Tuesday, June 30, 2020
So...here's June's books. I'm halfway through the year and WOW have there been a lot of great things to read so far this year. What are you reading?
The Trust by Ronald Balson - perhaps you've noticed that I'm working my way through his books. I liked this one since it was a little different from the other books that feature Liam and Catherine. Set in Northern Ireland, it dives quite a bit into the conflicts there and the long lasting effects of those battles. I only have one of his books left to read before I've caught up to all of them!
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes - wow, this one was hard and sad and beautiful all at once. Reading in the wake of the current protests, thinking about George Flody and so many others killed by police, and bringing the Emmet Till story into the mix...it was really well-done. This is intended to be a middle-grade novel, but I'm not sure I would hand it to a kid without really having some hard conversations alongside it.
Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi - I've read Ibram Kendi's book "How to be an Anti Racist" and several others, but I liked this "not-history" book, as the author puts it, because it was less of a prescription and far more of a how-did-we-get-here kind of book. It's the YA version of "Stamped from the Beginning" (which I haven't read) and I highly recommend it. So much history here that I just didn't know - so much about how the concept of race was constructed to keep, hold, and maintain power structures. So much to think about and to re-learn.
The Book of V by Anna Solomon - Anyone looking for a straightforward historical fiction re-telling of the Vashti/Esther narrarive will not find it here, but it was a really interesting back-and-forth look at how women have dealt with their powerlessness in different ways through history. It felt a little unfinished, a little unsatisfying, but still readable - the writing was great but I kept waiting for a real plot to develop...
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown - After listening to Austin speak on Brene Brown's podcast (highly recommend), I wanted to read her book and I was not disappointed. It was a highly personal memoir that really laid bare the exhaustion that Black people feel in America today. I think I want to re-read this one, and I've been recommending it all over (and above some of the other books on the anti-racism reading lists that are going around) because I found it so compelling and readable. So much to think about and to re-learn...I continue the work every day.
In Five Years by Rebecca Searle - hmm. I liked this book, ultimately, but I wasn't sure I liked it while I was reading it. I couldn't tell where it was going to go, but I think I appreciated where it ended up. This is a good summer read (even though it's a bit of tear-jerker too).
Invisible as Air by Zoe Fishman - A quick read but I think this one will stick with me. Each character's perspective on a massive family grief experience cut through me. I kept thinking - that could have easily been our family.... Addiction of multiple kinds, death of a child, and a Bar Mitzvah - this one was a tough read but I recommend it.
Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah - this reminded me of Room, and it was sweet and sad but also totally predictable in a comfortable-sweater type of way. I read this in one Shabbat mostly in my hammock, and that should tell you everything you need to know about this book!
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld - At first, I was a little put-off by the author choosing to write this book in the first person, since it was obviously not penned by the real person. But as the book progressed, I'm not sure I could have had it any other way. I was riveted by the what-might-have-been, but also by the way that women have to act in order to get to the top of their game. I thought it was a powerful statement about how hard it will actually be to get our country to elect the first woman president, and it faced, head on, some of those issues.
The Betrothed by Kiera Cass - preditctable, silly, and felt like a weird opposite-land to Rodham. I probably won't read any more of the books in this series (I can always find people to whom that is anathema) but I passed a lovely Shabbat afternoon in this book. So who's complaining?
A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma - totally did not understand this book. I kept reading, hoping to understand and figure out the plot. But I just didn't get it. If you've read it, please help me. Also, I feel better now that I've read several other readers' reviews that say they didn't get it either. It had a really cool feel to the writing and the storytelling, I just didn't really follow it all!
Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg - I usually read on a Kindle, and this may have been easier on a real book - I had a bit of a hard time keeping track of the different voices, but once I figured out their different styles/tones, I really enjoyed this one. A tough story about a mother and daughter told in an incredibly interesting style of a catalogue of a photography exhibit. Really great! (I almost burned dinner because I was distracted by reading...)