Quick takes- April 2018

The House of Impossible Beauties. 5 stars. Five million stars. Great story and great writing. I will always be haunted by the detail of the HIV+ character riding a crowded subway because it’s the only human contact she can have. This was a heartbreaker.

She Regrets Nothing. 4 stars. This was racy and glitzy and decadent. I didn’t totally love every direction the plot went in, but still a very solid and enjoyable page turner. Lots to love here.

The Female Persuasion. 3 stars. Once again, Meg Wolitzer almost has something truly great, but it misses the mark. Lots of great insight, but it’s a little too sprawling, and spends a lot of time on uninteresting people.

The Wife. 1 star.For most of this book, I was thinking it was going to make an interesting point about how women who are broken by their own assault history learn to distrust other women instead of finding solidarity. Hoo boy, that was so not the point this book was making.  Would give zero stars if I could.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. 4 stars. High four. I love her writing style, even if it doesn’t feel like she’s writing about much of anything half the time. Didn’t hit it out of the park for me, but I will read her again.

Stray City. 2 stars. Zzzzzzzz. I feel like this is still going. The writing and main character are both dull as dirt. This went nowhere and took forever to get there.

Tangerine. 4 stars. Very cinematic noir with a vivid setting. The story isn’t anything new, but a thriller done well is a rare enough event for me to recommend this one.

What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw. 4 stars. Rounded up to that one. Very charming main characters, and I always love Hollywood stories, whether they’re based on real people or not. This loses points a bit with me for the “oh a surprise pregnancy how did that happen well I guess I’m having a baby because no other options exist” trope that I always hate. To be clear, it was believable that this character would keep the baby, but it wasn’t believable that she didn’t even think about it. Anyway, not enough to ruin it by any means, and I like this author a lot.

How To Be Safe. 5 stars. Hello, Tom McAllister, I love you. This is a super high recommend as long as you have my exact sense of humor. Easy litmus test: the story is about a town dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting, and I just said sense of humor. I laughed and cried and will read everything this guy ever writes forever.

Asymmetry. 4 stars. I guess four? I could have given this two or three, and I could see someone else making a case for five, or one. So this is all over the place for me. Good writing, and gets points for depicting abortion in a matter of fact way. But loses a lot for me with the thinly veiled Philip Roth character’s affair with a 25 year old which is about half the book. Not an area of interest for me, by any means, but an interesting writer. I don’t know, if it sounds like something you’d like, you probably will.

And Now We Have Everything. 2 stars. This is a tiny bit on me, because I don’t like memoirs, but it’s mostly on the author, because she is bad at writing. I was hoping for basically a non-fiction After Birth, but this is shallow and annoying. The birth story chapter did make me feel bad for her; that birth really sucked.

This Could Hurt. 4 stars. Rounded up a bit, because it went on a little too long, and then had too many storylines to wrap up abruptly. But I was surprised how invested I got in this. Really great characters and a story that kept moving. Very glad I picked this one up.

Top picks: I absolutely loved How To Be Safe, and The House of Impossible Beauties. And go ahead and pick up After Birth if you haven’t already, since that’s what that memoir made me want to do.

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