Sunday 28 January 2024

Short post, lots of books...

I’ve been quite sick since last weekend and have barely been able to read, let alone write a blog post.  Still, I’m a bit better today so I thought I should at least give you the titles and short summaries of the books I managed to finish over the past two weeks.  

I finished our book club book, The Change by Kirsten Miller, but was too ill to go to the meeting.  This book tells the story of three women living in a Long Island tourist community. Nessa, Harriett and Jo, each in the throes of menopause, discover that they have special gifts:  the ability to commune with and command nature, the ability to see the dead, and possession of superhuman strength/heat. When a body is discovered in the bushes near the beach, the police write the death off as a sex worker who OD’ed, end of investigation. But Nessa, Harriett and Jo know this is not true, and they come together to find the identity of the dead woman and discover who murdered her. They meet obstacles at every turn, but fight back with their special gifts and find creative ways to uncover the truth while also seeking revenge on the men who used them.  I’m glad I didn’t go to the meeting, because I didn’t enjoy this book at all, and I hate going to a meeting where someone has recommended a book and I didn’t like it.  How do you talk about that without offending the person?  Anyway, I don’t think I would recommend this book to anyone, but don’t listen to me, as it was fairly well reviewed.  

Then I read the book I purchased as a “Blind Date with a Book” at our Christkindl Market in December, which I’d planned to unwrap and read on Christmas Day but that didn’t happen.  Finding Lucy by Diane Findley tells the story of Alison, a middle-aged woman who, upon the death of her mother, decides to steal a child.  She selects a gravestone for two-year-old Lucy Brown as a starting point, and moves on from there until she has successfully “rescued” a young girl from a poor, neglectful home and made her over into her own “daughter”.  Of course she has to move and start over as “mother and daughter”, but she manages this fairly easily. As Lucy grows up, though, she wants to know more and more about her past, a past that, of course, is all fictional.  Alison has her own struggles, obviously, but at heart, she truly thinks she’s doing the right thing.  Unfortunately, she didn’t anticipate all of these various complications, and the complex lies she would be forced to tell and keep track of over the years.  This book explores the many repercussions of abducting a child, not just on the child’s real family and community, but on the child and the new “mother”, too. It was pretty good, although I found it lagged about two thirds of the way in, but then picked up again to deliver a satisfying conclusion.  I’m not sure if I would recommend it, although Alison’s character was very interesting.  I wondered, throughout the book, whether she was on the spectrum, which, I think, would explain a lot.  I found Lucy’s adult character to be less interesting than her voice when she was a child, and I would have liked to read a bit more about the story of Lucy’s real family, but overall, it was a decent book that I think readers would enjoy. 

And I finished listening to a fabulous audio book, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, narrated by Nicole Lewis.  I just learned that this is Reid’s debut novel, and wow, this is definitely an author to watch.  This novel, set in Philadelphia, opens with a late-night weekend call from privileged White mom Alix Chamberlain to her twenty-five-year-old Black babysitter Emira, begging her to come and take her three-year old out of the house for an hour, as there has been an incident and Alix doesn’t want Briar to see the police.  Emira is at a friend’s birthday party and is dressed for the occasion, but Alix says she doesn't care, she’ll pay double plus cab fare.  Emira needs the money, so she and her friend Zara go to the Chamberlain house and take Briar to the 24-hour grocery store down the street ("the Whitest grocery store in town"), where a customer alerts a security guard, who accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar.  This ends up being resolved and Emira doesn’t want to pursue it any further, but another customer, Kelley, records the whole thing on his phone and tries to convince Emira to go public.  The rest of the book follows the ways these three characters' lives intersect, their pasts and presents, and the underlying racial tensions that just won’t go away, no matter how often Alix and others may deny them.  This book had everything - plot, dialogue, atmosphere, characters.  It’s hard to believe that Reid packed so much into such a relatively short book.  And the narrator really brought the characters to life.  I think it’s one of the best books I’ve read or listened to in a very long time, and I would highly recommend it to just about anyone.  And I dare you not to fall in love with Briar - so cute!!

That’s all for today.  Stay dry and keep reading!

Bye for now... Julie

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