I know, a whole eight days without knowing what all I’ve read 🙂 I’ll keep these a little short because I read quite a bit this week…

First, And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan

O’Connell. I think the audience for this book is pretty specific — O’Connell is a kind of a stereotypical New Yorker in a number of ways and I could see that it might be difficult for women who have had very different lives by the time they are 29 to identify with O’Connell being unready for kids at that point. But this is a hilarious and honest book about one woman’s experience having a baby and getting through that first year. She really honestly shows you how difficult things can be even when they work out, and how difficult things can be when they do not work out. And she makes it to the other side of that first year.

 

Next up was Halsey Street by Naima Coster. This is another book from the list of 46 books by women of color to read in 2018.  This was not exactly a happy book, but it’s a great novel that really delves into mother/daughter and father/daughter relationships. It also has a lot to say about gentrification in NYC. The book alternates between Penelope’s (the daughter) perspective, and her mother Mirella’s as well as occasionally going back in time to the early days of Mirella and Ralph (husband/father).  I absolutely recommend this one, although its not one of my absolute favorites of the year (so far).

 

After this, I decided to read a few lighter books — The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
and The Book of Essie by Megan Maclean Weir. I’ve seen The Wedding Date on a few different lists, I’d passed on it due to the horrible title, and I have to say, I’m not really sure why everyone is raving about this book? It’s a pretty typical rom-com romance type novel, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. My best guess is that there’s just literally nothing else out there in this romance category that tackles race at all (girl is black, boy is white in this book and there are a few actual conversations about race) and includes an articulate woman?? I didn’t really like it.

I did like The Book of Essie which is kind of a combination of a few things that have really happened… The book is about the youngest daughter of a very Christian family 9780525520313who have been the stars of a reality tv show for her entire life. Essentially, the book is about how she escapes from her family and the very dark things that have been done to her by her family. There are some pretty dark themes in the book, but nothing ever really goes wrong once the plot gets going, which didn’t seem completely believable. But for a book I read on the beach, I’m letting it go. This may not be everyone’s idea of a beach read, there’s some pretty disturbing plot twists (sexual assault/child molestation – come on does that count as a spoiler? I told you it reminded me of several recent real scandals with very Christian tv families…).

 

After these two, I decided to transition back to less of a beach read but one that’s been on my list for a long time – The Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdich. Gosh this is a horribly depressing book. The comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale are warranted, both are about how women’s bodies can become the property of others. Although TFHLG is almost a prequel? The Handmaid’s Tale brushes over the ‘how we got here’ part of the story, instead focusing on the life of Offred after she’s become a handmaid. If you haven’t read it, you must. And I really must get back to the Margret Atwood books that have been on my bedside table for… a while… TFHLG is all about the change over, how we go from a moment sort of like today  to the Handmaids Tale kind of world. This book says a lot of interesting things about the relationships between mothers and daughters — biological mothers and adoptive mothers. But be warned, do not make my mistake! This is not a beach read…

Thoroughly depressed, I finished out the week with How Hard Can It Be by Allison Pearson. This is a sequel to I Don’t Know How She Does It, which I loved long ago. I loved that book so much that, although I was doubtful about whether a sequel would really work, I bought this book in Hardcover. This is generally Not Done in my family. You get the book out of the library, if you really like it, you may buy the paperback. So I guess that tells you how much I loved the original book. The original is about a working mom trying to make it working in the cut throat world of London’s financial markets while also raising two kids with a husband who just doesn’t really help. Kate, the main character, has some of the same wit that so many women fell in love with in the Bridget Jones books, but I loved her because unlike Bridget, Kate is not an idiot. She’s great at her incredibly hard, stressful job.

How Hard Can It Be picks up about 8 years down the road, Kate’s taken some time sort of off work to take care of her kids and mom, and she’s trying to get back into work, dealing with teenagers, dealing with menopause, and there’s an old flame from the first book. It sounds a bit silly, and it is, but well, this is my idea of a beach read — not complete trash with a plot so thin you almost can’t bare to read it, but not so depressing that you have a panic attack when you’re on vacation. Although OF COURSE someone in this book has Alzheimer’s. I mean, just because it’s the 6th leading cause of death in America and about 5.7 million people are currently living with it, does it have to be in every book I try to escape in this year? Apparently there is no escape.

Currently reading: Started Theory of Bastards on vacation, not sure what will come after that yet — only four books out of the library right now! Back to work on Monday, but the reading will continue, if not another 6 books this week…

Also for those of you keeping score at home, I’m at 61 books for 2018 🙂