6.05.2018

Books I Read in May


Lots of books this month! I listened to more than half of Educated back in April, and I chose a number of slim novels just over 200 or so pages - Whiskey and Ribbons, The Gunners and Piecing Me Together.

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine
You can read my review HERE!

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
I was so glad to have a seasonal reason to read another Inspector Gamache novel! The latest crime in Three Pines involves a woman that dies during a seance the over the Easter holidays. The way Penny delves into the human psyche in this one was really compelling, especially with the idea of the 'near enemy.' That there are emotions that look the same but are in fact opposites, one healthy, the other twisted. The 'enemy' being attachment masquerading as love; pity as compassion; and indifference as equanimity. Another great mystery executed brilliantly with multiple plot lines that mirrored each other and gave the story depth. I just discovered that the next book, A Rule Against Murder, is set in the summer! Might have to queue another one up soon...

Educated by Tara Westover
I'm certainly not the first person to make the observation that this was SO similar to The Glass Castle (which I read last June). And my thoughts are also very similar! I was blown away by Tara's story of overcoming her abusive, neglectful upbringing to achieve educational success that is hard to attain no matter how well we are raised. Like Wall's memoir, I wish that it was heavier on the time she spent AFTER leaving her family behind. Although, the details of her upbringing were appallingly fascinating. The amount of viscerally uncomfortable scenes of accidents and injuries that happened to her family, who reject modern medicine, were many. I felt as if she meandered a bit, recalling all these childhood 'stranger than fiction' accounts. But her observations by the end of the book were searing: about gaslighting, what we know to be true, what is history and who writes it? There's a line there at the end, when she acknowledges that SHE writes history that made me tear up. It's a powerful read. Also, in general, it's another work that gives some pretty solid evidence that misogyny is the root of all evil.

The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman
This was basically The Big Chill in book form, but with grittier characters that had absent, neglectful parents growing up. When the adults reconvene for the funeral of their childhood friend, each has a secret about his or her relationship with the deceased and why they think she left their tight circle as a teen. I was drawn in, I found myself curious about all. the. secrets. And the characters are memorable and unique, but just didn't feel real to me for some reason. Maybe it's because I don't have a similar group of friends, mine are... different to say the least. Overall, I was impressed at how much Kauffman was able to convey in just over 200 pages. If you're looking for something short, with some heft, I would recommend The Gunners. 

Piecing Me Together by RenĂ©e  Watson
If The Hate You Give is a blinding light that we all are drawn in by (which you should be, it's a must read), then this novel is like a soft glow that is equally compelling with many similar themes delivered in a more nuanced way. Both are the stories of a young black girl who goes across town to a private school of mostly white kids (see also: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian). In this case there's not a jarring death of a young black man to propel the story, but rather the type of 'death by a thousand cuts' or micro aggressions that comprise the life a black person. Which is just as compelling, and perhaps more important to read these stories. I also was glad that it addressed the plight of black women and girls specifically. A friend on Instagram said that her kiddo's high school was giving families THUG for summer reading, which is AWESOME, and I would strongly suggest adding this one to the pile.

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
Yes, I am late to the party on this one. I have found that memoirs read by the author are to my taste in audiobooks, I downloaded this one from the library on Sarah's recommendation as part of her Mother's Day roundup. It is definitely one of those 'right book at the right time' and I can't imagine reading this before becoming a mother. This memoir of Kelly's experience nannying for a widow, while on her post college trip to Australia hit me on many levels: as a mom, as a GenX-er, and, like her small charge Mille, someone who lost a parent at seven years of age. Not that I wouldn't recommend this for anyone that doesn't fit into these categories: Corrigan gives such amazing insight to anyone who has a mother or mother figure in their lives. LOVED.  "And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mom was so exhausted all the time wasn't because she was doing so much, but because she was feeling so much."

Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
This was a slow burn of a novel that examines the relationship between two people after the most important person in their lives is killed in the line of duty. The trajectory of how Eamon's brother Dalton and his wife Evangeline will move forward after his death seems pretty evident from the get go. There are some family secrets uncovered, but I also felt as if these were evident to the reader and the tension came from wondering how the characters would learn the truth and deal with the fallout. It's a lovely and melancholy examination of love and loss. "Brian was with Eamon when he took his last breaths, so I think some of Eamon is with Brian still. Maybe some of his breath got inside of him and Brain carries that around and that's why we're quiet so often when we're together or when we're on the phone. So we can hear Eamon."

Still Me by Jojo Moyes
After reading a melancholy and introspective book, I really wanted something I could smile about and just devour. Fate brought me back to Moyes when I saw Still Me sitting on the Lucky Day shelf at the library, and oh, how I missed Louisa Clark! I loved this so much, getting reacquainted with this singular character and her family, as well as another fabulously unique and lovable supporting cast. I actually thought After You was enjoyable, even though I felt that it hardly had the same indelible feel and heft as Me Before You. Now that expectations for a reboot have subsided, I think Still Me is able to shine on the merits of Moyes' ability to make her audiences laugh, cry and swoon. RECOMMEND.

2 comments:

  1. You had some great reading in May! I thought Educated was outstanding, even if it made me rage-y and The Cruelest Month was one of my favorite Louise Penny books so far. I loved the psychological aspects of it.

    I definitely feel as if I need to read The Gunners- so many bloggers have loved it.

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  2. I read The Glass Castle recently and had such a hard time with it because I was so angry with the parents. I keep hearing about Educated and how similar it is, and part of me is so curious but the other part is not sure I am emotionally ready to be so angry again! At least I can go into it knowing she turns out ok.

    Here are my May book reviews: https://elle-alice.blogspot.com/2018/05/may-book-reviews.html

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