Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THE RED BOOK: A REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

 GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE RED BOOK
 BY DEBORAH COPAKEN KOGAN

ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Big Chill meets The Group in Deborah Copaken Kogan’s wry, lively, and irresistible new novel about a once-close circle of friends at their twentieth college reunion.

Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane were roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989. Clover, homeschooled on a commune by mixed-race parents, felt woefully out of place. Addison yearned to shed the burden of her Mayflower heritage. Mia mined the depths of her suburban ennui to enact brilliant performances on the Harvard stage. Jane, an adopted Vietnamese war orphan, made sense of her fractured world through words.

Twenty years later, their lives are in free fall.  Clover, once a securities broker with Lehman, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window slams shut. Addison’s marriage to a writer’s-blocked novelist is as stale as her so-called career as a painter. Hollywood shut its gold-plated gates to Mia, who now stays home with her four children, renovating and acquiring faster than her director husband can pay the bills. Jane, the Paris bureau chief for a newspaper whose foreign bureaus are now shuttered, is caught in a vortex of loss.

Like all Harvard grads, they’ve kept abreast of one another via the red book, a class report published every five years, containing brief autobiographical essays by fellow alumni. But there’s the story we tell the world, and then there’s the real story, as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion weekend, when they arrive with their families, their histories, their dashed dreams, and their secret yearnings to a relationship-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend.

PRAISE FOR THE RED BOOK:
"The Big Chill for the Facebook generation.”
—Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon

“Striking, funny, sad, and true-to-life, The Red Book sweeps us into the intersecting lives of characters who all started their adult lives in the same place, but upon whom time works both its magic and its entropy. Deborah Copaken Kogan is a deeply feeling writer, and this novel is a joy to read.”
—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion

“I gobbled up The Red Book in two days, ignoring my work, my family, my life, so immersed was I in the lives of the people Deborah Copaken Kogan has so masterfully brought to life. Kogan’s eye is at once wry and empathetic, and the book is a delight.”
—Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road

“The Red Book, which is filled with Deborah Copaken Kogan’s smart take on everything from friendship to sex to child raising to getting over the past—or not—makes for old-school compulsive reading.”
—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling

“A smart, funny, engrossing, and action-packed meditation on women’s lives, growing up, having and not having it all, class and the expectations that come with having gone to Harvard, love lost and found, infidelity and sexuality, and finally, loss and lying, especially to yourself.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Deborah Copaken Kogan is the author of Between Here and April, a novel, and Shutterbabe, her bestselling memoir about her years as a war photographer. Her photographs have been published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, L’Express, Libération, and GEO. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Elle, O: The Oprah Magazine, More, Slate, and Paris Match, among others. She lives in Harlem, New York, with her husband and three children.

To read more about Deborah Copaken Kogan, visit her website "Bio" HERE.

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW: 
In THE RED BOOK, Deborah Copaken Kogan tells her story in a different way than perhaps readers are recently used to. Rather than having the story told from alternating characters, diary entries, outside observers, or other recently seen imaginative ways, Kogan presents her narrative using Red Book entries. The Red Book is a report published for Harvard graduates in which their short biographies supposedly keep the alums up to date on what their classmates are doing every five years. Some of the biographies included are humorous while others feel much like candid confessions. With four main characters, Kogan is able to introduce them through these entries. When the 20th reunion of the class of 1989 comes around, reality sets in for these former roommates

As they come together after twenty years, Addison, Mia, Clover, and Jane, come to realize what has really happened to each other.  Mia, who wanted to be in the theater, is married to a Hollywood director and she is quite a successful mother, but not an actress. Clover, who is biracial and had been raised by hippie-type parents, goes in a completely opposite direction as we find she had become a director at Lehman Brothers. Unfortunately, Clover lost her job when the financial world took a nosedive in 2008 and now her major concern focuses on becoming a mother before it is too late.

In Addison, one finds a dejected woman, who is not happy in her marriage and probably for good reason in that she is a lesbian who has not come out of the closet. She seems to be unable to do anything right in her mind. Lastly Jane is a photojournalist and currently lives in Paris. Jane was adopted by an army doctor and brought from her home country of Vietnam finally winding up at Harvard among the other characters. The supporting characters also play an important part as THE RED BOOK gives readers not only an introduction, but a complete update throughout the book.

