Archive for May, 2019

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata

May 26, 2019

[Lesley]
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, then you know that sometimes I like a strange story. I first heard about this book on the podcast The Librarian Is In (Gwen & Frank) from the New York Public Library. More on some favorite podcasts in a later post – but if you love to find out about new (or new to you) books and authors and you appreciate good, silly banter, then I highly recommend you check out The Librarian is In.

After I heard Gwen talking about this book on the podcast, I knew I wanted to read it. Our narrator is an odd duck. Her family and friends have never known what to do with her. She, however, is her own person and doesn’t care or understand how the world of relationships or societal expectations works. She comes to work in a convenience store where the store’s routines and goals are so well-matched with her own that it is as if each is an extension of the other. [I did warn you it might seem strange] While we can’t fully relate to the narrator, we do get to see people and relationships from a different, more distant perspective. What does society want of us? Why are we so influenced by the norms? Why do we feel the need to “help” those we care about to fit in? I found myself both understanding the concerns of her friends and family, and their well-intentioned advice but also siding with the narrator whose life didn’t come to seem strange to me at all for her. Plus, we see how “strange” each person’s life is – both those working at the convenience store, and those leading more conventional lives.

Convenience Store Woman is available as both eBook and audiobook on Hoopla.

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The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin

May 1, 2019

[Lesley]

There’s something about meeting friends/siblings as kids and then following the paths their lives take. The Immortalists is an interesting iteration of this type of story.

The plot spirals outward from one experience in 4 siblings’ lives, something that on the surface doesn’t seem like it would have long-lasting effects even though it looms large in their impressionable thoughts. As we follow each sibling’s path – chronologically* – we have to think about whether things would have turned out the same way without that childhood experience. Can our directions be changed significantly by one encounter or would everything have turned out that way regardless? Intriguing premise, interesting characters and relationships, and the tension builds all the way to the end.
Click here to find The Immortalists in our catalog

The Immortalists can also be found as eBook and audiobook on Libby/Overdrive.

*One character’s “story” is followed over a period of years and the next character’s story starts its own period at the last year of the one before. This creates a great story arc.

Others following a group of kids and where they end up:
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (review)
The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez

May 1, 2019

[Lesley]

A meditation? A rhetorical exercise? A story of mentors, art, grief, aloneness, a city, and a dog? Yes, that last one. But also a meditation of sorts and a cerebral, rhetorical examination of grief, what it means to be alone or lonely, and art. There is deep emotion in the portrayals of loss (as expressed by our unnamed narrator and the great dane on the cover), but the writing is spare and non-emotional, somehow making the fragility of relationships (with others and with the world) that much more stark. Beautiful writing. This isn’t a book for everyone, but if you like Peter Heller’s novels or Open City by Teju Cole then I think you will like this book.

The Friend won the National Book Award in 2018.

The Friend can be found on Libby/Overdrive.

The Friend - ebook