One evening in the summer of 1989, Lindy Simpson, was raped on her own street in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her story is told from the voice of her neighbor, friend, and devoted admirer, our narrator who lives across the street from her. As he tells her story and the story of each of the suspects (himself included), he also reveals his own fascination with her and how their history unfolds.
Much teenage angst and struggle pours out in the telling of this story in a very authentic delivery. There are apt descriptions of very awkward scenes that kids inevitably encounter and the mention of certain moments in history, such as the explosion of the Challenger and the national horror of Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes, that enable the reader to directly relate to the feelings the characters feel. What appears to the outside world as a typical, suburban, upper middle class neighborhood is shown to have a diversity of characters, with shaded pursuits and emotional scars – which is likely what is true of most neighborhoods.
An interesting look at love and family and teenage obsession.
Another absolute winner by this gifted writer!
Pepper Schuyler certainly has her reasons for selling the 1936 Special Roadster Mercedes Benz she’s been working on restoring, but she can’t imagine why the mysterious Annabelle Dommerich was so intent on buying it, and for such a small fortune. To learn why, the author takes us back and forth between the relative “present” (1966) and the past (1935-) in the telling of the story. We learn that Annabelle has had to navigate a passionate love for a Jewish German man at the start of the Nazi uprising. Her complicated history has lead her inextricably back to this car and to Pepper, with whom she will share more in common than Pepper would have ever predicted.
Beatriz Williams has a way of creating characters whom you just want to invite over for a drink and conversation. Her female characters are smart and sharp-witted and yet hopeful and strong. In addition, she crafts her plots with twists and turns and actually keeps the suspense maintained throughout the pages. This is a book that you can’t stop but yet don’t want to finish reading, because you just want to stay in the world of these real-life, endearing characters.
Highly recommend this and can’t wait to read other books by her! (This is my 3rd by her, I believe.)
Love seems to actually trump hate in this frighteningly timely novel by Jodi Picoult. It begins when a Black labor and delivery nurse, Ruth, begins to care for the baby of a White supremacist couple and the couple insist that she be removed from their case because of her race. As it would happen, Ruth is alone with the baby when the baby stops breathing. Should she touch the baby and save him, as she is trained to do? Should she abide by the racist rules the hospital has imposed at the request of this repugnant couple? What happens next sets Ruth and the couple and ultimately, Ruth’s lawyer, Kennedy, on a road to grappling with race as it is seen from all perspectives.
Little did I know that I’d be reading this amidst the worst campaign and most devastating election outcome in the history of the United States. The spillage of racism, misogyny, and bigotry that has poured out of the mouth of the Republican party nominee and his bedfellows has unleashed the underbelly of this country and its darkest side. The election result has spawned a crippling shadow over my whole universe and I know this has been true for over half of this country. We are embarrassed to call ourselves American, as it associates us with this new, evil and mean rhetoric in the eyes and ears of the rest of the world. This is not the country I have known to be the home of the free.
And so it was, amidst my deepest disappointment that has sent me into a physical nausea that I cannot shake, that I read how Kennedy, seeking to defend Ruth in her ultimate trial, really tries to understand the day to day psychological beating that Ruth endures as a Black woman in a white man’s world. The small slips, the subtle differences in perception, and the more overt signs of difference from which Kennedy is protected because of the color of her skin. And while the 2 butt heads, they also come together because of the genuine efforts to try to understand each other, which is the foundation of the beginning of actually understanding each other.
Unfortunately for this story, love trumps hate in sort of a too perfect way by the end, so that it becomes a little fairytale-like as an ending. I pray for this country, though, that we can reach an understanding that even remotely approximates this ending – for the good of our present and the good of our future.
As the country is still reeling from the Great Depression, Layla finds herself ousted from her privileged life because she refused to marry the man chosen for her by her father. As punishment, she’s banished to an assignment through the Writers’ Project to research and write the history of the tiny town of Macedonia,Virginia. Not believing she will survive in such a backward town, she quickly finds herself living among and becoming entrenched with the family that is at the center of probably the most significant and tragic segment of Macedonia’s history.
This book is written by the author of one of my all time favorite books, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. In that former book, the characters jump off the pages and into your heart. The characters here are not quite as striking, but they are certainly vivid and endearing. The author also utilizes a change in voices to tell the story, sometimes from the perspective of Jottie, Layla’s landlord and head of the household and sometimes from the perspective of Willa, Jottie’s niece whom she’s raised. The varying perspectives round out the story to give it a great, 3-dimensional feel.
There is a bit of suspense, there is a bit of romance, but there is mostly just the telling of an emotional story about colorful characters about whom you can’t help caring.
An absorbing read, worth every word!
It is the late 1960’s and Frankie has just moved to Palo Alto with her husband and two children. While her husband has found his dream job, her own dream of going to college and becoming a writer has gone unfulfilled. That is, until she meets the “Wednesday Sisters.” While watching her children play in a park near her new home, she meets a group of women who become her closest friends, her confidantes, and her literary critics! And as the 60’s roll into the 70’s, they see each other through their writing struggles as well as their personal struggles, and they evolve with women all over the country, supporting each other as they each begin to pursue their own interests and passions just as their husbands have done.
This is a sweet story, with the 1960’s as a subtle backdrop. The women have a wonderful relationship and bring out the best in each other. The respect that they show for each other, in spite of their individual quirks and conflicts, is what most would aspire to in a friendship and their solidarity, expressed most fully at the end (I won’t spoil it for you!) is truly beautiful. It is a little far-reaching as “realistic” goes, but it works anyway.
A fun, mostly light read… definitely a chick book!
For each of the 3 families attending the BBQ hosted by Tiffany and Vin, life was permanently altered. Clementine and Sam were unsure if their marriage would survive, Tiffany and Vin were not sure what was going on with their daughter, Dakota, and Erika could not remember a slice of time during the BBQ and was obsessively trying to recover that memory. Life seemed so simple before the BBQ. Things were taken for granted…
The beauty of this book is in the skillful crafting of the narrative, which circles around the BBQ and only very gradually divulges exactly what happened and how. By rotating around the characters’ perspectives and by weaving in and out of time frames, Moriarty builds up the suspense and enriches the impact of the crescendo of the story. And on the way down, she continues to add smaller punches which ultimately tie in each of the pieces of the puzzle.
I also love the message in this book, which is, essentially, that issues that are difficult or painful should be talked through. Keeping secrets and holding things inside only lead to repression and misperceptions, usually resulting in unfounded guilt or other sources of misery. Especially with children.
I am a big fan of Liane Moriarty – and this is yet another engaging, well-spun tale by her!