What I read in June

I finished three – very different  – books in June. All of them worth your time, if you’re looking for some new reading inspiration.

Ask again, yes by Marie Beth Keane (★★★★☆)

This is the story of two neighboring families, the Stanhopes and the Gleesons, the friendship between their children, and a tragedy that reverberates over four decades. The book explores mental health issues, alcoholism, immigration, abandonment, marriage, toxic parent/child relationships, and violence, but also love, dedication, perseverance, and hope.

I am always a  little bit extra critical when a book involves mental illness. It’s often used as a tool to create drama, not so much for advocacy or ending stigma. While I feel mental illness has been exploited a bit for the sake of the narrative of this book, I also found there to be a lot of understanding, healing, forgiveness, and grace throughout the story. Definitely, a family drama that will stay with you and give you lots to think about.

Such a fun age by Kiley Reid (★★★☆☆)

I wasn’t quite swept off my feet by this book like other people who have read it (according to Goodreads reviews), but overall it was a good, thought-provoking read. My main issue was that the characters felt dimensionless, either oversimplified (Emira) or overexaggerated (Alix) and I didn’t feel like the plot was well-thought-out.  It did however blatantly display how difficult it is to write about racial issues in nuance, especially when bouncing back and forth between two first-person narratives.

I read in one of the other reviews that it seemed like there was not a single “normal” character in the book and that a normal cross-racial relationship apparently cannot exist without ulterior motives or underlying bias. I found myself agreeing with that observation and found this in itself to be a rather biased assumption. The highlight of this book for me was the sweet and genuine relationship between Emira and Briar, the little girl she babysits.

Know my name by Chanel Miller (★★★★★)

This is the memoir of the young woman, initially known as Emily Doe, who was sexually assaulted behind a dumpster on Stanford Campus while unconscious by Brock Turner, who in the news was called a nice boy and aspiring Olympic athlete. As if his accomplishments could take away from the horrible thing he did. 

Chanel takes us on her journey through the emotional turmoil of being assaulted, the court system, the horror and humiliation of reliving her trauma again and again, and the constant victim-blaming. Let me say this; NOTHING that someone did excuses being sexually assaulted. Chanel is a brilliant writer with a powerful voice and you need to read this book. 

What did you read in June? Anything you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment, and then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.

  1. All three of these books have been on my radar, so I was glad to read your reviews. I’m going to skip Such a Fun Age because one thing I absolutely hate is dimensionless characters. But not I will definitely read Know My Name- every single review I’ve read has been five stars. Thanks!

  2. I felt the exact same way about Such a Fun Age. It just seemed so over the top and unrealistic to me. Know My Name has been on my list for so long..really need to read it!

  3. I read and really liked all of these books! Know My Name was a book club book last year and everyone really liked it – feels weird to say ‘liked’ about a book that addresses sexual assault, though… It was very well done and highlighted how horribly our court system and society in general treats victims.

    My 2 best reads from June were both non-fiction. Good Talk (graphic memoir about discussing race with her mixed race son) and Crying in H Mart (memoir about losing her mom to cancer.

  4. I’ve been wanting to read Know My Name for some time now and I’m glad to see it here as a reminder to download it! I read Such a Fun Age a few months ago and liked it merely because it was quick and easy to read and I was getting back into reading and it helped me get into a groove once again!

  5. I read Such A Fun Age and felt exactly the same way – loved the nanny-child relationship, thought the book was good but I had heard SO much about it that I found it a bit of a letdown. It was fine, but it wasn’t GREAT, in my opinion. The other two books are on my to-read list.

  6. Ask Again, Yes was not what I expected. I liked that it didn’t end as I expected, but… I didn’t love it as much as the reviews. I felt like two people who were so connected, they might have worked on the alcoholism and other mental illness issues together. Maybe not – not sure.

    Such a Fun Age was very topical and an easy read. I didn’t like the characters – maybe that was the point and felt bad for the children. I agree it wasn’t “all that.”

    Did you read The Midnight Library? That was one of my recent faves.

  7. I have Such a Fun Age to hopefully read soon. I definitely want to read Know My Name but I know it’s going to be emotional!

  8. Know my name is on my list and I need to find me a copy. Thanks for reminding me. Did you find it was very “American” or does it focus a lot on the justice system in the states?

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