Books I Read In May

This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Ah, this was one of those heartbreaking, yet hilarious novels. It was like the movie Home for the Holidays - but, in this case the characters are part of a Jewish family that come home to sit Shiva after their father dies; which was a really interesting premise. There seemed to be a little 'Running With Scissors' vibe thrown in with the shock value and the insanity of Judd's family/friends. His crazy, funny, morose, heartbreaking journey of self-realization is compulsively readable.  And I just learned that Timothy Olyphant, one of my all time favorite actors (ever since I fell in lust with him back in '99 in Go! and Justified is one of the best shows on tv right now) will play Horry, the next door neighbor, and I think Jason Bateman will play Judd in the movie.  

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

One of the best books I've read in a long time. This is a scathingly hilarious satire of a woman dealing with overzealous PTA mothers, a husband gone AWOL working at Microsoft, the quirks of living in a city like Seattle (as a transplant to the Emerald city, I can relate), plus other things that come to light as the plot evolves and she has to face what is ultimately depression. It's semi-epistolary, told from her loyal teenage daughter's point of view while using letters, emails, texts, etc. to convey the story. It moves along a such a fast clip and there were some fantastic plot twists - definitely my favorite book of the year, so far.

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I think I need to read more middle grade fiction, because there's so much fantastic story telling to be found. This one was told so beautifully and simply from the viewpoint of Ivan the gorilla.  It was heartbreaking and, ultimately, heartwarming. I can't wait to share it with my kids when they get a bit older and are learning themselves about the central theme of this story: principles. "...a belief that helps you know what's right or wrong." p. 194

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

I'm a sucker for historical fiction (as well as YA fiction) and I have visited a number of the cities in this novel set in what was Brittany in 1485, now Northwest France. The premise is awesome: basically, nuns that are assassins and the plot moves along swiftly. But there was too much predictability and I wasn't really blown away by it - a good, but not great read.

Shine Shine Shine

Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer

When I first started reading this book, I was overwhelmed by it's over the top odd-ness (for lack of a better word). But then reading this love story about these two very strange, yet relatable, characters became almost hypnotic. I can't say it was a page turner, but it made me think and was written in a very original voice. I even found myself marking passages, especially the many regarding motherhood - a very central theme in this book: 

"She rose up from that bed a mother, and ready to fight for the rest of her days... when the woman becomes a mother, she can no longer participate in the slow rot. Because no one's going to rot the child. And anyone who tries will suffer the mother's consequences." p. 15-16 

"I am Mom, twenty-four/seven. It doesn't end because I am not physically with you and your child. I am always Mom. It's right here with me, inside me, this makes me Mom.... I just want a little break to try and be someone else, but I can't have it. It's impossible." p.241

It'd be a great book for a really serious book club that likes to explore themes and symbolism.


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