by Gloria M (San Jose): Because I am an avid reader (on average I finish 2.5 books every week) and I am addicted to print books, I refrain from purchasing every book I consume-instead I borrow them from the library or friends or family.   Only if I find that I absolutely love the book AND would want to read it again AND I want my children and their children to read it do I end up buying it (I do not have the budget to buy or the space to store every book I read).  Yes, I have an e-reader and yes, I occasionally use it and totally comprehend the cost savings, but print books soothe my soul!

So “Beautyland” by Marie-Helen Bertino satisfies all my requirements and it is on my list to acquire (thanks to the library for having it readily available and to BookBrowse for leading me to this title). It is just amazing.   It is the story of Adina Giorno who believes she was sent to Earth by her people (aliens) to report, via fax machine, on humans.

Is this true? Is she really an extraterrestrial or does she have some serious psychological issues?  You can decide for yourself.  I chose to hold both possibilities within my mind as I turned the pages – think, Schrodinger’s cat.  This saga takes you from Adina’s birth and through the many decades of her life.  You learn of her intelligence and empathy for the humans she is “studying” and you ache at her loneliness.  You grow to understand her mother, at first an unsympathetic character, but as she says to her daughter, “It’s like when you wrote that all we ever ate for dinner was chicken.  Little girl, I made pasta every night. What other facts are you misremembering about your childhood?”

We watch her lifelong friendship with her best friend Toni and her second best friend Toni’s brother Dominic.  There are many others in her life, most notably her beloved dog Butternut, her romantic relationship with Miguel and her nightly “visits” with her alien mentor, Solomon.

It is rare that a book makes me weep, this one does.  It is even more unusual for a work of fiction to make me cry AND laugh, but somehow Bertino does this with her engaging writing style.  I cannot wait to add it to my collection so I can refer back to it.  I will be thinking about this one for a long, long, long time.