I just finished Persuader by Lee Child, the sixth or seventh Jack Reacher novel for me in the last couple years. And can I tell you...I love the Jack Reacher novels. Love love. I can't even begin to tell you how much. In fact, I think Reacher ended up worming his way into my character, Pierce, in ARGENT GLASS. Of course, I do not do Pierce justice when we put the two side by side. Reacher's far more sexy than Pierce and Lee is a far better writer than me.
There is something about a tall, strong man who is completely comfortable in his own skin and who isn't afraid to use the weapons he was born with, much less the ones he acquires on the road. Men like him because he's a man's man - he knows all the details of the weapons he uses, did time in the military, and lives a carefree, unencumbered life - he hasn't gotten sucked into raising children and getting "a real job" or any of that other nonsense that being a family man entails. (And yes, I know most fathers would say, "I love my family. I love having children." Of course you do, but honestly, I think all of us parents fantasize, at least occasionally, about a life on the road, free to do what we want, when we want to.) Us ladies, though, we like him because, along with the normal, natural sexy stuff he does in the stories, he respects women. He isn't intimidated by how smart they are or by any kind of power they might hold over him. Okay, he's not really intimidated by anyone, but it takes a special kind of man to not be intimidated by smart, strong women.
Gush. Gush. Gush. I know. It's sickening. But he's a great character, the kind I wouldn't mind stumbling into at my local department store where he'd be picking up a new white t-shirt and a pair of jeans. And he's submerged into well-crafted adventures, novel after novel, without losing any... ummm... Reacher-ness. The beauty of the series is that you can pick any Reacher novel up and start reading. There's no need to start with Book 1. And, if you put off watching Jack Reacher, the movie, because "Who picked Tom Cruise to play blond-haired, 6'5", 250 lb., 50" chest Reacher," which is the criticism I've heard from many people, give it a try anyway. I think Tom embodied the spirit of Reacher, even if he doesn't live up to the character description in the novels. If you watched the movie and want to read the book, look for One Shot.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai is written in verse. I did not realize this when I selected the book to read it. I chose it strictly based on the what the cover looked like. (This is a great lesson for me in cover design. I wonder how many people choose their books solely by their covers?) When I started on page 1, I thought, "Oh, what a nice way to start the book. A short poem." Then I turned the page. And then I turned another page. Swipe swipe swipe. "The book is all poems? Oh, no. How did I pick a poetry book to take on vacation?"
I was pleasantly surprised to discover, that while the whole book is written in a poetic style I don't typically read, one chapter lead to the next and then the next and so forth, telling a rich and engaging story. So rich and engaging, in fact, that I could not put it down.
I was captivated by the narrator and her love for her family and especially touched by the scene when she discovers her brother has brought a beloved companion on-board for their journey. When his friend perishes and he is unable to let go, she selflessly wraps it in the arms of her treasured mouse-bitten doll before sending it into the depth of the sea, regretting it as any child would, a moment later:
Alone at the back of the ship I open Mother’s white handkerchief. Inside lies my mouse-bitten doll, her arms wrapped around the limp fuzzy body of his chick.
I tie it all into a bundle. Brother Khôi nods and I smile, but I regret not having my doll as soon as the white bundle sinks into the sea.
I treasured the lessons with Miss Washington and hope I have touched at least one life in the way that she does before my life is done. And I wholeheartedly agree with the author, "Whoever invented English should be bitten by a snake."