Book: Bread & Wine
I already reviewed this one in detail here, but since then, I've given the book as a gift and sold multiple copies to friends and family members. It's still one I highly recommend, and it has me craving Shauna's books I've read before, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. I'm just in a stage of life, I think, where her words are important and life-giving to me, and perhaps they could be what you need too? If cooking's not your thing (though I personally think Bread & Wine is about so much more than that), try one of Shauna's other books. She has a way of revealing exactly what I need to hear.
I read a lot of good fiction this month, but this is the book I read and thought, "I must talk about this with someone." (Sadly, no one I knew had read it yet.) I thought it was comparable to Gone Girl; it kept me on the edge of my seat, and once I started, I simply had to finish. You'll get swept into the story of Amelia, a high school student who commits suicide, only for her mother to receive a life-changing text a few weeks after, claiming: "Amelia didn't jump." It's fast-paced and relevant. I'd recommend for a book club, since you'll want to discuss with friends after reading.
Another page turner, I thought The Dinner was original and intriguing. The entire novel (translated from the author's native Dutch) takes place over dinner; each part, then, takes place during a different course, and the tension builds into the book's final scenes. The Dinner didn't move at the fast pace Reconstructing Amelia did, and Koch is a quieter, more subtle writer than McCreight, but the book is still suspenseful and intense, filled with twists and turns and uneasy relationships. A little heavier than your typical beach fare, but I think it deserves a place in your getaway bag.
I'm not a reader of Glennon Melton's blog, Momastery, so I was totally unfamiliar with her work before picking up her book. (I think it's better that way.) I personally really enjoyed Carry On, Warrior. It came at the right time for me, filled with quotes and truths and encouragements I really needed. I believe some of the essays included in the book were straight from the blog, which I'd imagine might be slightly disappointing if you're a longtime reader of hers. Since I'm not, I wasn't disappointed; all the material was new to me, and even the essays I may not have agreed 100% with were well-written and thought-provoking. I can see why Glennon has such a loyal following, and while I'm still not a regular reader of her blog, I did underline her book like crazy. This one's easy to put up and down (short, readable essays), so I'd recommend for reading throughout the summer or for moms (or non-moms) who may not have a lot of reading time on their hands.
The Journal of Best Practices was our overwhelming book club choice for April, and everyone appeared to really enjoy it. The book, written by a man who discovers he has Asperger's five years into his marriage, highlights the ups and downs of a married couple and the truths and practices it takes to make their marriage healthy and stable after years of turmoil and frustration brought on by a misunderstanding of the author's behavior. I thought David Finch was extremely likable and funny, and like most of my fellow book club members, I found some of his behaviors to be eerily similar to my husband's. Some book club members commented they would have preferred a female narrator -- we all agreed Finch's wife Kristen is a saint -- but I think hearing the perspective of Finch was valuable. I actually think men would really like this book; it loses steam about halfway through (a little redundant, I thought), but overall this is a great, funny book about sticking with the one you picked, even when the one you picked is a little challenging. A lovely tribute to marriage and making it through.
Toward the end of last month, I was in desperate need for some escapist fiction. I was sick of memoirs and craving something light. The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls was almost a book club selection for April, so I decided to give this YA novel a try. It was just the thing for my weary, frustrated mind. The book is a quick read, at times suspenseful, and reminiscent of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants -- with a bit of edge and classic literature thrown in the mix. If a mom came in looking for a book for her teenage girl to read this summer, I'd recommend this one. It's light without being totally mindless, and I think teen girls will find themselves and their friends in the characters. Pack this one in your beach bag and read it by the pool.
The minute I found out Lauren Graham was publishing a book, I ordered it for the store, not really caring if anyone else would want to read it or not. I wanted to know if Lorelei Gilmore was as clever a writer as she was an actress, and it turns out: I wasn't disappointed. I went in with low expectations -- I didn't want to build it up and be frustrated if the novel wasn't as good as I thought it could be. Maybe those low expectations made the novel more enjoyable than it would have been normally, but I ended Someday, Someday, Maybe thinking Graham was a pretty good author. The book was funny and clever, and although I suppose it falls into that "chick lit" category, I think it's definitely on the better end of that spectrum. I loved Graham's protagonist, and even though I found the story predictable, I enjoyed going along for the ride. (Plus, I found some truths hidden in the book's final pages. Turns out, the main character and I had some similar challenges we needed to overcome, and it's comforting that one of us made it through before the final page was turned.) Highly recommend, particularly if you're a 20 (or 30!)-something wondering if time's running out on your grand plans.