Book Review: My Name is Lucy Barton

Book Review: My Name is Lucy BartonMy Name Is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout
on January 12th 2016
Pages: 193
Published by Random House
Genres: Literary Fiction
Goodreads

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lies the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters.

My Takeaway  “Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.” Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Short novels have to capture the reader’s attention quickly; My Name is Lucy Barton…

Book Review: The Perfect Stranger

Book Review: The Perfect StrangerThe Perfect Stranger
by Megan Miranda
on 4/11/2017
Pages: 352
Published by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Fiction
Goodreads

In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.
Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

My Takeaway  Megan Miranda is a fantastic, top-notch writer! I devoured The Perfect Stranger in two days – it would have been one, but I had to go to work. Miranda knows how to keep readers engaged from the beginning to the end. Her plot is constantly moving and at…

Book Review: The Stranger in the Woods

Book Review: The Stranger in the WoodsThe Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
by Michael Finkel
on March 7th 2017
Published by Books on Tape
Genres: Non-Fiction
Goodreads

Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality--not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.

In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.

Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life--why did he leave? what did he learn?--as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.

My Takeaway  “Modern life seems set up so that we can avoid loneliness at all costs, but maybe it’s worthwhile to face it occasionally. The further we push aloneness away, the less we are able to cope with it, and the more terrifying it gets.” ​Michael…

Book Review: First Comes Love

Book Review: First Comes LoveFirst Comes Love
by Emily Giffin
on June 28th 2016
Pages: 384
Published by Ballantine Books
Genres: Women's Fiction
Goodreads

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.   Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class.

Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.   On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.   As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.   Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

My Takeaway  “But there is one constant, one thing you can always count on: that not only does love come first, but at the end, it is the only thing that remains.” Emily Giffin, First Comes Love Emily Giffin is one of my favorite authors and I think she…

Book Review: Exit West

Book Review: Exit WestExit West
by Mohsin Hamid
on 3/7/2017
Pages: 231
Published by Riverhead Books
Genres: Magical Realism, Literary Fiction, Fiction
Goodreads

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

My Takeaway  “We are all migrants through time.” Mohsin Hamid What a magnificent and magical novel! At a mere 240 pages, Exit West is jam-packed with beautiful, poetic and imaginative writing (and fabulism tinges). Hamid is a magician of words and I was a guest on his magic carpet…