Book Reviews Come in Threes
They do, when they come from me. Because three is a nice number. And it is also the number of book reviews I can delay writing before I am certain I will forget what I read.
Who am I kidding? I forget why I enter my room at least 50% of the time. I call my kids the wrong name more than I get it right. But this isn't about my horrible memory.
Unlike last year, when March lasted 365,842 days, this year it is flying by. We're halfway through the month and I haven't updated my book blog since the first so...here we go!
I will quickly introduce the three books, in order of rating. But if you'd like to read my full review, please click on the photo image.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is another triumph in a line of really wonderful pieces of work. Hannah has a gift for creating strong, relatable, flawed female protagonists. Without question, she is an author I expect a lot from, so this book fell slightly short of the 5 star benchmark I expect, but it earned a solid 4.5 stars, and in the Goodreads world, that gets rounded up to 5.
It is the story of Elsa Martinelli, a young woman in the Texas panhandle who comes into adulthood facing the great depression caused by the stock market crash, the Dust Bowl, life on her in-laws' farm, a loveless marriage, and motherhood. Faced with challenge after challenge, Elsa proves her strength and keeps her family alive...along with learning a love of herself and the land.
“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.”
I had little knowledge of life in the Dust Bowl and I found both that portion of the story and the later part of her life facing the perils and prejudices of being a migrant worker (Okie) to be fascinating and horrifying. I highly recommend this one!
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel is a book I chose solely because it was a Reese's Hello Sunshine Book Club selection. I'm not sure I would have picked it up otherwise. I definitely had moments of parallel to American Dirt, but it is entirely possible that is due to my ignorance of the plight of South and Central American immigrants to the US and not so much that the stories or the writing were similar. I listened to this book on Audible and enjoyed the narration by Ines del Castíllo.
At its heart it is an immigrant story. A story of struggle, of class, of race...all wrapped up in a complicated love letter to Colombia. The author entwines the heart-wrenching immigrant tale with Andean myths and legends. The characters are well-drawn, if maybe less in-depth that I would have wished. If you are interested in growing your understanding of the immigrant experience, or if you've wanted to expand your exposure to diverse voices, I highly recommend this book. I rated it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.
If you want to get my attention, tell me a gory true-crime story. Or a horrifying story of a kidnapping survivor. My guilty pleasure is true-crime podcasts, documentaries, and books. My kids get in the car and immediately say, "No murder, mom". I'm always looking for good thrillers and I've begun to seek them out as my "soft" read to go alongside my more serious books (I'm looking at you A Promised Land), and I've really been enjoying them on Audible. At the recommendation of a good friend, I decided to dive into The Push by Ashley Audrain, narrated by Marin Ireland. I was under the impression that it would be like The Bad Seed, but it is definitely more intriguing. Blythe comes from a line of women who are not cut out to be mothers. She is determined to be what she did not have, and to be the mother her husband says he knows she can be. But the strains and exhaustion of new motherhood (SO well described - I was viscerally re-living the exhaustion, sweat, bloody underpants and utter confusion of those first post-partum weeks) coupled with the feeling that Blythe can't quite shake...that something is not RIGHT with her daughter Violet, leave Blythe wondering if she can cut it.
When an accident at the playground leaves a fellow classmate dead, Blythe questions her memory, her parenting and her understanding of her daughter. I don't want to give too much away, but the story arc is well drawn, intense and unputdownable. I devoured this one, even if I did predict it. I rated it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. Recommended to my readers that are fans of domestic thrillers. For my full review, click the photo.
I promise to post again in the next few days! Be well bookish friends!