My Recent Reading, Part 2
Eclectic. That’s how I’d describe my reading so far this summer. If you read Part 1 of “My Recent Reading,” you’ll know that by early July, I had finished reading a light-hearted summer novel, a memoir, and the new Harper Lee. This next batch of book reviews include an adventure novel, a magical YA novel, an audiobook, and a book about Huntington’s Disease. Here goes.
Several years ago, I read – and loved – “The Girls,” so when I saw that its author, Lori Lansens, had a new book out, “The Mountain Story,” I quickly bought it.
I was drawn into the story on the first page and stayed there through the last. This is a survival story of four people lost on a mountain. The book is rich in realistic dialogue, prose that is picturesque without being pretentious, and perfect pacing. I liked the main character, Wolf, from the get-go, and came to care deeply for the others as well. While not laden with earth-shattering issues, “The Mountain Story” is a very, very good read.
YA novels. Do you read them? I do. I like the straightforwardness of the plot and the insight the characters give me into the teenage mind. I also vet them for my grandchildren, who thankfully like to read. This one, “Nightbird,” is by Alice Hoffman.
I’ve always loved her work, particularly the magical element in her books, and “Nightbird” has that aplenty. It tells of a long-ago witch’s curse that to this day gives all boys in the heroine’s family wings. Yes, Twig’s beloved big brother James has wings, meaning that he is home-schooled and only goes out at night, when he flies off until the sun rises again. The thrust of the story is reversing the curse, and the writing is clever, smooth, and intelligent. When I winced at how pat the ending was, I had to remind myself of its target audience. That said, my granddaughter will love this. What eleven-year-old wouldn’t?
“Inside the O’Briens” is by Lisa Genova, whose earlier book, “Still Alice,” is about Alzheimer’s disease. This new one is about Huntington’s, specifically as it affects the family of a Boston cop who slowly but inexorably develops the symptoms and becomes disabled.
Huntington’s is a family disease, passed genetically from generation to generation. So when one member is diagnosed, the others are deeply and permanently affected. This is a novel steeped in fact and beautifully written. Each family member is interesting, handling the HD scourge in a different way. There are times when the plethora of information on the disease made the book feel more like a Public Service Announcement than a novel, but the general cause was worth it. It’s a painful read. But solid.
Finally, a delightful romp with Liane Moriarty’s “The Husband’s Secret,” to which I listened, unabridged, while riding to and from the lake.
I had never read Liane Moriarty before, and I was charmed by this book. I found the characters to be very normal, ultimately real, and generally likeable people. The brilliance for me, though, was in the plotting. The tension set in early, and as I listened on through plot twist after plot twist, I increasingly wondered (in a good way) what was going to happen. As many books as I’ve plotted myself, I didn’t guess the ending to this one. But it was perfect. The book, which is set in Australia, could as easily have taken place in suburbs of America – except that then it wouldn’t have been read in an Australian accent, which I loved.
There you go. All caught up. So I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours. Any reviews of recently read books that you’re willing to share?