Fiction

Book Review: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Claire Lombardo's The Most Fun We Ever Had is your future TV fix

“Everyone thinks I know what I’m doing but I actually have no idea what I’m doing and that’s the cruelest trick the universe plays on people who have their shit together, little one; the people who seem like they have it together are the most overlooked, because everyone thinks those people never need anything, but everyone needs things; I need things; thanks for listening;”

40 years of being a couple, Marily and David are still a couple madly in love. The annoying kind of in love where they are still touchy feely and still like each other. They have 4 daughters.

“But that was the thing: sometimes being a sister meant knowing the right thing to do and still not doing it because winning was more important.”

Wendy – their oldest child who is a widow and drinks a tad bit too much with a mean streak in her, reserved more for her younger sister, Violet

Violet – lawyer turned stay at home mom who would go to great lengths to have the perfect family image even though things aren’t all that they seem

Liza – the nerdy, rule follower who is stuck in a dead end relationship and finds herself pregnant

Grace – the surprise baby who was born much later than her sisters and struggles with finding her place.

“The thing that nobody warned you about adulthood was the number of decisions you’d have to make, the number of times you’d have to depend on an unreliable gut to point you in the right direction, the number of times you’d still feel like an eight-year-old, waiting for your parents to step in and save you from peril.”

It’s 2016 and each of the kids are in a not so good places in their lives and do not want to share this state with their parents. The book goes back and forth telling us the foundation, early beginnings and everything in between in David and Marilyn’s relationship. The anchor that births all the story lines is the reemergence of a child Violet gave up as a teenager. It affects each and every single one of them in a different way and brings back old and not so buried resentments.

So, I nearly dropped this book in the beginning because I was so confused with the back and forth and the many characters. But I am glad I stuck with it. I eased into it and finally got a grasp of the people and the stories. I enjoyed this one. I am a sucker for family and generational stories and that is what drew me to the book. Lombardo did a great job in developing the characters in the book so every action they took was realistic because it was true to form to how Lombardo had written them from childhood to adulthood.

It was so fascinating to me that this loving couple raised 4 assholes. Honestly guys, that is the only way to describe it. These kids were just horrible people. There is not one of them I would want to be friends with and it affected a bit of my enjoyment of the book because I spent a lot of it being frustrated and angry at their decisions. The even more fascinating thing about it is their whole spiral stemmed from feeling that they could not live up to finding and maintaining a love like their parents.

“She’d fallen into motherhood without intent, producing a series of daughters with varying shades of hair and varying degrees of unease.”

I want to talk more about the characters being unlikable. Each of the daughters were so unbelievably selfish. Liza was so indecisive it hurt my soul. Marilyn’s obliviousness drove me mad and it’s crazy how the most mature character was 16 year old, Jonah. While I found them unlikable, the flip side to it is that it could be seen as realistic and a portrayal of how complex it is to be human (and on some level to be a spouse and a parent)

“It’s funny,” her mom continued. “I think so much of making a relationship work has to do with choosing to be kind even when you may not feel like it. It sounds like the most obvious thing in the world but it’s much easier said than done, don’t you think?”

I do think the book ran a little longer than it should have. Every time I’d think the book was winding down, it’d just be ramping up another angle with another revelation about someone. I enjoyed the perspective of how everyone thought Marilyn and David were perfect but they really had so many trials that they worked through. Overall, this is a book about the trials that come with parenting, being a sibling, feeling lost, second guessing your life decisions. If you like long books and have the time to get into a well thought out story, I recommend this.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

 

“There is exquisite lightness in waking each morning with the knowledge that the worst has already happened.”

The publisher’s blurb tells you virtually nothing about what this book is about. In fact, the first 50 pages leave you wondering where Mandel is going with this one. Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass hotel on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. Jonathan sweeps Vincent up into a world of wealth and greed. At the heart of this book is a Ponzi scheme and the financial collapse of 2009 which makes this even more of a sobering read, now that the stock market is crashing and recession looms.

If you intend to pick up this book because you loved Station Eleven, bear in mind that the subject matters are nothing alike. But the way the books are written is actually quite similar. Mandel has a way with words, every single sentence matters and is important. This book is a real puzzle with pieces scattered all over the different chapters and they all come together at some point to make a full picture.

