26. Forgiveness: A Lenten Study by Marjorie J. Thompson
If you removed the words A Lenten Study from the title of this book I would recommend it wholeheartedly to any Christian who is interested in the topic of forgiveness. The book itself is actually great. It is broken down into six chapters and covers the following topics:
Is forgiveness a Christian duty under all circumstances?
Or are there situations when Christians do not need to forgive?
Is forgiveness a matter between individuals, or is it meaningful only in the context of communities?
Is forgiving the best route to healing for the injured?
How do we get past emotional barriers to real forgiveness?
I thought it was well-written and did a great job addressing the topic from a Biblical perspective while drawing in present day examples. My one issue of it that I’ve already alluded to is the idea of it being a Lenten study. When I look for Lenten studies I want something that will last me for the duration of Lent. This is a short little book and unless you really want to ruminate over the discussions for weeks at a time it will not last you that long. I read it over the first week of Lent, a chapter a day, and that was about right for me. I picked up another study to read over the duration of Lent instead. I would ignore the Lent part of the title and read this if you are looking for a good book on the topic of forgiveness. I give it a 7 out of 10.
25. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
I don’t really know how to summarize the plot of this without giving away the twist that happens about halfway through though many of the reviews I’ve seen from official reviewers totally give it away which seems nuts to me. So let’s just say something happened to the Cooke family that scarred a young Rosemary and her brother that tore apart their family forever. Now Rosemary is in college and meets a seemingly insane woman named Harlow who winds up making her confront her past.
I was really enjoying this book for the first half until the twist, and then it all kind of fell apart for me. It shouldn’t have given that as soon as I read it I remembered that I had already seen what it was when looking at a synopsis of the book on Amazon after someone recommended it to me. The plot from there spirals into ridiculousness in my opinion. Also I never felt like the character of Harlow went anywhere. She was one note and extremely underdeveloped.
This book had such promise at the beginning, but unfortunately I don’t think it followed through on it. I give it a 6 out of 10.
24. Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich
I feel a little disingenuous counting this among my books read for the year since I only made it halfway through before I quit reading it. It is rare that I completely abandon a book, especially one as short as this one but I could not make myself pick it up again. At least the part of the book I read was meandering and despite what she says in the intro a sort of memoir. It gets kind of philosophical, but not in a way that seems to be leading anywhere. After reading the first half of the book I still had no idea what her thoughts about God were. Given that is what this book is supposed to be about I would expect that I would start to get some view by then. Unless you just can’t live without reading one of Barbara Ehrenreich’s books I would give this one a pass.
23. Invisible City by Julia Dahl
I managed to follow up reading a book called Visible City by reading one called Invisible City. The silly things that amuse me. Rebekah Roberts is a new reporter who is staking out the murder of a Hasidic woman. The daughter of a Hasidic Jewish woman who left her in her infancy to return to the Hasidic lifestyle, Rebekah is drawn to the Hasidic community both to solve the mysteries of her own past as well as what happened to the murdered woman.
This was a fine sort of murder mystery. It’s not my favorite genre and this one didn’t stand out to me in any particular way, so I’m kind of the mind it is what it is. Based on the labeling in Goodreads it seems like this might be the start of a series of books featuring this character. I do think it was set up in a way that leaves room to continue to delve into Rebekah as a character, so if you’re into murder mysteries with a recurring lead this might interest you. I give it a 6 out of 10.
22. Visible City by Tova Mirvis
Nina is a stay-at-home mom of two young children living in New York City. Her husband is often absent working long hours at his job, so she spends her time using her son’s binoculars to look into the window of an older couple across the street. She imagines their life together and revels in how blissful they seem until one night a young couple appears in dramatic fashion in the same window. Shortly thereafter she winds up meeting both couples in real life and discovers that all might not be as it seems.
I really enjoyed this book. For anyone who has ever walked by the window of someone else’s house and peered in wondering about their life or imagined that someone else’s life must be better than yours. The story is ultimately fairly predictable. Nothing is going to take you by surprise, but I liked Mirvis’ insights and because it is predictable in some respects it feels very relatable especially as you enter the routines of life at a certain age. I give it a 7 out of 10.
21. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
Emily is a teenage runaway living in Burlington, VT and trying to protect Cameron a young boy homeless boy. It turns out there is more to the story though as there was a meltdown at a nuclear plant in Vermont and it’s Emily’s dad’s error that led to it. With both her parents killed in the meltdown Emily fears for her life as the daughter of the now most hated man in the country and takes off on her own trying to survive herself and eventually dedicating her life to try and keep Cameron safe.
I’m generally a fan of Chris Bohjalian’s novels and this one did not disappoint me either. He did a very good job of creating the panic that Emily feels and making the path that she chooses to follow seem like a reasonable decision even though you as the reader may think otherwise. If you like Bohjalian’s other works or even if you’ve never read any of them I would highly recommend this book. I give it an 8 out of 10.