I never expected to mourn the loss of my two hour daily commute, but ohhhhhh, how I miss it! Denmark is annoyingly efficient, so now I never spend more than 15 minutes on a train. My monthly reading has decreased dramatically! In the past 5 months I’ve read only 5.5 books, which is about half of what I was reading in nyc. So it’s especially depressing that I found many of the books below disappointing…Anyway, here are the reviews–ratings are out of 5 stars.
1. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
This page-turner got a lot of good reviews when it first came out, but in my opinion it is pretty overrated. The book goes back and forth between a man’s experience after his wife suddenly goes missing on their anniversary, and his missing wife’s diary entries throughout their decade-long relationship. The story is clever and the mystery is compelling, but in the end I really disliked all of the characters and felt so unsatisfied by the ending. 3 stars.
2. The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson
I loved this read! The story follows a precocious young teenager as she copes with impending global disaster–the earth’s rotation begins to slow, with catastrophic results. I loved thinking about how this kind of event would actually impact our earth and our lives–I admit I spent lots of time researching predictions about this very topic! Despite the extraordinary circumstances of the story, in the end it’s a common tale of growing up–and all the disappointment and excitement life brings. 4 stars.
3. Broken Harbor, Tana French
This is yet another gritty crime drama without a happy ending from French. I wish I could get into mysteries, but I always find them bogged down by cliches. The one that drives this story is a divorced middle-aged cynical detective takes an overly optimistic young rookie under his wing, and leads to both men questioning their principles and beliefs. Throw in a couple of totally unbelievable twists, sad family baggage, and funny Irish-English words, and that’s pretty much Broken Harbor. 2 stars.
4. Vaclav & Lena, Haley Tanner
This book totally charmed me! The story follows two Russian immigrant kids who meet in an ESL class in nyc. Their friendship appears to be circumstantial, as they have little in common–Vaclav is older than Lena but far more innocent, bordering on naive; he is a dreamer, and Lena a pragmatist. When Lena suddenly disappears from young Vaclav’s life, he is left broken-hearted. They each continue to haunt the other’s memory for the next decade, when the finally reconnect and share their very different stories of growing up. 4 stars.
5. In One Person, John Irving
John Irving sticks to his usual exploration of gender and sexuality in this quirky read. Supported (or obstructed) by a cast of colorful characters, the protagonist, Billy, narrates his life-long journey towards not just self-acceptance, but the much more difficult task of embracing others as they are. The intimate community (parents, teachers, students) that surrounds him in a Vermont boarding school are all walking with their own ghosts from the past, and Billy learns that there are some spirits you just can’t (or shouldn’t) exorcise. This novel is entertaining to the last page. 4 stars.
5.5. Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
I’m only half way through this, but it is everything you’d expect from Kingsolver: dreamlike, poignant, utterly absorbing, and relevant. She is without a doubt in my top 7 favorite authors of all time. I can’t wait to find out what happens to her expertly developed characters, but I also don’t want the story to end! Flight Behavior is definitely the best of this bunch! Set in a small rural town filled with bible-quoting farmers, the raven-haired protagonist goes through a metamorphosis of her own when a strange phenomenon bring millions of butterflies to the woods on her husband’s family’s property. Soon hoards of people are showing up to see the butterflies, followed by reporters and scientists. Climate change is the impetus to Kingsolver’s beautiful exploration of the danger, necessity, and wonder inherent in all transformations. 5 stars!
Have you read any good books lately?