Clock Dance was another summer disappointment. I used to love Anne Tyler, and fondly remember reading her early works. This quiet story, however, didn’t do it for me. The only thing I liked about the book was the last paragraph where there was finally hope for the main character. She was so depressing otherwise (which was the point, of course). Willa answered the call of the neighbor of her son’s ex-girlfriend. The ex had been accidentally shot and was in the hospital, so Willa flew out to Baltimore to take care of the ex’s daughter even though the daughter was not Willa’s granddaughter. There’s not much to the story and it’s not poorly told, it’s just listless and a bit boring. I’d give this one a skip if I were you. Hopefully, my next read will be more enjoyable.
I could not put down Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. In fact, I talked it up endlessly to our vacation hosts and passed it along before we left. Hanna hates her mom and wants to kill her. She is selectively mute except when she plays the part of a woman who was burned at the stake as a witch. Things escalate and you can’t wait to find out what happens. This is a great thriller – I’d grab it before you head to the beach or on your last hurrah vacation.
I was disappointed in Anthony Horowitz’s The Word is Murder. I’ve seen it everywhere and heard it was a great mystery. The premise is great. The author plays himself (a writer, most particularly of Foyle’s War, which I discovered this summer) who ends up helping with a murder investigation. Interestingly, the woman who was murdered had walked into a funeral home on the day of her death to plan her funeral. This book was too long and too full of in-fighting between the narrator and his investigator accomplice. I don’t usually grab mysteries and was hopeful for this one, but if I were you, I’d give it a pass.
I had a pile of books that needed reading before they were due back to the library and I plowed through them. Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman was one of these. I had enjoyed her Garden of Small Beginnings (reviewed here). Other People’s Houses was OK – it’s the story of a neighborhood and the families and children therein, but mostly the story of the relationships (mostly flawed) between the adults. It felt much like Big Little Lies. One bothersome things about this story was that for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out where it took place. Turns out it was LA, but the author referenced a few things that sounded British, like the High Street, which was bothersome to me. Overall, this one was fine, but nothing to write home about.
I have had Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue on my Kindle for a long time, but it also came up as an audiobook in my Libby list, so I listened to it. What a great story! In fact, my 13-year-old dipped in and out of it as I listened to it on the way taking him to camp and he really enjoyed just the snippets he heard as well. Jende Jonga is an immigrant from Cameroon who is hired to be Clarke Edwards’ family driver. Clarke works for Lehman Brothers. Jende and his wife end up both working for the Edwards family, a family with all kinds of issues even before Lehman goes under. It’s a story of immigration, wealth, family, and secrets. I really enjoyed this one. I think it would have been equally good as a read as it was as an audiobook. I highly recommend.
Beatriz Williams is always good for a summer read. And, The Summer Wives, while not an all-time favorite, was a good beach read. It’s the story of Miranda who has a complicated relationship with Winthrop Island (off the CT coast) and the locals and summer people who live there. The complications are too challenging for me to relay them all here. Suffice it to say that you have to pay attention when you are reading this one.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is an amazing book. I had started it a year ago in print and abandoned it. This time, I tried it on Libby (Audible from the library). I just loved it. It’s sad and difficult to listen to (who wants to know about aging), but wonderful as well. Gawande walks through end of life decisions and doctors’ training (or lack thereof) and involvement in those decisions as well as nursing home and assisted living facilities and the history behind them. He wrestles with the idea that we, those left behind by the dying, make decisions that aren’t necessarily those that improve quality of life. It’s a great piece and really good as an audiobook.
What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan was very similar to the last book I read, A Place for Us (reviewed here). Family saga, immigration, and troublesome brothers are the themes of both books. The stories felt very similar, and, unfortunately, I didn’t love this one either, though it got better by the end. The Zhen’s move back to Shanghai from America and settle into a life of luxury. The story is told from the perspectives of Mrs. Zhen and Sunny, the housekeeper who ends up being a summer nanny for the family because of Mr. Zhen’s brother’s visit. This one was OK for me, but not a summer favorite.
I eagerly waited for A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza as I read excellent reviews from multiple sources. And, while I liked it, I didn’t love it (a summer theme). It’s the story of an Indian family brought back together for a daughter’s wedding. The story bounces back and forth in time and incidents in the family’s life. I found the bouncing somewhat confusing – you had to reorient each time and there were no dates to help – and didn’t really come to like any of the characters that much. I suspect I had blown this one up too much in my mind and was, therefore, let down.
Mindless. Beach read. Summer. These are the first words that come to mind with Elin Hilderbrand’s newest, The Perfect Couple. It’s a mystery told in alternating chapters in the past and present. We learn the story of Benji and Celeste’s courtship and of the potential murder investigation of Celeste’s maid of honor on the night of the rehearsal dinner. This was not one of my favorites of hers, but it was a decent summer choice.