I’m finally up to date on book reviews! As you’ll see April was my best month yet for reading this year.
Golden Child by Claire Adam
This book in two sentences: Paul and Petter are thirteen year old twins living in rural Trinidad in the same house, but with very different attitudes: Peter is smart and Paul has always been thought of as a bit of an idiot. One day Paul goes missing on a walk, and when his dad goes looking for him, he’s forced to make an impossible decision.
What I liked and what frustrated me: I liked the descriptions of Trinidad and how literary the writing was. It was easy to picture the settings: the small house, falling into disrepair, the Catholic school, the bus that the boys ride between the two. There was a choice made in this book that bothered me a lot and altered the trajectory of how i felt about the rest of it going forward, so that frustrated me greatly. As someone pointed out in my instagram post about the book though, the choice was really true to the character and the cultural context.
Recommended for: people who like books set in new places + books about the bonds of family.
Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein
This book in two sentences: Eliza co-owns a jewelry shop in Brooklyn with her sister Sophie, and when she’s bored she likes to try on the rings in the shop. One day she accidentally leads the shop’s Instagram followers to believe that she’s engaged, and instead of owning up to the mistake, she decides to take the free publicity and run – all the way to the altar.
What I liked and what frustrated me: I liked that this was a fun, engrossing summer read. I read it all in one sitting over two cups of coffee. It’s a better novel than Orenstein’s first novel, Playing With Matches, but it’s also much more unbelievable. It frustrated me that Eliza’s family was so willing to buy the fact that she had everything under control and that they bought her ridiculous ideas over and over again. I also didn’t like the way Eliza treated a lot of people, though I’m learning to see this as less of a flaw of characters and more a reflection of real life.
Recommended for: Anyone looking for a great beach read! The book releases in August. Thanks to Atria Books for sending this free ARC for review.
Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson
This book in two sentences: Three young women enter West Point in the summer of 2000 expecting to get an education, a military commission, and to play for the school’s basketball team. They get all that, but they also end up dealing with the effects of 9/11 on the country, which changes the trajectory of their lives entirely.
What I liked and what frustrated me: I liked basically everything about this book! I loved learning more about West Point and found myself on a Wikipedia rabbit hole to learn more about places and things mentioned in the book. I think my only frustration would be that I found myself wishing to know more about the school experience of West Point, but the book is called Beyond the Point so it makes perfect sense that it has to move on.
Recommended for: Anyone who loves books about close friendships and learning about places so different from your own experiences.
All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr
This book in two sentences: Erin Lee Carr’s father, the acclaimed journalist David Carr, died unexpectedly when she was on the cusp of adulthood. This book is her memoir of their lives together, frequently told through text messages and emails, and of Erin’s growth after his death.
What I liked and what frustrated me: I loved the way texts and emails were used in this book. It actually inspired me to write an email to my dad. Some of the choices Erin made frustrated me, but I thought about it for a bit and realized that she showed a lot of bravery and grace to herself in writing about these choices. We need more honest memoirs in the world, and this is absolutely one.
Recommended for: readers who like memoirs told with the aid of emails and text messages, and those who like father/daughter stories.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
This book in two sentences: Anna was born to save her sick sister’s life. But she’s a teenager now, and she doesn’t want to do it anymore, even if it means fighting against her parents to get what she wants – and even if it means her sister dies.
What I liked and what frustrated me: I’ve read this book a number of times so it’s not new to me, and I can’t find anything truly frustrating about it. I like it because it still tugs at my heartstrings and makes me cry. The whole idea of this book felt so revolutionary to me the first time I read it: it involves a court of law, it has sisters, and it wrestles with impossible questions. I guess one thing that does frustrate me is that the movie is really bad and did the book a huge disservice.
Recommended for: Fans of Jodi’s earlier novels or books that make you cry.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This book in two sentences: Marianne and Connell are two kids from Ireland who have a strong connection but can’t be together because they come from two different worlds. When they go off to university, their situations flip, and they find themselves drawn to each other again, no matter how unhealthy it may be.
What I liked and what frustrated me: I liked how honest to the millennial experience this felt. This is definitely more of a character driven book than a plot driven book, and more and more I’m learning I’m more interested in plot. So that frustrated me a bit, because it’s easy to feel like nothing happens.
Recommended for: readers who love character-driven novels about being in college.
Roar by Cecelia Ahern
This book in two sentences: This is a book of fantastical short stories that are intended to inspire women. They’re told with magical realism and all take on the elements of parables.
What I liked and what frustrated me: I loved the concept and I do love the idea of short stories because they’re easy to read. But this didn’t really work for me. The stories all feel super goofy and too on the nose. One woman keeps finding bites everywhere and realizes she gets one every time she apologizes. Another woman has been quite literally put on a shelf and ignored, until she decides to get down from the shelf. I just didn’t love it.
Recommended for: People who love magical realism and short stories.
In total this month:
Total number of books: seven
Number of fiction books: seven
Number of nonfiction books: zero
Books by people who are not white dudes: seven
Total number of books this year: twenty one