Thursday, December 13, 2018

Books on the Complexities of Family

In a totally unplanned move (as is usually the case, let's be honest), all four of these books look at complicated relationships in families. That said, they're also four very different books. Here's what I thought.

Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes was another J read I absolutely adored. June loves reading, but she finds to has to keep some of her latest reads recommended to her by the school librarian hidden. When her parents find she's reading The Makings of a Witch, they find this to be extremely inappropriate. They're concerned to the point that they go to school setting in motion a book ban process. June is frustrated, and she believes she should have freedom to read what she wants and explore through books. She decides she's going to fight the system by starting her own locker library. From there, June becomes the underground "rebel librarian" for her classmates. I loved that this was book banning explored from June's perspective. Her frustrations and emotions were so real, and I loved her determination to keep her classmates reading. Book banning is problematic, and I dig that there's a children's book that can help them (and adults, too) understand the issues, as well as the power of knowledge and reading. Even as an adult reader, I left this one inspired by June's willingness to fight the system and save the library!

Read this book if - You want a book that covers book banning from a different lens. You want to look at censorship and activism through the eyes of a kid.

Have Mother, Will Travel by Mia and Claire Fontaine was this month's selection for my online book club. Without that, I'm not sure I would have found my way to this one. The interesting thing is while travel is in the title, that was my least favorite part of the book. I could honestly have not cared less about where Mia and Claire went. What I did really love was the exploration and evolution of their relationship. Mia is a recovering addict, and there were many, many years her relationship with her mother was strained. (Note: This duo has written another book, and it's about that aspect of their relationship.) They decide some international travel together will be another way to build their mother-daughter connection. Again, the travel wasn't for me, but there was a lot of really great realizations about life in this one. This line especially made me feel some feels, "Why do so many of us choose to be good girls going for gold stars, instead of clasping tight the gold of our lives by living as we truly desire?" Right?! RIGHT?!?! Anyway, the growth of the two women is what I enjoyed about this book which is what the second half really focuses on, so it took me awhile to get into this one. Once I did, I love the authenticity and truth of it all. 

Read this book if - You want a book that explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. You want a book that reflects on how women navigate the world - literally and figurately.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton was one heckuva thriller. Kate Walters is a journalist who is covering the story of two girls from the UK who've gone missing in Thailand. She takes the time to connect with these families to tell their story and get the word out about their missing daughters. Kate is also navigating her own loss. She hasn't heard from her own son in two years as he left home to travel. This one was a page-turner that kept me reading. Kate soon finds she has more vested in the story of the missing girls than she ever could have known, and WHOA y'all. You just wait until the twists start coming. I appreciated how the truth and suspense in this one was pieced together through narration from Kate's perspective, the mother of one of the girls, a detective, and the story of the girls before they went missing. This one comes out in January (thanks Shelf Awareness/Berkley for the ARC), and I anticipate this is one that will definitely get people talking as they breeze through these pages because they need to know what happen. My only critique is that the last few pages were confusing. I was into it until that point, then I felt like I needed even MORE pages to explain what I just read, but they weren't there. That very small mess aside, if you're a thriller fan, this should go on your list.

Read this book if - You want to check out a really captivating pageturner of a thriller. You want a thriller that has a bit of a Defending Jacob vibe. Sorry, I hate comparing books to other books, but that's what came to mind at times as I read.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin was an interesting coming of age story. Eilis lives in Ireland. A priest offers to sponsor her to go to Brooklyn. This means she must leave her mother and sister behind. However, they all see the opportunity she could have there, so she sails across the ocean. In America, she begins to build her new life and relationships. Sometimes you just find books that are enjoyable to read. They're just well-written characters that you want to know more about as you follow their story. This one despite being shorter (262 pages for my copy) packed a lot of emotion. It was heartbreaking at times in unexpected ways. Overall, I just really dug Eilis' story.

Read this book if - You just want a good book that tells a story about a woman.