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My January reading has been all over the place. I’ve read 17 books which is an all time high for me. Of those, I’ve truly loved four books, at least a couple already in contention for Best Books of 2023. That’s awesome and I’m excited to share those books, here, but none come out this month, so you’ll have to wait for my February and March posts. Books released in January have had me more in a so-so range. However, the three I’m sharing today were the bright spots among my January books.
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My Thoughts: 𝗕𝗥𝗢𝗧𝗛𝗘𝗥𝗟𝗘𝗦𝗦 𝗡𝗜𝗚𝗛𝗧 by V.V. Ganeshananthan has been one of those books where the more I think about it, the more I like it and I keep thinking about it. It’s a family story embedded in a tragic history lesson. As the story opens in 1981, we meet its narrator, Sashi, a 16-year old Tamil girl living in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. She has three older brothers and one younger, and of course her parents. They’re not without resources, and all place a high value on education. Her eldest brother is almost done with medical school, a career path Sashi also hopes to take.
Tensions are high in Sashi’s homeland. The Tamil people become more and more outspoken about wanting their own leaders rather than the ruling Sinhalese majority. What follows is a history of the first ten years of the Sri Lankan Civil War told through the lens of one Tamil woman caught in the middle. Sashi’s story is brave, heartbreaking, tense, unexpected and truly eye-opening. I’m always amazed at how much I don’t know. Initially, I was a little put off by the very linear structure to the story, but over time, I came to appreciate it. Sashi tells her family’s story looking back on it from 2009, and at times speaks directly to the reader from there. That was truly special, as was the entire book. It’s one I can highly recommend to anyone who likes historical fiction or just wants to know more about the world we live in. Grade: B+
Thanks to Random House for an electronic ARC of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
My Thoughts: I know everyone is probably sick of hearing about 𝗦𝗣𝗔𝗥𝗘, so I’ll try to keep my thoughts concise. I’m not a person who has strong feelings one way or the other about the British Monarchy. It’s their thing, not ours. However, I was curious enough about Prince Harry’s memoir to put in a Libby hold way back when and I got a copy the day it was released. Overall, I liked it. I thought parts were a little slow and some were a touch whiney, but more than anything it left me feeling sorry for this very privileged man. Here’s why:
∙ He’s a child of divorce and that’s never easy, especially such a public, painful divorce.
∙ He lost his mother at a very young age for incredibly tragic reasons, and was not helped with processing that loss for many years.
∙ Harry’s life has been haunted by paparazzi and even when he’s tried to fight back, his efforts have been thwarted from within the family.
∙ For a variety of reasons, his relationships with his father, and especially his brother, are broken.
∙ He was raised his entire life to do the job of “being a royal” and all that goes with it. When he wanted some changes for his own sanity and for the safety of his family, he was essentially fired.
∙ Many of the places he grew up loving, he’s no longer welcome.
∙ Harry is now an outcast in his own family, and of course, this book doesn’t help.
𝘚𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦 was interesting and I’m glad I listened. I also understand why Prince Harry chose to tell his story. He could have done the “royal thing” and opted for silence, but that hadn’t worked for him in the past. It’s his life and his story to tell. (This is a book I just didn’t feel right rating, but I did thoroughly enjoy it and recommend reading it. If you already feel strongly one way or the other, you might be surprised!)
My Thoughts: 𝗠𝗔𝗔𝗠𝗘 by Jessica George – With more and more books we’re seeing a new sort of micro-genre: twenty-somethings coming-of-age. Now I love a good coming-of-age story, but typically those have been with younger characters. When the characters get to be in their mid to late twenties, it can be tricky. Sometimes the pieces all fit together and sometimes they’re a little wonky. Even though I really enjoyed 𝘔𝘢𝘢𝘮𝘦, early on something about it just felt a little off to me.
Maddie, the 25-year old title character, had a lot going on in her life. She was the primary caretaker of her father who had Parkinson’s, her mother spent most of her time home in Ghana, her brother was also largely absent, and she provided financially for herself, her father, and too often her mother. Despite all those very adult responsibilities, to me Maddie skewed YA. She was just SO innocent, constantly Googling basic life questions that you’d normally expect a person of her age and life experiences to know.
Don’t get me wrong 𝐈 𝐃𝐈𝐃 like this story. Maddie was sweet, earnest, and willing to fight for herself when push came to shove. Throughout the story, she had a lot of growth, which made me like her more and more. I really appreciated that she was willing to admit her own flaws, and also learned to look at those around her without the rose-colored glasses. By the end of the book, I was fully on team Maddie, it just took me a while to get there. Despite a few qualms here, I’d definitely give George’s next novel a try. One last thing – that 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐄𝐑!!! Grade: B
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio for electronic ARCs of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.