The end of October and beginning of November were rough, y’all. So, ya know, we’re just not going to talk about how late this post is. Nope. Not at all.
Good as Gone, by Amy Gentry
The Book of the Month Club picks for October were all too, too interesting. But I was good and restrained myself to only ordering one and putting the other two I was most interested in on my library hold list. Good as Gone was one of those.
This story is a family-based mystery/thriller. 13-year-old Julie is kidnapped from her bedroom one night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Despite the best efforts of Julie’s parents and the police, no trace of her is ever found. Until one day, many years later, the doorbell rings. It’s Julie.
And though the family is thrilled to have her home, Anna (the mother) begins to have doubts. Is this really Julie? And if she’s been alive all this time, why has it taken her so long to come home?
The book alternates between Anna’s search for the truth in the present day and the backwards chronological story of Julie/”Julie’s” past. This style of storytelling is one of my favorites, and it helped me speed through the book in an afternoon.
The central turning point of the plot (that I am obviously not going to reveal) makes me curious about the author’s personal experiences with the topic, but it’s not enough to distract. It’s not a perfect book by any means, but it was quite enjoyable and quick-paced.
The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
[Book of the Month Club pick]
I chose this one as my official BOTM pick because the cover is prettiest. In my world, that’s the most valid of selection criteria.
This story begins with high school senior Nadia Turner and her brief love affair with Luke Sheppard, a 21-year-old former football star and the pastor’s son. But an unexpected pregnancy and the decisions that follow throw both of their futures into hurt confusion.
The novel is partially narrated by a Greek chorus made up of the church mothers. These women tut tut and comment on the lives of Nadia, Luke, and Nadia’s best friend Audrey as they each navigate the years that continue to march on and the situations that arise.
I found this to be a really unique and intriguing story, especially from a debut author. There were parts that could have been stronger, characters that could have benefitted from some more texture and depth, but I’d still definitely recommend it.
The Wangs vs. the World, by Jade Chang
I wasn’t exactly sure how much I would like this one going in, but it turned out to be really unique and fascinating.
The story follow the Taiwanese-American Wang family as they travel across the country toward upstate New York. Charles Wang, the patriarch and founder of a cosmetics empire, finds himself bankrupt after a bad business deal and the Great Recession collide in the worst of ways. So they pack up the old powder blue Mercedes and hit the road toward the countryside home of the oldest Wang daughter, Saina. As they travel, we learn more about each of the members of the family and how they each reached the point where they are. And even once they reach their destination, there’s more to discover about Charles’ motivations and the family history.
While I wish the ending had been resolved somewhat differently, this was definitely a book I appreciated reading. There was a specificity to how each member of the family was drawn and a cultural grounding that planted the novel in reality while allowing for exaggeration and some flights of outlandishness. Really a solid, solid read.
Favorite book this month: The Wangs vs. the World
Most likely to re-read: The Mothers
Most likely to recommend: The Mothers, The Wangs vs. the World
So that’s October’s round-up. November’s not going so hot right now, so who knows if I’ll even have something to report in a few weeks. *facepalm*
Keep reading, and support your local libraries, y’all.