“Leon hadn’t understood, and he’d given Alkaitis his retirement savings anyway. He didn’t insist on a detailed explanation. One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid. The strategy had seemed to adhere to a certain logic, even if the precise mechanics–puts, calls, options, holds, conversions–swam just outside of his grasp. ‘Look,’ Alkaitis had said, at his warmest and most accommodating, ‘I could break it all down for you, but I think you understand the gist of it, and at the end of the day the returns speak for themselves”

The characters in this book are genuinely unlikeable characters. They are opportunists, grabbing whatever life offers them at the expense of so many people while convincing themselves that they are not monsters. The way Mandel writes about the people who are affected when the ponzi scheme finally collapses is heart wrenching. People losing their homes, their retirements, pensions, working well into their 70’s just to survive, losing houses, etc. It’s also fascinating how people never question things that are too good to be true, there was always a feeling that something wasn’t right but those feelings were brushed aside.

This is an effortless read. I adored the writing. Mandel makes sure all her characters have layers, you start to feel like you know these people, you imagine what you would do if you were in their shoes and your heart breaks when theirs does too. This book is weirdly beautiful for a finance book and even if you’re not at all interested in finance (which i’m not), it still captures you from beginning to end. I gave this book 4 stars because even though I loved it the last 50 pages just dragged on for me, I didn’t need everything wrapped up that much. Still a very compelling novel. I definitely recommend.

 

Have you read this one? Will it be making it on your TBR?

 

Leggy

Book Related Topics

Is It The Book I Hate…Or The Character(s)?

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Think of a book you really don’t like. Now think of a book that you don’t like that EVERYBODY seems to love. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is that book for me. I read this book a few years ago and absolutely hated it. It was recommended to me by a friend and it was back in the day when I had not learned the art of dropping a book if I did not like it.

If you didn’t know,  I found out early on that I seem to have a problem with books with British protagonists. They are just never likable and I don’t know why. So from jump I was struggling with the book but powered through as mentioned above. By the end of the book I was annoyed, irritated and very relieved that I was done with the book.

To my chagrin, this book is a beloved one. I kept reading rave reviews about it, it was on every list imaginable. In fact, much to my chagrin before Covid19 struck, this book could almost always be found in every airport bookstore bestseller bookshelf – regardless of country.

Every time I see this book or someone tells me how they just “read this book that I really loved”, I’d roll my eyes and want to understand exactly what it is they loved. At some point, I took the time out to wonder what I was missing and what it is exactly I don’t like about the book.

One day, after giving my response for the 100th time as to why I didn’t like the book – I just couldn’t stand Eleanor. I took a step back and wondered if you don’t like a character in a book does that automatically make it a bad book or is it the reverse where it has been written so well that you have intense feelings of dislike for a fictional character? Do your characters have to be likeable to qualify a book as good?

While it definitely affects your enjoyment of the book, I want to say no. I’d like to think that you can separate the meat of a book and its writing from the likeability level of a main character. Book that comes to mind is A Little Lie. I found the main character very frustrating but I wouldn’t say I hated the book (although Leggy did so hmm) I think it was written well enough and the characters were fully fleshed out. On the flip side, I also don’t think I have ever described any of the aforementioned British chick lit books with annoying protagonists as “a good book”

So I pose the question to you, can you hate the main character or characters in a book and still think of it as a good book or does the intense dislike color your feelings towards the book?

Taynement

 

Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

The Girl with the Louding Voice

 

Plot: Adunni is a 14 year old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants out of life – an education – but instead, her father sells her off to an old local taxi man as a third wife in exchange for money for his drunken escapades. A sequence of events leads Adunni to escape to the city, where she is forced to live a life of servitude to a wealthy family. This is a story about lack of choices but having a will to survive and come out of the other side with a loud, confident voice and sense of self.

“I want to tell her that God is not a cement building of stones and sand. That God is not for all that putting inside a house and locking Him there. I want her to know that the only way to know if a person find God and keep Him in their heart is to check how the person is treating other people, if he treats people like Jesus says–with love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.”

 

Taynement: So I don’t remember how I saw this book but I remember texting you immediately that we have to read it.

Leggy: The first time I saw this book was on Book of the Month. I didn’t even read the description. I just saw the Nigerian name and picked it as my book of the month.

Taynement: How did you feel about the book?

Leggy: It took me a while to get into this book because of the way it was written. It was written in the first person narrative form of a semi illiterate girl and it took me a while to find a rhythm.

