Never Said by Carol Lynch Williams is a young adult novel about teenage twin sisters. Annie is the pretty, outgoing twin who spent years competing in beauty pageants, while Sarah is quiet and tends to try to go unnoticed in social situations. Each chapter is written from the perspective of one of the twins, with Sarah's view written in more traditional chapter style while Annie's view is written in an unstructured poetry style with short phrases and sentence that hint at the secret shame that caused her to cut off her beautiful hair, gain weight, and quit participating in beauty pageants. The book deals with various issues including self-image, beauty, loneliness, bullying, social anxiety, and has a twist that was very predictable early in the book. I was drawn into the story and enjoyed the varying viewpoints and narrative style. The girls each find healing in the end, however I was disappointed that this book (which I received free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review) then ended so abruptly without addressing the fact that healing takes time.
I had very mixed feelings about reading Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee's "landmark new novel." Personally I can't imagine that Harper Lee, well-known author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, actually sanctioned publication of this novel after a lifetime of shunning public appearances and maintaining that she would not publish again. My understanding is that this book was written first, but was not accepted for publication. If this book had actually been published first, I think it would have diminished the acclaim that To Kill a Mockingbird garnered. I was disappointed in this story, which centers around 26-year-old Jean Louise Finch ("Scout") and her visit home to Maycomb (from New York).
[***Spoiler Alert - stop here if you don't want to know more!!***] Jean Louise discovers that her boyfriend and her father are both part of an local group that is against (!) racial integration. She struggles with this idea and finally confronts her father, but nothing is actually resolved. It was a terribly disappointing ending that simply went in circles and then everyone went back to things as normal. This novel brings into question Atticus's reason for working to have Tom Robinson found not guilty. (He was innocent versus all men are equal.) Honestly, I'm glad I read it because it was written by Harper Lee and it's bound to be talked about, but I found it a disappointing "landmark new novel."
These four books were quick, easy and enjoyable reads. The Hurricane Sisters is set in the South Carolina Lowcountry and primarily centers on Ashley, a twenty-something aspiring artist trying to figure out what her future holds. Her mother Liz and grandmother Maisie are also prominent characters in this story of love, abuse, troubled marriage, and finding true strength in the midst of it all. The Inn at Rose Harboris the first in a new series by Debbie Macomber and centers on Jo Marie Rose, the new owner of a beautiful bed and breakfast in the small northwestern town of Cedar Cove. Jo Marie's story of loss and finding peace in this new venture is interwoven with the stories of the first two guests at her inn. Beyond the Picket Fence: And Other Short Stories is a series of short stories from popular Christian fiction author Lori Wick, and The River by Beverly Lewis is the tale of two Amish sisters who return home for a visit after being out of the Amish community for many years.
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry was this month's selection at the library book club. A.J Fikry, a 39-year-old recent widower, owns and runs a bookstore on a small northeastern island. He plans to drink himself to death, but becomes mixed up in several situations (a very rare book is stolen from him, a baby is abandoned in his bookstore, a publisher's rep recommends a book he waits three years to read but which leads to a romance, etc) that create an interesting story. Each chapter of the book begins with A. J.'s notes/thoughts on a short story. These notes are written to his adopted daughter and foreshadow what's coming up in the next chapter. I enjoyed the story line, however I thought it was a little clunky as the point of view jumps around and large spans of time elapse between chapters. (This book also contains quite a bit of inappropriate language.) I did especially like this quote near the end of the book, which I think sums up the structure of the book as well.
We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
And, of course, a couple of children's books. Robbie and I listened to the audio book of True (. . . Sort Of)on our road trip to Niagara Falls. It's the story of Delly Pattison, who is a delightful girl who often finds herself in trouble when she's simply trying to have FUN. She has a wonderful repertoire of made-up words like "surpresent", "hideawaysis", and "mysturiousity". Delly's story is mixed in with that of her new friend Ferris Boyd, who isn't like anyone Delly has met before. Robbie and I both had mixed feelings about this FUN story being mixed up with the discovery of Ferris's father's abuse, although there was a happy ending. A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620 is another great book in the Dear America series. This book follows Remember Patience Whipple as she sails to the New World on the Mayflower with her family.
Have you read any of these books? Are there any here you're adding to your to-read list? Please share your thoughts in the comments.