Welcome to Quick Lit, where bloggers link up with Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy and share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.
I started a new job as a public librarian a couple weeks ago and have been taking in tons of new information every day. My mind has been so full with work-related things that I’ve neglected High Shelf Esteem a little. I still want to share what I’ve been reading with you all, but I’m going to be a tad lazy about it. Instead of summarizing the story for you myself, I’m going to use the publisher description. I will, however, give you my thoughts about each book. I read some really great ones in the last month.
Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
My thoughts: I was completely blown away by how good this book was. It’s the perfect blend of South African apartheid history, touching family moments, and humor (including some poop-based stories 🙂 ). I listened to the audiobook narrated by Trevor Noah, and he did an amazing job. To hear his story and see what he’s accomplished is awe inspiring.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, by Karina Yan Glaser
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.
My thoughts: I heard this book described as The Penderwicks set in New York City. I love The Penderwicks and I love New York City, so naturally, I had to read it. I was thrilled to find that the Vanderbeekers really live up to the comparison. The five siblings are all very unique and endearing (I’m especially partial to Hyacinth, a six-year-old, who crafts like nobody’s business). And, unlike many children’s chapter books, the kids’ mom and dad are both alive, present in their lives, and overall lovely parents.
I See You, by Clare Mackintosh
Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com.
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…
My thoughts: I am a huge fan of Clare Mackintosh’s first book, I Let You Go, because of it’s crazy twist at the end. I was hoping for the same with this one, but it didn’t quite deliver. I See You did, however, make me worry that I was being watched and followed. I guess it’s always good to stay on my toes with that kind of thing!
Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo
Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine.
My thoughts: Wow, this book is chock-full of uncomfortable and upsetting issues, but Adebayo delivers the characters’ stories with finesse. Stay with Me would make a fantastic book club pick because readers will feel a burning need to talk about the incredibly strong feelings the book elicited in them.
Sunburn, by Laura Lippman
One is playing a long game. But which one?
They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through.Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal.
Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?
Something—or someone—has to give. Which one will it be?
My thoughts: I usually don’t enjoy books with unlikeable main characters, but I couldn’t put this one down. Lippman did a fantastic job making me want to keep reading to see if the characters were as terrible as they seemed on a first description. Lots of twists and turns make this book a fun ride.
What have you been reading lately? Please share in the comments below!