I visited some family in the Netherlands this month and did a lot of reading on their couch while being sat on by their cats. Especially Ronja (yes, named after the book by Astrid Lindgren) seemed to enjoy a new human pillow in the house. Here are some reviews by me and my reading companion:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. (From Goodreads.)
Before going further into it, I will admit that I read this book in a day. It was a very cosy read, I cared about the characters and it was nicely written. But: that’s it. It gave me no new insights about what life must be like when your face looks deformed and none of the reactions by other people were very surprising.
The plot bubbles along pleasantly but slowly and the changes in perspective seem rather unnecessary. Sure, it is interesting to see how Jack and Miranda feel, but it would have been more effective if Auggie and his sister Olivia discovered this for themselves. The change in perspective is too easy a way to redeem a character. They explain themselves to the reader and then are *poof* also redeemed in Auggie’s mind.
Tell It To The Moon by Siobhan Curham
This is the second part to The Moonlight Dreamers, in which Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose overcome more obstacles in their quest to find themselves and pursue their dreams. It is just as sweet and cosy as the first part, and contains some pleasant plot twists. I really appreciate how it portrays romantic relationships: not everyone is heterosexual, not all crushes are reciprocated and not all clumsy boys are inherently evil.
On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep. When she reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open. Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. (Abridged summary from Goodreads.)
I’ve been meaning to read one of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s books ever since they came out, but I never really came round to it. I’d heard some mixed reviews so I both wasn’t too motivated to try and wanted to see for myself.
Turns out, my feelings are as mixed as the reviews. The book contains some very clever ideas, both in terms of plot as well as storytelling, but is also quite clearly a first novel. It could do with some more editing, especially at the beginning of the book where it takes a while for the story to start properly. There were also quite a few sentences that read awkwardly because they were too full of descriptions.
Overall, it was an entertaining read. I mainly enjoyed the parts that show Evie’s relationship with her children and the way her secrets affected them, but I’m sorry that these were not featured more prominently in the book.
The Violet Hour by Katie Roiphe
From one of our most perceptive and provocative voices comes a deeply researched account of the last days of Susan Sontag, Sigmund Freud, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, and Maurice Sendak—an arresting and wholly original meditation on mortality. (From Goodreads.)
I don’t read much non-fiction, but I remembered enjoying Katie Roiphe’s In Praise of Messy Lives so I picked this one up. It was very interesting to read biographies of these authors that focussed so specifically on their ideas about death, as well as some meditations about the difference between what authors write and what they actually think. After a few portraits the dramatic, romanticized tone with which Roiphe described some of these author’s decisions (not every cigar is a deliberate philosophical dance with death, some people are just addicted!) but overall she made some good points. Do recommend!
Would you like to read more? Here are the other blog posts I wrote this month:
- Three Unwritten Journaling Rules to Ditch
- The Kind of Poetry I Like
- Book | Why I Adore The Help
- Books Are Things
Hope you had a great March, let’s hope for a sunnier April!