Taynement: I completely know what you mean. It was definitely a con for me and I think it validates reading vs. audio-ing it. I can’t imagine it on audio. A friend told me she tried the audio but she couldn’t do it.

Leggy: It was very distracting. I dropped this book many times and finished so many books before finally getting through this one. I can’t imagine it on audio either, must be painful to the ears.

Taynement: I really liked this book. I liked it because of the message and because it could have easily been basic but I think Dare wrote it well. She steered away from that.

Leggy: I liked it too but not as much as you did. I gave it 3 stars.

1- Because of the author’s choice to write in the first person narrative voice of the main character, Adunni. Which as I mentioned, she was a semi-illiterate so, it was all in broken English with wrong tenses and words.

2- Because I never fully got into this book. I liked the message, but was never pulled in all the way through. I think I only pulled through because of this chitchat. But when I finished, I messaged a friend of mine to read it because I think it was totally in her wheel house. It just wasn’t in mine.

Taynement: I was pulled into it all the way through. Any book that has me turning the page and I don’t feel it’s a chore, is a win. I honestly think you had a right book, wrong time moment. Okay, let’s talk about the characters.

Leggy: I thought Madam Florence was a caricature. I didn’t find her character real at all. It’s not that I thought she couldn’t exist. What I had a problem with is that, I wish Dare could have made her more complex because at some point, the author wanted us to sympathize with her but I just couldn’t. After all the wickedness, who the hell cares about her feelings. They were beating her and I kept turning the page, with no regard to her feelings. When she went through a whole period of pain and reflection after catching her husband in Adunni’s room, I rolled my eyes so much. I just hated her.

Taynement: Really? I found her very real. In fact she reminds me of someone I know. I never felt like the author wanted us to sympathize with her at any point. She was a horrid person, through and through. Yes, her husband Chief was terrible but she was a monster herself. The forefront emotion I felt reading this book was foreboding. From the minute I started, I just kept waiting for the bad thing to happen. I kept saying: “Nothing good can come out of this”. I hated Adunni’s dad too.

Leggy: Girl especially when Adunni was in that marriage, I had such foreboding. I kept waiting for the ball to drop. I’ve watched enough Nollywood movies to know you don’t just get away unscathed. What did you think of Ms. Tia?

Taynement: I liked her and what she represented,  but I also thought if this was a Hollywood movie she would be the white savior.

Leggy: Yup, I found it weird how after the conversation with Adunni she suddenly wanted children after years of not wanting them. Her whole story line seemed to be rushed.

Taynement: The way I saw it, when her and her husband met, they both didn’t want children but along the way, she changed her mind but didn’t know how to say so. Adunni just somehow bubbled it up to the surface but it was something she’d been thinking about. I guess it would have helped if Dare had fleshed it out more.

Leggy: That makes more sense, I can see that being the case. She was so oyinbo pepper. Anyway, I was super happy with the end. I can’t stand authors who suddenly decide to pull the rug from under your feet after you’ve invested so much time in their story.

Taynement: I agree. One more thing, thoughts on Kofi?

Leggy: I really liked him. He was one of my favorite characters in the book. He was super upstanding and helped Adunni through out her stay in Madam Florence’s house. Also, he was the main person responsible for her happy ending. He’s the one who found the scholarship and encouraged her to apply.

Taynement: I do think the book was a good balance of evil and hope and I do like the idea of the book being a voice for the unheard in Nigeria. The domestic helps who seem invisible but probably have all these hopes and dreams that they aren’t even allowed to have. I can’t imagine being shackled with no choice and having to deal with whatever else comes with that. No food, high chance of sexual abuse, physical abuse and just being treated like crap. Nigerians have this evil and nonchalant behavior towards domestic helps who are mostly young girls brought to serve in households against their will.

Leggy: I agree with you. I do think this book was hopeful and would definitely recommend it.

Taynement: Oooh and I’m here for unapologetic Nigerian authors. I’m seeing way less explanations in books. They’re using words and languages and scenarios without explanations and I find myself wondering less about how western counterparts will interpret thinks. I think it’s great!

“You must do good for other peoples, even if you are not well, even if the whole world around you is not well.”

Taynement & Leggy

 

Book Related Topics, Fiction

Book Review : Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Writers & Lovers

“I squat there and think about how you get trained early on as a woman to perceive how others are perceiving you, at the great expense of what you yourself are feeling about them. Sometimes you mix the two up in a terrible tangle that’s hard to unravel.”

