Monday, May 2, 2011

EVERYTHING I WAS: A REVIEW AND "DOUBLE DEMAS" GIVEAWAY - PART ONE

 GIVEAWAY ENDED
EVERYTHING I WAS
BY CORINNE DEMAS

ABOUT THE BOOK:
“My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall.”
 
So begins Irene’s journey from a Manhattan penthouse to—well, she’s not entirely sure where. Irene’s father, a corporate VP, is “downsized” when his company merges with another. When he can’t find work, her family’s lifestyle—and her mother’s spending—quickly catches up with them. Eventually, they’re forced to move in with Irene’s grandfather in the family farmhouse upstate. But what begins as the most disastrous summer of Irene’s life takes a surprising turn, and Irene must decide what she wants for herself after losing everything she was.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Corinne Demas is the author of Eleven Stories High: Growing Up in Stuyvesant Town, 1948–1968, a memoir; two collections of short stories; a collection of poems; and numerous books for children. She has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships as well as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship. A professor at Mount Holyoke College and a fiction editor of The Massachusetts Review, she divides her time between Western Massachusetts and Cape Cod. She has belonged to several writing circles.

MY REVIEW/THOUGHTS:
EVERYTHING I WAS by Corinne Demas has me perplexed. The book is publicized as a book for middle grade or young adults and yet THIS blogging grandmother was captivated  from the beginning pages. EVERYTHING I WAS is an engrossing book centered around the main character, Irene, who is an appealing and sincere thirteen-year-old girl. Drawn from our current unpredictable economic times, Irene feels an unsettling loss of control over everything in her life as her father’s company has downsized and he has suddenly lost his job!

This result is a major life change for Irene and her family as they are forced to sell their penthouse in the city and move to live with Irene’s grandfather in the country. No more posh prep school for Irene or fancy summer vacation. With the summer break starting, it is the one saving grace for Irene as she doesn’t have to admit to her friends what has happened as everyone scatters for their vacations; everyone except Irene who is off to the country to help Grandpa with his farm. With so much loss, her parents are forced to sell their belongings and only a few of Irene’s prized possessions are put in storage in hopes things will change soon as her father looks for a new job. However, Irene’s mother is the one who takes this the hardest. She is a superficial person whose excessiveness has only added to their woes. Her attitude to living with her father-in-law in the country is almost laughable if it wasn’t so selfishly sad.

While Irene’s father spends time looking for work but also enjoying working with his hands as he helps his dad around the farm, her mom spends time in the city looking for an affordable apartment for them to get in by the time the school term begins after summer break. Irene, meanwhile, is supported by her grandfather and as good things oft can happen in this kind of situation, she draws closer to him. She enjoys working with him and his flowers and plants as well as getting to know each other better. Some of the loveliest writing for me is when Corinne describes their work with the flowers. I could smell and feel the dirt that they were working with and celebrated their pride in the end results. Thinking this is enough to help her get through the summer, the sometimes reticent Irene is surprised when she finds the Fox family of stair-step aged children, who turn out to be good friends. Irene even finds the older brother to be special as he becomes her first love interest. Who knew? Instead of merely existing, Irene finds herself thriving in this environment and as time passes, she realizes she hopes they don’t go back to the city. 

Irene is a likable character, and it’s easy to believe her story as she grows into a more self-sufficient young lady who finds that her major stumbling block now is her mother. She wants to get Irene back to her expensive prep school even if it means by scholarship but Irene doesn’t want to lie to her friends in the city because frankly, Irene wants to stay in the country and go to the public school. How can Irene do this when her parents think they have found a temporary home in the city and are ready to move back at the end of the summer? What about Irene’s new found friends and her grandfather? Feeling that her father sides with her mother and that means “who cares about Grandpa OR Irene?”, what can Irene do? 
 

It is the final part of EVERYTHING I WAS that is the one thing I didn’t care for because I didn't want the book to end. I wanted to read more about what happened to Irene! My hope is that Corinne Demas has a sequel planned. With the characters so well fleshed out by Corinne, the story moves quickly and smoothly with realism that keeps the reader entranced. As a former middle school reading teacher, I know only too well the self-centered personalities of that age group of students, and this book fits them so well. My former students would all love this book. As much as I taught them about setting and character development, and how a good, tight story line can make a book a hit, they would surely enjoy this one. With that said, the sensitivity with which Corinne Demas handles the characters and a very credible plot, will appeal to adults as well. While allowing her picturesque descriptions and pleasing narration to make you think and feel what is going on is very, very real, EVERYTHING I WAS by Corinne Demas will appeal to all ages, I’m sure, just as much as it did to me. 

