One of my 100 dreams is to read two books per month and post my thoughts about them on Goodreads (and here). I think writing—even just a few sentences—about what I’ve read shortly after reading it helps me remember a book better.
Here’s what I read in January. Books with four or five stars are ones I recommend. All my January reads fall into that category.
This short, sweet book is more like an illustrated poem or children's book than a novel or even a novella. It's heartbreaking and beautiful, just like all of the Hosseini books I've read. It’s a must read for any fans of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns or And the Mountains Echoed.
I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her
After a chance conversation with friends about race and privilege, I recalled Joanna Connors' account of her rape in 1984, which was first published in 2008 as a series in The Plain Dealer. I intended to reread the articles and discovered she had turned them into I Will Find You.
The book details her steps the day of the crime, how she came to write about it 20-plus years later and the life of her assailant before and after he attacked her. The author's narrative is intensely personal and her reporting is impressive, considering how difficult it must have been for her. The content is challenging and at times graphic, but the memoir is an otherwise easy read thanks to Connors' honest, engaging writing style.
Voice Lessons for Parents: What to Say, How to Say it, and When to Listen
I first heard Mogel, a child psychologist, on Dax Shephard's Armchair Expert podcast and immediately added Voice Lessons for Parents to my to-be-read list.
Her no-nonsense yet relaxed approach to child rearing is refreshing and appealing. I loved her practical advice about both tone and content.
I've recommended this book to my friends with young children, and I plan to reread it again when my daughters enter middle school and I become what Mogel calls the unhappiest category of parents (mothers of middle school girls). With some determination and Mogel's advice, I'm convinced that stage doesn't have to be miserable.
The Great Alone
I read The Great Alone during dark, cold January. It added to the novel’s visceral experience.
This is only my second Hannah read (the first being The Nightingale), and I again found myself irritated by the many cliches she uses. For example, there are several instances when a character "walks a wide berth" around another in this story. And there are many time-period examples that feel so predictable, such as Leni's family road tripping in a VW bus. (The Great Alone takes place during the 1970s.)
Still, Hannah's plot developments are so interesting and her characters are so endearing, you can ignore the sometimes flimsy prose and get lost in the story of Leni, her parents and their Alaskan friends and neighbors.
Like The Nightingale, The Great Alone doesn't have a happy ending, but it's satisfying and complete.
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Photo: Marisa Palmieri Shugrue