I read five books this month! It was a mix of books including a complicated memoir about a mother and daughter relationship, a cheery rom-com based in London, a 20th-century historical fiction multi-generation family drama, a funny political fiction story about a powerful woman running for senate, and a beautiful tale of a family in transition. I included descriptions and my grades of each book to help you decide which books sound like great reads to you. I enjoyed each book I read this month but I absolutely loved one of them! The book blew me away… you’ll see which one below when you review my grades of each book. Happy reading loves! Stay tuned next month to see what I read in February and take a peak back at last month to see what I read in December 2019.
Books I Read in January 2020
This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel
I’ve mentioned this book on here before but I’ve recently revisited it and subsequently recommended it to about 10 people in my life. What can I say? This book is incredible! I can’t recommend it enough. The book is about a couple, Penn and Rosie, and their five children. The book is specifically focused on the youngest child, Claude, who is born a boy but grows up and wants to be a girl. The book follows the family as they move across the country, grow in empathy and understanding, and navigate what Claude’s transition means for their family. The family grows, evolves, and learns together in this wonderfully endearing story. The entire book is incredibly thought provoking, the characters are beautifully developed, and the writing is rich and creative. I honestly think that anyone with kids or anyone who wants kids should read this book. It is that good and will enrich your life while you’re reading it! Grade: A+
Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza
For starters, I’m a big Jo Piazza fan. I thought her book The Knockoff was a wonderfully fun read! So, I was looking forward to reading this book for a while before I finally picked it up. The story follows Charlotte Walsh, a high powered Silicon Valley exec who decides to leave California for her small down-on-its-luck hometown in Pennsylvania to run for Senate. Along with her comes her husband, Max, their three daughters, and her fiercely loyal assistant. The move and the campaign forces them to examine the type of uppity lifestyle they were living in California, puts a spotlight on their marriage, and brings out both the best and the worst in everyone. Charlotte Walsh wants it all: a thriving marriage, well-rounded kids, a big career, and personal happiness. But can one woman have all of this? That’s what the book dives into. Jo Piazza does a very good job of satirically touching on hot topics of our time in the political world and in the world of Me Too (Charlotte runs against a very stereotyped older white male). I will say that the book plays up all stereotypes in a big way and it definitely has a political agenda. Regardless of your political affiliation, it’s still a fast-paced read that is easy to enjoy! It’s impossible to not root for the hard-working, dedicated Charlotte! Grade: A-
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur
This book! It was honestly pretty crazy. A girlfriend of mine recommended it so I was excited to pick up the memoir. It’s the story of a mother daughter relationship so strong that it comes to define the daughter in more ways than is manageable. When Adrienne is just 14 years old, her mother, Malabar, confides in her that she is having an affair. Malabar confides in her young daughter as though she is a peer and makes Adrienne become complicit in her lies, cheating, and deception by taking advantage of Adrienne’s desire to be loved and appreciated by her mother. A type of codependence forms between Adrienne and Malabar so unhealthy that it has ramifications for years to come as the characters grow older and develop more. Is it just me or is it a trend right now in the book world to write about uncharacteristically codependent relationships between parents and children? A few books come to mind including The Great Alone (I LOVED!) and Educated (against popular opinion, I really didn’t like this book). A case could be made that Where the Crawdad’s Sing could also fall under this umbrella although to a lesser extent. I’ve found the dynamics between parent and child to be so interesting in all these books and I thank my lucky stars that none of these parents are mine! In Me, My Mom, and Her Lover, I found myself growing more and more frustrated by the relationships as the book went on so I was really engaged with the story. In all, I found the book to be an interesting, fast read. Grade: B+
We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
A story of boy meets girl. Jess is a 29-year-old single woman who decides to follow her dreams and move to London to peruse a career in publishing. Thanks to a stroke of luck, she lands an amazingly affordable living situation in a friend’s old but grand house in Notting Hill. On her first night in the house, Jess meets her new roommates and is immediately stuck by Alex. Similarly to Jess, Alex is pursuing his dreams and a new life after a failed engagement and after walking away from his high paying job as a lawyer. Sparks fly for Jess but she’s knocked down when she returns from the Christmas holiday to find Alex involved with one of their other roommates. Over the course of a year, Jess and Alex form a wonderful friendship built on miles long walks through London. Jess begins dating a great guy but can’t shake Alex from the front of her mind. That’s all I can say without giving the book away! Overall, I thought their friendship and chemistry was incredible sweet and I found myself rooting for both Jess and Alex. Did I feel like their chemistry was fireworks worthy? No. However, it was realistic and endearing none the less! To no fault of this book, I found myself comparing it to the book One Day in December, which I read in December of 2018. Both books are about twenty-somethings in London who meet in the month of December. Otherwise, the books are quite different. However, I couldn’t shake the comparison. I love loved One Day in December so this book didn’t quite standout to me but it was still a fun read. P.S. Trust me and read One Day in December! Grade: B
The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
I was drawn to The Guest Book right off the bat for a number of reasons. For starters, I was drawn in by the title and the book cover… both are so good! The book also largely takes place on a small island off the coast of Maine. Edwin and I love Maine and I’ve always been so intrigued by the islands dotting the Maine coastline. The premise of the book hooked me as well. The story starts in 1935 and follows multiple generations of a privileged white American family, the Milton family. The Miltons used to be quite powerful but the present generation is now left grappling with the secrets and mistakes of the family’s past as well as the reality that they are no longer a prominent wealthy American family. How does it all begin? The Milton family suffers an unbelievable tragedy, which prompts the patriarch of the family, Odgen Milton, to purchase an island off the coast of Maine to help revive his wife, Kitty. This island comes to define the Miltons and the guests of the family much more than anyone could imagine. The underlying purpose of the book is to put a lens on racial injustices and prejudices against African Americans as well as European and American Jewish people. This plays out through the personal (friends and love interests) and business relationships of the Milton family. Overall, I thought the author was a beautiful writer and I thought she made a strong attempt to tackle difficult subject matters. However, I found the book to be a bit slow moving at times. The members of the Milton family clearly struggle with their position in life but I don’t think the author did a good enough job of making them relatable at the same time. Would I recommend the book? Yes. Would I rave about the book? No. Grade: B
Get the Books I Read in January 2020:
Cheers book worms!