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, Casey is devastated. She’s 31, broke, riddled with anxiety and trying to finish writing a book she started 6 years ago. This is in fact a coming of age story except our protagonist is 31 and has had a long wild youth immersed in creative pursuits and spontaneous love affairs that leave her mostly broken. She’s now at the cusp of selling her novel and finds herself in the middle of a love triangle trying to decide between her love interests.

I think as more people read this book, the reviews are going to be a mixed bag. I really wanted to love this one, I chose it as my Book of the Month pick and even the title called to me. I think the author is good at slice of life novels but a lot of this book still completely underwhelmed me. I never connected with Casey, I didn’t like or dislike her but I found some of her decision making process to be extremely lacking. Some of the decisions she made that got her to the point of being a 31 year old server riddled in debt was atrocious to say the least. The way she let emotions and men drive so much of her life was quite appalling.

“I can tell he lost someone close somehow. You can feel that in people, an openness, or maybe it’s an opening that you’re talking into. With other people, people who haven’t been through something like that, you feel the solid wall. Your words go scattershot off of it.”

There was so much about her family that could have been explored that King just flies pass through. Her father was a pervert who lost his job for spying on young girls in their locker rooms and that was never deeply explored. Her mother left her father for a younger dying man and that also just didn’t get as much light in the story.

I would have preferred a slightly different book as Casey’s current life really didn’t have that much of an appeal to me and her love interests were a bit lack luster for that to really draw me into the story. This book is completely internal and largely takes place in Casey’s head, we see everything through her eyes, it’s really hard to write a compelling and readable story that has this format. This is a character driven book so if you need a strong plot to enjoy a book, this will not be the one for you.

“It’s a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone.”

That being said, I enjoyed King’s writing style. She has a lot of great lines about being a woman and struggling with achieving within the creative space. I think she succinctly captures that stage in our lives where we’re feeling unmoored with deep anxiety about getting our lives together, torn between achieving stability especially financially and pursuing our passion.

A lot of Casey’s friends gave up pursuit of the literary life and just went to grad school or law school to be able to make an actual living. This book picked up half way and ended on a happy note which made me happy and excited for Casey. I really enjoyed a lot of the witty conversations between the characters especially with one of her love interests’ children. King gives us a glimpse of the end of a long youth and I left the book feeling satisfied with the state of the characters’ lives when the book ends.

If you enjoy character driven books, you should definitely pick this one up. I’m also going to pick up her previous novel, Euphoria because I’ve heard a lot of good things about that one as well. Have you read this one? Are you going to? I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

Memoirs

Book Review: Open Book by Jessica Simpson

Cover art

When I heard Jessica Simpson was coming out with a memoir, I rolled my eyes and was like “yet another celeb with a memoir, what do we possibly want to know about her?” Then snippets started to dribble in the media about her sexual abuse and how it led to sleeping aids, then her alcohol addiction. I read a snippet of her book combined with my love for memoirs and reality shows (I watched Newlyweds when it was on), I promptly put myself on my library wait list.

“Sometimes we are all so afraid to be honest with ourselves because we know that honesty will lead to somewhere.” I wrote this ten years ago. “Can fear walk us to something better?”

Let’s just say that Open Book is the memoir I did not know I needed in my life. It was amazing. The back story is that 5 years ago, Jessica was approached to write some sort of motivational and inspirational book but she backed away from it because she didn’t want to lie and say everything was okay when it wasn’t.

She took a step back and went through her journals that she had been keeping and mined them for content to become the book we have today. Jessica came prepared for a memoir and bared her soul to us. She shared her fears, anxieties and learnings and I really enjoyed how she balanced them all. It was not just a tale of tragedies but she was sure to share what she learned from experiences in her life and drop a kind and encouraging word.

“Did he repeatedly stab me in the heart, or did I just keep running into the knife he aimed at me?”

Jessica is famously known for wanting to wait till marriage back in the day and her love life was something else she was open about. She shares with us how her marriage to Nick Lachey was doomed from start, her emotional cheating with **** (you’ll find out who when you read the book). Her most prominent relationship in the book was with John Mayer and whew, he was terrible, terrible to her (see quote above) I applaud her for being bold and stating all the things he did to mess with her mind and heart. It was heart warming to see how she ended up with her now husband who treated her like a queen in comparison.

