34. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
This is a YA novel, but honestly the only reason I felt like it was YA was one because I knew going into it that it was classified as such and two because its protagonist is a teenager which pretty much signifies YA. I really, really liked this book though. Samantha Reed has grown up next door to the Garrett family, but has never really known them. Her mother, a state senator, who is extremely focused on appearances and order always looked down upon the unruly family with eight kids. Even though they are neighbors they have moved in different worlds. Samantha and her sister attended private schools and spent their days hanging out or working at the country club, but Samantha has always wondered what it might be like to be part of the family she has spied on from her bedroom window.
The summer before her senior year in high school she finally gets the chance. With her sister spending the summer in Martha’s Vineyard before heading off to college and her mother deeply distracted by an intense reelection campaign, Samantha winds up befriending and falling in love with Jase, one of the Garrett boys and being drawn into their world. That is until something happens that might jeopardize everything.
It’s a really sweet, well-written coming of age story. I give it 8 out of 10.
33. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
This was my pick for one of my book clubs for May. I really liked it, so hopefully other people will as well. It is a suspense story centered around a woman named Christine. She has a form of amnesia that like in the movie 50 First Dates erases her memory when she sleeps. She sometimes remembers certain things from earlier in her life, but not always and not necessarily the same things each time she wakes up. Much of the book is treated as you reading a journal that she begins to keep, each day allowing her to re-read the journal and piece together more and more of what has happened in her past. The beginning of the book starts as she awakens wondering where she is and discovering the awful truth of her current state. Upon discovering the journal for the first time in the book she reads that she wrote not to trust her husband, but she doesn’t know why. The book did an excellent job of keeping up the suspense throughout the book and making me want to keep reading to find out what happened. I had my guesses and it turns out I was partially right, but I didn’t figure out the entire twist until it was being revealed. I give it a 7 out of 10.
32. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
This story takes place in a small town in Mississippi. Silas “32” Jones is the constable of the small town and is investigating the disappearance of a young girl. His main suspect is Larry Ott, an odd man suspected of murdering another girl many years ago as a teenager, and also someone Silas was connected to as a boy. No evidence ever connected him to the crime and no body was ever found, so he went free in the eyes of the criminal justice system but not in the eyes of the town. The story moves back and forth in time between the two cases and more clearly laying out the relationship between the two men for both the reader and the characters themselves. I liked the idea of the story and wish I had been more into the book, but honestly it kind of bored me. It may be because these types of suspense/thriller/murder mysteries are not my normal genre, so your mileage may vary. I give it a 5 out of 10.
31. How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America by Otis Webb Brawley
Brawley examines the failings of the current American medical system from both sides, meaning he looks at how we fail to properly treat those who are uninsured and can’t afford to pay for skyrocketing medical costs as well as how we are often overtreated for a variety of reasons. Brawley is an oncologist so he looks at the issue through the lens of cancer treatment sharing both stories from his experiences as a doctor and as executive vice president of The American Cancer Society. I think what he has to say is important, but I felt the book dragged in places, and I got a little tired of what came across as his sanctimonious attitude of I’m this awesome doctor who would never do the things I’m describing in this book. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but it kind of irked me. If you’re interested in the subject matter it’s not a bad read, but I would recommend two books that independently look at these two issues over this one (Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker by Shannon Brownlee and The Healing of America: The Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Healthcare by T.R. Reid). I give it a 6 out of 10.
30. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
If you already know you’re going to read this book, then there’s a good chance that you’re already familiar with Jenny Lawson’s writings via her blog (The Bloggess). This book is pretty much more of the same, which of course means it’s awesomely hilarious. She writes a humorous memoir in exaggerate fashion beginning in her childhood all the way through present times. I haven’t read her blog from it’s inception so I’m not sure how much is repurposed.The only chapter I know for sure was taken straight from her blog was about Beyonce the large metal chicken. If you want a fun, hysterical read that also touches on some deeper, darker issues I highly suggest you get yourself a copy of this book pronto. Oh and if you’re not already, go read her blog as well.