Jenny Nordberg tells a secret side of Afghanistan culture, the bacha posh. In The Underground Girls of Kabul – In search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan, Nordberg explores a culture that devalues girls and oppresses women, and what happens when there aren’t enough boys. Jenny Nordberg covers Afghanistan when she learns the little boy of her interviewee is actually a little girl. When investigating why, she uncovers so many cultural norms that restrict girls and condemn families without and sons. Afghanistan is a country that’s been at war for more years than not in recent history, but no matter who’s in charge, women are the lowest of society. So what’s a family to do to gain respect, to help run their family story, to run errands when the husband is at work? They often turn little girls into boys, who have more freedom and power than the women of the households.
This was such an interesting book. And such a strange world where a fake boy is better than a real girl. Its heartbreaking for the bacha posh who want to stay as they are. Its heartbreaking for the sisters and mothers to see a bacha posh be treated better than they are. And more heartbreaking is that I don’t know if there’s any help for these women and girls in a culture that seems to hate them. Its hard to understand how a society can hate half the population. Even the women seem to bring the other women down.
Read January 2019
When I started Lethal Black Dress, by Ellen Byerrum, I was initially turned off by the fashion talk about what everyone was wearing at the White House Correspondence Dinner. I almost returned the book to the library without finishing the first chapter.
But what started as all fashion, turned into a true fashion mystery. One that could only have been solved by someone with historic fashion knowledge. Which really surprised me that you could have such a fashion crime! I ended up liking the main characters and the way they interacted, even openly mocking the fashion angle and then having to take it back.
Read January 2019
The Secret Place is a coming of age story at an Irish boarding school with all that teenage girls do: secrets, friends, enemies; and some that most don’t: murder, witchcraft. Tana French has a cold case Detective Moran finagle his was onto a murder investigation with a difficult to get along with Det. Conway. At St Kilda’s, one of 8 girls left a secretive note about the murder of Chris Harper, who was killed almost a year ago.
The novel seemed to drag on a bit into all the ins and outs of the different girl cliques at St Kilda’s, past my interest level. But the feeling of youth and how it felt so special to have close friendships and secrets was true in my life and it was good to see it.
Read September 2018.
Written by Nicci Gerard and Sean French, known as Nicci French, this Frieda Klein mystery has Frieda diving back into her old high school life. A school “friend” turns up and ask Frieda for her help with her angst-filled teen daughter. After meeting with her, the young girl commits suicide which Frieda cannot believe. She has to remember an old crime against her and try to solve crimes committed recently, all while dealing with her aging mother whom she’s not talked to in a long time.
Interesting read. I think its ok I didn’t start the series at the beginning, and may go back and read some of them too.
Read September 2018.
Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans follows the story of a group of immigrants living in an apartment building. I read this without knowing it was a Young Adult novel, and didn’t enjoy it much. It adds a lot of details on how immigrants got to DE, the types of challenges they’re facing, and how they interact with each other and those in their communities.
While there interesting back stories, the relationships and stories that are told in current time don’t seem to have much in common until the very end. It felt like a hodgepodge of stories that are only linked because they live next door to each other. If someone thinks immigrants all have similar backstories, this novel might open their eyes on how different the experiences of immigrants can be. I don’t fall into this category and expected more than a collection of stories.
Read February 2018
Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry tells the story of its namesake beginning shortly after his wife died. A.J. comes across as a curmudgeonly old man, but is only in his early 40s when the story begins. A.J. is stuck in a pattern of self pity and self righteousness about proper literary books versus any other type of book out there.
When life circumstances change, A.J. surprisingly changes with them. He develops a community of support that helps him and builds a better community around him, all dedicated to reading. Interspersed in the chapters are educational asides meant for his daughter to read certain books and what each meant to him at the time that he read it.
This was a sweet tale of a man who asks for nothing, but gives so much and ends up getting a family.
Read July 2017
Holy hell, The Winter Foundlings is an addictive read. Kate Rhodes takes a horrible story of a child murderer and somehow makes it worse. In The Winter Foundlings, we follow Alice Quentin, a psychologist who transfers to the high-secutrity prison to study the treatment methods for the worst criminals, outside of London. While there, Alice is hoping to meet and study the treatment for Louis Kinsella, a child killer with no remorse, when back in London a child is found murdered in a way that matches Kinsella’s murders.
Quentin must remain impartial and clearheaded as she’s pulled into Kinsella’s world and manipulated by her own mentor and premier crime psychologist.
Rhodes tells the story of Quentin’s investigation interspersed with an abducted child who’s fighting for her life in whatever way she can. The details of the murders are horrific and hard to read, but Quentin’s devotion to them and finding their killer is hypnotizing.
There’s a similarity between this novel and Silence of the Lambs, not that I’ve read that recently, but the feel is the same with a male psychotic killer manipulating a woman investigating a current crime. There’s more of a copycat killer in this novel than in the other. But it doesn’t matter. This story feels so original and is so gripping, I can overlook the similarity.
Read July 2017