Year 10, Book 77

77. After You by JoJo Mayes

I was really looking forward to this book because I adored Me Before You to which this book is a sequel. Unfortunately it wound up being one of those instances at least for me where the original story should have been left alone.

The book picks up a few months after the end of Me Before You. Louisa is now living in London and back to being unsure what to do with her life in the face of Will’s death. She joins a support group where she meets a boy who will help change her life. However, the main source of change in her life is the troubled daughter Will never knew he had who shows up on her doorstep and who Louisa feels compelled to help even to her own detriment.

I just didn’t feel the same warmth towards the characters in this book as I did in Me Before You, and it frustrated me that the author felt the need to throw Louisa back into the same somewhat screwed up life state that she was in before. She had made so much progress by the end of Me Before You and I hated how she was back to square one in this book. It felt disingenuous to how things were left in the previous book.

I realize not everyone would probably have the same feelings I did about it, and if you really loved Me Before You and want to continue along with Louisa’s life you’ll probably want to read this book. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 75

75. Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg

Based somewhat on a real person, Saint Mazie takes place before and during the depression following the life of Mazie the proprietess of the famed New York City movie theatre, the Venice. She takes care of the neighborhood around her, her family, and those in need. The story is told partly through her diary which is discovered 90 years later inspiring the person who found it to try and find out about the life of the mysterious Mazie Phillips.

I read this for one of the book clubs I’m in. It was okay. I wasn’t completely enamored with it, though most of the rest of the people in the discussion really seemed to like it. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 76

75. Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA by Roberta Kaplan

Then Comes Marriage details the court case United States v. Windsor in which Edie Windsor sues to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act after her long time partner Thea Spyer dies and she is assessed a large estate tax bill because the federal government doesn’t recognize their marriage.

Interwoven with the story of their lives together is also the story of Roberta Kaplan who is the lawyer who takes their case to the Supreme Court and who is the author of this book. She details her own law career and her own experiences coming to turn terms with her sexuality and creating a family of her own.

It’s an extremely well written book. Even though I knew the outcome I was still reading with bated breath to find out what was going to happen each step of the way. It’s a great look at one of the milestones on the way to making same sex marriage legal across the country.

I had received a paperback ARC of this at the American Library Association conference in San Francisco on the day the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage was legal. I actually wound up getting an e-book version of the ARC at a later point and am glad I wound up reading that one since it had an epilogue about the ruling that the paperback ARC I had would not have included. It was especially amusing since Kaplan talks about the ruling coming down when she was in San Francisco during Pride when it happened. She happened to be there to do the opening keynote at the conference, so it amused me to read that.

I highly recommend this book. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 74

74. Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

When Laura enters a new high school she discovers that people think she is a dead ringer for Sarah, a girl who committed suicide by jumping off a bridge a year prior. She enters into a friendship with a group of popular kids and embarks on a relationship with a boy named Charlie all who seem to be keeping some secret that seems to be related to what actually happened to Sarah on that fateful night.

This book started out ok, and it seemed like there was a fairly decent mystery at the center of it. It did not really pan out that way though. It got rather ridiculous by the end. Although it somewhat wrapped up in some ways by the end it seemed like the author intends to continue the story in a future book. I most definitely won’t be reading it. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 73

73. This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

Hannah is a college freshman pursuing a major in chemistry she isn’t sure is right for her until one day she ducks into a used bookstore and meets Ben, a senior who also feels trapped by the expectations of his father that he attend law school instead of pursuing his dream to be a writer. As Ben introduces Hannah to his favorite books they fall in love and realize that they need to start living their own dreams instead of the dreams their parents have made for them. This book was ok. It was a sweet little romance, but not anything particularly special. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 72

72. Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is not the Enemy of Faith by Barnabas Piper

Piper looks at having doubt in one’s faith and how it can actually be healthy for your faith to question God. Of course there are always going to be mysteries that God does not reveal to us, and we won’t always get the answers that we seek. He doesn’t believe blind following results in real faith either though. It is through the questions and the doubts that we are able to strengthen our faith. I give this book a 7 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 71

71. American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic by John Temple

This book chronicles how a group of friends took advantage of loopholes and lax regulations on prescription pain medications to set up the largest “pill mill” in Florida. Billed as a pain clinic, American Pain, was obviously just selling oxycodone to drug addicts who were coming from as far away as Kentucky for the easy access drugs American Pain was doling out. The book also looks at the investigation into and eventual downfall of the pain clinic, but shows how it ushered in an era of abuse of prescription pain medications that continues to endure.

This was a really well written and compelling book. It seemed both crazy what was going on, but also given the ways the owners found to work within the law also made it seem reasonable in some ways. I give it an 8 out of 10.