I think she was respectful of her family and she didn’t say much to disparage them but my opinion is that her parents were quite toxic and given her need to please personality, it was not a good mix. It was a bit sad to see all the weight of insecurity she carried around from when she was young and I am sure playing third fiddle to Britney and Christina did not help.

Even though she did touch on it, I wish she spoke more about how she got her fashion industry to be a billion dollar company. The way it’s written it seems like it was an easy thing to accomplish but on the flip she does acknowledge that she is one of those blessed people who have things go her way. The other thing I wish she explained was given her stance on no sex before marriage and her still current faith, I wonder why it didn’t apply after her divorce. In her book, she tells us how she went on a dating/sexual spree and I wondered why she didn’t stay celibate per her beliefs or what changed.

As mentioned before, I really liked this book and gave it 5 stars. Normally, I would audio a memoir but if you have ever heard Jessica Simpson talk, I wasn’t going to risk it (especially after suffering through Busy Phillips) BUT I shouldn’t be so harsh as the early pages of the book she mentions a car accident she was in that had her thrown through the windshield and affected her brain somehow and me thinks it is why her speech is slurred sometimes. Also, I heard the audio came with 6 new songs done to accompany the book so you can make your choice.

I can’t tell you how many times I stopped to google something mentioned and look for the picture or what the headlines said. I even went to look for old Newlywed episodes. I was also reminded that we are not kind to celebrities. Do yourself a favor and read this one.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fiction, We Chit Chat, Young Adult

We Chit Chat -Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Trust Exercise

“Thoughts are often false. A feeling’s always real. Not true, just real”

Plot: In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes while dealing with teenage issues and predatory teachers. 12 years later, they look back on their lives in this performing arts high school and try to dissect what actually happened to them there.

Taynement: It’s been a while since we had a chitchat. We ended up with Trust Exercise because I was seeing it win so many awards

Leggy: You know, I went into this book without reading any description whatsoever because you picked it. I was like Taynement likes plot driven books so this will be good.

Taynement: Ah, is that a first for you? Going in blind, I mean.

Leggy: It’s not a first but I usually read plot blurbs before I pick a book to read, just to see if it’s my cup of tea.

Taynement: Ah okay. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I went in completely blind

Leggy: I kept reading it and when I got to the 20% mark on my kindle, I had to go see what the book was supposed to be about. I just wasn’t getting any consistent plot.

Taynement: I think this was my thought for the entire book. I see what the main theme was but man, it did NOT work for me.

Leggy: I truly thought I was going to give this book 1 star. The beginning just didn’t work for me at all. The middle I liked more when the voice switched to Karen’s. I thought Karen had a stronger voice and point of view than Sarah.

Taynement: So I did this on audio and with each switch I wondered what I missed. It took me a minute to get back into the groove and realize the story switched and it honestly confused me.

Leggy: Karen is the only voice that worked for me and the reason for my one additional star. I thought this book could have been so much more but it’s very obvious it was written for awards. This book was a freaking Pulitzer finalist.

Taynement: The thing is if this book had the main goal of highlighting sexual assault or predators I think it did a piss poor job. I think my issue with this book was it tried to be smarter than itself and ended up all over the place.

Leggy: That’s exactly what I mean by it was written for the awards.

Taynement: I was so confused by their teacher’s story line. I thought it was borderline abuse and predatory but it was so vague I couldn’t tell if it actually was or if it was normal in the theater world. I’m referring to when he made Sarah and David reenact their breakup.

Leggy: I guess the theme seems to be that no one knows what exactly “truth” is. We’re all locked into our own points of view. Everybody has a spin. Sarah and Karen and David all lived the same things but came out of it with completely different views. David became friends with his abuser. Sarah is mad when she sees Mr. Kingsley at David’s show and wonders how David can be friends with him. Sarah portrays Mr. Kingsley as gay but Claire portrays him as extremely straight and masculine.

Taynement: Oooh, that’s an angle I can see. I really do not think this book should be done on audio. I was so disinterested by the characters, I just went through the motions of finishing the book.

Leggy: I think it shows the effects of grooming. They were all being groomed by Mr. Kingsley. In her retelling, Sarah makes Kingsley gay and invents Manuel as a character he was molesting. But then in the second part, Karen tells us it was actually Sarah Mr. Kingsley was having a “special” relationship with. And then Martin grooming Sarah and getting her pregnant. It’s all rife with abuse, different points of view and the subjectivity of truth. But my thing with this book is okay, so what’s the point?

