The Week in Books #26

I’m on a roll! I’ve set a reading goal of 50 books for this year, a pretty easy target but one that won’t stress me out, and I’ve finished 14 already. Here’s what I’ve covered so far:

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue. This book is a work of fiction based on an actual unsolved murder from San Francisco in the 1920’s. It was engaging and well written, but the most entertaining part for me was the strange relationship between the protagonist, Blanche, a burlesque dancer, and her baby boy. When her son was born she and her husband sent him to live in a facility that watches babies for $4/week until they are an age that isn’t annoying anymore. Was this a thing?? Blanche retrieves her son when she learns of the horrible conditions in the facility, then spends the next few chapters complaining about having to watch him herself (which was a laugh for me.) Her husband is also keen for her to find someplace new to send him, and is super annoyed that she wants to keep him herself and “play motherhood”, as if that was some truly radical thing to do. Jenny, the woman who is murdered right in the opening pages of the book, is an unusual character that catches frogs and is frequently in trouble for wearing men’s clothes. Blanche is crushed by her death and tries to solve the case herself. I enjoyed it.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin. This was a weird and creepy (and short) novel about a woman in the hospital having a fevered conversation with a boy. What is real? What is dreaming? This story feels surreal and plausible at the same time, and is very atmospheric. You may or may not understand what is happening, but it is very immersive none-the-less.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. This book is the story of Hattie told from a variety of different perspectives. While this story was well written in parts, I struggled to connect with the constantly changing characters and found it hard to manage the motivation to get to the end. There wasn’t a clear plot line to follow, and the conclusion was a bit underwhelming for me. When read as short stories with no connection between characters some stood out as more readable than others, and some near the end I almost wasn’t interested in at all. Oprah! How do you make your selections?? I’ve read plenty of far more interesting novels. Sometimes I don’t get how she picks her books and I’m even more confused about how her stamp of approval rockets mediocre writing into the stratosphere. Also, thanks Chapters for absolutely covering the front of this book in sticker residue *shakes fist*

If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar. STUNNING. I can’t say any more than that!

Anyone else burning through books this year so far?

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