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For the Love of Reading, May 2024

On Tuesdays this summer we will be talking about books and what better way to kick that off than to share what I read last month!

Forgotten on Sunday by Valérie Perrin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Although this novel by Perrin was written years ago, it has only recently been translated and published in English. It’s a melancholy story about how an unlikely friendship in a retirement home serves to heal the wounds of the past. The characters are lifelike and memorable and the story is revealed in layers, developing slowly and deliberately and at a gentle pace. Like Perrin’s Fresh Water for Flowers it’s a charming book with subtle humor and lovely language. Definitely recommended.
I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed Hilderbrand’s final Nantucket novel and was completely caught up in the story, the scenery, and the characters that populated this novel. The connections to the previous books provide a fun way to look back on those storylines fondly and the returning characters are as zany and predictable (in a good way!) as ever. Of course the island of Nantucket is a major character, showing off all of the gorgeous scenery and beaches, opulent parties, and fabulous restaurants. The plot itself is a little more of a mystery this time around and that made for a fast paced and exciting read. All in all, it’s a lovely wrap up of the series and (perhaps?) Hilderbrand’s career. Highly recommended for a beach read this summer! I was provided with an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A moving and wonderful memoir, particularly for anyone who had a complicated or difficult relationship with their mother. McCurdy’s stories of always wanting to please her mother, to keep her mother in a good mood, to do what her mother thought was best truly resonated with me. Her wry humor comes through clearly and it helps to lighten some of the darkness of this book. I’m glad to have learned that McCurdy got the help she needed to heal from the trauma inflicted on her and I hope she writes more.

James by Percival Everett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am a sign. I am your future. I am James.
I never really cared for Huckleberry Finn so I wasn’t sure what to expect of James, the retelling of the original from the perspective of Jim, the enslaved sidekick to Huck’s foibles. In James, the tables are turned and we see him as a survivor who is smart and capable and determined to tell his story and I loved every word. It’s literary but also accessible. It’s horrifying but also deeply hopeful. It’s complicated and inspiring, thrilling and satisfying in all the best possible ways. It’s so much more than a retelling, it’s truly a reimagining and it’s sure to be a modern classic. I will be recommending this to everyone.

The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Every one of us alive today comes from something bad done to the family that came before us. You being alive is a goddamn miracle, so no more talk about sour blood. Own your mistakes, make amends and move on.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a young Mi’kmaq girl named Ruthie who goes missing while her family is picking berries for the summer in Maine. Told from alternating perspectives, the novel follows Joe, Ruthie’s older brother and the last person to see her before she went missing, and Norma, a young girl living in Maine with an distant father and helicopter mother. It’s a story of Indigenous family separation, generational trauma, persistent memories, guilt, heartbreak and hope. This is Amanda Peters’ first novel and I hope it’s not her last!

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a touching memoir full of emotion, longing, love . . . and delicious and interesting food. Zauner recounts the difficulty of being Korean while in school, the tumultuous relationship she had with her parents, the pain of watching cancer ravage her mother, and the ultimate acceptance of her own culture and identity. The descriptions of food are the true highlight of the book, as Zauner writes about her mother’s many Korean specialties and her own attempts at reproducing them. Definitely recommend for anyone looking for a moving and tender memoir.

Sandwich by Catherine Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A truly enjoyed this novel centered around a mother navigating menopause, marriage, and memories while on an annual family vacation on Cape Cod. Rocky’s descriptions of the physical changes she is experiencing are painfully accurate (and laugh out loud funny, at times) and her feelings about her changing role as a mother and wife and highly relatable. As someone who had a very similar family vacation for years, I found myself nodding and laughing and crying at various times throughout the book. It’s raw and vulnerable, poignant and joyful . . . and messy. Just like life. Catherine Newman has done it again and I will be recommending this one to all of my friends.
I was given an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Graphic novels are not something I gravitate towards naturally, however, the MA Reading Challenge for the month of May is to read a graphic novel and, since this one has been highly discussed and widely challenged in the library community, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to read it. I am glad to have experienced it first hand and do not find it to be pornographic, offensive, or obscene (as categorized by narrow minded individuals) but rather see it as a great resource for anyone looking to understand their own or someone else’s feelings about being nonbinary or asexual. It is a poignant memoir and I found it to be enlightening, heartfelt, and vulnerable. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone who is curious about gender identity and sexuality.

Funny Story by Emily Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love a light romance novel every now and again and Emily Henry delivers just that in her latest book, Funny Story. It doesn’t hurt at all that the female protagonist is a Children’s Librarian and I found her to be relatable and sympathetic and sweet, if a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to recognizing true love and it’s quirks. Reminiscent of Book Lovers, this is the perfect book to take on summer vacation.

That was a superb month of reading with so many 4 star reads. Hopefully there’s something in this list that will appeal to you, too.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. You read loads of good books! I’d like to read Gender Queer and Crying in H Mart but the hold queues are four months long. It seems like everyone is doing summer reading; that’s a good thing but the holds keep getting longer and longer.

  2. So much good reading! I’ve read and enjoyed four of these as well, and I still think Crying in H Mart should come with some of the food mentioned in the book (or maybe that would be a great activity for a book club — have a Korean dinner while discussing the book).

  3. I loved Crying in the H Mart so much! And I am so thankful for good book translators so I could read and love Forgotten on Sunday! And I agree with every word you said about James… it was just brilliant and I have been telling everyone to read it also!

    And yet… you have managed to grow my TBR list again! Thank you! (Now I am off to see if I can get a copy of Gender Queer at my library!)

  4. I loved Crying in H Mart. (I read it a couple of years ago, but still find myself craving kimchi all the time.) Always appreciate your book reviews, Carole! XO

  5. I have a large pile of Elin HIlderbrand books waiting to be read. I will be picking up Swan Song next Monday when I go to meet her at a meet and greet. I have heard that she’s going to be writing 2 books with her daughter but not sure what after that.

    I have Funny Story and The Berry Pickers waiting for me to get to them.

  6. well woohoo for so many great books! I have Sandwich and Funny Story on my list and I’m glad to see you loved them … I hope my library holds come in this summer because they do feel like summer books.

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