Run, Read, Repeat

Recent Reads Vol. 3

Recent Reads Vol. 3

Happy Tuesday! Here’s the latest round up of what I’ve been reading recently. Enjoy!

Young Jane Young – Gabrielle Zevin

When a young intern has an affair with her married congressman boss, it’s her life not his that’s over. Feeling like her only way out is to move to a small town in Maine and change her name, Jane works hard to forget her past. Until she is convinced to run for mayor of her small town and, thus, has to face her past.

This story is told in 5 parts, each from a different woman’s point of view. I had a hard time with the first section told by Jane’s mother. It flipped back and forth between the past and present and I was a little confused by the time line as the book had just started and I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I really enjoyed the next two sections. One was told by Jane and the other by her daughter Rudy in the form of e-mails to her pen pal. The fourth section was from the view of the congressman’s wife. The last part is a play on those choose your own adventure stories I loved when I was a kid, but there actually isn’t a choice in this story. I get why the author didn’t actually offer up a choice for the reader but it was still a let down.

While I enjoyed parts of this story, there were things I disliked. I feel like I needed a little more at the ending (like what happens with Ruby’s father!?!). The author left a lot of loose ends, maybe hoping the reader could decide the outcome for themselves? I understand that at the end the author was showing us that it didn’t matter the outcome, Jane had confronted her past and was happy with who she was and the choices she had made.  Still, I’ve never been a huge fan of books left with unfinished business…I need lots of closure, even if I’m unhappy with the end. 

I enjoyed that the book focused on the women whose lives were changed by this event and I loved that the author tried to touch on the harder questions (like why did the congressman come out relatively unharmed but Jane’s life was ruined).

Rating 3 / 5 – While I liked the idea of this book, the chapters from different characters’ viewpoints, and the overall message, something missed the mark for me.  I think it’s mostly that the ending was so unresolved, I just have way too many unanswered questions.

 

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death – Caitlin Doughty

Doughty travels the world to observe how other cultures treat and care for their deceased. The book discussed rituals from Indonesia, Spain, Bolivia and even talks about one unique facility in Colorado and California.

This book was well-written, with just the right amount of humor. I enjoyed learning about the rituals and customs of other cultures through narratives about their burial practices.  I think my biggest issue with the book is that Doughty has just scratched the surface of each culture in her story.  There is so much more to these rituals than she could have mentioned in the book and still fit multiple cultures in.

I found the practices in South Sulawesi (Indonesia) the most interesting as it was something I hadn’t read about or heard before. Doughty discussed several practices that I was already aware of (Forensic Anthropologist problems….), but were still interesting to read from her perspective as an outsider (who was not a stranger to death as a mortician) viewing these rituals.

Rating 3 / 5 – This was a quick, interesting read. I left me with a lot of questions about the cultures that were discussed and wanting to know more about each one.

 

Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan

Anna Kerrigan loves to accompany her father on his work visits for the shipyard union during the Great Depression in New York City. Several years after following her father to a visit with nightclub owner Dexter Styles, her father disappears.

Years later, when Anna is working as the first female diver at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, she encounters Dexter Styles again. As Anna is drawn to finally figuring out what happened to her father, she begins to realize that she might not have known her father as well as she thought.

Manhattan Beach is/was a highly anticipated read for this fall and while I did enjoy it I felt like it didn’t quite live up to the hype (but the book was still great!). I enjoyed Anna and her quiet persistence to become an underwater welder and live her life how she would like, while not bending to all the rules of society at the time. I could take or leave her mother and sister, whose story-lines I understood but didn’t really enjoy. Her Aunt was an enjoyable character and I loved the fellow male divers Anna won over. It’s sometimes hard to write male/female friendships as just friendships and I think Egan did a wonderful job. I think her time at the Navy yard, especially when she started to dive, were my favorite parts of the story.

What happened to her father seemed obvious, so I was pleasantly surprised when the twist later in the story happened. Along with the twist I didn’t quite see coming (although looking back I probably should have seen it) with Dexter Styles.

Although I enjoyed the story for the most part, some paragraphs throughout the book jump between ideas too quickly to follow; occasionally the string of thought from one sentence to another was a little off and I had to go back and reread to make sure I hadn’t missed the connecting paragraph or a whole page.

Rating 4 / 5 – A great historical fiction that is definitely worth a read if you can wait through the long lines of holds this book is sure to have at your local library.

 

Happy reading! 

What upcoming fall releases are you most excited to read? 



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