Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

It's Wednesday! I almost forgot.

Lucky Us: A Novel
When Eva's father's wife dies, Eva learns that her father has a whole life separate from her. Mainly that he doesn't travel for business, instead he spends his time with his other wife and his other daughter. Tired of being a mom, Eva's mom drops her at her father's, where Eva quickly bonds with her sister Iris. Disappointed by the man who is their father, Eva and Iris strike off on their own, heading to California--even though Eva should still be in school. Iris's plan to be a movie star seems to be on track, until she's derailed by a scandal. Their father swoops in to rescue them, and the two leave on a new adventure. This was a lovely, beautiful book full of rich details and adventures. I fell in love with the characters and didn't want it to end.

After the loss of her boyfriend Reeve, Jam ends up at the Wooden Barn--a boarding school for kids with issues. Jam finds herself signed up for a special topics English class, focusing entirely on the works and life of Sylvia Plath. Part of the assignment is to write in a journal--only Jam and her classmates quickly discover that there is something magical about the journals, something that transports them to the person or life or feeling they've lost. Many of the reviews discuss the surprise ending, and I will be honest… I figured it out about halfway through the book, which changed things slightly for me. Still, I was engaged with the stories and losses of Jam's classmates, who I felt were well developed.

Gilead: A Novel
This is by the same author of Lila and features the Rev John Ames, a major character in Lila. I will be honest--I went into this book with high expectations because it was critically acclaimed and had tons of rave reviews on Amazon. Was it a good book? Yes. But it didn't strike a chord with me as I thought it might. Written from the voice of John Ames, in a series of letters to his young son, this book discusses life, memories and the fear of aging and dying. The plot of Lila actually pre-dates this book somewhat, so it was interesting to make those connections. The prose was absolutely stunning, but it is not the kind of read that you can't put down. At least not for me.

Shotgun Lovesongs: A Novel
When I posted about books on Facebook (which culminated in a bunch of people telling me they never read and I have too much time on my hands--oh, Facebook), Corrin said this was her favorite of the year. The narrative is shared by five characters: Ronny, Lee, Kip and Henry and Henry's wife, Beth, take turns narrating and sharing their stories and perspectives while centered around their small hometown of Little Wing, WI. Having grown up in a small town (cue John Mellencamp) and moving to an even smaller town, there is much in here that I found relatable. Ronny was a rodeo store, until one night he fell while drunk and damaged his brain. Lee is the local boy who made it big, a rock star dating a movie star. Kip left the small town for the big city but returned with a plan to make the small town successful again. Henry never left and lives the simple life of every farmer, alongside his wife Beth. In the midst of the novel, drama and heartbreak occur among the characters with a few twists and turns. I flew through this book because I loved it. I loved the men and the women pretreated in these pages, and I loved the town.


Corrin said...

I mentioned that book like 48 hours ago. SO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS. (That whole scenario inspired a blog post coming next week.)

Another of my favorites was The Book of Unknown Americans. I feel like no one talked about that book and it just blew me away with it's character development and subtleties.

Unknown said...

I am reading Food:A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan, and it's making me LOL.. a lot.

Barb Ruess said...

Let's see I read... Benediction by Kent Haruf (and as with all of his novels, I thoroughly enjoyed it); Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (a collection of short stories with the very best kind of dark humor); and the Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin (very short, interesting viewpoint).

Theresa Mahoney said...

Still on a book break until the girls go back to school on Monday. Is it bad that I can't wait for then to go back so I can steal away a few hours a day to read? lol

One crazed mommy said...

I'm still not reading as much as I would like either - but now that the crazy holiday season is over I can get back to more - keep the ideas coming...I keep adding to my growing list. :)