I was able to read four books of a wide variety last month. There was a thriller, a nonfiction based on sociology, a memoir and a future world fiction novel. My choice of the month, hands down, goes to The Sound of Gravel, a memoir written by Ruth Wariner.
Have you heard of this one? The author grew up in a polygamist family on a ranch in rural Mexico. She was the 39th of her father's children. There's so much going on in this memoir - poverty, sexual abuse, neglect and violence - but at the end of the day, there's a message of hope and resilience.
This was such an emotional read for me with an absolutely shocking and heartbreaking scene towards the end. Even if you don't typically read memoirs, I would highly recommend this book.
You know how I love these trendy thrillers.
Grist Mill Road was a page-turner for me. In 1982, Patrick, Matthew and Hannah are tied together by a crime committed in their Upstate New York childhood town. Chapters flips back and forth between the early '80s and 26 years later, when the characters meet again in NYC.
I really, really liked how this was written with excellent character development and details. Unfortunately, everything all fell apart at the end for me. It was almost as if the author had a really good idea but no way to end it. After all the build up, I actually exclaimed, "That's it!?"
Here and there, I prefer to read books with a sociology base, which is how I came to read Janesville.
Janesville is a city in Wisconsin that was home to the oldest General Motors operating plant, which was closed in 2008. This book takes a look at what happened after the plant closure and the efforts that were made to keep the unemployment rate down.
While I learned quite a bit and the author goes into a great amount of detail (personal and otherwise), it does take time to get through this book. I'd summarize it as an excellent reading of the working class of America. It'd be the perfect book for a college class - either sociology or business. Definitely worthy of four stars, but don't expect to fly through it.
And then we have the last book I read for the month . . .
This book takes place in the future and while not apocalyptic, it's pretty bleak. Traditional stores have been shuttered and electricity no longer works in the city. Frida and Cal leave a crumbling Los Angeles in order to live alone in the wilderness, but when Frida discovers she's pregnant, they head out to the nearest settlement. While joining others offers safety, they soon realize that there are dangers they hadn't considered.
I have such mixed feelings after reading this. I absolutely loved the description of a future world, as grim as it may be, but the plot was flawed and too easy to poke holes into. I also didn't feel connected to any of the characters. They all seemed somewhat flat to me. It's a shame as I really do think the author has the imagination to pull off a great book, but this one didn't quite work.
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