November Reviews

Happy December, guys! I've never been a super excited "ohmygod I love Christmas" kind of person, but I have to say having a three-year-old who "gets it" makes this holiday season one of the best yet (hopefully). November had some life hiccups, but I did read a few good books- here's a glimpse:

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides
304 pages
This short story compilation has a range of stories, including everything from a woman who throws herself an artificial insemination party to a friendship that has to cope with dementia to a man who doesn't receive the proper medical care for intestinal issues abroad. The stories sometimes sound a little silly from a brief summarizing sentence, but they deal with complicated issues like aging, relationships, and family. 

Verdict: I really, really think that this book is being overlooked by people. I know that some were disappointed in The Marriage Plot, after his first two, but this one was a really strong collection. These stories are truly crafted and were a pleasure to read. 

Artemis by Andy Weir 
320 pages
Andy Weir's sophomore attempt following The Martian is about life on the moon and the challenges of it's class system. Jazz is a young smuggler who desperately wants to save enough money to upgrade her living situation (she lives in what is basically a coffin and has to use a communal bathroom where showers are paid for by the minute). She is presented with an offer she cannot refuse, which ends up going awry. 

Verdict: I had a feeling this book would fall short, and it did. In short, it was a bit sloppy- the character development, the dialogue, the predictable nature, and even the ending. There were some fun moments and it was kind of a kick to read about someone's idea of life on the moon, but it was nowhere near as good as his debut. I'm sure the movie will be super entertaining, though. 

Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden
272 pages
This memoir focuses on the year that former Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau suffered from fatal brain cancer, chronicling his journey through treatment and navigating the private life of the family. Biden also discusses much of the political ongoings he was involved with the time as well, often juxtaposing his professional life with his private one.

Verdict: As a whole, I really enjoyed this book (plus, who doesn't love Joe? Remember the memes? I miss them so much). It moved me to tears several times, as Beau tried so hard to keep positive and make his family promise they'd be okay if he passed away. I thought at some points there was too much governmental and politics talk, but I may just be bitter because it made me so sad to see how things were once run right. And now they're not. Ahem. Moving on.

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
304 pages
This is a novel that at it's heart about ethics, morality, religion, and guilt. Linda, a high school student who is very lonely and as a detached relationship with her parents, ex-cult/commune members, works as a babysitter for a family across the lake who has a four-year-old named Paul. Paul always seems a little sickly and his mother a little a odd, both intensifying when the husband/father comes to visit. Unfortunately, it's hard to really talk about this one without spoiling a huge part of it, so trust me when I say it's controversial and heartbreaking (but not in a Jodi Piccoult kind of way). 

Verdict: I really enjoyed this novel and read it in a weekend. I thought the pacing was excellent and that Fridlund does a wonderful job of integrating the setting, mood, and plot in a way that really sort of takes over your reading experience. She bookends the story with a connection to one of Linda's middle school teachers who is arrested for child pornography charges, which is a little odd, but relates to the greater issue of this book of how children can be let down by adults. 

1,200 pages 

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