I’ve been a slacker about posting, but not about reading, so I have about 52 million books to recap here. Right now I’m on a desktop computer and drinking hot chocolate, because why stop at one retronym when you can have two? We just came from a family reunion at Hershey park, and we had the best time creating our own chocolate bars.
Other People’s Houses was a real bomb for me. This was your basic domestic drama featuring infidelity, so it should have been the kind of thing I love. Unfortunately, this had a lot of issues. I’m not even going to go into all of them, but the writing was bad, the story was tedious, and the main character was unbearable. The thing that really bugged me about this one though, was the subliminal message it was sending out, which was essentially: women who care about their own feelings or appearance are bad mothers. This is a message that I feel pops up a lot in fiction and in the mommy corners of social media. It’s a kind of humblebrag type of thing, like, “Omg some moms look like they just stepped out of a fashion shoot and I’m sitting here with applesauce in my hair and a pacifier in my pocket lololol.” I don’t know if I’m conveying it right, but I’ll just say that the “bad” mom in the story is constantly described as selfish, while the good mommy is constantly described as sloppy and out of shape but so warm and everyone’s kids like her the best. Sometimes I think selfishness gets a bad rap when we’re talking about motherhood. We’re allowed to take care of ourselves. Anyway, clearly this hit a nerve with me.
There was truly nowhere to go but up from there. The High Season was a perfect antidote to that mess. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to read in the summer. The writing is very strong, and it features a flawed main character, who’s compelling even when you’re not rooting for her. This had multiple storylines, and I was equally invested in all of them. Extra kudos to this author for writing younger characters as realistically as the older ones. This is a totally solid summer beach read.
Way back in the day, I used to read a lot of true crime, but it’s been a long time since I was into it. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark wasn’t really on my radar, but it was on the grab and go table at the library, and everyone’s been talking about it, so I gave it a shot. This was pretty uneven for me, but I can’t really blame the author for that. First of all, it felt very repetitive and disorganized. The repetition is mostly because, holy shit did this guy commit a bazillion crimes! I suppose they didn’t want to leave anything out, but you sure do spend a lot of time reading about, “he breaks in, he has her tie up the husband, he ties her wrists together…” It was very hard to read this, and you had to read it a lot. Disorganized, well, she died before she was finished writing it, so who knows how it could have turned out? The third section is written by someone else, and there’s a pretty stark contrast in the quality of the writing. I don’t know, it was a fascinating story, and it’s awful that she died before he got caught, but I do feel like I could have just read the wiki articles about him. Mixed review for this.
Moving on to Florida. I was really excited for this, because I love Lauren Groff, and I love short stories. Sadly, I had a hard time getting into this. There were two stories in the middle that I loved, and the long one at the end was fairly interesting. Otherwise these did not grab me. Overall I was disappointed with this one.
I don’t even know what to say about The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. I really liked the book that came after this one, but apparently he grew a whole lot in between these two. The writing was perfectly fine, but the tone was so adolescent and toxic. This main character has had a devastating loss, and I still hated him. Usually I will forgive a grieving character just about anything, so that’s really saying something. This book had a lot of elements that I typically don’t like. Ragtag bunch of misfits on a road trip? Ugh, no. Disabled character whose only function is for the main character to gain perspective? Barf. Guy spending most of his time brooding because his wife’s job threatens his masculinity? Ok that one’s not really one that you see all that often but I still hated it. This is an okay book but I was for sure not the audience for it.
I am very very very excited to be reading Providence right now. I’ve been waiting for this for what feels like forever. I’m about a hundred pages in right now; so far it’s not at all what I was expecting, and I might not be feeling it if it was by someone else. But I am positive that this is going to be great. Caroline Kepnes, I believe in you!