November Wrap Up
I'm really happy with my reading month in November! Not only did I read more books this month than I have in a while, but I also really enjoyed many of them!
Perfect Little World // Kevin Wilson
My first 5 star read in quite some time! I absolutely adored every part of this story. The premise alone is fascinating, revolving around a psychological project that tries to create the perfect family dynamic (essentially a commune in which all 10 children are co-cared for by 19 parents). The main protagonist, Izzy, was an absolute treat. She was genuine and sweet and when weaved in with her natural flaws and messy life, it's hard not to fall in love with the authenticity. The narrative was more contemporary than literary, but this did not take away from writing, which was indeed excellent.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Heather the Totality // Matthew Weiner
*Trigger warning for rape/violence against women*
Unfortunately I did not like this one as well. The story revolves around the Breakstone family and their daughter, Heather. Heather is beautiful; and begins to attract a particularly dark interest. The narrative weaves between points of view from both Heather/the Breakstone family, and this menacing individual raised in poverty and violence, whose obsession with Heather spirals out of control.
I did not understand the POV switches at first. This completely threw off my enjoyment of the story. By the time I understood what exactly was happening, the book was almost over (as it is only 150 or so pages long). It could have been that the style of prose was over my head, but regardless of the reason, I just didn't enjoy this one.
My Rating: 2/5 stars
The Good People // Hannah Kent
*Trigger warning for child abuse*
Another 5 star book this month! I haven't had the greatest reading year, so I was thrilled to read so many great ones this month.
The Good People follows three women in 19th century Ireland who are drawn together in trying to rid a child of its torturous sickness that they believe to be something of superstitious nature. Their acts of "healing" grow more and more challenging and dark, until finally one final attempt to rid the child of his fairy state turns dire.
Hannah Kent's prose is masterful and lovely. The research that she put into this work was made evident through her descriptive prose and deeply fleshed out characters. Throughout reading, I couldn't tell if I was reading a work of historical fiction or magical realism because of how convincing the characters were in accepting superstition as reality. This novel will absolutely make it to my top favorites of the year.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
One of Us Is Lying // Karen M. McManus
*Trigger Warning for depression and other mental illness*
I think I'm going to end up doing a full review on this book, because there are a lot of topics that are worth discussing regarding mental illness and suicide. But, the story begins with 5 teenagers in detention, and only 4 of them make it out of detention alive. Throughout the story, the reader tries to piece together the full story, and figure out how exactly Simon died.
I personally really enjoyed this book. I thought that for a YA novel, the characters were able to act age appropriately, without the prose feeling petty or tacky.
I enjoyed each one of the POV's which I can sometimes struggle with in multiple POV narratives.
The "mystery," was made pretty obvious as you discovered more about each character, but I didn't mind this because I was finding entertainment value from other aspects of the story such as the love interest and character growth.
A lot of people did not enjoy this story because they felt as though it depicted mental illness poorly, and used inappropriate content for plot twists and reveals. I completely understand these standpoints, and think that they should be considered when reading the book.
As someone who battles depression every day, I did not feel that mental illness was depicted negatively. I think that it is true that mental illness can bring out very dark sides of people, and that it doesn't mean that the person is "bad" -- it just means that their struggles can force them to make some poor choices. This does not mean that every individual battling depression will make these horrible choices - it just means that in this particular fictional story, some horrible choices were made because of one person's struggles with mental health.
I hope I was able to make sense here.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Mean // Myriam Gurba
*Trigger Warning for rape and racial violence/assault, and violence against women*
Mean is a collection of essays that tells a coming of age story as a queer, mixed race Chicana. This collection attempts to blend comedy with tragedy as Myriam describes what life was like for her growing up in a world that is misogynistic, homophobic, and filled with assault and violence and hate.
Mean is not for everyone. I'm not positive it was for me. But I think that it tells a very important message. And, I think that this book, whether you "enjoy," it or not, is worth the read for a fresh perspective on someone whose life was potentially a lot different from your own. The way Gurba writes is in fact MEAN, and she does not sugar coat or add compassion to her testimony. She is raw and rough, and shows what exhilaration there is to find in letting yourself feel and think without boundaries or inhibition.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Reincarnation Blues // Michael Poore
*Trigger Warning for rape*
This book was a blast. My final read for November!
Reincarnation Blues follows Milo, a man who has been reincarnated almost 10,000 times in search of the secret to perfection and immortality, so that he can forever be with his true love: the incarnation of Death. You follow Milo through several of his lives, as he attempts to find the true meaning of perfection, and sacrifice everything he is and has to love.
I loved the dry humor of this book! The synopsis on Goodreads says that this story is a combination of something Kurt Vonnegut and Neil Gaiman -- and I feel like this is the perfect description. I found the prose to be stunning, and also hilarious, truly showing the intelligence of the narrative. I do think that it could have been a tad shorter, and I was troubled by some of the content, but all in all I thought this book was beautifully written, interesting & unique, and super entertaining!
My Rating: 4/5 stars