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Reader interview: Book inspires her school-play choice

Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: This week's Page Turner reader interview is with Victoria Malooley, director of theater at Homestead High School.

“A really good book I read led me to select 'The Diary of Anne Frank' for our play at school this year. The book is 'Everything Is Illuminated,' and it is by Jonathan Safran Foer. Actually, the protagonist's name is also Jonathan Safran Foer; he is an American. He is given money by his grandfather to go back to Europe and give that money to the woman, Augustine, who he says saved his life and he wants to say 'Thank you' to her. He dies shortly after.

“So Jonathan goes in search, joining up with a group, including a grandfather, who owns a tourist service, and grandson. Everything we read is going on in the mind of our American as they travel in the Ukraine. When they find where the village was, there is only one person left — the woman. She says to him, 'I am the town,' and shows him shoe boxes filled with all kinds of personal things — memories of the former inhabitants, now living in the shoe boxes, like a gold watch, for example. She never admits she is Augustine.

“It is a long book with so many things going on as they travel around to find the town where the grandfather had lived before escaping to America, but it is a well-written story and engrossing plot. In fact, I started it on a Friday and finished it on Sunday. I hated to put it down because it is so fascinating. The author describes things that come alive — emotionally and mentally. I was affected, and as a result decided to put on the Anne Frank play at school this year.

“I read a lot of fiction. The last nonfiction book I read was over the summer. It is 'Unbroken,' by Laura Hillenbrand. A guy who was a former Olympic runner is part of a flight crew during World War II that went down in the ocean; he was captured by the Japanese — and his story is incredible. He comes back bitter and frustrated, but eventually he finds redemption. I was a little bit leery, but it was selected by my book club and I do like World War II books, so I read it. I liked it so much! The author does a fascinating job of writing. It is a page turner and I became emotionally involved.

“Probably the book I remember with most affection from my childhood is 'The Little Prince.' I grew up with a French stepmother who read it to us in French, and later I read it in English. It captures what it is like to be a child. The other one I remember so well is 'The Brothers K.' It's by David James Duncan. It's set in the '50s in America and follows a family with four boys and two girls. It's a kind of coming of age of the family.”