My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – I had a hard time getting into this book at first. There are a lot of characters, many of whom go by several different names. Fortunately there is a character list at the front of the book ; I honestly might not have stuck with it if it weren’t for that! I referred to it a lot. I almost gave up on it, but I stuck with it and ended up enjoying it. I don’t read many book series, but I did buy the second book in this series. I am not sure I will read them all, but I enjoyed the first enough to pick up the second! This book isn’t the fastest page-turner you will ever read, but it does give us a good sense of time and place. It’s a character-driven novel about a lifelong friendship in Naples, Italy. The first book takes place during the main characters’ childhoods up to one of their weddings (at age 16- still a child!). It was a bit slow going, but once I accepted that about it, I was able to enjoy it. I really had to force myself to slow down, though, and enjoy the ride. Maybe that’s a good thing.
The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – This was a very emotionally raw book that is a memoir alongside a true crime story of the murder of a little boy in 1992. There are a lot of triggers in this book that some people may find disturbing. I thought it was very interesting and well done. It is also very sad and disturbing.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – This novel is based on the questionable (illegal) adoption practices of the Tennessee Children’s Home in the 1920s -1940s. Georgia Tann ran the home and adopted children out of it who were essentially kidnapped from mostly poor families. There are two storylines in this book, one takes place in 1939 and the other in present day. I much preferred the 1939 storyline, and didn’t care much at all for the writing of the second storyline (the writing had a quality that I just don’t care for i.e. too many descriptions of the heroine’s “blonde curly hair”, a romantic interest that I felt was unnecessary, etc) It’s hard to put my finger on what annoyed me specifically but I almost felt like the two stories were written by two different people. Still, I enjoyed this book and it brought to life a story from the past I wasn’t aware of. I liked the story, even if I didn’t always love the writing.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This is an entertaining and quick read about old Hollywood. The novel is about an actress who wishes to have a tell-all memoir penned about her before her death. Interestingly, this book suffered from the same syndrome as the book I read before it; there were two plot lines, and I found one of them much more interesting and better written than the other. The first is the story of the actress’ life, the second is about the reporter who is writing her memoir. I found the second storyline to be much weaker, poorly developed and probably unnecessary. This is a good book for travel because it’s fast paced (parts of it really sucked me in and I looked forward to getting back to it) and an easy read. It’s nothing deep or life-changing, but it is mostly entertaining.