August Reviews

August is probably my most challenging month of the year, between the heat, getting back into work routine, and accepting that we're about to begin the longest part of the school year (the August to November stretch is very, very long). But it's over! Onward and upwards. Here's what happened in between bitching about 103 degree temperatures, five am wake-up calls, and back-to-school meetings:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer 
531 pages 
I briefly mentioned this book earlier when I did my summer round-up, but I feel like I'm the last person to read it. For those not familiar, it's set during World War II, focusing on a young French blind girl and a brilliant German orphaned boy. The book skips between when they're a bit older and then when they're kid and we watch how the war influences the young adults they turn into. 

Verdict: This is not a book I would have chosen to read, since I'm not generally a fan of war novels, but it was selected for book club. I thought it was well-written and did something differently than other books from this time period, but I didn't love it. I appreciated it, but I wasn't "ohmygod so happy I read it." It's completely a matter of preference. 

In the Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib
288 pages
I wrote about this debut novel here.

Verdict: There was a lot to like about this novel, and a fair amount of negatives to get nit-picky about. I thought a lot of the dialogue was unnatural, but the subject matter itself was interesting.

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
240 pages
This novel is about Roland Nair, a white man, and Michael Adriko, an African, who have known each other for years. They are reunited, along with Adriko's fiancee, Davidia, in Africa and travel through Uganda and The Congo, on the cusps of a few different scams. Do they trust each other? Are they really working for government or NATO agencies? Who wants them dead? Who is crazier by the end? This book instantly reminded me of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness; the deeper they went into the continent the more unstable and primal they become. 

Verdict: I was drawn to this book, fascinated by Johnson's handling of the setting and relationships between the characters. There were times I was frustrate and felt mislead, but once I accepted the fact that this feeling was a direct mirror of the situations the characters were embroiled in I applaud Johnson's writing ability. While not for everyone, this was my favorite of the three I read this month. 

1,059 pages

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