July. What a month! On the bright side there was this:
Me getting to see my mother after 18 months apart. She’s the person who encouraged my love of reading. And that’s about as much as I need to write about July because everything else was just life.
My reading was odd, but I’m hearing from a lot of friends that they’re going through the same thing. Namely, the only books that work are those that move fast. Mostly thrillers, courtroom dramas, suspense novels. Not sure why that is, but it seems to be a real reading condition. Why this year and not last year when we were all stuck at home? I tried to buck the trend and instead opted for big, heavy books—all of which were great, but draining.
Infinite Country is a small beautiful novel about one family split between two countries. Mauro, Elena, and their little girl Karina leave their town in Colombia for a better, safer life. With a temporary visa they move among various cities on the east coast working whatever jobs they can find. Two more children join their family, Nando and Talia. When an altercation gets Mauro deported he returns to their town in Colombia. Elena’s fears about her ability to support three children lead her to send baby Talia back as well. Now 15 years of separation have passed and the family is desperately working towards being reunited and surviving. A quietly written, but deeply affecting novel about immigration.
The Push by Ashley Audrain: Provocative novel about motherhood. Review to follow
It’s official: I’m finished with any fiction about young women joining communes to find themselves. I realize women falling prey to charismatic grifters is a very real thing (NXVIM) but I haven’t seen it reasonable fictionalized in too long. The latest attempt is Fierce Little Thing, a kitchen sink mashup of a teenager damaged by a childhood tragedy who ‘finds’ herself at an off-the-grid community led by one man. And then there’s drama, fast forward to adulthood and she’s getting threatening letters about her past. No.
The Charm School by Nelson DeMille: Good old-fashioned USSR vs USA espionage. Review to follow
I loved the writing in Songs in Ursa Major, but found the story to be too close to Daisy Jones and A Star is Born. The same timeline, same premise of a young gifted female singer overlooked by men in power made this story blur together in my mind—overlaid with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (latest iterations from the A Star is Born movie). If you love novels about women in music then this absolutely works as fast vacation reading, but not much more than that.
The Comfort of Monsters by Willa Richards: One sister disappears leaving the other to grapple with what she thinks she knows and the truth. Review to follow
After reading two emotionally heavy hitter novels in a row I needed something light. The Guncle was perfect. Patrick is a former TV star happily ensconced in his Palm Springs life when his best friend dies. She’s also his brother’s wife and at the funeral he informs Patrick that he is an addict, needs rehab, and wants Patrick to watch his two children for 90 days. A plot that mixes humor with pathos almost always works for me, especially when it’s snarky, gay humor. Because, if you didn’t know, “guncle” means gay uncle and Patrick is that with his caftans, skin care regimen, and love of brunch. Still, The Guncle isn’t a cliché laden story. It’s witty and real and perfect summer reading.
How was your July? Are you in thriller mode?
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