the sun and other stars

Earlier this month I won an ARC of The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. It arrived in my mailbox on the “official” day of release! From Goodreads:

After losing his brother and mother within a year, twenty-two-year-old Etto finds himself adrift in his hometown, where every man’s life revolves around soccer, except for his. Frustrated and lonely, Etto is faced with the seemingly impossible prospect of cobbling together the remaining pieces of his life, including his mostly nonexistent relationship with his father, the town butcher.

Things begin to change for Etto when Yuri Fil, a scandal-ridden Ukrainian soccer star and his tough-love sister, Zhuki, arrive in town, and sweep him into their universe of soccer, celebrity, laughter, and fierce loyalty. Under their influence, Etto begins to reconstruct his relationship with his father and learns a few life lessons: that perhaps the game of soccer isn’t just a waste of time—and that San Benedetto, his father, love, and life itself might have more to offer him than he ever believed possible.

I feel about half-and-half on The Sun and Other Stars—I half really enjoyed it and half slogged. I went in with expectations that I could read it pretty quickly, and then when I ended up with less time to read last week than I thought I’d have, I felt like it was taking forever to get through. So pacing was a little rough for me, but that could have just be me and my (lack of) free time.

The beginning of the book was great and engaging; I felt transported to sleepy little San Benedetto right away and appreciated Etto’s voice and felt empathy for him in his losses. I loved the San Benedetto locals, too—I thought they were all full of character and interesting back stories (however brief). Setting The Sun and Other Stars in a little seaside Italian resort town is just about perfect, too.San Benedetto really becomes a character itself, as does calcio (fútbol, soccer). Amusingly, Pasulka pokes at her fellow U.S. Americans that we don’t know soccer, and she pegged me for sure right there. However I’m a sports fan in general so the integration of soccer into the plot and soccer-as-life metaphors worked for me. As you know if you read my blog, we Wisconsinites feel the same about our Green Bay Packers—games are THE social events of the year, the games and team bring the community together, family traditions, etc. I already knew other parts of the world regard soccer and their local teams the same way, and I think Pasulka conveyed this aspect wonderfully.

The book started dragging for me in the second half a bit. Again, could be just due to my having to sneak in just a couple pages at a time here and there and not having a chance to devote a real good chunk of time to it. I was losing my patience with Etto and his increasingly grumpy, rude attitude (that’s how I read it, anyway). And as I’ve said in the past, romances blossoming in stories cool me down really fast, so I think the book started losing me some as Etto and Zhuki begin to really connect. I just didn’t care. Girl plays hard to get, guy loses girl, grand gestures… eh. I was more interested in Etto’s relationships with his father, grandparents, and best friend Fede.

But, lots of people love love stories so don’t let my own feelings sway you if that’s your thing! Some of the statements about dealing with a painful loss of a close loved one are palpable and spot on. The Sun and Other Stars is a very sweet story about family, friends, relationships, community, and working your way through grief and loss and coming out on the other side.

Read from February 13 to 23, 2014.

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I was hoping to finish The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka this weekend but couldn’t quite manage it… still, it’s a fairly quick read and I’m sure I’ll wrap it up either today or tomorrow! Post coming later this week 🙂 Another book came in the mail for me this past week, though, a pre-ordered gift from Christmas: The Martian by Andy Weir. Since I’m still working on The Sun and Other Stars, and my husband was looking for a new book (he just finished Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars) he started it the other night. I’m looking forward to getting to that one soon!

Other than that, I did realize I need to get going on this month’s book group pick, Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell! We meet next Wednesday, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to read it all in a week. I just didn’t want to skip over The Sun and Other Stars since I got it as an ARC. I read the intro already to Assassination Vacation and thought it was hilarious—this one will be part of my KC Library Winter Reads program.

What are you reading this week?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Oh so close, you guys! I just about finished reading Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. I have about 50 pages to go… I really wanted to finish this weekend but had a ton of other “real life” things to catch up on, like oh you know, house work and errands. Sigh! Anyway, I’m enjoying it a lot and each page goes by quickly when I actually have the time to read, so I’m sure I’ll finish today or tomorrow. Review post coming later this week!

After that, I plan to start The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka. I won an ARC Goodreads giveaway of this and I’m excited to start it! The cover alone gives me good vibes, dreaming of an Italian vacation, and I know it probably has nothing to do with Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins but the cover photo on The Sun and Other Stars sure looks a lot like Manarola, the same town used for the cover of Walter’s book. If my copy of Beautiful Ruins wasn’t in storage I would have to do a side-by-side comparison! Night vs. day, different angles of the shots, etc. I also read a stellar review by Jennifer at the Relentless Reader, and she has me convinced 🙂

What are you reading this week?