Year 12, Book 80

80. In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

Richard is a sixty something widower who rents a downstairs apartment in his house to Evelyn, a divorced Chilean professor. During a snowstorm Richard has a fender bender with a young undocumented Guatemalan woman named Evelyn. He thinks nothing of it at the time until Evelyn shows up on his doorstep looking for help. At a loss for what to do with her Richard seeks out Lucia’s assistance sending the three of the on an unlikely journey together.

This book took a real turn about a third of the way in and didn’t wind up being the book I thought I was reading when I started it. I don’t really want to say much else about it because I don’t want to give anything away. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 79

79. We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories by Gabrielle Union

It seems like celebrity memoir essay books have become a dime a dozen in the last few years. Gabrielle Union’s book takes this genre to a new level though. She gets deeply honest about both her life and uses her own experiences to address very real issues existing in our world today. In addition to her career, she talks about her rape as a teenager, miscarriages, a failed marriage, feminism, and racism.

Even though Union tackles some really hard subjects in this book she does it in a positive way trying to look forward and think about what she can do to make help make the world a better place while encouraging others to do likewise. I really enjoyed this book and found it a nice variation on the normal humorous essay celebrity memoir. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 78

78. The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Cassie is a flight attendant with a drinking problem who works a lot of international routes. Her hard partying ways turn into a living nightmare when she wakes up one morning in Dubai lying in bed next to a man who has obviously been murdered. Her drunken memories are devoid of anything that can help her piece together what happened. She even begins to wonder if there is any way she might have killed him.

She leaves the scene of the crime and returns to the United States hoping to put the whole event behind her, but when the FBI begins asking questions she knows her time is probably limited, and starts to do whatever she can to figure out what happened that night on her own.

I usually enjoy Chris Bohjalian’s books, but I didn’t really connect with this one. I got really tired of spending so much time with an alcoholic character constantly working against her best interests. Also I couldn’t stop comparing this book to his previous book in which a character also becomes caught up in some crazy international conspiracy through no fault of their own, but can’t remember what happened because they were blackout drunk. I give this a 6 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 77

77. The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers, and Life by Richard Russo

As the title suggests this is a book essays written by Richard Russo on the topices of writing and his life. I don’t care much for reading about people’s thoughts on writing, so I didn’t care much for those essays. I generally enjoyed the ones he just wrote about his life in general though. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 76

76. Sunburn by Laura Lippman

It’s the summer of 1995 and instead of heading home from the beach with her family, Polly decides to leave her husband and young daughter. She winds up hiding out in a small town in Delaware where she gets a job as a waitress in a bar. Little does show know that Adam, a man she meets there who eventually becomes the bar’s cook, is actually a private investigator hired by someone in her past to find her.

As the fall in love the secrets of their pasts and a mysterious death in the small town raise questions about who Polly and Adam really are and what they’re really up to. This wasn’t one of my favorite Laura Lippman books. I’m very much over the Gone Girl sort of character set up. This book isn’t exactly like that, but it definitely has that influence. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 75

75. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka is a teenage boy living in Japan who runs away from home to search for his long lost missing sister and mother as well as to avoid fulfilling an Oedipal prophecy that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Along the way he is picked up an old man named Nakata, who suffered some mystery affliction during World War II that now allows him to talk to cats among other things.

I really could not explain to you exactly what this novel is about. It mostly made no sense to me. Even talking about it at book club didn’t help me understand it anymore. I did not really care for it. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Year 12, Book 74

74. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fifteen year old Kambili lives in Nigeria under the stern and often abusive rule of her father, who is a powerful man in the local Catholic church. When political turmoil in Nigeria puts her family in danger, she and her older brother are sent to live for a time with her aunt and cousins in another part of the country. There they escape the iron fist of their father and begin to learn there is another way to live before they are abruptly yanked back into the turmoil of their life at home.

This was a really good book that brings up a lot of interesting questions about faith, family, and what it means to be a good person. It definitely left me with a lot to think about and gave a lot of fodder for our book club conversation. I give it a 7 out of 10.