To participate in this weekly meme hosted by Miz B, simply answer these three questions:
WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
The Vacationers by Emma Straub is definitely one of this summer’s hot beach reads. It seems as though it’s on everybody’s TBR list–and I’m so glad that I added it to mine! Taking place over a two week period, this novel tells the story of an American family’s vacation to the island of Mallorca. The trip should be an escape from the tensions that are brewing at home in NYC, but the family finds that they can’t escape secrets, rivalries, and conflicts. The novel is made up of fourteen chapters—one for each day of the vacation—and the author does a great job of portraying the ebb and flow of the emotions of a close-knit group of people who are forced to spend most of each day together, and who find that they may not know each other as well as they assumed. I’ve read a review or two that indicated there were some factual errors in this book, but I didn’t notice any (possibly because I’m not at all familiar with the foreign setting). I found this novel to be a relatively quick read, but also completely absorbing–if you like reading about contemporary families, be sure to add this book to your beach bag! (Plus–I just love the cover!)
I was fortunate to receive an ARC of All I Love And Know by Judith Frank—it was published on July 15. It’s a novel about the members of a modern American family who are confronting many issues—death and grief, adoption, gay marriage, religion, honesty, and unconditional love.
The two main characters, Matthew and Daniel, have settled into domestic life together in Massachusetts—but when they learn that Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a bombing in Jerusalem, their lives are suddenly thrown into crisis. All of this intensifies when they—and the rest of their families—learn that the deceased parents wanted Matthew and Daniel to raise their two young children. The impact this instant new family has on Matthew, Daniel, their relatives, the children, and their relationship makes up the crux of the book.
I really enjoyed this novel. For the most part I found the characters believable and their reactions authentic. There were parts that were heartbreakingly sad, and a few parts involving the children that were quite funny. I have to admit that I don’t know as much as I should about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and while this was a large plot point–and, unfortunately a very timely one due to the latest upsetting events in that area–I never felt overwhelmed by the information that was provided within the storyline. My only reservation about the book was the characterization of the six year old daughter—at times I felt that her comments and actions were more typical of a child several years older—but this is really a minor criticism when compared to the book as a whole. When I finished the it, my immediate thought was that I wanted to know what was going to happen next–and that’s the mark of a good writer! Again, if you enjoy novels about contemporary–and somewhat unconventional–families, I’d give this new novel a try.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe is a memoir in the form of letters from a young woman living in London and working as a nanny for a single mother and her two sons. She shares short, slice-of-life vignettes and snatches of dialogue with her sister in letters written home during the mid-1980s. I’m enjoying this book a lot but it’s not a quick read for me, a reader from the US—there are heavy uses of British terms and slang that aren’t familiar to me at all, and I’m finding that I really need to take my time. Aside from that, parts of this book are very laugh-out-loud funny—in particular, the dialogue between the two young boys seems VERY realistic and true to life. I’m about half-way through this book and am looking forward to finding out more about these real-life characters!
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?
As usual, I have absolutely no clue! I’ve got my trusty TBR stack sitting here, plus I’ll be picking up some holds from the library in the next day or two. I’m sure something will jump out at me, clamoring to be read!
How about you? Have you read any of these? What are you reading these days? Please share!