On the Road to Find Out

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I picked this book up at my local library. I had never heard of the author, Rachel Toor, but decided to give it a try, since I had yet to read a story that involved running as a main theme and am an aspiring runner myself.

The story is told from the perspective of Alice Davis, a high school senior who has the typical life of a teenager; the only child of an affluent family and a perfectionist, but is devoted to her pet rat. After her best friend Jenni insists they make New Year’s resolutions, Alice decides to start running as a way to get exercise and try something new.

I liked Toor’s message of having an outlet to help relieve stress and create new opportunities. Alice ends up forging new friendships and making new decisions with the help of running.

I could relate to Alice in many ways; a main aspect of the story involves her having been rejected from her dream college and being uncertain about her future.  It reminded me of myself back in early 2010, when I was starting to feel the pressure of choosing a college and realizing that I only had a few more months of being with my high school classmates and friends.

I could relate to the running theme as well, on a certain level. Alice describes her first run as getting tired fast and getting a cramp almost right away; the very familiar feel of being new to running. I was never a runner throughout high school, instead taking daily dog walks with my dad and being on the tennis team my junior and senior years.  Since moving to D.C. a year ago though, I’ve become more encouraged to run. Being in a city means there is always something new and makes for a great place to explore while running. I’ve ended up on the north side of the Capitol building where there’s a small resting place with a drinking fountain. My outings are still run/jog/walk, but it’s a work-in-progress.

One last tidbit: I initially thought that title of this book related to the theme of running, but when I googled the title, I found it was actually the title of a Cat Stevens song, one of Alice’s favorite singers. It only encourages me to start running even more.

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Sharp Objects

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Written by the same author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects is an intense thriller about a young woman who is forced to confront her troubled past when she travels to her hometown.

Camille Preaker is a thirty-year-old living in Chicago, working as a reporter for a small newspaper. When two young girls are murdered in her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, her editor convinces her to travel down to cover the story. While there, she must deal with her strained relationship with her mother and teenage half sister while trying to figure out who is the culprit behind the killings. “Sharp objects” is a reference to how Camille used to cut herself as a way to cope with the death of her younger sister, which occurred years before the story picks up.

This is easily one of the most disturbing books I have ever read. There were several times when the story got so intense that I was tempted to stop reading so I could calm myself down, although it goes to show how good of a writer Flynn is. As disturbing as it was, I liked how she made the characters flawed and unexpected. It’s a nice departure from a lot of books I’ve read lately, which portray plain and uninteresting characters. However, I’m left wondering how she gets the ideas to add psychological elements. The themes remind me of Stephen King’s work.

The one quirk I had with this book was the ending. I’m not going to give any of it away, but I felt like the ending was rushed and contained too much information for just a few pages. Overall, though, I would highly recommend this book to people who like psychological mysteries and Stephen King novels.