I stayed up late a lot reading this week. My grandfather passed away Friday night and I've definitely been using books as a coping mechanism. Luckily, I had a really good round of books on my nightstand. Unluckily, I've had a lot of busy, early days, so I'm pretty tired as I'm typing this!
Flora: A Novel
Ten year old Helen is described later as a haunted little girl. Isolated with only her naive, young guardian Flora, while her dad works on a secret project at the end of World War II (Oak Ridge ring a bell?) and the polio epidemic rages in the outside world, Helen is your typical self-absorbed child. Despite being unable to leave the decaying house due to Helen's father's wishes, Helen and Flora forge a friendship with Finn, a war veteran who delivers groceries. As the summer unfolds, you realize that it's being told from the perspective of an adult Helen and that something happened that summer, but you're not quite sure what until the end of the novel. While this wasn't a fast-paced, twist and turn story, it was haunting and melodious and definitely worth the read.
Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel
I've read quite a few reviews where this book is compared to Gone Girl. I didn't particularly care for Gone Girl (don't stone me, everyone--I just think Gillian Flynn's other two are stronger), but I was still interested in the premise of this story. Kate can't quite accept the theory that her daughter Amelia committed suicide, further fueled by an anonymous text she receives telling her that Amelia didn't jump. The story of the days leading up to Amelia's death is constructed through Facebook posts, text messages, chats, emails and then real time conversations and incidents that Kate has. There were a few plot points that seemed overly contrived to me, but overall, it was a gripping, easy read and I loved the way it was done.
A Thousand Pardons: A Novel
This is a story of redemption and moving on from several different characters: Helen, Ben and Sara, who form a troubled family, and Hamilton Barth, a movie star shakily connected to Helen. Everyone has done wrong and hurts and is hurt and seems to struggle with asking for forgiveness. At first, I found the prose a little stilted, but once I got used to it, along with the quick character switches, I was drawn into the story. I was a little disappointed at the ending because it seemed too neatly tied together, but overall, I really liked the book.
Call Me Zelda
I love Zelda Fitzgerald and feel like her creative genius is often overlooked because of her husband's, because of her madness, because of the era in which she lived. Anna is a fictitious narrator who tells the historical fiction angle of Zelda and F. Scott's tumultuous marriage, the jealousy, F. Scott's habit of using material from Zelda's diary in his novels and so on. I enjoyed this book a lot because it balanced the historical aspects of the Fitzgeralds really well with the fictional aspects of Anna, the narrator, and her relationship with Zelda, alongside the backstory that the author created for Anna.