Continuing my record of books I read while on blogging break. If you want to chat about any of these, please comment!
Stranger in the House by Julie Summers: A really informative book about how reuniting families in Great Britain coped after World War II. I especially appreciated the use of first-person narratives (journals, letters, interviews) of people from different walks of life. After a while, though, the stories started to blend together, even though Summers did try to organize the book in a way that set apart the different kinds of stories (sons returning to mothers, husbands returning to wives, etc.).
Lying Awake by Mark Salzman: This is a wonderful book about a nun who experiences visions that have inspired and moved people inside and outside her community. But she also suffers from painful headaches that, it turns out, could be both deadly and the source of her vision. So she has to figure out what this means for her relationship with God. Will removing the pain and saving her life also remove God’s voice?
Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson: First published in 1912, this book about a black man who is light-skinned enough to pass for white takes readers through many different parts of the both the black and the white communities of the early 20th century. A good story, well worth reading.
The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Marquez: As 528 pages, this book was too long for me. But I did like how Marquez spun his web of conspiracy theories to pull readers into that mindset.
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They by Horace McCoy. Short and devastating book about a dance marathon during the Great Depression. I saw the film version of this, starring Jane Fonda, years ago, and it always stuck with me. The book really gets into how desperation affects different people differently and how vulnerable people need more support during hard times.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews: A group of Mennonite women gather to decide what to do about the fact that some of the men of their community have been drugging and raping them at night, claiming it was demons. I really wish this book had stuck with me more. I remember that I found their deliberations interesting, but I don’t remember the specific arguments at all!
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan: I loved Washington Black so much, and although I liked this, it didn’t quite live up to my hopes. I think I was in the mood for something more straightforward than this turned out to be. I did, however, appreciate the way the story came together at the end. And, like in Washington Black, Edugyan allows the relationships to be complex.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber: One of my favorite books I read this summer. I loved it so much I had to give it its own review.