Better late than never with my Wednesday post! This week got away from me.
Disclaimer: I received this book free to review, but I receive all of my books for free from the library, so clearly all opinions are my own. This book is told by two characters: Sallee, a young girl, and Sallee's mom's maid, Ethel. Ethel has been a part of Sallee's mom's life since her mom, Ginny, was a young girl. Through Ethel's eyes we learn the past that surrounds Ginny and through Sallee's eyes, we learn the present surrounding her family and the prejudice surrounding her community. Life in the 1950s south was a tumultuous time and this novel captured it well. My only complaint was that I felt some of the characters needed more depth, BUT I also had to take into account that part of the story was being told by Sallee, a child. From a child's perspective, the characters were developed as deeply as a child could. This story grabbed me in and I definitely fell in love with the characters. It was a very well-done period piece, in that it's difficult to characterize pre-Civil Rights south without relying on too many stereotypes.
Hausfrau: A Novel
Anna grabbed me from the very beginning of this story by disclosing that she's a good wife. Mostly. Anna fits the very nature of a desperate housewife. An ex-pat living in Sweden, Anna struggles to fit in despite living there for many years. She seems almost adrift in her life, finding stability in, of all things, extramarital affairs. Anna finds herself in a web of her own making, clinically depressed and trying to find something. What I loved about this story is that it was sad and it rolled itself out easily and even though I saw the ending coming, it still grabbed me to the point where I read it twice--because it was that good.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
I don't read much non-fiction, but I really enjoy Erik Larson so I had to check this one out. Surprisingly, I loved it. This book balances history with personal accounts. I didn't know much about the Luthistania, other than it was sunk by a German submarine. What I learned is that there were multiple warnings that this was an unsafe voyage, that despite the recent wreck of the Titanic, the lifeboat situation wasn't where it should be, and that the survivor accounts were chilling. The history angle was fascinating, but the personal accounts really pulled me in. One woman spoke of her daughter napping above deck and her son being below deck when the boat was hit, so she had to make the decision which child to go to first. She grabbed her daughter above deck, then handed her daughter off to an unknown man and ran down below to get her son. The next time she saw the man, his arms were empty and her daughter was eventually found among the dead. The thought of this was overwhelming--how do you make those choices and survive? I definitely breezed through this one much quicker than I thought I would.
The Harder They Come: A Novel
There is not a character within this book who I would label as sane or normal. Sten, the father, is an ex-Marine and retired school administrator who overcomes and kills a man while on vacation. Adam, Sten's son, is schizophrenic, paranoid and violent. Sara, Adam's girlfriend, believes the government is out to infringe upon all of her rights. This was not an easy book to read. All of the characters were deeply flawed, Adam becoming more clearly dangerous as the book went on. I spent most of the book wishing that someone, anyone, would change the path of destruction all the characters seemed to be following, but no one did. The end was fitting, but also not an easy read. Still, I really enjoyed this book.
What are you reading?