Happy Thursday, friends! This week just seems to be dragging and I am counting down the hours until the weekend. Here’s hoping it gets here soon! Today, I’m linking up with the fabulous Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit, a monthly reading round up. I’m focusing on the books I’ve finished in June…so far!
Quick Lit: June 2016
Exit West by Mohsin Hamed
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .
Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
I finished this book yesterday morning. My expectations were high, based on what I heard from other readers and Book of the Month Club. I came away feeling…eh…about it. I liked it, didn’t love it. It was slow and I didn’t always understand what was going on. However, when I step back and look at the book as a whole, I see parts that I love. This book is beautifully written and will be filed under “good book, but not for me.”
The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
In this national bestseller from the author of Reservation Road, a young woman, Haruko, becomes the first nonaristocratic woman to penetrate the Japanese monarchy.
When she marries the Crown Prince of Japan in 1959, Haruko is met with cruelty and suspicion by the Empress, and controlled at every turn as she tries to navigate this mysterious, hermetic world, suffering a nervous breakdown after finally giving birth to a son. Thirty years later, now Empress herself, she plays a crucial role in persuading another young woman to accept the marriage proposal of her son, with tragic consequences. Based on extensive research, The Commoner is a stunning novel about a brutally rarified and controlled existence, and the complex relationship between two isolated women who are truly understood only by each other.
I bought this book as an impulse buy at a book sale for $.50. I love books that take place in Asia and explore other cultures. This one, like Exit West, started a bit slow for me. However, once it picked up I couldn’t put it down. This book is loosely based on a true story, which I loved. I also enjoyed watching how this unconventional love story came together and the highs and lows that resulted because of it. This book also isn’t a day by day account of life, but rather focuses on different, important times within Haruko’s life, which I found helped deepen the story and provide a more birds eye view of the life she lived.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant-and that her lover is married-she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations
Read this book. That’s all I can say!
Ok, I can say more. I loved Pachinko. Again, I love books that take place in other cultures. Pachinko is a family saga, following three (four?) generations of a Korean family that migrates to Japan. It explores all types of themes: love, lust, family obligation, wealth, honor, responsibility, truth, secrecy, identity…. I loved the layers and following the lives of the various characters. And I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was fantastic – just a plug for that!
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.
But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.
I borrowed this book a whim from the library because (1) I liked the cover and (2) it had a good review from the author of All The Bright Places. This YA novel is short and a quick read. Overall, I enjoyed it. I liked the main character, Amanda and thought she was relatable. The friendships and love interest were enduring and I found myself racing through the book wanting to figure out how everything would work out…or if it would work out. This would be a great companion read to This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel.
Your Turn to share your Quick Lit reads! What books have you read and loved (or not loved) in June?