Archive for June, 2019

Normal People, by Sally Rooney

June 24, 2019

[Lesley] I hadn’t even heard of Sally Rooney before I grabbed this book at the library. It was being returned and between the cover (I know… don’t judge a book etc. – but who are we kidding?) and Tricia’s recommendation I took it home. Now, I can’t stop thinking about it and I can’t wait to read her first book: Conversations With Friends.

This book has lots that sounds familiar: teenage/high school angst and drama, dysfunctional families and early romantic relationships, trying to figure out who you are and where you’re going and getting off track along the way, self-doubt, sadness, recklessness, friendship, bad choices, and misunderstandings. BUT – the story itself and the characters were unlike anything else I’ve read.

We begin with two teenagers at the same school, one whose mother cleans house for the other and is fairly popular at school and one who keeps to herself, doesn’t care what others think, and doesn’t fit in. This unlikely pair become a semi-pair; something they keep hidden from others (at least as far as they know). The rest of the book unfolds by hours, days, minutes, months from one intersection of their lives to the next. Like twin planets, the two orbit each other even at a distance – separated by countries, people, mental illness, secrets, or shame. They aren’t whole when apart but also not when together.

Rooney manages to write this story in a style that seems to be a mix of both of the main character’s voices. Not alternating between them depending on the focus, but telling the whole story in a third voice that belongs to them both.

I loved the angles this book takes on familiar, constants of being human and the way it leaves us ready for another cycle.

Normal People on Libby/Overdrive

Great cover, right??

Check for availability in the catalog

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton

June 12, 2019

[Lesley]

I loved this book. I am rarely a reader of mysteries but so many people recommended this to me – and a messed-up time loop – I had to move it up to the top of my to-read list.

“So many memories and secrets, so many burdens. Every life has such weight. I don’t know how anybody carries even one.”

There is definitely a tip of the hat to Agatha Christie as we discover different characters, where they fit in with the others, and where each person was when. But, Agatha Christie never had a narrator inhabit each character’s body as the same day repeats over and over, always ending with the death of Evelyn Hardcastle. SO GOOD! (the book, not necessarily the death)

Not only are the plot twists great — the whodunit part — there are twists that I never saw coming. The mystery also introduces non-Christie figures: The Plague Doctor and an assassin who aren’t part of the Christie character-group, and of course the narrator who is body hopping. We pick up clues as the narrator does and the whole thing – day after day – is lightning-fast and so tricky.

Seriously, just read it. Just. Read. It.

The 7/12 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle on Hoopla

title

The Bird King / G. Willow Wilson

June 10, 2019

[Tricia]

I loved G. Willow Wilson’s first book, Alif the Unseen, so I eagerly picked this one up and was not disappointed. Her writing is beautiful, vivid and the characters are intimately felt. It is set in a time and place I knew next to nothing about – the Iberian peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition, and features Fatima, a concubine to the last Sultan of the Iberian Pensinsula, and her best friend Hassan, the Palace Mapmaker, as they go on the run to escape the Inquisition. I love this kind of historical fantasy, drawing on the mythologies of the different cultures. Mostly I loved the characters, all of whom are complex and flawed and written with empathy. I look forward to more books by this author (who by the way, also wrote the Ms. Marvel graphic novel series featuring Kamala Khan, which you can find in the Teen Room).

The Bird King is available on Hoopla.

Inheritance: a memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love / Dani Shapiro

June 7, 2019

[Tricia]

In this timely memoir, author Dani Shapiro shares her experience of doing a DNA test on a genealogy website and having her world turned upside down when she finds out that her beloved late father was not her biological father. This memoir brings up important issues, including how this new technology can run up against a person’s desire for privacy, questions of identity and what makes you the person you are, relationships between parents and children, and the impact that secrets can have on a family. This is an interesting and empathetic window into the positive and negative consequences of having access to more and more information about ourselves out there to be discovered.

Inheritance can be found as both eBook and audiobook on Libby/Overdrive.