Thanksgiving: What to Read

Thanksgiving is a time for food, football, and family. Some families are a little more normal than others. What is “normal” anyway? Here are my favorite books about dysfunctional families. 

I’ll Give The Sun | Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You The Sun follows a set of twins, Jude and Noah, through middle school and high school. The perspectives alternate between Noah’s, when the twins are still close at the ages of 13 and 14, and Jude’s, when they are 16 and no longer speaking. It pieces together a puzzle of tragedy, secrets, and longing for forgiveness. For a complete summary, you can go here.
Wow. I have been in a review rut lately. I’ve been waiting to write reviews for a while after finishing a book, but I had to write this review immediately after finishing reading. I honestly feel like I am in the middle of a book hangover. I wanted so badly to finish the book to see how it ended, but I am sad that I have no more book left to read. I would love for the story to keep going. This is now one of my favorite books, and I already cannot wait to read it again. I even gave it my Best Book Award
This story was beautiful. It felt raw. It’s about transformation, loss, love, acceptance, and family. It’s about being true to yourself and loving others freely. I love the LGBTQ subplot in it. I love all the love! I even loved the metaphysical aspect to it (which very easily could have been a flop). 
The writing was incredible. I usually hate flowery metaphors, but it seemed to fit with the artistic imaginations of the main characters. I read fast when the narrator was anxious and I felt those emotions. I could easily pick up all the feelings of the characters in the wording. That is a sign of a talented author. At times the story fell into place a little too perfectly, but that fit with the theme of the book. 
This book made my heart ache in all the right ways. My favorite part was the  tumultuous relationships between the twins and each of their parents and how they could fall apart and then fall back together. One line from the dad at the very end of the book gave me hope for our society and made me cry like a baby! 
I recommend this book to everyone! There are some adult themes, but I think it is a great coming-of-age novel for teens. I think adults can really appreciate it too. Parents of teens could get a new perspective from this book. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars


All The Missing Girls | Megan Miranda

This book follows Nic, a woman who returns to her hometown to help her aging dad with dementia. Going back opens old wounds and mysteries, especially once a second girl goes missing, ten years after the first mysterious disappearance. Everyone has their secrets, but which ones are hiding murder(s)? For a complete summary, you can go here.
Wow! Probably my favorite thriller of the year! I even gave it my Best Book Award! The format was unique (it took place primarily over fifteen days and was told in reverse chronological order). Now I want to read it all over again to catch all the clues I missed! It was a little frustrating at first, and it does take some brainpower to piece everything together — but doesn’t that add to the excitement of solving the mystery?! I think so!
At first, I was afraid that this book would be another unreliable narrator cliche, but it wasn’t quite like that. I do have to say I loved this book a lot more than Miranda’s other book The Perfect Stranger. I enjoyed that one, but this one definitely lived up to the hype more. I have seen people poking at some of the holes, but really, most thrillers have some red herrings to make you think you have guessed the ending. I’m choosing to not to overthink it at this point, and I’ll just enjoy it for the unique story it was! If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here

5/5 Stars


Without Merit | Colleen Hoover

This book follows the dysfunctional Voss family told from 17-year-old Merit’s perspective. She is holding on to a lot of secrets for members of her family, but she may not be seeing the full picture. For a complete summary, you can go here.
First of all, any book that I can read in one day (and practically one sitting) has to be pretty good. The way Hoover writes just flows so well. All of her books suck you in and are quick reads because you just want to devour the book. They usually have some twists, but you never feel like you have to think too hard or slow down to piece everything together. I even gave it my Best Book Award (I am on a roll with good books this week!).
My favorite part about this book is that it discusses perception and that we make a lot of assumptions about people. I also like how it makes us aware that no one is perfect. Some reviewers complained that most of the main characters are unlikeable, but I actually appreciated that they were flawed. It made them feel more real. I also like how it addressed a lot of hot topic issues, such as mental health. My only complaint is that it kind of made light of and easily brushed over some controversial topics. 
This book was very different from any other Colleen Hoover book that I have read. It still had a romance storyline, but it was much more about the family than the romance. It is also more for the older teen rather than adults (but I definitely still have a lot of love for young adult books!). I highly recommend this book (as with most Colleen Hoover books, it is probably more geared towards women). If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars


Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng

This book is about several intersecting families as they explore passions, motherhood, culture, and how those things interact. For a complete summary, you can go here.

