It’s always a welcome surprise when a book lives up to the hype. Liane Moriarty has a number of bestsellers under her belt already, and it’s exciting that she is still churning out engrossing, high-quality hits. I love reading a good mystery/thriller, one that has a lot of substance and heft. Even though the story centers around the disappearance of Joy, the matriarch of the family, we are able to really get to know the individual members of this family. I am really enjoying this departure from the typical tone that Moriarty’s books employ. This book is not as suspenseful as a typical thriller, but the plot was still propulsive with lots of twists, and it kept me guessing to the very end.
Sally Hepworth is a master at crafting riveting mysteries centered around complicated family scenarios. Rachel and Tully are flabbergasted when their father introduces them to his new fiance, not only because of her age but also because he is still married…to their mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flashing forward to the wedding, someone in the family is injured, but who is it? And who is responsible? The book hooked me from the very first page. Switching between the day of the wedding and the months leading up to it created the perfect tension. As unreliable memories and suspicious injuries come to the surface, it is unclear whether this is a case of a master manipulator or just a terrible misunderstanding.
Despite the brevity of these vignettes, the elegance and poignancy in which these stories are told drew me in immediately. This is a book that thoroughly takes advantage of the short story format. We are able to see the bigger picture represented through the few shared scenes and experience numerous narratives. The emotion that is conveyed through these stories is tremendous and heartbreaking, a tiny glimpse into an impossible situation. The stories focus primarily on the struggles of Chinese women, from various periods in time. Chun is able to perfectly capture the essence of what Chinese people have gone through, as foreigners struggling to assimilate, as citizens navigating the convoluted Cultural Revolution, as survivors of unforgiving illnesses; highlighting their humanity and ability to persevere. She covers a vast array of experiences through these personal stories, many of which are not told in books or movies.
In this second book of the Beartown trilogy, we learn more about the people and place of Beartown, where hockey is everything. Peter gets a chance to save the hockey club, but the price to pay is high. Backman is a genius at hooking in the reader from the very first page by teasing the catastrophic thing that will take place but leaving the reader to guess the details. He drops breadcrumbs and red herrings throughout to make everyone a potential victim/perpetrator. The way that Backman portrays his characters is so vivid and realistic, making them well-rounded with plenty of flaws, both relatable and lovable, which is no small feat. The heart of the people of Beartown is undeniable.
Anyone who has been married for a significant amount of time has experienced struggles, frustrations, and probably pondered the idea of divorce. Society, the media, and popular culture often do NOT prepare us adequately for entering into a lifelong partnership with another flawed human being. Misplaced expectations, lack of communication, and building resentment can cause a marriage to slowly disintegrate over time. This is a great book for anyone who is considering ending their marriage, struggling with maintaining a happy marriage or just striving to improve the quality of their marriage. The author makes points that are coherent and practical, and she provides personal anecdotes to illustrate her points. The author and her husband are heavily involved in the church, and she brings up the role faith plays in her relationship intermittently, but it is not heavy-handed or preachy.
What a time for Asian female memoirs! I am really enjoying the publication of numerous well-written memoirs about the immigrant experience in America, and many of those experiences parallel my own. The author paints a vivid picture of her experience immigrating to America as a young child, the harsh realities of living undocumented and in poverty. The language barriers, racism, lack of job opportunities, and legal limitations force her family to endure harrowing hardships throughout many of her formative years. The detailed way Wang is able to recount stories of her childhood is impressive. These are experiences that deeply shaped her as a person, and these are stories that she needed to share with the world.
Jane Goodall has devoted her life to learning about chimpanzee behavior by observing and living amongst them. Her path has had countless obstacles to overcome, but throughout even the most desperate of circumstances, she has never lost hope. This book is told in an interview style, a dialogue between Doug and Jane, answering questions, recounting stories, and discussing the reasons that humanity still has to hold onto hope. Jane expounds upon the four reasons she has for holding on to hope: the amazing human intellect, the resilience of nature, the power of young people, and the indomitable human spirit. Throughout the book, photos of Jane’s most meaningful experiences are included, and we learn about the extraordinary adventures that have brought joy and hope to her life.