BOOK REVIEW ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Collection of book reviews
I've enjoyed Hill's previous books, but this is hands down my favorite. It's a twisty tale -- and the narrative power comes not so much from the unexpected reveals and startling violence but from a rich backstory of pain and trauma, secrets and misunderstandings. As a result, the emotional lives of the characters feel complex enough to justify the longings they feel, the motives that compel them, and the risks they take. As with Tana French's debut, IN THE WOODS, the characters at the center of this story are now grown but had an experience as children that shaped their lives in profound and troubling ways. The two sisters, Natalie and Glenn, have coped with tragedy differently, but Natalie's tendency toward depression and Glenn's almost frantic self-promotion are flip sides of the same coin. Psychologically coherent and intense, this novel is a great read for mystery fans.
This book will be available in March or April 2022.
A tender, delicately wrought, deeply humane novel that purports to be a memoir by a woman writer who inherits a huge Great Dane named Apollo from a friend who commits suicide. (There's a twist at the end, but no spoilers here.) One aspect I loved was how immersed, even steeped, the book is in the writing life--the anxiety and frustration inherent in the creative process, reading books, writing books, receiving reviews, teaching creative writing, writing letters of recommendation for students trying to get into MFA programs, etc. Nunez also drops in the references to books (Unbroken), poems ("September 1, 1939"), plays, and literary figures, but deftly. I felt none of the sense that she's doing it to prove how much she's read (ugh); instead, she drops in just enough information that you feel included in her circle.
Somewhat as in the novel THESE IS MY WORDS, language is central to the narrator's self-actualization and empowerment. Adunni's language (the novel is told in first person) is at first broken and uncertain--though her observations are apt: "Papa like to be sitting in front of the fan in the evening ... drinking from the bottle that have become his wife since Mama have dead." But gradually, Adunni's language gains assurance and skill, as she learns about the world and finds a place for herself in it, eventually writing her way into a better, happier situation. A quick, satisfying read, and I'm looking forward to talking about it at my book club.
First lines: "This morning, Papa call me inside the parlor. He was sitting inside the sofa with no cushion and looking me. Papa have this way of looking me one kind. As if he wants to be flogging me for no reason, as if I am carrying shit inside my cheeks and when I open mouth to talk, the whole place be smelling of it."
Those who like contemporary thrillers will find this a quick, engaging read. I'd say this is a good fit for fans of Hank Phillippi Ryan, Lisa Unger, and Hannah Mary McKinnon.
The protagonist, Anna Hart, a missing persons detective living in San Francisco, has left her family behind after a tragic accident kills her daughter, and she goes to Mendocino, a former home town, to grieve. There, a constellation of cases of missing girls draws her in, and in working through them, she confronts her childhood traumas from life in foster care.
For me, what makes this an unusually strong thriller is the level of writing, particularly the internal monologue, which often feels pitch-perfect, precise and elegant, even poetic. Quotes are never as powerful out of context, but here are some samples:
"[I felt]... a sadness that seemed to settle into the space between the trees, between the trunks and branches, between the needles and leaves, between the molecules. It climbed inside my body and curled up tightly under my ribs, like a fist made of silver thread."
"When things got hard and you felt shaky, she liked to say, you could hit your knees wherever you were, and the world would be there to catch you."
"What is all the suffering for if not so we can see how alike we are, and not alone? Where will the mercy come from, if not from us?"
Ambitious in its themes and compassionate and humane in its ethos, I think this book will appeal to fans of Tana French and Louise Penny.