I’m a sucker for all things involving the written word (perhaps excepting poetry, I think I’m too literal to really appreciate it). So I love reading, writing, reading about writers, following writers, reading reviews about books I want to read, etc. Every year I challenge myself to read 25 (or more!) books and record my thoughts and reactions. Check out my year in books below and join me as I journey through books and discover new authors!
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Moloka’i, Brennert’s first historical fiction in this series, has clear, die-hard fans (myself amongst them), so I knew I had to read the sequel to find out what happens to Ruth, Rachel’s daughter. But boy, did Brennert deliver far more than just Ruth. This novel felt like a saga and absolutely captivated me. I was so intensely invested in the characters that the pages and chapters flew by. There’s so much to unpack in Daughter of Moloka’i, so much to reflect on, that it will take me more time to fully process. I, too, am Nissei and Brennert accurately portrays the push and pull between the Issei generation and their offspring in a way I haven’t read elsewhere. I know I’ll be thinking of this book and remembering parts of it when I go visit my family in Japan later this Fall, when I visit our local Japanese strawberry grower this summer, when I chat with my dad (a WWII buff) about the Japanese internment, when I chat with my mom about how hard it was for her when she first immigrated here in the early 1960s. I’ll carry this book with me because in many ways, it is me, just a few decades later.
Adams brings to light several important issues and will, I imagine, in book clubs and hopefully beyond, prompt some honest discourse about the impact abject poverty has on parenting and the extreme difficulties of raising children in countries/societies where corruption, violence and inherent danger are the baseline from which all families must operate and adapt.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kamali’s descriptions of life in Tehran, her juxtaposition of Iranian culture to American culture and the budding romance between a young activist and a young woman. I applaud Ms. Kamali and this is a solid effort. I loved the topic, the characters and the history of Iran.
“No one gives in without giving something up, and nothing is given up without cost.”
In a first for me, I watched the uber-popular Netflix series before downloading Atwood’s popular book, The Handmaid’s Tale. I consumed the TV series voraciously and was anxious to see if the original novel was just as good. I’m not sure whether seeing the series first enhanced or detracted from my experience, but it did provide visuals for what the characters looked like, how rigid the society functioned, and how brutal and unforgiving Gilead was. Watching the TV series also armed me with sufficient background on what life was like in Gilead and how rapid society went from what we recognize as normal now to what became normal under Gileadean rule, providing a much more robust view than I would have likely imagined on my own.
Tips for Living was my January selection from the Amazon First program and I delved into this light, quick-reading book with no hefty expectations, armed only the knowledge that it is a murder-mystery by a new novelist (although Shafransky has a background in screenwriting and therapy). The premise of the book: Nora is a divorcee who moves to a small summer town outside the city post-divorce. The end of her marriage wasn’t pretty–her ex cheated on her and got the other (younger) woman pregnant and then left her to marry the former mistress. But she’s moved on and is determined not to be “the bitter ex.” She finds work and a comfortable rhythm of life in this small waterfront community until her ex and his new wife buy the largest house in town right down the road from her. And then get themselves killed in that house in a particularly brutal and seemingly-intentional way. All signs point to Nora and even she can’t convince herself that she is 100% innocent due to her history of sleepwalking (among other indications of her guilt). Most of the book is about Nora’s self-directed journey to find the killer and clear her name (and maybe find a little new love….).
“The Hate U Give” is a ‘stop-what-you’re-reading-and-read-this‘ debut novel by Angie Thomas (and if the National Book Award Longlist accolade is any indication, others agree!) Thomas tells the story of Starr, a sixteen year old girl from “the ghetto” (her words, not mine) who is living in two very distinct worlds. She resides in Garden Heights, a neighborhood better known for its gangbangers and “King Lords” than the typical residents who run the corner store (Starr’s dad, Mav, has owned theirs for years) or the local pharmacy. But Starr spends most of her day at an up-town private school (Williamson) in the suburbs, a 45-minute commute from her home in Garden Heights, where she transfers after her best friend is murdered in a drive-by shooting when they were only 10 years old. It’s no secret (so no spoilers) that Starr witnesses the murder of her other childhood best friend and that tragic event is the catalyst that Thomas leverages to guide us further into the machinations of both Starr’s psyche and the social psyche of the world around her (including the press, her family, the folks of Garden Heights and her peers at Williamson.)
Finally an update to the book section of our blog! I’ve mentally been keeping track of what books I’ve finished (and whether they are worth sharing with y’all), but I finally put pen to paper and am happy to report that I’m about halfway to my goal of 25 books read on this yearlong adventure! As more aptly explained by BT in this post, between educating and taking care of the kids, keeping up on boat/housework, language study, and adding in the more manual nature of our everyday chores, i.e., grocery shopping by foot, bus or taxi and trekking laundry all over various locales, and trying to squeeze in any personal time for writing and/or running (but never both in the same day!), I haven’t had as much time as I thought I would to read. I have piles, no GADS of books on the boat that I promised myself I’d get through this year. When in reality, at this point, I’m merely hoping to hit my normal goal of 25 books. Anywho… for now, here’s what I’ve managed to get through lately and what I’m reading right now:
Although I haven’t been able to officially update the blog with our whereabouts (San Diego) and what we’ve been up to (celebrating Finley’s 4th birthday and endless boat projects to prepare for our Mexico departure), I wanted to post an update to the book section of our blog for those interested!