The premise of this book is clever, although not terribly realistic. A prominent criminal lawyer must defend her own husband when he is charged with murdering his mistress. There were parts of this book that were overly dramatic and many examples of people acting utterly unprofessional. The writing tends to be clunky and lacks finesse, and the characters are not easy to like. But this domestic thriller is a propulsive page-turner, full of twists to keep you guessing. I was disappointed with the ending. It wasn’t as gasp-worthy as I was hoping and it could have been executed much better.
As a long-time fan of Lisa Genova, I am ceaselessly impressed with the way she characterizes serious illnesses in the context of a story in such a vivid and creative way. Her background as a neuroscientist provides an authentic account of what patients suffering from various conditions (and their families) must endure. A diagnosis of ALS for a professional pianist is akin to a death sentence. When Richard starts to deteriorate, his ex-wife from his tumultuous marriage reluctantly becomes his caretaker. As he begins to come to terms with his failing body and his increasing lack of independence, he realizes the mistakes he has made and the time he has wasted. His relationship with his estranged ex-wife and daughter starts to evolve in a beautiful way. This story is filled with heartbreak, tenderness, forgiveness, and acceptance. The nuance of emotion and fragile human relationships is conveyed poignantly. This book is an absolute treasure.
The fact that this is Heller’s debut novel is completely mind-boggling. She is exquisitely talented in setting a scene, providing the reader with a strong sense of place and atmosphere in which the story takes place. While she uses pages of text to invoke a feeling of longing and contemplation, she never bores the reader or comes across as too long-winded. The story is sensual and nostalgic, full of well-rounded characters with interesting personalities. I was swept up into this story from the first page. I was wholly invested in Elle and Jonas’ story and the difficult decision she must ultimately make. This was a great book that lived up to the hype.
Willa has never felt like she belongs. She is half Chinese but has no connection to that side of herself or her Chinese father. She relives some of her childhood experiences as a nanny to Bijou, who has grown up privileged and loved. This book reminds me of Such a Fun Age in regards to the complex relationship between the nanny, the child, and the employer. There are also subtle undertones of racism throughout, due to ignorance, privilege, and a lack of understanding. There is not a clear plot in this book. We follow Willa as she meanders through life and becomes more entangled in the Adrien family. She struggles with navigating her own identity and sense of belonging while witnessing a totally different childhood than the one she grew up with.
Two women, both with reasons to start over, encounter each other at an airport and decide to switch tickets. Claire, the wife to a rich, influential, abusive husband needs to get away from the hold the Cook family has on her. Eva is also on the run, but for many different reasons. Told in alternating perspectives and timelines, the story slowly unravels, with plenty of twists and turns. Although the book is action-packed, the pacing could be improved. The writing is well-done, but I was expecting a much bigger twist that never occurred. The ending is adequate but not gasp-worthy.
This book spoke to me in a totally unexpected way. The protagonist is a half-Chinese woman, growing up in a household where she developed a love for science and mathematics. Her mother leaves unexpectedly when she is a teenager, and she is left with many unanswered questions that her father refuses to discuss. She grows to be a brilliant mathematician but must beat the odds at every turn because of her gender and race. Despite the challenges and betrayals she faces, she refuses to simply accept her fate as many women in her position have been forced to do. As she attempts to be the first person to solve an infamous math problem, she is also on the search for her identity. Her tenacity and resilience are undeniable, and her story is an inspiring one, especially for women in the male-dominated fields of science and mathematics.
For women who become mothers and have very little support, this scenario could occur very easily. When Frida leaves her child at home unsupervised, she must fight CPS to get her parental rights back. The courts order her to attend a year-long rehabilitation center meant to teach mothers how to become better. The dystopian setting is a commentary on the extreme pressure and overwhelming expectations mothers often face in today’s society. The frustrations Frida faces are universal, and the center serves as a backdrop in which mothers are often judged and criticized in society today. The unattainable goalposts for being a “perfect” mother make women feel inadequate and undeserving of caring for their own children. The center is almost identical to jail, with many of the same unrealistic rules and restrictions. The mood of the book is very somber throughout and the detailed descriptions of everyday life at the school did get tedious. However, the message hits hard, and the ending is unexpected.
The profound changes a woman goes through when she becomes a mother or even begins to contemplate the idea of being a mother are unparalleled. Labari expounds upon her own desires and sacrifices when it comes to having children and the impact it has had on other aspects of her life. She talks about the expectations her husband, her mother, and society at large have of her and her body. The observations she makes are nuanced and relatable. The translation is seamless as the prose flows naturally and organically.
Adichie’s undeniable ability to write is evident in this short book of her thoughts and reflections on her father’s sudden death. She brings him to life as she describes his kindness, good humor, and zeal for life. This is the first time she is experiencing a loss of this magnitude, and it has caused her world to implode. The emotion is raw and unfiltered, and she holds nothing back. Adichie is a master at writing short pieces that really pack a punch and this one is no exception.
The death of a child is an event that profoundly alters a person’s outlook on life. Heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, writer Jayson Greene turns to the medium he knows best to try to make sense of an event that cannot be explained. The emotional turmoil he captures in this memoir is vivid and utterly incomprehensible for those who have not faced a similar tragedy. It really made me appreciate the small things that I often take for granted with my own son, that no time is guaranteed. Absolutely beautiful and inspiring, one of the best memoirs I’ve read this year.