February 2020… it was a slow month for me. As you can see, I haven’t posted a blog post since February 11th, which is unlike me. I’ll share more on why this month was so slow later on (stay tuned!) but, in the meantime, I’m sad to say that it was a slow month for reading for me too. I only read three books this month! I’m left thinking, “where did the month go?” at the same time as I’m thinking “was this the longest month ever?” Anywho, let’s get into the reading, shall we?! I read a brilliantly brave memoir by a sexual assault survivor, a book based on a true story about a plane crash, and a gripping tale of two sisters who come of age and discover themselves and their worth.
P.S. Because I know I’ll get asked… I’m reading American Dirt right now but haven’t finished it yet so I will review it in my March roundup of books! I’ve heard of a few people who have chosen not to read the book as a response to the controversy around it. However, I’m a firm believer in taking in all the knowledge I can and then making my own decision. Based solely on the story of the book, I’m definitely captivated by what I’ve read so far!
P.S.S. For more of my book reviews from this year, see the books I read in January 2020.
Books I Read in February 2020
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
I’m going to preface this review by stating that if you have a fear of flying, then go ahead and skip this book. I get nervous flying through weather and turbulence but wouldn’t at all say that I have a fear of flying; however, I thought about this story a lot on the first flight I took after finishing the book. So, if flying makes you nervous, trust me when I say that this book isn’t for you! Dear Edward was inspired by the crash of a real commercial liner flight that killed everyone on board except for a nine-year-old boy. So, here goes with my review: The book has two parallel plot lines… 1) it follows the story of 12-year-old Edward Adler, his parents and brother, and 183 other passengers who board a flight from Newark to Los Angeles. This plot line starts with the passengers going through security in Newark and continues up until the moment when the plane goes down in Colorado. As a reader, you get to learn about a handful of different passengers, which really gives context to the scope of the loss from the crash. Plot line 2) follows the sole surviver of the plane crash, Edward Adler and his life after the crash. The book is heartbreaking and full of promise all at the same time! My takeaways from the book are to never doubt how tremendous the power of the human spirit is and to never take community for granted. No matter how large or small a community is, it can save a life and each member of a community is invaluable. Edward lost everyone he loved in a plane crash, became the center of a media frenzy, and struggled to understand his place in the world. One night, he made a discovery that finally helped him breakdown some walls and discover how he could contribute to the world in a positive way. It’s a really great story of rebirth and strength! I will say that the end absolutely got me! The book ended in the best way I could imagine, which left me with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. Grade: A-
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
This book might look familiar because I was holding it in photos from my book review post in December 2019. It sat on my bedside table for a few months and I finally got around to reading it this month! Mrs. Everything is the story of two sisters, Jo and Bethie Kaufman, who grew up in Detroit in the 1950s. The book follows the sisters throughout the trials and tribulations of their lives up until almost present day. I really enjoyed the book and found myself drawn to either Jo or Bethie more at different times in their lives (I kept going back and forth). The sisters don’t often see eye to eye but their undying commitment to each other is a beautiful undercurrent of the book. The book is really a feminist story and rehashing of such a pivotal time in history to be a woman. The sisters experience the Civil Rights Movement, the free love movement of the sixties, women’s liberation, the realization of female-owned businesses later on in their lives, and so much more. A theme of the book is comparing where Jo and Bethie are and what they are able to accomplish in society as compared to their 1950s homemaker mother in addition to thinking toward the future with where their next generation will go. There is also a comparison throughout the book of the girls’ adolescence and their present day lives as neither of them lives a life they ever imagines they would (think counterculture versus suburban mother). This was another book with a perfect ending for me! I loved the way the story wrapped up! I think the book is a great reminder of how seemingly ordinary lives can actually be extraordinary in so many small ways. Grade: B+
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Even though I knew it would be a traumatic story, I was really looking forward to reading this book. When it came time to buy the book, I actually decided to get it on Audible instead of getting a hardcopy of it because it is narrated by the author, Chanel Miller. I followed the story of sexual assault victim Chanel Miller (known throughout her trial as Emily Doe) and attacker Stanford swimmer Brock Turner while it was unfolding and, along with the rest of the world, was shocked by Turner’s light sentencing verdict. I remember feeling full body chills as I read Chanel’s victim statement from court after it was posted on BuzzFeed and went viral. So, I rightfully predicted the book to be gut-wrenching. I was completely taken by Chanel’s story and just in shock at every turn throughout the book. Her bravery is undeniable and her resilience is something to look up to. Chanel is so heartfelt as she dives into her personal trauma and the stresses of the justice system. I cried so much through the whole book! It’s really astounding how easily Chanel’s story could happen to anyone… Chanel isn’t the only girl who has accidentally drunk too much and not remembered the night before (far from it!). The next day should bring a hangover, not a wakeup call in a hospital after being sexually assaulted behind a dumpster by a truly despicable, unchanged, unapologetic person. I give this book an A- instead of an A because after Chanel bravely covers the trail and Brock’s sentencing, I thought the book became a touch drawn out and repetitive. Chanel also began to talk about other cases of sexual assault and injustice at this point in the book. I understand where Chanel was going with it with making a connection and taking a political stance on present day society but it felt a bit like filler to me. Overall, Chanel wrote a moving, eye-opening, touching book that is undoubtedly speaking to millions of women, especially those who can relate to Chanel’s pain. Grade: A-
Get the books I read in February 2020:
Have you read any of these three books? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments! Better yet, send me a DM on Instagram so we can chat books! xx Jillian