Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

51NhA5jnBLLThis amazing debut novel begins with the story of two half-sisters in 18th-century Ghana and ends with their descendants many generations later in America. Each chapter is told from a different characters point of view and each story broke my heart. I loved every single page.

  The novel focuses on the horrible cruelties of slavery and war and how it affected generation after generation. It’s also about family, identity,  racism and so much more. These broken, defeated people suffered loss after loss and still carried on the best way they could. Some turned to family for support, “The broken family nestled into one another, each hoping the others’ presences could fill the wound their personal war had left behind.”
They are all scarred from various wars for freedom and some of them are at war with themselves. “No one forgets they were once captive, even if they are now free.” This book is incredibly moving and beautifully written. It’s one of those books that will stay with you long after you’ve read it. Five stars!!!!!
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Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

51pJDMDO58L.jpgMolly is a teenager who has been through many different foster homes. Her father died in a car accident and her mom is in jail.  She steals a book from the library and has to do community service. The community service is to help an elderly woman clean out her attic.  This is where she meets Vivian, who was also an orphan and endured many different foster homes in her youth.

Vivian lost her whole family in a fire soon after they moved from Ireland, to New York. Having no relatives in the United States she is put on an orphan train and sent away. She spent her youth always feeling alien and strange and grief stricken at losing so much and having no one to tell.

This book tells the story of both women’s struggles as orphans. Both women were abandoned, always seeking the warmth of love and belonging. Full of despair and at the mercy of strangers. Grateful for the slightest act of kindness, but suspicious of everyone’s motives. Never lost fear they would be given away again and have start over.

Vivian gave Molly’s community service sentence meaning. Vivian and Molly became close and shared their stories with one another. A very sad and moving book.  These two women really helped each other and gave one another a little peace and comfort.  My library book club loved it!

Vivian: “It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in. I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel.  I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.”

 

SUMMER READING IS THE BEST

Summer reading is my favorite time of year. Books are just better when read outdoors in the sunshine. There are so many wonderful places to read during the long, lazy days of summer. You can read by the pool, in a hammock, on a road trip, by the seaside, on an airplane, in a lounge chair in your backyard, or wherever your heart so desires.

HERE ARE THE BOOKS I AM MOST EXCITED ABOUT READING THIS SUMMER:

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley:  A boy and his dog and their adventures together. Because who doesn’t love dogs?

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell: “An irresistible love story that crisscrosses continents and time zones as it captures an extraordinary marriage, and an unforgettable family, with wit, humor, and deep affection.”

 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: This book keeps popping up on every summer reading list I see.  “A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty.”

 Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty: Because I loved the authors other books, especially “The Husband’s Secret” and “What Alice Forgot.” “This book explores how one small moment can destroy everything. Best friends Erika and Clementine gather with pals for a casual backyard barbecue, right before a tragedy changes their lives forever, and puts everything they thought they knew about themselves and each other into question.”

 The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown: “Madeline seems like she has it all: a great marriage, home, family. But she feels trapped by her controlling husband and the trappings of perfection. She has always looked up to her grandmother Margie, but discovering a journal from the woman’s youth uncovers a woman she hardly knew, who relished the freedom of a trip to Jazz Age Paris. As her marriage shatters, Madeline decides to re-create her grandmother’s adventure, but soon realizes that even the most flawless façades can hide some unseemly secrets.”

Siracusa by Delia Ephron: “An electrifying novel about marriage and deceit from bestselling author Delia Ephron that follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from one another are exposed and relationships are unraveled.”

 Modern Lovers by Emma Straub: “[Modern Lovers] is a treat. . . a fabulous coming-of-age novel about women entering into a new era of their lives.” Refinery29

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell: “The last remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt, using only the clues her eccentric father left behind, and the Brontës’ own novels.”

 

Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

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It’s not summer without a juicy new book from Elin Hilderbrand. She is the queen of the beach read. She writes chick-lit with substance.

In “Here’s to Us,” Deacon Thorpe, celebrity chef, had a heart attack and died. All three women he has been married to, along with all his children and his best friend meet at the Nantucket home that Deacon adored to mourn him and spread his ashes.

Laurel was wife number one. She and Deacon had Hayes together. Hayes is addicted to heroin. Belinda, famous actress, is wife number two.  They adopted Angie together. Angie is having an affair with a married man.  Scarlett, wife number three, used to be the nanny when Belinda and Deacon were married, and she was still married to Deacon when he died.  Buck, long time best friend of Deacon, who is secretly in love with Laurel, is present to break it to them that Deacon left the Nantucket home to all three wives.

Everyone adored and idolized Deacon, but he was a very sad person and no one was able to save him.  With each wife, he tried to fill the hollowness and emptiness inside him but he could never quite rid himself of it.

This family has a lot of unresolved issues and there is a lot of underlying tension. They all struggle with anger, jealousy, bitterness, and grief.  The drama unfolds as they spend a few days in Nantucket to say goodbye to their beloved husband, father, and friend.  As usual, Nantucket is always a charming setting. You can almost feel the ocean air and hear the waves crashing as you read.  This is the perfect summer read!

 

A MAN CALLED OVE

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I read this a while back, but wanted to share because it’s so good that I want everyone to read it! Ove is a grumpy, disgruntled old man who is mourning the death of his wife. He is so depressed that he has decided to commit suicide, but every time he tries one of his neighbors rudely interrupt him and the hilarity ensues. I laughed and cried. This book is funny, touching, charming, moving, heartwarming, and utterly delightful!!!

WHAT I READ IN JUNE

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The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo: Maddie, homeless and pregnant, returns to her mom’s hometown to claim an inheritance from her grandmother and uncovers secrets from the past. A light-hearted read with a little humor and a lot of heart. For those who like chick-lit and women’s fiction.

This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquet: Very European. Bianca travels to a beach town near Barcelona with those she holds dearest to grieve the death of her mother. Bianca is very promiscuous and self-absorbed person, but there were a few profound moments. A very quick read!

Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen: The heroine of this book is a 60 year old photographer, Rebecca Winter, who moves from new York to the country because of financial difficulties. In her despair, she says she feels like a tourist in her own life and that loneliness lives inside her like an illness. In an isolated cottage in the woods she finds her way again. A little romance, a dog for a companion, and lots of other lovely characters. Loved this one!!!

The Children by Ann Leary: In a New England home by the lake, a blended family gathers and dark secrets are exposed. Do not read this one if you like happy endings. This is a book that gets better as it goes. For those who like reading about dysfunctional families.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley: I don’t usually read thrillers, but this one was very engrossing. One of the biggest books of summer. A page-turner that is full of mystery, suspense, and tragedy. The only flaw, I thought it harped too much on the intrusive nature of media.

Redemption Road by John Hart: One of my favorite authors! An excellent literary thriller. I was hooked from page one. John Hart knows how to write. You won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough!