Still Alice

Still Alive tells the story of a woman at the height of her career who discovers she has Alzheimer’s. Lisa Genova writes with such compassion for her characters, all of which have to learn to deal with Alice’s disease. Alice must give up her career and her autonomy when it becomes clear that her memory is affecting her ability to function. She must also learn to deal with her family members who have very different reactions and expectations of her.

This story is incredibly heart breaking watching a woman, who has so much intellect and a life full of work and family, change into someone who can’t follow conversations and who seems to be failing some of her loved ones. Its amazing to see who steps in to help her and horrifying to see those who run away.

This was a great, eye-opening read.

Read July 2017.

Advertisements

Only One Life

Only One Life by Sara Blaedel is not the first, and won’t be the last, Scandinavian novel that dives into Islamic immigration into an insular Scandinavian country. Inspector Louise Rick and journalist Camilla Lind try to determine if the death of a young, Jordanian girl was a honor killing. Members of Samra’s family are evasive and secretive, making it seem as if they may suspect each other of her death. After Samra’s best friend, a young Denmark girl named Dicta is found dead, the hunt for the killer intensifies.

Both Rick and Lind attempt to break the family’s tight circle, again in different ways. Camilla wants to understand how hard it is for a young immigrant to live between 2 cultures and live her own life while trying to please her family. Louise wants to find out why someone would feel the need to kill a young woman for honor.

Blaedel sensitively moves between cultures as the characters investigate these horrific crimes and shows that making assumptions based on stereotypes is not the best way to run a murder inquiry.

After reading, The Forgotten Girls, I had to read another Blaedel novel. Only One Life was written first and Blaedel evolves as a writer, both novels are fantastic.

Read June 2016

Shopaholic and Baby

Shopaholic and Baby is another Shopaholic novel where I’m horrified by Becky’s purchases and her need to have absolutely everything for her soon-to-be baby. So much so that she buys 5 prams…short note, I really get a kick out of the British term pram. Its so quaint compared to our stroller or even carriage.

Of course, Becky is surrounded by her loving friends and family, but its her need for a celebrity level OBGYN, that brings Venetia Carter into her life. Or more importantly, her husband Luke’s life. The need to hide her extravagant purchases and Luke’s sudden secretiveness, fuel Becky’s paranoia about Venetia.

All of these problems could be solved by open communication, but of course thats not he world this novel’s set in. This is a cute novel with great friendships and an easy read.

Read March 2016

The Knitting Circle

Full disclosure: this was not the first time I’ve read Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle. I read it before I started documenting my books online or even in my old notebook, but I know I read this. Also, part of the reason I picked this book to read was because I just started knitting and I thought it would be fun to see someone get lost in the hobby that I just started.

After the loss of her only child, Mary Baxter can barely breath let alone live the life she had beforehand. She cannot work, cannot drive by the parks that her daughter once played at, or frequent the coffee shops where other mothers gather while their children are at school. It seems her whole world is a reminder of what she no longer has and she closes herself away from it. Somehow she finds her way the a knitting store and begins to learn how to knit. She loses herself in the focus it requires to learn knitting and how the whole world shrinks down to the needles and yarn when she creates her first scarf.

(Side note: the speed at which she completes some of this projects astounds me. I’ve been knitting the same thing for weeks now and have ripped it out at least 20 times due to all the screw ups I find. I don’t know if the fact that Mary is able to knit at the speed and accuracy portrayed is meant to show how much focus, energy, and time she’s devoting to this new obsession or if Hood is just unaware how hard it is to pick up knitting and complete a piece without massive amounts of errors in the time she allowed.)

As Mary learns how to create different knitted works, she learns the sad back stories of the other members of the knitting circles. In teaching Mary different techniques, they open up their hearts and share their own story of loss, violence, grief, anger, and how they have also felt the inability to move after a disaster in their lives. The knitting circle is a circle of survivors that work together to live a life that differs from the ones they had before. Even thinking about the stories makes my eyes water and you shouldn’t think about reading this without a box of tissues nearby.

Ann Hood captures some horrible stories yet brings hope and endurance to each one. Knitting is the way this group survived their life and they help Mary get through hers. The friendships that are created from this shared hobby strengthens the group and each member, helping to move on to the next stage of their life. Mary uses the knitting to focus away from her grief, but it also allows her the time for her heart to heal, just enough, to live again.

This is a powerful book of stories and how we all have a past, and no matter how perfect someone might look, we are fragile and flawed and we are all trying to survive each day the best that we can. Very cathartic read.

Read April 2014