Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Hello, everyone! I would love to try and keep this blog up to date, because I do not do a blog on every book I read. I DO list them on Goodreads, but maybe I SHOULD start writing about each one. 

I HAD to write about this one. I just finished The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. 

I was so excited to read this. I am going to be totally honest...and you will hopefully get a kick out of this. I actually bought this book back in February. I started it in September and finished it last night. I know that sounds like a huge gap, but I get distracted with other books and things to read. Also, I hardly ever buy books. I know that sounds strange, but I just get a lot of books from my library. If a title I want is new and I know it won't be in the library readily available, I just put them on hold and wait. I have plenty of other books in my pile to keep me occupied. But, I digress! 

So, I bought this book, threw it in the pile and read other things. I was so looking forward to reading it because it takes place in New York, which is my favorite city. And, even though I don't live there, I visit as much as I can. Anyway, this was a historical piece taking place in Coney Island back when Dreamland was being constructed and also in Manhattan during the time of the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. 

The book focuses on Coralie, the daughter of a "professor" who runs The Museum of Extraordinary Things in Coney Island. The museum features side show sort of attractions, including people, like the Butterfly Girl, etc. What I liked about this part of the book was reading about the human side of the performers that were explored. I also liked researching certain things, like Dreamland, which I had never heard about until I read this book. 

The other part of the book is about Eddie, an immigrant who lost his mother and traveled through very trying times and situations with his father in order to start a new life in New York. Eddie is very jaded by the life his father has carved out for them doing back breaking work in a factory. Eddie sets out and makes his own life, shunning his father due to his bitterness. Eventually, Eddie finds his place in the world as a photographer. 

There is a love story in this as well as a mystery woven through the book surrounding one of the workers in the Shirtwaist fire. 

Now, that being said, it sounds like it would be totally engrossing and I am sure to some people, it was. But, I started this book in September and ended it last night on November 8, 2014. I kept putting it down to read other things. I wanted to see what happened, but I found it kind of overwhelming. There are a lot of bad things that happen in this book and the author pulls no punches when describing certain events. 

Now, like I said, I wanted to finish it, but to be totally honest, I was glad when it was over. I started a new book with an overwhelming sense of relief. I know that must sound dramatic, but I really was relieved. 

I couldn't help notice the long list of other Alice Hoffman books in the first pages of this book. Unfortunately, The Museum of Extraordinary Things was my first Ms. Hoffman book, but, fortunately, it will not be my last. This is for two reasons. One, I noticed a good amount people saying on Goodreads that they wished she would come forward and say she didn't write this one. This gives me the impression that her other ones were written differently, and I am all for giving another one a whirl. And, two, I am always looking for a different author with a good number of titles on their list. 

If you have a favorite Alice Hoffman book, please let me know about it in the comments below! 

On to the next book!