It’s been a while! Life, holidays and a serious dry spell of good reading material has kept me away. However! With the new year, the pile of books on my night stand is growing. Please share any recommendations!
Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
A novel about young women graduating from college and moving to New York City….I know, sounds like it could veer dangerously into chick-lit territory, but never fear! Poeppel’s characters are far from glamorous (except for Vicki, but she is this tales bitchy villain). Our heroine, Kate, goes through a disaster break-up after dropping out of her anthropology masters lab, sending her to her couch in a full-on depression, the details of which are only hinted about until the big reveal. As she comes out of her funk under the supervision of her friend Chole and her very devoted (but way too involved) sister, she takes a job in the admissions office of a tony private middle school where a kindly admissions director takes mercy on her, despite her anxiety-fueled job interview, which is in a word, hilarious. Throughout, the dialogue between family, friends and co-workers is sharp and witty, and if the competitiveness and insanity of NYC parents vying to get their children into a top-tier school is to be believed… I’m really glad I live in Florida.
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Immigration and infertility are the focus of this lovely novel and Sekaran skillful tackles both issues through the stories of Soli and Kavya. For 18 year-old Soli, the American dream awaits from her dusty Mexican town, devoid of opportunity, even if it means trusting questionable strangers and hopping trains and chicken trucks to get there. Meanwhile, Kavya, a personal chef, is nestled at her Berkeley home with her sweet techie husband, wanting only one thing, a baby that will not materialize. Soli, after a difficult passage, smuggling herself across the border, arrives in California pregnant (no one said crossing the border would be pretty), but determined to make a life for herself and her baby. While Kavya considers adoption, Soli is discovered to me an undocumented citizen and thrown into a detention center….you can see where this is headed. The prose are beautiful and often funny, especially between Kavya and her mother, who has entirely too much to say on the subject. While little Ignatio settles in with Kavya and Soli fights to get him back I was torn about where this little boy would have the best life but, in the end, with two such loving families desperate to raise him, he was certainly one lucky boy.
All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
I’ll admit straight off, this may not be for everyone given the course of this unlikely love story, but, hey, I enjoyed it so decide for yourself…. Wavy meets Kellen, a young giant of a man, when she is a child and badly in need of protection. She rarely speaks, refuses to eat in front of people, and has a penchant for taking off in the middle of the night, all of which is explained in more detail when you meet her truly horrible parents, mentally ill meth-heads. The first time Kellen sees Wavy, he mistakes her for an angel, and as one of her father’s thugs, he takes it upon himself to see her safely through childhood, making sure she gets to school and letting her hang out in his shop, while Wavy takes care of him in kind, cooking for him and keeping his house clean. Although she says little, even at a very young age, Wavy’s maturity and intelligence comes off the page. Although their love for each other is unconditional, I struggled through the portion of the story when Wavy enters adolescence and her affection turns physical, so I was actually relieved when a murder separates the two for several years, giving time for Wavy grow into a woman and make her own way. Despite the obstacles and people who try to prevent their relationship later in life, Wavy and Kellan’s story is ultimately about two people meant to take care of one another among all the ugly and beautiful things in life.