As Kogan’s characters all seem to agonize over their lives and choices, they make it quite clear that being in that Red Book, as an alum from Harvard, doesn’t necessarily equate to fulfillment and happiness. With ironic humor in her writing, Kogan can make you laugh one minute and then turn around and have you near tears as she describes real life situations. She masterfully begins the novel by introducing the four women through their Red Book entries and brings it full circle as she ends with their last entries five years later. I liked the overall theme of the book and Kogan’s style of writing. I did have to read carefully as there were so many characters to keep track of but I think pretty much all of them were relevant to the story. If you like stories like this, which reminded me of “The Big Chill”, then you should enjoy THE RED BOOK by Deborah Copaken Kogan. 


GIVEAWAY
THANKS TO THE GOOD FOLKS 
AT HYPERION VOICE, I HAVE ONE
COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK TO
GIVE AWAY TO A LUCKY WINNER 
 
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES, PLEASE
--INCLUDE EMAIL ADDRESS IN COMMENT
--ALL ENTRIES/COMMENTS MUST BE  
SEPARATE IN ORDER TO COUNT
AS MORE THAN ONE ENTRY
 
HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THE RED BOOK THAT WOULD MAKE YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND LEAVE A LINK I CAN FOLLOW IN THE ENTRY

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING WHEN VISITING
DEBORAH COPAKEN KOGAN'S WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE OTHER CURRENT GIVEAWAY YOU HAVE ENTERED ON MY BLOG. IF YOU ENTERED MORE THAN ONE, YOU CAN COMMENT ON EACH ON SEPARATELY AND GAIN MORE ENTRIES THAT WAY 

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, YOU CAN COMMENT SEPARATELY AND EACH WILL COUNT AS AN ENTRY
 
GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, JUNE 10
GOOD LUCK!

109 comments:

debbie said...

This sounds like an interesting book. I would like to hear more about their lives.
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debbie said...

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Steve Capell said...

I'm not sure that this one would be one of my favorite with so many characters. I find that often that authors that produce novels with lots characters sometimes suffer with character development ... the series that Gail Fraser wrote concerning the fictitious town called Lumby is one that comes to mind. Gail had produced so many characters that I felt like I wanted to take a piece of scratch paper and write down the characters and the relationship they had to one another. Needless to say; the character development did suffer in this series. I somehow am drawn to "The Red Book" because of the writing style that you mentioned ... I am always willing to give a new style a try and for that reason I am entering your contest. Thanks for the opportunity.

steven.capell@gmail.com

Jo-Jo said...

Friends getting together at a 20 year reunion always makes for a good story! Please enter me!
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rubynreba said...

Interesting to see what has happend to them over the years.
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traveler said...

Interesting novel. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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petite said...

A story that sounds compelling. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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Tore said...

Sounds very interesting. I would love to read about these peoples lives. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber. Tore923@aol.com

Margie said...

This sounds like an interesting book of personalities and how they change over time.
Thanks for the giveaway.
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Linda Kish said...

This sounds like it will be really interesting.

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Linda Kish said...

HELL IS OTHER PARENTS sounds terrific, too.

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~Enamored Soul~ said...

One of the things I find most interesting is that I was having a discussion about a topic very similar to this book with my own girlfriends, recently. Our high school reunion is coming up, and I was telling them that at reunions people always augment their happiness -- hell bent on showing that they've "made it", rather than expressing the journey that has made them who they really are. There's no shame in that.

I love reading books like this, which explore friendships, and the fragility of human life. Happiness and sadness seem to be intertwined in this novel, and that's why I'd love to read it! :)

Name: Hira Hasnain
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com

~Enamored Soul~ said...

I tweeted the giveaway: https://twitter.com/inluvwithbookz/status/208486717047578624

Name: Hira Hasnain
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com

~Enamored Soul~ said...

My FAVORITE part of the author's website, (fortunately and unfortunately), had nothing to do with literature, but the section marked "Photography" - each subsection within that section is filled with amazing photographs, and the archives really chronicle some brilliant talent. Is there nothing this author CAN'T do!?!?! :)

Name: Hira Hasnain
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com

~Enamored Soul~ said...

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Bethie said...

I love the idea of the Red Book. Very cool.

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Tiffany Drew said...

I'm interested in seeing how these stories collide, especially the way the book has been written. Sounds so good!!

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Pamela Keener said...

I love the big chill and I know I would love this book
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