Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave has been on my list for a long time, but I had grown tired of WWII books and wasn’t looking to start this one. It came up at the library, however, and I thought I would give it a try. The story is shared between Mary and Tom, in London, and Tom’s friend Alistair, who is posted in France. The most compelling part of this story is that it is based on the author’s grandparents’ letters from the war. Otherwise, it was too long, too slow, and not as rich or compelling as The Nightingale or All the Light We Cannot See. We’ll see how the next two WWII books on my stack (The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Warlight) hold up.
Girl Unknown by Karen Perry was a great break between all the memoirs. It’s a thriller about David and his wife Caroline who are moving through middle life – marriage, children, aging parents, careers – when David’s unknown daughter shows up in his university office. Can their marriage and family handle the unexpected visitor? This is a pretty good story with some nice twists. It’s not amazing, but a good read nonetheless.
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron was OK. It’s another memoir (I seem to be on a bit of a kick) and a quick read (the title kind of tells it all), but I didn’t love it. Maybe I couldn’t relate to the character or maybe it was the style of the writing. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t a favorite.
It may have helped that I was trapped on a long plane ride when I read Happiness by Heather Harpham, but I don’t think so. It’s such a good and compelling memoir. I couldn’t put it down – not that I had anything better to do – and cried at multiple points. Amelia-Grace is born with a blood disorder that doctors can’t figure out. Her mother is raising her alone because her father, during the surprise pregnancy, determines that he doesn’t want to be a father. Their story is touching and amazing. Grab it!
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung is a memoir that was recommended to me by a former work colleague who never fails me on her good choices. I listened to this one on Libby. It is a sad and difficult story to hear/read, but was very interesting. I enjoyed it, but it was a long one that took many hours to listen to. Perhaps reading the book would have been faster. I did enjoy learning the story, but think the format was not the perfect one for me.
I don’t think Megan Abbot is for me. Though I can’t find a record of it, the last book of hers I read, You Will Know Me, wasn’t much to my liking either. Give Me Your Hand had an interesting start – back and forth in time from high school to present day – in the life of Kit, a research scientist. Her “friend,” Diane, has come into her life right at the pinnacle of the rise in her career. Diane shared a secret with Kit in high school that has always haunted Kit and could be her ultimate undoing as an adult. This story could have been better than it was. Not only was it flat and not thrilling enough, but you could see the twist coming a mile away. If I were you, I would give this one a skip.
I liked Fiona Davis’ The Address and thought her newest, The Masterpiece, would be a good read. It’s the story of Clara and Virginia, who live 50 years apart and work in Grand Central Station. Clara is an artist with The Grand Central School of Art. Virginia works in the Information Booth. Their stories are told in parallel while intersecting. While I enjoyed this read, it wasn’t great – too predictable and flat.
As we mourn the end of summer, I recap my favorite reads. There weren’t any amazing selections like The Nightingale this year, but there were some good choices. Here are the 4.5 star books. Sadly, there were no 5s this summer.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata was recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy. It’s a tiny volume and a very quick read. And, it was a complete delight. It’s the story of a woman who has made a career out of being a convenience store worker. Spare in style, but thoughtful and deep, it’s a great choice for an in-between-longer-choices break.
I’m not sure how Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen ended up on my “to be read” list, but I’m glad it did. It’s a great story of a widow and widower who find each other after rather ridiculous circumstances and heal together. While it had a slow start, it was worth sticking with it. A delightful story, clever, and sweet.