GIVEAWAY
PART TWO OF THE "DOUBLE DEMAS" 
GIVEAWAY IS THE WRITING CIRCLE
AND YOU CAN FIND IT HERE
THANKS TO LINDSAY AND THE GOOD
FOLKS AT LERNER BOOKS, I HAVE ONE
BRAND NEW HARD BACK COPY OF 
EVERYTHING I WAS TO GIVE AWAY
 
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
 

COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE DESCRIPTION AND REVIEW OF EVERYTHING I WAS AND WHY YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ON CORINNE DEMAS'S WEBSITE. YOU MAY WANT TO LOOK AT ALL THE BOOKS SHE HAS WRITTEN FROM CHILDREN'S TO ADULTS' AND SEE WHICH YOU HAVE READ, OR WOULD LIKE TO READ, BY SEARCHING HER WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, YOU CAN GIVE THEM ALL AS LONG AS THE COMMENTS ARE SEPARATE TO COUNT FOR THE GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, MAY 18!

82 comments:

debbie said...

This sounds like a well written and touching story. Unfortunately, in this economy, it is happening quite often. I am not so sure that is a bad thing, though. It sounds like it does the characters good. I would love to read it.
twoofkaind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I am a email subscriber.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I am a gfc follower.
debbie
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I would like to read her book the writing circle, it sounds really good.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

lag123 said...

Love your review! This story reminds me of the summer when I turned 11 and my father died. Things changed drastically for me to say the least. I would love to read this book. I think it might help me to review some of my childhood.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/lag32583/status/65016852954365952

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Steve Capell said...

I love stories that you wish would never end. I agree with Debbie's comment that this economy has caused many to lose their jobs. I would very much like to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity.

steven(dot)capell(at)gmail(dot)com

lag123 said...

I would like to read the writing circle.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

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Angie @ By Book or By Crook said...

I skimmed the synopsis before heading for your review and didn't catch that the book was for young adults until you brought it up. The cover threw me off because the person in the water is clearly not a thirteen year old girl. It sounds like a great book if you didn't want it to end!

aksimmo at clearwire dot net

Angie @ By Book or By Crook said...

I am an email subscriber

aksimmo at clearwire dot net

Angie @ By Book or By Crook said...

I am a gfc follower

aksimmo at clearwire dot net

Tore said...

It sounds like a really good read. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

mamabunny13 said...

I loved the review and I'd like to win because I never knew either of my grandfathers so it would give me a chance to feel what it would have been like to know them at that age. (I've often wondered)
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

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mamabunny13 said...

I would like to read The Writing Circle.
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Bethie said...

I think this is really timely. Many are going through something like this with the current economy.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

I follow on GFC

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petite said...

This captivating story sounds wonderful and so well written. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

I am a follower. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

I read The Writing Circle and this book sounds great. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Your fantastic review had me riveted. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I would read her other book for sure. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

This books sounds like a cross over between YA and Adult, which is great. It would be something that I would enjoy and my niece would probably too. I like that author has written well developed characters and they are dealing with today's bad economy. I would love to read this book.

CaroLNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

My Twitter name is Carolee888 and I tweeted:

http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/ Giveaway of 'Everything I Was'

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I am very exciting about her book,
'Writing Circle". I am a sucker for knitting circle books so I know that I would thoroughly enjoy that book too.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I am very exciting about her book,
'Writing Circle". I am a sucker for knitting circle books so I know that I would thoroughly enjoy that book too.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

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Margie said...

This sounds like an intriguing book. The plot is very plausible in these times. I like that the characters are well developed. And, Karen, since you didn't want it to end, I take this as a good recommendation.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

The author's awards include two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship.
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dogwood said...

This sounds exactly like the sort of book I'd love to share with my daughter. I think we'd really enjoy reading this one together.
She'll very very soon be middle grade, and it would be so nice to have this sort of story as a conversation starter.

dogwoodlane @ suddenlink dot net

dogwood said...

GFC follower- dogwood

dogwoodlane at suddenlink dot net

dogwood said...

After looking around her site, I'd also like to read Daffodils or the Death of Love because I'm a sucker for short stories.

dogwoodlane at suddenlink dot net

Jolee said...

I love how it has appeal across ages. joleehamlin [at] comcast [dot] net

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Jolee said...

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Colleen Turner said...

This book sounds just wonderful! There is much to be said for stripping your life down to the bare essentials and the real necessities of life. I think that is really when you find out what you want and who you are.
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I found out on the author's website that she has won two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship.
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I am an email subscriber.
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Pamela Keener said...

Your review makes me want to jump right in and read this coming of age book. I find that if YA are well written I can read them and they are not beneath my reading or interest level. One such book was If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I have The Writing Circle on my TBR pile.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I follow your blog via GFC
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I follow your blog via Google Reader
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Pam
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Pamela Keener said...

I am an e-mail subscriber to your blog.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
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samantha35 said...

Looks like a great touching story- would love to read it
great giveaway

drakebdog@gmail.com

samantha35 said...

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Linda Kish said...

It does sound interesting and I agree with you it doesn't sound so much like a middle grade book. I would like to read the whole story.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

Oh, I see her book, The Writing Circle is listed for Free Book Friday this week. I hadn't noticed when I signed up for it. That's cool.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am an Email subscriber

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am a GFC follower

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bloomerbear said...

I like to read how people go from Riches to being down...not because I wish them bad but because of how they can change....and become more human like

pattifritz2000 at yahoo dot com
thanks a bunch

mamabunny13 said...

I like BOOKIN' WITH BINGO II on fb-mamabunny shelor
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

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