I read 5 books in July. I’ve fallen out of my reading routine a little bit, but I’m leaning into it. Goodreads says I’m only two books behind my goal, so I’m not as behind as I thought. Also: reading is supposed to be fun!
Because June is Pride month, I intentionally read books that had LGBTQ representation. this month. The representation might be small in some of these books, but it’s definitely there. I’ve avoided pointing this out in the books where applicable because of spoilers!
THE FEMALE PERSUASION by Meg Wolitzer
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer–madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place–feels her inner world light up. Then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Main thoughts on this: a good story but about 100 pages too long. I flew through the first half and it took so long to get through the second half. I liked the characters (or at least found something redeeming about each of them) and found this a decently interesting story. But I sort of felt like it was missing something. Maybe it was a bit too long. I read Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS a few years ago and didn’t enjoy it as much as this one, which was more relevant to my life and interests. I loved the different depictions of womanhood and making your way in the world.
THE BOOK OF ESSIE by Meghan MacLean Weir
Esther Ann Hicks–Essie–is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage–and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media–through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell–Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?
This book is a cross between 19 Kids and Counting (which I will shamelessly admit I used to be obsessed with) and Teen Mom, with a pinch of a wedding episode of The Bachelor. I loved Essie’s gumption in going after what she wants, and I loved that it read like a reality show. I found it hard to keep track of all the family members and wish that had been clearer from the beginning. I both loved and hated that it felt like there were a bunch of loose threads hanging at the end: it kept me reading for sure, but it annoyed me when I got to the end and couldn’t figure out what those things were supposed to mean. Sometimes I wonder if I take things too literally and don’t pick up on the subtext in books, you know? Overall though, this was a great read. Some of the themes are heavy (sexual assault, murder, cults) but I didn’t think of it as a dark book.
WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY by Camille Perri
Katie Daniels is a perfection-seeking 28-year-old lawyer living the New York dream. She’s engaged to charming art curator Paul Michael, has successfully made her way up the ladder at a multinational law firm and has a hold on apartments in Soho and the West Village. Suffice it to say, she has come a long way from her Kentucky upbringing. But the rug is swept from under Katie when she is suddenly dumped by her fiance, Paul Michael, leaving her devastated and completely lost. On a whim, she agrees to have a drink with Cassidy Price-a self-assured, sexually promiscuous woman she meets at work. The two form a newfound friendship, which soon brings into question everything Katie thought she knew about sex—and love.
This is a well-written romcom on a topic that doesn’t get enough literary attention: what happens when you might not be as straight as you thought? This is one way it could go. I would have liked more info on the character’s backstories and motivations, if I had my way. I liked this more than The Assistants, Perri’s first novel, and its easy reading makes it a great beach read. I definitely don’t think it’ll win any literary awards, and I have some issues with the plot, but beyond that I would recommend it. It was fun.
THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Reid Jenkins
Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
I bought the audiobook of this one last summer, listened to 30% of it, and then decided I needed it in hard copy so I could read it again and lend it to friends. I loved it so much. Evelyn’s story is so intriguing, full of that Old Hollywood glamor that I’m so intrigued by. I loved it for Evelyn’s story of her life as an actress and falling in love with the most unexpected person and learning from your mistakes. It’s a book set in LA that doesn’t feel like the cheesy kind of LA book – since moving here I’ve somehow read far too many of those. I loved it.
THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
I’d heard so much about it before I finally got around to reading it. While it absolutely had an impact and I’m glad I read it, I didn’t love this book as much as I wanted to! It’s emotionally gut wrenching in so many ways, both good and bad, all about family and identity and what it means to help your kids grow into themselves. I felt like it dragged on a little too long and the metaphors were too drawn out, but beyond that I’d still recommend it for sure.
In total this month:
Total number of books: five
Number of fiction books: five
Number of nonfiction books: zero
Books by people who are not white dudes: five
Total number of books this year: forty eight