I read about The Beauty in the Breaking by Michele Harper in multiple locations, including the NYT. And, the author went to my high school! I always like reading books by my fellow Eagles. Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) sung the praises of The Beauty in the Breaking, so I thought I would grab a copy. And, it’s a timely choice – the memoir of an emergency room doctor. What a wonderful book. It’s sad, but, if you, like me, loved ER or Grey’s Anatomy (is that show STILL on?), you will enjoy this book that not only lets you in to the author’s life, but into the emergency room too. It’s a page-turner and a great read.
When You Read This by Mary Adkins has been on my To Be Read list for a long time. I have no idea why. It’s a sweet, quick read, told entirely in blog posts, emails, and texts. Iris learns at the beginning that she has six months to live. It’s her story, the story of her boss, who owns a failing marketing firm, and each of their families. I didn’t like it at first, but it grew on me. And, it’s available at the library (though I paid a few dollars for it on my Kindle).
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith has been on my shelf for longer than I can remember. I think I have brought it to the beach on multiple occasions and never read it. So, this year I tackled it. Many people have told me they loved it. It was certainly slow to start and very old-fashioned feeling. However, in the end, I did enjoy the story. Would I put it on the list of my top reads? No, but it was good.
I didn’t think it was possible for me to love President Obama more than I already did, but after reading To Obama, with Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope by Jeanne Marie Laskas, I fell deeper in love all over again. The thoughtfulness, humanity, and overall care he took with every part of his job and just being is remarkable. I had no idea that over his presidency, he read 10 letters every night. The book highlights those letters and the stories of the people who wrote them and also teaches about the Office of Presidential Correspondence. It is a fascinating book about a wonderful man. It makes me even more despondent (is that even possible?!) about the current state of our country.
“…he’s exactly who I hoped he was when I voted for him. He made me feel like someone was steering the ship. That, if we just hung on, we’d be OK. It was like, we’ve got somebody at the top who cares. And that matters for something.” (p. 315)
I’m not sure how Pretty Things by Janelle Brown ended up on my list, but it’s an interesting story. I hadn’t liked Brown’s earlier book Watch Me Disappear, but I thought I would give this one a try anyway. It was a good story – about a con-artist couple and the twists that happen when they go through a major heist. At almost 500 pages, the book was definitely too long, but I did enjoy it. And, unlike her last book, the ending of this one wasn’t one I figured out ahead of time. I would give it four stars, but for the length.
Master Class by Christina Dalcher is set in the future in a time when a child’s potential is determined by their Q score, a standardized measure including test scores, behavior, etc. If you do well, you attend a silver school. Have a low score, you are shipped off to a yellow boarding school. The main character is Elena Fairchild, a silver school teacher whose husband helps to run this system. They have a silver school daughter and one who isn’t going to make it. It’s a rather alarming book, but a quick read, however, there were some holes in the plot that didn’t make sense and overall, while I enjoyed it, I was left with questions. It’s like Handsmaids Tale, but not as well executed.
Reese Witherspoon chose I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown as one of her June book club reads. I LOVED THIS BOOK. Brown is funny and tragic in the retelling of the role of racism in her childhood and adult life and I really enjoyed this collection of essays. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars was the heavy Christian layer. However, even so, I would grab a copy if you can get one!
So You Want to Talk About Race (backordered as of 7/15/20) by Ijeoma Oluo is a fantastic book. While I was disappointed that Oluo did not read it herself, the narrator did a good job. I’ve done a lot of driving back and forth to the beach this summer and this was a great listen. I particularly enjoyed Chapter 8 about schools and Chapter 12 on microagressions. Overall, though, it provided such a great way to think about talking about race and issues of race. I also appreciated the stories she told about her own life experiences. Some of the book repeated information I have learned in other books, but overall, if there is only one book you choose to read about race this summer, I would choose this one.
I’m lukewarm on Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe. On the one hand, it was an interesting story about a gay teenager whose mother goes to jail and he moves in with his aunt and befriends the girl next door. On the other hand, it was a bit overly detailed for me. Amazon describes it: “With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.” I don’t disagree with this description, but even though it gets rave reviews on Amazon, it wasn’t particularly my favorite.
I generally enjoy books by Curtis Sittenfeld and put Rodham on my summer TBR list a few months ago. Lucky for me, the DCPL and MCPL were swimming in available Kindle titles this summer and I got so many books for free! I really enjoyed this story. It took what could have happened if Hillary had not married Bill and ran with it. While I didn’t realize this at first and was a bit confused when she broke up with him, I had said, as reading about their dating life, “Geez, why did she marry him?” and then, she didn’t. It was very satisfying and had a particularly satisfying ending, which I won’t spoil for you. This is a fun romp and I would recommend it!