Taynement: Yeah it never really wrapped things up in a clear manner. So you feel like you’re taking this journey and taking in the scenery but you never get to any destination.

Leggy: For such a popular book it barely has 3 stars on good reads. Ordinarily, I enjoy unreliable narrators and narratives and I do think this will make a good book club pick to discuss the subjectivity of truth and what actually happened to those kids in high school but I don’t think it was executed well.

If I wasn’t reading this for a chitchat, I would have dropped it after the first 50 pages. I found the first part of this book overwritten with these huge emotions and I understand that those emotions seemed so huge because they were teenagers. But if you’re going to write from an omniscient point of view and not a first person, then it’s just over written.

Anyway, this book is more fun to discuss with your book people than it is to actually read. My advice? Skip this one. I gave this 2 stars on good reads.

Taynement: The execution was shoddy. I agree, skip it!

 

Leggy & Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fiction

Book Review: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward

“There was no reason for what happened to you, Eddie. You could have died; you just didn’t. It was dumb luck. Nobody chose you for anything.”

Twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles which tragically crashes leaving Edward as the sole survivor. Now living with his aunty and uncle, Edward struggles to make sense of whatever life he has left while trying to heal physically, emotionally and mentally. Along with the devotion of his aunty and uncle, Edward develops an unconventional relationship with a neighbor his age called Shay who offers him honesty and friendship. This story follows Edward’s coming of age journey, as he copes with the aftermath of the crash. The author was inspired by a true life story of a plane crash that occurred in 2010. The plane was going from South Africa to London when it crashed, killing everyone on board except a 9 year old boy.

Traveling back and forth, the book toggles between the incidents on the plane and Edward’s life post crash. I did not enjoy this set up at all. At first, it was interesting but after a while it just came off as trauma porn. We all know these people are going to die, it’s on the blurb, so following every thought and hope they had for themselves got exhausting after a while.

Also, every passenger on the plane was just a caricature and the author employed every stereotype in the book. There’s a leering young business man, a flight attendant who is a sexy tease, a closeted gay soldier, a ruthless old business man who’s been married more times than he can count, a woman who finds out she’s pregnant while on the flight (I’m sorry but who takes a pregnancy test on a plane?). Every one of these stories felt gimmicky especially because none of these stories had anything to do with the crash or Edward, so they just felt unnecessary.

I went into this book expecting a heart wrenching read but for some reason, I didn’t connect with this book at all. There wasn’t much of a story. Even Edward’s life post crash was underwhelming. I did not connect with Edward. I felt bad but I found him extremely annoying. I waited and waited for something poignant to happen, for a switch to occur, for Edward to do something with his life but nothing happens.

We follow Edward from 12 till he goes off to college at 18 and he never does anything. I just don’t understand the people who were ugly crying at this book. Edwards lacks a sense of self and depth. The character of the therapist he sees for most of his life felt pointless as they never explored anything of value that added anything to the book. This could have been a great way to explore Edward’s emotional life but it just didn’t happen. Even the lives of the people in his life were not explored. His aunt and uncle’s marriage problems were just mentioned in passing, the fact that they couldn’t have kids was mentioned then abandoned, his aunty’s grief at losing her only sister was also mentioned in passing.

Trauma and healing are nuanced topics that require a delicate hand and deep understanding. Sadly, this author missed the mark on this. I know I’m in the minority with this review. Everyone loved this one. I didn’t. This book started slow, continued slow and ended slow. All the characters were strangers to me and lacked depth. Maybe I’m heartless but this book was a bore to read. I gave this 2 stars on my good reads.

Leggy.

Book Related Topics

I Said I Like It Like That: My Favorite Reading Genres

iPiccy-collage

I have been reading for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t till late last year that I came to peace with the genres I like and don’t like. Leggy has been encouraging me to pick up the life hack of dropping a book when I don’t like it. Putting that into practice, I began to notice patterns, a lot of the dropped books were romance novels. As you all know, I go into many books blind and once I get into it and notice it’s a boy meets girl novel, my heart sinks. I also noticed that it required all my energy and electrolytes to settle into fantasy/sci fi books.

