This book was a pick for our office book club, and coincidentally it fits in with Black History Month. Not intentional, I swear, but a nice little nod to an important societal recognition.
An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones, was likely placed on our list because it received so many awards and accolades and made it’s mark on lists like Oprah’s Book Club. With a resume like that, it’s bound to be good, right?
This book is about a young couple, Celestial and Roy, married just over a year, who are about to figure out their next steps together (job? babies?) when Roy is caught in the wrong place at the wrong time – or as they say in the book – wrong place, wrong race. Roy is misidentified as the man who assaulted a woman at a hotel they were staying at. Of course he didn’t do it, his alibi is that he was with his wife all night, but apparently that’s not enough. Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Celestial is left on the outside to figure out how to go on with her husband in jail. She turns to her childhood friend, Andre, and as the years go on, her marriage breaks down and her bond with Andre is strengthened. But Roy gets out of jail early and expects to return to his wife and his life.
After reading this book, at first I thought that it wasn’t very universal. The title would have you believe that the story could be some kind of representation of marriages everywhere, some relatable universal theme. But I thought that the disintegration of a marriage because of wrongful incarceration did not seem very universal. Continue reading
I feel like I haven’t read a good thriller lately, so I was ready for this suspenseful page-turner.
Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris is about a couple who is, seemingly, perfect. They have the perfect house, cook the perfect food for their guests, and live the perfect traditional life of not-so-recent newlyweds. That’s what Jack wants everyone to see. A husband doting on his loving, beautiful wife. Continue reading
I have always admired the Obama family, particularly Michelle Obama. Throughout her time in the First Lady spotlight, she seemed to exude a certain presence, grace, compassion, and strength that is often lost or buried in mainstream celebrities. To me, their family seemed to be a solid representation of what a First Family should be.
I’m not here to be political or to force my opinions on anyone. I read Becoming, by Michelle Obama, because I wanted to hear about her life in her own words. I wanted a larger glimpse into the life of this First Lady who represented so many other things. I was not disappointed, and I think, whatever your political stance is, you won’t be either. Continue reading
The first book of 2020 was one chosen by the office book club. Based on the book summary, I would have thought that Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, would be written differently than it was. I anticipated following along the story as it happened, the events unfolding as they would have in real life. Because this book is, of course, based on real life.
But I was thrown a bit when it read more like a mystery novel. Flashing back from present day to the 1930’s, we swapped points of view between Avery, who is uncovering the mystery of her grandmother’s past bit by bit and Rill, who is living an unimaginable life.
To find out the truth of the past, Avery’s telling of the story is maddeningly slow in the most riveting way. Avery is caught up in her family’s politics, being groomed for a Senate seat while at the same time planning a wedding with her fiance. A chance encounter with a woman at a nursing home during a public appearance has her off on a wild goose chase to connect the dots between this stranger and her grandmother, who happen to have similar photographs in their rooms of the same people.
You realize that Avery is on the brink of discovery, but hits a snag as she encounters a stubborn realtor who has sworn to keep her family’s secret – and yet, she finds herself falling in love with him.
Meanwhile, the reader is transported back a few generations to follow the story of a family on a river.
Be warned: I’m going to give away some spoilers in this review. If you want to read this book and don’t want the ending ruined, I suggest you stop now. Continue reading
This was supposed to be one of the “best books of 2018” and it was on lists for the O Magazine and Newsweek. I say “supposed to be” because I was just not a fan.
Maybe I missed something. I found Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver to be tedious and slow and disconnected. It was boring. I kept waiting for the plot to thicken, for something interesting to actually happen. But the only thing that happened was the house kept falling apart and no one, in either time period, was able to actually fix it.
Maybe I missed some deeper meaning. Maybe there were parallels I was supposed to draw, metaphors to decipher, or allegories to interpret. But I didn’t catch them. Maybe because I would read two pages before drifting off, so it took me weeks longer than usual to finish the book.
If I missed the point of this book, then so be it. I don’t have to like everything. Continue reading
A summary of this book in one phrase: a tragic historical romance with an unexpected twist.
Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton, was part of our office book club, and I must say that it exceeded my expectations. It was a story of two women from different generations, who end up going through some surprisingly similar events. Cuban-American, Marisol, wants to fulfill her deceased grandmother’s wish to have her remains scattered in her beloved Havana, Cuba. So now that Marisol is able to travel (somewhat) safely to Cuba, she visits her grandmother’s old family friends, falls in love, and uncovers some hidden family secrets along the way.
The story is told from both perspectives of Marisol, as well as her grandmother Elisa. Switching back and forth between past and present, we get a full picture of Havana, then and now – how so much has changed, and yet, so much hasn’t. Continue reading
As someone who is about to bring a child into this world and will soon come face to face with all of the difficult questions of how to raise a kind, strong, independent human being, I found this book, The Coddling of the American Mind, to be an important lesson in what not to do.
This book is talking mainly about college students and universities – how young people, members of the iGen or Generation Z, believe they need to be “safe” from differing opinions, “safe” from guest speakers on campus, “safe” from offensive language. There is a pervasive trend in our current culture of people not wanting to have to hear diverse viewpoints. Their argument is that they may be “triggered” by someone else’s words or actions.
So the book explores what this means, how we got to this point and why, and what we can do about it. Continue reading
I was took a mini vacation to Florida this past week and needed a good mystery book to keep me occupied by the pool. I finished Watch Me Disappear, by Janelle Brown, in less than five days.
When I first started the book, I thought it would feel like a template: interesting and captivating, but not particularly new or unexpected. And I was okay with that. But things definitely got a little twisted at the end, so I give this one five stars. Continue reading
The next book I read for book club was one I would never pick up myself. Those always turn out to be the best kinds of books though, don’t they? It’s not that I would have had anything against this book. I just would have gone for other ones first. Maybe stayed on more familiar territory.
This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, is about a family whose fifth and youngest child is transgender. There may be some unavoidable spoilers in this post, just to warn you now.
This book was so terrifically written that there wasn’t a single copy available in the entire county. The wait list was a couple weeks long, though I got notified a copy was ready for me earlier than I expected, maybe because like me, people couldn’t put it down and finished it in just a few days. Continue reading
Are you currently looking for a good girl friend to tell it like it is, tell you the truth about yourself and motivate you to be better? Rachel Hollis is your girl, and Girl, Wash Your Face is like having her in your living room telling to get off your phone, off your ass, and change your life.
I have heard of Rachel Hollis and of course her recent nonfiction books, but I am not a follower, I don’t read her blog, and I don’t know too much about her. But I was hoping this book would be a nice little pick-me-up and it did not disappoint. Continue reading