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…

Book Review: The Roanoke Girls

Book Review: The Roanoke GirlsThe Roanoke Girls
by Amy Engel
on March 7th 2017
Pages: 279
Published by Crown
Genres: Mystery/Crime, Suspense/Thriller
Goodreads

After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

My Takeaway  “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.” Amy Engel, The Roanoke Girls The Roanoke Girls is an entertaining and fast read (read most of it on a plane ride). Engel is the author of the young adult…

Book Review: The Summer that Melted Everything

Book Review: The Summer that Melted EverythingThe Summer that Melted Everything
by Tiffany McDaniel
on January 1st 1970
Published by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Literary Fiction
Goodreads

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

My Takeaway  I enjoyed some aspects of The Summer That Melted Everything, but it also left me with a few questions. McDaniel‘s debut novel is about a small town in Ohio that gets a visit from the devil in the summer of 1984. Why did the devil come…

Book Review: The Mothers

Book Review: The MothersThe Mothers
by Brit Bennett
on October 11th 2016
Pages: 278
Published by Riverhead Books
Genres: Literary Fiction, Multicultural
Goodreads

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett's mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.

It is the last season of high school life 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 is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance--and the subsequent cover-up--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 full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a -what if- can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

My Takeaway  “After a secret’s been told, everyone becomes a prophet.” Brit Bennett, The Mothers ​The Mothers is a wonderful book I could not put down! Also, don’t you just love the cover? It’s gorgeous! Ok, now on to other matters. Bennett…

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes

Book Review: Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough
on January 31st 2017
Pages: 306
Published by Flatiron Books
Genres: Mystery/Crime, Suspense/Thriller
Goodreads

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.
And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

My Takeaway  In the words of my uncle, oh-my-ga (OMG)! The ending of Behind Her Eyes, was unexpected, shocking and twisted (definitely a wtf ending). Don’t worry, I will not spoil it for any of you, but wow. The novel is not your typical thriller – it’s…