This book was one of the best books I have read in a while. I have been dropping a lot of books lately after a few chapters because I just couldn’t get swept away. This book hooked me from beginning to end. I even gave it my Best Book AwardI love Ng’s ability to develop so many characters at one time. She is able to slow down the story and really show us glimpses into who each character is. It creates a really dynamic story with a variety of complex characters.
I also loved the subplots relating to fertility and motherhood. We had almost every representation of pathways (or non-pathways) to motherhood: adoption, surrogacy, infertility, abortion, pregnancy, etc. I think it tackled a lot of good ethical questions about culture and motherhood (even though I am still not sure where I stand or what the correct answers are). I liked this book a lot better than Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You. It is a very fascinating story and I invite everyone to read it! It is a great choice for a book club. My group had an amazing discussion about this. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

5/5 Stars


The Nest | Cynthia C’Aprix Sweeney

The Nest is the story of the Plumb family. The adult siblings have been waiting for their portion of the family nest egg for their whole lives. Now it is finally time for the payout and all the money has to go to fix the eldest brother’s drunken mistake. Now the family fights to get the money they think it rightfully theirs. For a complete summary, you can go here.
Like many New York Times Best Sellers, this book fails to meet its hype. It was an intriguing story but didn’t offer me anything new to chew on. Every piece of this story has been told at some point. But I do love stories about dysfunctional families, especially when it includes some realistic problems (even if they may be slightly exaggerated). 
Overall, it was an interesting story and I liked how the characters all tied together. However, I could have done without some of the side stories. The number of characters prevented me from truly caring about any members of the Plumb family [Not to mention the fact that I had to keep reminding myself who all the characters were. And why would you name two of the main characters Walter and Walker?!]. I think cutting out some subplots would have allowed for more character development. The biggest changes happen between the end of the story and the epilogue, so we don’t even get to see a lot of the transformations. 
The prologue was very intriguing, and caught my interest immediately, but rest of the story didn’t follow suit. The ending was also kind of lackluster. With that said, I did enjoy it and it was a quick read. I would still recommend this book, especially to people who like books with a lot of drama. This book reminded me of a soap opera—pregnancies, affairs, car accidents, fights over money, and strange coincidences. The writing was well done and kept me engaged, so I can’t really complain. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here
4/5 Stars 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette | Maria Semple

Where’d You Go is a comedy novel about an ex-architect, Bernadette. She struggles after an embarrassing event that ruins her career, and causes her to become agoraphobic. Her bizarre behavior causes never-ending feuds with her neighbors, tension with her husband, admiration from her daughter, and ultimately, her disappearance. For a more complete summary, you can go here.
This is definitely a quirky and unique story. The format is a story composed by Bernadette’s daughter, Bea. She creates a compilation of receipts, emails, police reports, letters, and her personal anecdotes in order to find her missing mother. I thought the formatting was really original and definitely added to the story. My main struggle with it was that I never knew when to stop reading. Usually chapters are checkpoints for when to take a break from reading—or to go to sleep. However, in this book, all the documents run together with only a few section headers to break it up. The formatting also made it confusing to determine what was going on in the beginning. Although, it became much clearer pretty quickly. 
The characters reminded me of the families from fancy private schools that are always trying to one-up each other, either through involvement in the school, big parties, or fancy houses. It was interesting to see satirical take on that, as well as on families in general.
I really enjoyed this story. It’s not one of my favorite books, but it definitely enjoyable and was not predictable—which I always appreciate in a story. I also give it a lot of props for going beyond the typical structure of a normal book. Also, the dynamic characters all had a lot of flaws, but I found something to like about all of them. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

4/5 Stars

 


Do you agree? Disagree?