Anyways, I took a dive into the books I enjoyed and narrowed down my favorite genres.

*SPOILER ALERT* the picture above gives it away.

Fiction: 95% of my reading life consists of pure fiction. I love how dynamic this genre is. How the story and the characters could be anything and anywhere in any direction the author chooses. It especially hits when you read a book that is fictional but feels so real (See: Beartown or American Marriage). This is also the genre for good ol’ quotables and I love a book with quotes for days.

Biography: I found this out about myself last year when I realized I had read quite a number of them. I am not quite sure what that means, I like the tea? hehe. No but seriously, I think memoirs give the opportunity to see what makes a person tick and in the case of celeb memoirs I find it interesting to see what their perspective was on an incident that might have been public fodder. I especially like when a memoir is open, honest, tells us things we did not know before and the author seems to have learned from their experience.

New Fiction: How is this different from Fiction you may be asking? There is not much of a difference but I wanted to note that I am a New Fiction release whore. Not a lot of my reading life consists of back list titles. I am sucker for the new and shiny. I get on the wait list in my library when I see titles around. I have huge FOMO and I always want to be part of the conversation when it comes to buzz worthy books. Also, walking through the bookstores and going through that section gives me a thrill.

That’s my summary on the genres that make me tick in my reading life. I do want to do better and every year I say I’d like to be as diverse in genres as Leggy is but I have to accept that maybe it isn’t in the cards for me. I’ll let you know if anything changes.

How about you? What are your favorite genres to read?

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fiction

Book Review: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

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“That these people would leave their homes, their cultures, their families, even their languages, and venture into tremendous peril, risking their very lives, all for the chance to get to the dream of some faraway country that doesn’t even want them.”

Lydia is forced to flee the Mexican city of Acapulco with her son, Luca after her entire family was brutally murdered by a cartel chief. This is not a spoiler as the book opens with this brutal scene. What follows, is a journey of a mother trying to survive with her child and escape the reach of a powerful man. Lydia and Luca journey North, hopping on trains and walking so many miles trying to cross the border into the United States. On the way, they meet so many people and characters that make their experience one that’s fascinating to read.

“…if you can’t trust a librarian, who can you trust?”

One good thing this book has going for it is that the author knows how to create characters that you want to root for. Cummings makes you want her characters to succeed on their journey North. Your heart is pounding as they jump on trains,  dodge gang members, get kidnapped, get lost and everything horrible in between. Whether you met the character from the beginning or the last 100 pages of the book, you have this intense desire to see them come to no harm and when that doesn’t always happen it completely breaks your heart. I also think the author did a lot of research for this book and reading her author’s note at the end of this book confirmed that.

“From now on, when we board, each time we board, I will remind you to be terrified,’ she says. ‘And you remind me, too: this is not normal.’

‘This is not normal.’ Soledad nods.”

It’s also super obvious that the author of this novel is a white person writing about brown bodies because, she spends so long describing these brown bodies. I can’t tell you how many over written lines and metaphors included the word “brown” or a metaphor representing the word “brown”. It was like being a black girl on a dating site and being called “chocolate” over and over again. The main character, Lydia comes off very naive and not Mexican at all. I found her surprise at everything I’d think a typical Mexican who grew up in Mexico would be familiar with, very hard to believe. The choices she made that led her and her family to that point, the way her husband who was a reporter and had seen the deadliness of the cartels just trusted her to make those naive decisions. She was very much akin to being a white woman in a horror movie.

I waited until I finished reading this book before I read the many articles about the controversy surrounding this book. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed this book. This novel is an over written melodramatic thriller which has sparked a war in the literary world but I still enjoyed it for what it was. I completely understand where the criticisms are coming from. This white author was paid a 7 figure sum for this book deal and received accolades from so many big name authors and is now currently on Oprah’s book club list. All to tell stories about a group of people that you are not a member of and a group of people that are not afforded these opportunities to tell their own stories themselves.

I have also read the author’s notes and some of her responses to the criticisms on her book tour, and I do feel some sympathy for her. It all feels very white savior-esque but I wonder what the average Mexican illegal immigrant would think of this book. Would they be worried about the appropriation or be thankful that a book exists that might help push the conversation on immigration in this country forward and make more people sympathetic to their plight?

Anyway, I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads. Are you going to read this book? Have you heard of the controversy surrounding it? Do you have any opinions about them?

Leggy