Book reviews

 The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht

As an aspiring author, I am always amazed at the talent/choked with envy when brand new authors achieve great success, either critically or commercially. Tea Obreht, who I might mention is several years younger than me, inspires that exact reaction. I went into The Tiger’s Wife prepared to be dazzled, but found it wasn’t really the book for me.

Was it beautifully written? Of course. Did it entirely lack a plot? I thought so. It really was more of short stories, set in either the former Yugoslavia or the war there during the 90’s, looking at the mythology of the country or the effects the war had on a young generation. They were woven together nicely, but there, to me, was no sense of urgency behind them. I found I couldn’t relate to the main character entirely, but then again I never grew up in a place devastated by a civil war, as Obreht was. It’s a beautiful work, but not necessarily a compelling read.

 

26A, by Diana Evans

Another first-time author, 26A by Diana Evans follows the plight of twins in London, and Nigeria, as they deal with life, love and growing up as neither entirely black or white. The book is a lot darker than I thought it would be, with almost a nightmarish quality at certain points.

 

 

Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys

This is a gorgeous young adult novel, also about a young generation growing up during war, but much more plot-driven. We follow a family of Lithuanians who are displaced in the middle of the night by Stalin’s Soviet troops in 1941, to be deported to Siberia for the crime of being members of the intelligencia. This was definitively a compelling read – I felt horrified by the injustices brought on those people, as well as so many others during that time in our history. It made me more curious as to the Soviet’s role in the outlier Soviet states during the war and after – which of course only leads to more horror.

 

The Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart

This was … a change of pace. I believe there are two kinds of young adult novels, ones written for adults and ones written for tweens. While Shades of Gray was certainly beautifully written and easily enjoyed by someone of any age, E. Lockhart’s The Boyfriend List … was not. I read this in approximately three hours, ashamed the entire time as I realized really early on this was written for vapid girls aged 10-14. This is trying to be Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging (the Georgia series) without any of the charm. If you have a daughter in the right age group for this, I’d still keep her away from it in case she becomes even more narcissistic than before.

 

The Devil in Silver, by Victor Lavalle

The Devil in Silver, a novel by Victor Lavalle, was a really interesting read, delving into the world of a mental institution and mental disease. Placed long after the horrifying days of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it’s theme dealt more with facing your inner (and occasionally outer) demons, while trying to determine what kind of person you want to be in this life. Journey’s like that can occur anywhere, even to involuntary patients who should never have been admitted, and I really enjoyed where the story went.

Word of the day:

Micturition: the act of passing urine

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