I’ve only joined the Show Us Your Books linkup a couple of times, but I have gotten some GREAT recommendations so far. Thank you Jana and Steph and all the other contributers! Two of the three books on my list this month were checked out of the library the week after the January linkup. I’m in line for a few more and I’m planning on restocking my backlog after reading through other people’s blogs this month.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
This one I already had picked out before I went trolling for recommendations. I picked it because I’ve seen it on “Best of 2017” lists and because I used to live in Manhattan Beach California so maybe I’d recognize some of the landscape.
Haha no. The setting is Manhattan Beach in New York during WWII. For the first 80 pages or so I was really into the luxurious prose, but soon I realized I didn’t care about any of the characters and I wasn’t sure what they were trying to accomplish. It took me all of January to finish this book.
I like the idea of this book. The heroine is a woman who wants to be a scuba diver. Her dad is missing due to some mysterious shakedown involving gangsters. She’s drawn to a lead gangster, not realizing his part in her dad’s disappearance and the gangster doesn’t realize who she is. There’s adventure and mystery and intrigue. I just didn’t personally find it that compelling. And yet, I finished it for the prose.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
I loved this book. It’s so strange. It’s hard to figure out how to describe the plot or characters without making it sound horrible. The protagonist is a child named Wavonna who’s mother is mentally ill and who’s father is a drug dealer. Wavy falls in love with a man in his 20s who looks after her. The love story is heartbreaking and tender and somehow realistic despite it being between two people with such an age gap. I zoomed through this and was completely satisfied by the end.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Read this book. This was my favorite. It starts in the late 18th century in Ghana with two sisters who share a mother, but never meet each other. One becomes a slave and is shipped to America and the other stays in Africa.
The story follows their descendants through generations on both continents. It was so beautiful how each child was a continuation of the family story, but also a unique individual affected by their specific place in time and space.
My favorite vignette was near the end. I don’t want to give away too much because I really think everyone should read this, but there’s a part where a mother in Ghana hurt her son while being entranced by visions of her family’s past cruelty. Their reunification scene was the heart of this book for me. As a species we’re capable of hurting each other so much, but it’s possible to unite by recognizing our damage and shortcomings and what we have in common. That sounds trite, but it’s so lovely in this book. I think the ending is perfect.