Grab Inheritance by Dani Shapiro immediately if you are looking for a beautiful and heartwrenching book. It’s a fascinating memoir, a quick read, and a unique exploration. Author Dani Shapiro discovers in 2016 that her father is not really her biological father. As she researches her paternity, she grapples with genealogy, parenthood, family, and memory. It’s a wonderful book – in many moments, I found myself in tears.
While I was reluctant to read Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter – the cover was a little supermarket for me – I came around to it in the end. It begins with an introduction to Taylor Young and her perfect life, marriage, house, children, etc. But, of course, as you could predict, all is not as it seems. When her life is shattered by unexpected news from her husband, she has to build herself and her life back up again. Again, not my usual cup of tea, but a quick and not terrible read.
The Library Book by Susan Orleans (of The Orchid Thief, which I loved), is everywhere. Reese Witherspoon chose it for her book club and the NYT chose it as a best book – I see it all over the place. And, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t LOVE it. It was a bit schizophrenic – all over the place and covering rangy topics in random order – but it was interesting nonetheless. On the surface, it’s the story of the LA Central Library which caught fire in 1986. Embedded in this tale are all kinds of other related library stories. I am not sure what would have made me like it better. Again, it was certainly interesting, but I found myself skimming sections which weren’t really of interest and not loving it as much as I thought I might.
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker was a great read. I happened to get it in LARGE PRINT so it was also a VERY fast read. It’s about an epidemic of sleep that takes over a small college town in California. I was lucky enough to have the entirety of Sunday to enjoy this one and, boy am I glad I did. Grab it – you’ll like it!
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen was much like their last book, The Wife Between Us. They both keep you on the edge of your seat and, while they are not amazing literature, they are fun to read and keep the pages turning. Jess is a subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality, but as the study goes from computer to reality, her relationship to the psychologist conducting the study gets confused. It’s hard to know who to believe and what to think as you read. It’s a good thriller.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan was a great book. I think part of what I liked about it was that it was a book about a slave without being a book about slavery per se (while that was certainly a theme, Washington Black’s life was the more important thread). Washington Black, born a slave, becomes an assistant to his master’s brother and learns to read and draw scientific illustrations. His work takes him all over the world in search of different things. It’s a fast-paced read and is so well-written. I highly recommend you pick it up – I really enjoyed it.
Imagine my surprise upon I finishing The Possible World by Liese O’Holloran Schwarz, to discover the author’s acknowledgment of Phyllis Sidorsky, the Lower School librarian when I was at NCS. While I couldn’t discover Schwarz’s NCS connection through the internet, she was indeed, Class of ’81. Thank goodness I liked the book! The Possible World was just the kind of book I like – three separate stories that weave their way together until culmination at the end. One of the best parts of the story was the authenticity of the emergency room doctor (makes sense, since Schwarz is one herself). First, we learn the story of Ben, a five-year-old who has witnessed the brutal murder of his friends and his mother at a birthday party. Another thread focuses on Lucy, the doctor who has left her husband. Clare, the elderly woman telling her life story to a friend is the third. I would have loved more about Lucy and her relationship, but otherwise, this was a really good story that I thought about when I wasn’t reading it and wanted to get back to it so as to find out the resolution. To me, that’s the best kind of read.
Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg is the tragic story of the author’s marital abuse. You really have to steel yourself to read the story, one more in a long line of difficult and depressing reads. It was well-written, though, and heart-breaking – a good memoir.
I seem to be on a “crazy woman” depressing book kick of late. In Watching You by Lisa Jewell, there are all kinds of problems that culminate in the murder of one of the neighbors in Melville Heights. The story spins back in time leading up to the murder and everyone’s motives/history. I like psychological thrillers, but not murder mysteries, usually. But this was a good and interesting one. I blazed through it on a cold day in front of the fire and did want to finish to find out what happened. Deep? No, but certainly satisfying.
I am not sure where the recommendation for Looker by Laura Sims came from. It’s a spare novel with very large print, so only took about two hours to read. It was a depressing read, and I can’t say I loved it. It’s about a woman whose husband leaves her when they can’t get pregnant. Her life spirals out of control along with her obsession with her famous actress neighbor. The book was well-written, but it felt kind of like Girl on a Train with the descent into madness and no hope. So, while it didn’t take a lot of my time, I don’t think I can say it’s a great one to grab unless that’s the kind of book you favor. (And now, looking on Amazon for the cover image, I notice that it only has 3.5 stars there. I never choose those anymore, so I should have known…)