Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (★★★☆☆)
This book has really high reviews and I wanted to like it, but as so often with books that touch on a serious subject, it didn’t go deep enough for me. I was expecting something more, … different…? I don’t know. The story was a little disjointed and random at points and I had a hard time getting really invested in any of the characters, most of all Ruth’s father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, who should have been the person towards which I should have felt the most emotions.
Where’d you go Bernadette by Maria Semple (★★★☆☆)
Another book that didn’t live up to the hype for me. Soooo many of my friends gave this book 4 or 5 stars, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. I honestly didn’t know, and still don’t understand, where this whole story was going or what the point of it was. Can someone explain? I did give it three stars, because I – apparently – finished it and was temporarily intrigued here and there, but overall? What was the point of this book?
Marlena by Julie Buntin (★★★★☆)
This was a captivating story about friendship between two teenage girls, Cat and Marlena, whose characters couldn’t have been more different. It’s a story about bonding, peer pressure, and coming of age. I really enjoyed the story, told in retrospect, by Cat as a grown woman as she’s trying to make sense of her unlikely and short-lived friendship with Marlena. The book touches on a lot of societal problems, especially such in rural America. Addiction, poverty, loss. The only reason that I subtracted a star, is that the narrator jumps back and forth between past and present and sometimes I was a bit confused or felt like I missed a piece of information that was eventually revealed in a later chapter, which made it tough to follow at times, but it’s definitely a book I would recommend you read!
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman.(★★★★☆)
There was a lot, a lot that I liked about this book, but there also was a lot of eye-rolling… and worst of all, I was suspecting the whole time that this book was about mental illness (which – spoiler alert – it didn’t really turn out to be) and it had me preemptively hold this grudge towards the story (because the whole time I felt it didn’t do such a heavy topic justice).
I also felt that Eleanor’s (mostly lovable) quirks seemed a little bit TOO unrealistic for this day and age. (Do foster kids really not know how to use a cellphone or a computer? Do they not know how to behave at all in a social situation, or when they go to a restaurant/bar? Eleanor also seemed excessively naive for a 30-year old woman who after all had navigated foster care, managed to go to university, and had already worked many years in an administrative job.
Oh, and did I mention she’s disfigured and has scars all over her face? Do they not have counselors for traumatized foster kids? If they do, they didn’t do a very good job. She apparently figured out how to drink on weekends to shut out the outside world.)
Ok, I stop ranting or else you start wondering why I still gave this book four stars, because despite all that criticism, I ended up liking Eleanor’s character quite a bit and I was rooting for her and Raymond throughout the whole book. I was hoping she’d be able to change, to open herself up, to work through her issues, and come out on top. I was also relieved to find out that the book wasn’t supposed to be primarily about mental illness.
Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (★★★★☆)
I am not a huge YA literature fan, but some part of me really enjoyed this book, because it had such a positive message. Yes, it was a little bit ‘too good to be true’ and I felt like juxtaposing popular Jack’s prosopagnosia (face-blindness) and outsider Libby’s problems of being an obese teenager (each of which could have been the center of its own story and there would have been plenty to write about) almost a bit too much. The story was also riddled with common high school stereotypes. It was almost not believable that these two characters would end up not just finding respect for each other, but falling in love with each other.
Still, the way the story unfolded and how the lives of these two teenagers were interwoven from the beginning was heart-warming and gave me so much hope. I also thought Niven’s writing to be excellent.
What was your favorite book this month? Leave a comment, and then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.