All posts filed under: August

Real and Raw

Brit Bennett can certainly craft a story. I was sucked in to Oceanside almost immediately and then spent the next few days reading while tears pricked the back of my eyes. It wasn’t that the book was sad, per se, though elements of it were heartbreaking for sure. It was more that each person’s story felt so real and so raw. I felt for Nadia, Aubrey, Robert, and Luke… even when they were making decisions that were frustrating or awful. I think the narrative voice Bennett used had a great deal to do with it. As a reader, I knew enough about the characters to understand their motivation, even when their literary counterparts couldn’t. {SPOILER ALERT} Even during Nadia and Luke’s affair, an act I generally have absolutely no sympathy for, I could see how it happened. While I wasn’t rooting for them, I wasn’t as angry with them either. I also thought that having an abortion be the driving force of the story was an interesting choice. Mostly because as much as the book …

Undecided Mothers

I read The Mothers on a beach vacation in Michigan. There was plenty of deck time overlooking the lake, very relaxing! And it was a good beach read… I think. I guess I’m still not sure of my final thoughts. I definitely looked forward to picking it back up each day, I was eager to see where the story went, and I was invested in the characters. Bennett wrote very full characters and immersed you in their lives (Nadia, Luke and Aubrey). Sure, at times it was a little predictable, but I guess going into it you expect there to be a love triangle with some predictable conflict. And although not too much happens to these characters, Bennett’s writing style turns what seem like simple events into significant and meaningful turning points. I enjoyed her writing style, but I guess I didn’t like the story? Maybe that’s where I struggle. The story circles around Nadia’s abortion at age 17 and the ripple effects. And I guess my question is; can you really write about the …

August Book

Image © npr.org  August is a good time to enjoy the sun with a side of a good book, and maybe a cold drink, or two. So this month we’ve picked Brit Bennett’s The Mothers as our sunshine companion. The story is set in a contemporary black community of Southern California. It’s the story of love, ambition, community, and the secrets we keep. The protagonists—Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey—are young and living their lives. It is the last season of high school for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty mourning her own mother’s recent suicide. She takes up with the local pastor’s son, Luke Sheppard, and a pregnancy that results from this teen romance will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are adults and still living in debt to the choices they made. Caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, they’re dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they …

Nothing in Life is a Rehearsal

It didn’t take me long to love this book. The first 50 pages were a bit slow, but once I got to know the characters and the story line started coming together, I was hooked. Avis, Bashkim, and Luis are the center of this tale. Three people who don’t know each other when this story begins, but whose lives become intimately entwined by the end. The book opens with Avis, stark naked while discovering her husband’s been cheating. And while that’s by far the most awkward moment of this story, all three characters have many moments of vulnerability, forced to come to terms with the parts of life that leave us gasping for air. I did guess the ending, but this wasn’t the type of book where a big plot twist is the whole reason for reading. We Are Called to Rise is about the characters–their losses, but more importantly, their triumphs. If you didn’t read along with us this month, be sure to add this one to your TBR pile. And have a tissue …

Happily Ever After

Back again, to review our August beach read: We Are Called to Rise. Admittedly I finished this book a little while ago and I’ve read two books since so some of the details are a little fuzzy. But overall, I liked this one. I do think I had some high expectations going into it. I’d heard from a few people who’d already read it that they really enjoyed it, and the description intrigued me. I love books where diverse lives intersect, for better or worse. Speaking of which, if you haven’t read Bright, Shiny Morning you should definitely put it on your TBR list. Anyway, like I said, I went into this with some high expectations, and I don’t think they were quite met. But I guess I’m a tough judge. I liked the book but I didn’t love it, and I think I was expecting to love it. There were just a few things in the way of me falling in love with it: the story was interesting, but a little predictable, and the characters were well-written but I …

August Book

Lettering Image by Katherine C. Hello and happy beach read month! We’re here to announce our book for August: We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride. The author is a community college teacher in Las Vegas, and this book is her first novel. Published in April 2015, We Are Called to Rise tells the story of Avis, Bashkim, Luis, and Roberta. Four very different people living very different lives in Las Vegas. These lives—a young immigrant boy, a middle-aged housewife, a military veteran, and a social worker—all converge into one uplifting story. Or so we’ve heard. It seems to us like it might be kind of like a literary version on the movie Crash. We’ll have to read and see. But the few people we know who’ve read it have loved it! So that bodes well. “This is a story about families—the ones we have and the ones we make. It’s a story about America today, where so many cultures and points of view collide and coexist. We Are Called to Rise challenges us to think about …

Made For the Beach

I have to say, I’m a little undecided on this one. I think I liked it. I do wish I’d had more beach time with this book. Instead, a lot of my reading time was spent rushed and indoors during my daughter’s nap time. I agree with Kathryn H. that it lacked a bit of the page-turning urgency that I usually enjoy for a good beach read. But even still, the individual characters’ end goals were just interesting enough to make you want to hang on and see if they were fulfilled. And I did like the use of multiple character perspectives… it allowed me to feel connected, at least in some way, to each of the characters. Although I do wish they’d all been a little more relatable. There were parts of each character that seemed not to fit, that seemed contradictory in a way (Franny seems to have few redeeming qualities, and yet Jim is still so in love with her despite his indiscretions… that feels a bit unrealistic, or like I’m missing something). I …

I Want to High Five Sylvia

I am going to admit this up front: when I started reading The Vacationers by Emma Straub, I was a bit unsure. It’s not a book I would gravitate toward, but I knew it was a book I would enjoy. There was something about it that reminded me of Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan, a book that I basically anger-read because I was so irritated that I wasn’t reading another completely delicious book like Commencement (though in hindsight I should’ve seen it coming, and I have a lot of thoughts on Sullivan’s writing in general – specifically that she’s very good at what she does, but I digress – that’s fodder for another post). I was prepared to force myself to read The Vacationers. Before you read any further, know that I did change my tune! I enjoyed it, it was the perfect book to read while lounging poolside during my break between summer camp and back to school. It lacked a bit of the urgency I usually crave in my beach reads (the kind where you find yourself …

August Book

Against all odds, summer is still alive and well! And we want to enjoy every last bit of it… are you with us?! This month’s theme is {Beach Read} … for pretty obvious reasons. Beach season is still in full swing and this may be our last chance to soak up some sun and sand before fall makes its inevitable debut. Some of you might be asking, what’s a beach read? Well, it’s a book that’s bright, fun and not terribly long or intense. It’s a low-maintenance friend to spend time with while relaxing in the summer sunshine. Granted, that means different things to different people. But if you enjoy the company, that’s all that matters. For us, a great beach read means Emma Straub‘s The Vacationers. Or at least we hope it’s a great beach read. Straub is a New York-based nonfiction author who hit her big break with this New York Times bestseller in 2014. The story centers around a family vacation to Mallorca, Spain and the figurative baggage they bring with them. …