Anna: Starting 2022 strong! I loved this book.
Irene and her best friend, Luce, live in a small town in North Carolina. They work as servers and have been sober for nearly a year. But that night, something happens with Luce’s boyfriend, Wilky, that sends them spiraling back into using. The narrative is structured by a dual timeline, so we get to go back see their entire journey with addiction from the start, including the big breaking point that made them first became sober.
Bewilderness is a dark story about substance abuse, addiction, and the cycles of addiction. On the surface this is an important, cautionary tale: addiction kills. But at its core it’s about the complex friendship between Irene and Luce, and how their relationship changes and is tested over the years. And the writing is beautiful. Bewilderness is perfectly paced, it’s heartbreaking, and I couldn’t put it down. If you liked Marlena by Julie Buntin, I think you should check this one out.
I also learned so much about addiction, the path to sobriety, and just how hard it is to stay clean. I encourage you to check out Karen Tucker’s website and read some of her interviews to learn more.
Trigger warnings: Addiction & drug use
I’m here again to gush about this great book. It took me a month to read–partly because it’s dense and partly because I wanted to savor it. I loved My Brilliant Friend, but it took me a year to get to book two. I’m going to make it a priority to finish the series in 2019!
VERDICT: 5 Stars
This is the second book in the Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein. I’m not going to get into much of the plot, because I don’t want to spoil anything. While My Brilliant Friend told of Elena and Lila’s childhood together growing up in a poor working-class village in Naples, My Brilliant Friend follows them as Elena goes to university, and Lila navigates her new marriage. This book deals with the the effects of education, wealth, and marriage on people and their relationships. What I love about these books is that above all they’re about the complicated but unbreakable bonds of female friendship, and two friends who won’t let sexism and poverty dictate their lives.
Today I’m introducing a new favorite book! Check out my full spoiler-free review on our blog (link in bio!) My mom read this years ago and tried to get me to read it at the beach, but The Goldfinch is so incredibly detail-heavy that I couldn’t get into it. After reading The Secret History last year, I decided to give The Goldfinch another try.
I’m glad I did! This book is quite a feat to get through, but it’s worth the journey a hundred times over (and it made me miss New York so much!) If you like long and sweeping coming-of-age stories, this is the book for you. Like The Secret History, The Goldfinch is especially drug-heavy and most certainly not any easy read. I knew vaguely it was about art history when I started, but I never imagined the twists and turns this would take, or the impression it would leave!
What I love most about The Goldfinch is our protagonist, Theodore (Theo) Decker. Struck by tragedy in the first chapter (and then again, and again) some would say that he has an incredibly unlucky life. He makes someone bad choices that oftentimes you want to hit him over the head and scream, “What are you doing?” It’s his own difficult life and the messy relationships with the other characters–especially Boris, Pippa, Hobie, and even Popper–that give this book such a spark of life. When it was over, I’d spent so much time getting to know the characters that I didn’t want it to end!
The Goldfinch explores fate, grief and loss, the complexities of friendship, loyalty, and morality, the price of freedom, and the importance of fine art and historical objects of meaning. By the end I felt exhausted, but in the best way.
However, this book is A BRICK, which is why I found it easier to listen to on audio. The narrator did an incredible job making each character sound unique. I never would have been able to imagine Boris’s accent if I’d read this on my own.
VERDICT: 5 books!
I’m horrible at continuing series, when when I really love the first book! Here’s an example of one I’ve neglected far too long, even though I read and loved My Brilliant Friend in 2017, I’m just getting around to reading book two, The Story of a New Name.
I love Elena Ferrante’s writing. Her characters are wonderfully complex, as are their relationships with each other. I’m about halfway through and can’t wait to (hopefully) pick up the next two soon.
What’s your favorite series?
Alexis: Read 11/28/18
“I said to him that just because you can’t remember, doesn’t mean the past isn’t out there. All those precious moments are still there somewhere.”
This is a poignant story of love and grief. This is a story of first loves, final loves, and dying loves.
Winman’s writing style is gorgeous. It’s simple yet raw and peppered with beautiful descriptions and lyricism. Throughout the book, her lack of quotation marks echoes Ellis’ silent grief.
I love the recurring motifs of the color yellow and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Nora, Ellis’ mother, is impactful and realistic, and she sticks throughout the story in the minds of both Ellis and Michael as a reminder to stay true to themselves.
Both Ellis and Michael are realistic characters. Ellis deals with his emotions by withdrawing and keeping to himself, while Michael deals with them through writing. Without giving too much away, both of them end up being more similar than either of them thought. Tin Man is an aptly named book.
I love that this book addresses the importance of art and writing, as said by Nora: “Painting flowers as a sign of friendship and welcome. Men and boys should be capable of beautiful things.”
My only criticism is that Annie does not feel as vibrant as all the other characters. I loved her introduction scene, but I wanted to understand her relationship with Ellis as deeply as I understood Ellis and Michael’s relationship.
All in all, this was a beautiful and quietly harrowing read that I highly recommend.
VERDICT: 5 stars