Year 9, Book 80

80. The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Zee Devohrs and her husband Doug live in the carriage house on the grounds of her parents large mansion once home to an artists’ colony. Doug is trying to earn his way into a tenured faculty position by writing a book about an artist who once stayed at the colony but hits a brick wall every time he tries to get any information about that time from Gracie, Zee’s mother. The novel moves backwards through time revealing more of the story of the house and its inhabitants until you discover the secrets that everyone has been trying to conceal.

I like the conceit of the book, but I really just couldn’t get into that much. I didn’t care about the characters and although I didn’t see the reveal coming I also wasn’t that interested in it either. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 79

79. It’s Not Like I’m Poor: How Working Families Make Ends Meet in a Post-Welfare World by Sarah Halpern-Meekin

The authors interviewed 115 low-income families to find out about their experiences with the Earned Income Tax Credit. They compare the EITC to traditional welfare asserting that the EITC is a more effective program especially in light of restrictions placed on welfare. They share the stories of the families that receive EITC and look at how they spend the money they receive.

This book seemed like something that would be right up my alley, and while in general the topic was I found the book itself to be very repetitive. I’m pretty sure the same information could have been conveyed much better in a 20 page journal article instead of being dragged out into a 300 page book. I just felt like the authors were saying the same thing over and over again. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 78

78. All Those Broken Angels by Peter Adam Salomon

When they were six Richard’s best friend Melanie went missing and was presumed dead. Every since she disappeared Richard has felt her presence with him in a sort of shadow like form. Now ten years later Melanie has been found and returns, but if she’s alive than whose ghost has been haunting Richard over the past decade? In his search to find out the truth he uncovers more than he bargained for.

I didn’t care much for this book. I didn’t think the characters were all that interesting and the horror aspects of the book didn’t really do much for me either. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 77

77. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Oh man was this a hard book to read, but so worth it. Lies We Tell Ourselves is set in Virginia in 1959. Sarah Dunbar and her younger sister are a couple of the few students who are chosen to integrate the previously all-white Jefferson High School. Linda Hairston is a firm believer in keeping segregation alive and aims to get her school back. Forced to work together on a school project the two discover that they may have more in common than they thought.

Talley does an excellent job of portraying a very difficult time in our nation’s history that still has lasting effects to this day. I read this book before everything happened in Ferguson, but looking back on it now it’s hard to think that we’ve come very far from the horrible physical and psychological brutality put upon kids who were just trying to gain access to an equal education. The subject matter makes it a very difficult read, but an extremely important one. It’s so hard to think that people can be this awful to other people, but they were and they are. Hopefully this book can help open some eyes to the horrendousness of discrimination whether regarding race or sexuality, both of which are addressed in the book. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 76

76. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek

Melinek writes a memoir about her time as newly minted forensic pathologist training in the New York City medical examiner’s office. She shares many stories about how forensic pathology works and what you can and can’t tell from a body. She shares stories about deaths ranging from the mundane to the extremely bizarre. Although I really enjoyed the book up to this point too, the most compelling part of the narrative comes from her stories about working in the aftermath of 9/11, which occurred just a few months after she was on the job. I found the whole book to very interesting and a great look into a profession I don’t really know anything about other than the fake stuff I’ve seen on television. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 9, Book 75

75. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I have loved all of Rainbow Rowell’s other books, so I was really looking forward to reading Landline. I enjoyed it, but not as much as her two young adult novels, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. I do think I liked it better than her first adult novel, Attachments though. She has a way of writing about situations and feelings that describe things so perfectly about how they really are in real life or at least my life that it almost hurts. This book was no exception to that.

Georgie and Neal have been married for a number of years and have two small children. She’s a writer on a successful sitcom while he is a stay at home dad. Tensions have been mounting between them as Georgie has been spending a lot of time at work and eventually come to a head when she tells Neal she can’t accompany him to Omaha to spend Christmas with his family because she has to stay at home and work. When Neal goes without her she can’t seem to connect to him in the present, but through some mysterious magic winds up able to talk to a past version of him through an old landline. Will she discover they were never meant to be together in the first place and will she ever find her way back to her current husband in time to save their marriage before it’s too late?

As with all Rainbow Rowell novels I found the characters to be well written and likeable despite their flaws. They seemed human is what I’m saying. I really liked the idea of a sort of romance novel centering around a married couple trying to find their way back to the love they feel for each other through the chaos of living in the mundane, everyday life. As such I kind of wish there hadn’t been this magical element with her only being able to talk to past Neal. I would have liked to see how it played out between them in reality. Despite the author not writing the book exactly as I wished it would have been (the nerve!), it’s actually a really great book and I would recommend it along with any of her other ones. I give it a 7 out of 10.