who is deathly addicted to it. The worry and stress would would eat away at you in more ways than one.

The author of this book is the father of a severe meth addict. He tells the story from a unique point of view. Usually I read from the addict’s perspective which is extremely intense. However, this proved to be just as gripping. The emotional turmoil that comes with trying to help and care for someone so sick is debilitating in a way.

This book tells us how those around addicts feel, and why groups like Al-Anon are so beneficial. Also, he does thorough research. He educates his audience on facts and studies behind addiction and treatment.

If you’re into stories about the disease of addiction, this is a good book.

Also, check out his son’s book “Tweak” by Nic Sheff.

September 25, 2014 / Melanie Rosson

Daughter of the Queen of Sheba by Jacki Lyden

lyden, jacki - daughter of the queen of sheba( thumbs_side ) The idea of this story is intriguing. It follows the daughter of a manic depressive woman – also known as bipolar. It examines how she grows up, what she’s exposed to, and the abuse she suffers.

It also tells of how her and her sisters came through such dark times with her mother, but still managed to grow up fairly normal. None of them inherited the “crazy” gene.

In fact, in the “Introduction” (at the back of the book, for some reason) it mentions that destructive marriages and stressful events in Dolores’ (the mother’s) life may to be to blame for the onset of severe mental illness. So maybe it wasn’t in her gene pool.

The girls grew up being forced to be a parent to their own parent, which is never a way any child should grow up. Unfortunately, it happens, as it does here.

The story itself is compelling, however the way it is told throws me. It is almost poetic in it’s descriptions and has many abstractive narratives. I prefer straight-forward story-telling. This had me analyzing what the author was telling me too much. And some of the time, I couldn’t even follow her train of thought. It was all over the place. I wouldn’t recommend this book, but I don’t regret reading it.

September 20, 2014 / Melanie Rosson

Looking For Alaska by John Green

green, john - looking for alaska ( thumbs_side ) Miles wants to go to boarding school, and so he does. There, he becomes close with a particularly rowdy group of people. He also develops a huge crush on a girl, Alaska. However, she’s the most moody person he’s ever met.

Teenage rebellion, drinking, smoking, and pranks ensue. On the night Miles, nicknamed Pudge by his new friends, finally gets to first base with Alaska, a huge “accident” happens.

The second part of the book is spent with the group experiencing the aftermath of the accident. They analyze it to death, but finally realize they will never know exactly what happened.

It’s not a bad read, but there’s not anything particularly new or interesting about it. Just another teenage trauma story.

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