Solid month for me, 5 books in the books for my 2018 reading challenge. I am a little behind, but there is still a good chance I can make it.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (★★★★☆)
I love Kristin Hannah’s descriptive writing style, I am usually a fan of stories that tie up somewhat neatly in the end, but in this case, I would have traded the extended story in the last few chapters, for a bit more character development in the earlier part. This story is dense and heavy as is, set in the Alaskan wilderness and dealing with the erratic behavior of a POW veteran, who gets abusive with his wife and daughter. As you might know by now, I always get a little extra-critical when a mental health diagnosis is brought into a book just for “sensation-mongering”.
The story was compelling and kept me engaged, but for my liking, it packed a little bit ‘too much’ into the plot line. I mentioned that before in reference to other books. I happily trade a little bit more depth and focus on the story of a few characters than learning too much of every peripheral character in the book.
Stay with me by Ayobami Adebayo (★★★★☆)
Set amidst the unstable political climate of Nigeria in the 1980’s, Yejide and her husband Akin find out that being a modern couple in Nigeria is not easy. After they met and fell in love at university, the two get married and old customs and family traditions expected them to start a family right away. When Yejide fails to get pregnant (which, of course, is blamed on her), the family pressures Akin to take on a second wife that will bear him children, even though Akin and Yejide had promised each other that they’d live a monogamous marriage. Their relationship is in danger of breaking under the societal pressures and their individual attempts to rectify the situation. Their story is heartbreaking and ultimately revealing about the many taboos that still can’t be discussed in this patriarchal society and it shows the desperate measures couples take when biology refuses to align with societal and personal expectations.
The girl with all the gifts by M.R. Carey (★★★☆☆)
“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair.”
I should have known that this book wasn’t really for me before I borrowed it, but when I initially read the summary, it wasn’t clear to me that I was going to enter a “The Walking Dead”-kind of scenario. I am not much of a fan of dystopian novels to begin with, so there was a little bit of eye-rolling going on when I realized what this book was about. The writing was compelling enough for me to finish the book (and I was kind of curious how it was going to end), but the plot itself was too far-fetched and gory for me.
Did you ever have a family by Bill Clegg (★★★★★)
June Reid’s life is turned upside down when she loses almost her whole family in a horrific fire. She decides to just get in her car and drive off and leave whatever is left of her life behind.
At first, I was a little bit annoyed by the ever-changing changes of narrators and time perspectives, because I felt like I couldn’t keep all the narratives straight, but the way Bill Clegg wove together this story of loss and resilience was nothing short of amazing and it all came together perfectly in the end. I could feel myself drawing a family tree in my head, connecting all the different characters, while I was reading the book.
Bill Clegg managed to emotionally connect you to all the different people in this story without giving one absolute priority over another and that is usually a hard thing to do without it feeling superficial or too discombobulated.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday (★★☆☆☆)
To be quite honest, I just didn’t “get” this book. The description says “Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice.” and while I can see how these concepts are part of the narrative of this book, I failed to see a coherent message.
The book is divided into three novellas: “Folly” tells us the story or Alice, a young editor, and her relationship with a much older renowned writer, Ezra Blazer. “Madness” tells us about Amar, an Iraqi-American, who gets detained by immigration officers in an airport on his way to the Middle East. The third part, “Ezra Blazer’s Desert Island Discs”, which is in form of an interview between a journalist and Esra Blazer, was supposed to connect the seemingly unrelated first two parts. The first and second novella had a “short story” feel to them and the only thing in common that I could see was that they’re set around the same time during the early years of the Iraq War. I failed to see the thread that connected the novellas and the third part didn’t really help either, so the book as a whole didn’t really make sense for me and I honestly had a hard time finishing it. I’d be curious of your thoughts if you’ve read it.
What was your favorite book last month? Leave a comment, and then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.