My cup of steaming chai tea is certainly helping me feel warm and cozy on this very chilly morning. It’s a perfect day to stay in, drink tea and read!
I finished a YA book last weekend that I really enjoyed, April Henry’s The Girl I Used To Be. Henry has written numerous YA murder mysteries, and this one did not disappoint. Olivia Reinhardt is an emancipated 17 year old minor living on her own in Portland Oregon. When she learns of the discovery of new evidence relating to the case of her mother’s murder, she goes back to her hometown to try to discover what really happened all those years ago. When Ariel Benson was just three years old, her mother was stabbed and her father disappeared, leaving her at a nearby WalMart. She lived with her grandmother until her death a few years later, after which Ariel was shunted from one failed adoption placement to another. At one point, her adoptive mother made her change her name to Olivia, and she’s stuck with that in the hopes that it will help her remain anonymous while in her hometown; after all, it’s been ten years and no one would expect her to return. She finds a job, establishes some acquaintances and connections, and seems to be managing to investigate while still keeping her true identity secret, but could someone have discovered who she is and be targeting her? I started listening to this as an audiobook, as I’d read at least one other book by Henry that I enjoyed. Unfortunately I didn’t love the narration, but I found the story intriguing, so I brought the print copy of the book home from my library and read it last weekend. It was a bit far-fetched and some of the situations were pretty improbable, but for a YA book, I thought it was quite good. It had that “unputdownable” quality that I love in mysteries, that need to keep reading to find out what happens next. I was recommending it to some intermediate students at school this past week, so hopefully someone will take it out and read it.
And I’m not quite finished The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, which is the book we will be discussing at my Friends’ Book Group tomorrow night. This novel follows two different storylines, one in the present day, narrated by the unnamed main character, a former porn star who, at the beginning of the book, is involved in a serious single-car accident while impaired by both drug and alcohol consumption, an accident that leaves him with horrible burns over most of his body, and which also leaves him emasculated. An enigmatic woman, Marianne Engel, from the Psychiatric Ward of the hospital, visits him in the Burn Ward and develops a relationship that keeps him from giving up on life completely, claiming that they first met at a monastery in Germany in 1350 and have had a 600+ year relationship. The second storyline is narrated by Marianne Engel, and takes the form of stories set during different periods in history; sometimes these stories are a recounting of “their history” (or so she claims), and sometimes they are stories about other historical figures whose lives and situations directly relate to the main character’s situations. Sound far-fetched? It totally is, but it is also totally absorbing! This debut novel by Canadian writer Davidson has been sitting on my bookshelf for years, and I probably would never have read it if it wasn’t one of our book club choices, but I’m loving it! It’s clever and insightful, absorbing and clearly well-researched, and while it has a few flaws, they are far outweighed by the brilliance of the narrative. I’ll give you the discussion highlights next week - I hope the others are finding it as engaging and enjoyable as I am!
That’s all for today. Stay warm and keep reading!
Bye for now… Julie