I read a random group of books this month. In order of preference:
The Rocks by Peter Nichols – The Rocks was great. A page-turner. A romance, mystery and family saga that moves back and forth between the past and present (takes a little while to orient yourself as the time shifts and all the characters are introduced). It’s set in Mallorca and the setting adds to the book as much the vivid characters. The main characters are Lulu and Gerald, who are 80 years old. They broke off their relationship mysteriously long ago but both continued to live in Mallorca, without speaking or interacting for many years – and since then, they each married and had a family. As you get to know Lulu and Gerald and their children/grandchildren, as well as the locals on the island, you start to piece together the history the families and there’s plenty of drama and mystery throughout the novel. A great summer read.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – Ng grew up in Pittsburgh! The book’s about a teenage girl, Lydia, who disappears and then is found dead in a lake (this is all covered very early on in the novel) and it focuses on the lead up to her death from both her and her family’s perspective…and the fallout her family experiences afterward. A cheerful book it is not. But beautifully written. It’s set in smalltown Ohio in the 70’s, where there’s little racial diversity. Lydia’s mom is Caucasian and her father is Asian-American, so at times Lydia, her siblings and her father feel like outsiders. While it’s set in the 70’s it touches on themes that are relevant today – racial tension, the pressure to succeed, marital issues, etc.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – The book centers around Clay, who ends up working at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, on a whim. The store doesn’t have a lot of customers and some of the regulars are a bit odd and buy strange books from the dusty shelves in the back of the store. Clay’s a smart guy and starts to try to piece together clues about the store’s secrets – he soon enlists the help of his friends and the race to solve the unraveling mystery begins. It was a quick read, witty, clever and even cute. The characters were endearing and really made the book for me.
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – Interesting. There’s good interesting and there’s bad interesting. This book is a little of both. There’s been a social and economic collapse. Stan and Charmaine are living in their car and barely getting by. Until they decide to become part of the too-good-to-be-true Positron Project, where they alternate spending a month in prison and a month in a house bestowed to them within the town. No one can leave once they sign on for the Positron Project. But everyone’s promised safety, a home and job – and everyone there is contributing towards the success of the Positron Project. I was fairly captivated up until this part of the book – and then things took a turn for the odd and the book changed it’s tune. The science fiction/dystopian society themes become loud and clear. I think I get the point Atwood was trying to make with this novel — but it ended up not being my cup of tea.
Share your thoughts if you’ve read any of these!