Book Review: Commonwealth

Book Review: CommonwealthCommonwealth
by Ann Patchett
Pages: 322
Published by Harper
Genres: Literary Fiction
Goodreads

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

My Takeaway – Short & Sweet!  “He realized then what he had known from the first minute he saw her, from when she leaned out the kitchen door and called for her husband. This was the start of his life.” Ann Patchett, Commonwealth Although I’m aware of Ann…

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Book Review: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words

Book Review: Hum If You Don’t Know the WordsHum If You Don't Know the Words
by Bianca Marais
Pages: 432
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genres: Literary Fiction, Multicultural
Goodreads

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred... until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin's parents are left dead and Beauty's daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

Told through Beauty and Robin's alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum if You Don't Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.

My Takeaway  “I didn’t know what to say in a world where people were hated and attacked for not being the right color, not speaking the right language, not worshipping the right god or not loving the right people; a world where hatred was the common language…

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Book Review: Small Hours

Book Review: Small HoursSmall Hours
by Jennifer Kitses
Pages: 288
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Genres: Fiction
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In a story that unfolds over the course of a single day, a husband and wife try to outrun the secrets that threaten their marriage, sending their lives spiraling out of control.

On the edge of the economic downturn, Helen and Tom fled New York for what they’d hoped would be a fresh start: a small home in a former mill town, where they could raise their twin daughters away from the pressures of the city. But two years later, their fragile equilibrium has hit a breaking point. One September morning, Helen begins to lose control. Exhausted from juggling ambitions, frustrations, and unrealistic expectations, she snaps — and finds herself drawn into a violent conflict with two local teenagers. Unaware of her danger, in a Manhattan office seventy miles away, Tom is facing a crisis of his own at his high-pressure newsroom job — and struggling to hide a second, secret life.

My Takeaway  Relationships cannot flourish without communication and it’s clear Tom and Helen missed the memo. The couple does not communicate and withholds important information from one another (they don’t appear to be compatible). Helen has serious anger issues and Tom has a secret life. It…

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Book Review: The Weight of Lies

Book Review: The Weight of LiesThe Weight of Lies
by Emily Carpenter
Pages: 380
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Genres: Mystery/Crime, Suspense/Thriller
Goodreads

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of a privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first, island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon, Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

My Takeaway  Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire! The Weight of Lies is addictive, fast-paced, and gripping. Carpenter gives readers the right amount of horror, romance, and mystery. The book had me speculating and guessing until the end (which I liked). It’s clear, Frances (mother) and Meg…

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Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Pages: 400
Published by Atria Books
Genres: Fiction, Multicultural, Women's Fiction
Goodreads

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

My Takeaway  “When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.” Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo W♥w. W♥w. W♥w. The…

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