I’m back for volume three of Recently Read. Sharing my thoughts and reviews on the books I’ve read in the past few weeks. You can read volume 1 and volume 2 and volume 3 here. Have you read any of these books?
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Three out of Five Stars
“I think grief is like a really ugly couch. It never goes away. You can decorate around it; you can slap a doily on top of it; you can push it to the corner of the room—but eventually, you learn to live with it.”
I’ve really enjoyed many of Picoult’s quick page turning mysteries. Some of my favorites have included, The Pact, The Storyteller, My Sister’s Keeper, and The Tenth Circle. However, this one doesn’t rank as one of my favorites.
Yes the story, told by various point of views was still interesting and the twists were still exciting, but it also didn’t grip me the same as others.
Leaving Time is a story about grief, mother and daughter relationships, and letting go. This is the story of Jenna who has been searching for her mother since she went missing when Jenna was only 3. Her story is told side by side to Alice’s (her mother, a a scientist focussed on elephant grieving) life story leading up to the time of her disappearance. Jenna has the help of two unexpected allies, Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, a drunk ex detective.
All characters are struggling blindly through their own grief and cling to each other. I loved learning all about elephants and their mothering habits and ways of processing grief. The characters were interesting and I did not guess the ending. Yet this book was missing something on a deeper level for me. It felt scattered.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Two out of Five Stars
“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter.”
I really wanted to like/love this book. And I really tried. But it just didn’t cut it for me. I truly like Lena Dunham and I enjoy watching Girls, but I found this book lacking. Dunham’s memoir is made up of small stories detailing her childhood and coming of age as a twenty something woman.
Yes, some of the stories were relatable to me like growing up in the dawn of the internet, discovering your sexuality and all of the confusion that comes with it, being an awkward teenager, and dating the wrong people for the wrong reasons in your twenties. But there was also much that wasn’t relatable. Like her ability to live without consequences and off of her parent’s money post college as a privileged New Yorker. The book just felt incomplete, which I guess is true because many people’s identities feel incomplete in their twenties. I just didn’t love it. Simple as that.
City of Women by David R. Gillham
Four out of Five Stars
“You avert your eyes enough times, and finally you go blind. You don’t actually see anything any longer.”
City of Women takes place in Berlin in 1943 at the height of World War 2. The city is falling apart and the remains are being held up mainly by women. Everyone is scared. Everyone speaks in hush tones. No one knows who to trust. Sigrid puts on a brave face and does what she is expected to do while her husband is at war and her world is falling apart around her. She continues to work her job, she supports her bitter mother in law, she donates clothing to the war effort, and sits quietly in the shelter while bombs destroy her city. She has become numb to the Nazi rule and the treatment of her fellow Jewish civilians. She is a living ghost.
But soon she begins to come alive. An affair with a mysterious Jewish man sets her heart and world on fire and opens her eyes to the cruelty going on all around her. She finds within herself the belief that she can make change. That she, a low German woman, has power to bring change.
I could not put this book down. Gillham did amazing research for this novel and war torn Berlin came to life as an additional character. There are touches of mystery and intrigue that had me hooked the entire book.
What have you been reading?