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Ostrich: A Novel Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345545192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345545190
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Janette Skinner on August 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
It may be an overworked statement, but this is one of the best books I have read in a very long time, and I read constantly. It is an endearing tale of Alex, narrated by himself at a difficult and 'growing up' time in his life. The book is full of humour and very clever original word plays. The style feels original although it has been compared by other readers to works by Palacio and Mark Hadden.
All the characters in the book are excellently portrayed and Alex himself is a boy you can't help but love. He matter-of-factly tells us that his ink eraser is made of pig urine and that calling `bumper' cars `dogems' takes all the danger and excitement out of them. He is serious about verb tenses and mnemonics like `my very educated mother just showed us nine planets', and analysing porn.
Alex also has a brain tumour and undergoes some surgery.
The conclusion of the book is very cleverly done, there are layers of understanding and clues before the end is in sight. I had to go back and re-read some bits to fully appreciate them. It is difficult to say too much about the whole plot with out spoiling the magic. I really enjoyed this book, I cared about the players, it kept my interest throughout and it has stayed with me a while. I would highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maxine McLister on August 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
There are many things you should know about Alex, the narrator of this brilliant coming-of-age tale. For one, he is almost thirteen, for another, he has a brain tumour. Of course, there are lots of other important things to know about him: he has a hamster named Jaws 2 which his mother may or may not have killed and replaced with an imposter hamster and his father may or may not be having an affair. And that's the thing about Alex's narration: he's not necessarily a reliable narrator, not because he's lying or trying to fool us but because he doesn't know everything.

But, with the help of his friend, Chloe, we get to follow Alex as he plays detective and, as he slowly uncovers the truth behind his parents' actions, we learn the truth about Alex and his life. In many ways, despite his tumour, Alex is a typical boy entering puberty obsessed with girls and sex but, at the same time, the tumour makes him different: he feels ostrichized (because they can't fly, ostriches feel left out).

I really enjoyed this book despite its dark story and that is down to author, Matt Greene. He tells the story with much humour and empathy, even at times a touch of playfulness. In Alex, he has created a character who is complex, imaginative, fascinating but above all likeable. And, although it is about Alex's illness, it rarely dwells on it. In fact, at times, it is easy for the reader (and Alex) to forget that he's sick at all which, in some ways makes Alex's tale even more poignant. There have been a lot of books lately about children suffering from grave illnesses - some bring you to tears; this may be the only one to make you chuckle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Alex is the only one in his primary school who is allowed to wear non-religious headgear. That's because he's been bald since he had his brain surgery. But that doesn't matter much to Alex, even though it could make him feel - as he calls it - "ostrichsized (which is a better word for excluded (because ostriches can't fly so they often feel left out.))" No, Alex is concentrating on getting a scholarship to a good middle school. He's also trying to figure out what's behind all the strange things that have been happening since he had his tumor removed. This is the novel "Ostrich" by Matt Greene.

This is a story that slides. What I mean by this is that what it seems to be at the beginning, turns into something else at the end. Where we think Alex's journey is taking him turns out to be towards somewhere else. And, apparently, even Alex doesn't know exactly what his story is about, until it unfolds. Some have compared this book to Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." What these two books have in common are the mysteries that need to be solved, and the fact that they are told in first person from the perspective of a young boy, both of whom feel like they are outsiders in their own ways. They're also both very intelligent with complex thought processes, and are each studying for an important exam. Furthermore, neither of these two boys can escape their conditions nor the impact that those conditions have on their lives.

But the huge difference here is in the conclusion of these two books (which I refuse to reveal), and why they end so differently, which makes me think that these two books could also be considered exact opposites of each other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Imogen on September 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have just finished re-reading this astonishing book. My first time round it took me only 3 sittings, including one 10pm-4am marathon. Ostrich isnt a page turner in the traditional sense. The story is subtle and (for the most part) low octane. Sometimes it almost takes place beneath the surface of the narration, in the subtext or the space between lines. But once Alex has got his claws into you there's no letting up.

I'm not going to provide a summary of the plot, partly because other reviewers have done this already and partly because in Ostrich the most important things are always the things that are left unsaid, but I will say that having read the book a second time there is not a paragraph out of place. This isn't just a book you HAVE TO READ, it's one you have to re-read, which I did with my jaw on the floor. On my first reading I thought Ostrich was the funniest, saddest, sweetest, most authentic portrait of adolescence I'd ever encountered. On my second reading I realise its also the most cleverly constructed novel I've read in many, many years. Details that I initially thought were only in the book for the sake of authenticity (and hilarity) on re-examination turn out to be so, so relevant all along, which in retrospect only makes the ending more beautiful... and more inevitable.

About the ending. I don't want to talk about it too much at the risk of spoiling it for anyone but all I will say is you haven't guessed it even when you think you've guessed it. That and it WILL BREAK YOUR HEART in the very best possible way.

Ostrich is the only book I've ever read that manages to combine quantum physics, Tricolore French, divorce, fate, brain surgery and the funniest (and most moving) analysis of internet pornography that you will ever read.
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