35. The Summer We Lost Her by Tish Cohen
Elise Sorenson is a competitive dressage rider training to compete for the Olympics something that often keeps her away from her husband and daughter for long stretches of time. Her long absences plus her husband’s lingering resentments about an accident that happened when Elise was thrown from a horse while pregnant causing their daughter’s cerebral palsy have brought their marriage to a breaking point. Now they are reuniting in the Adirondacks to sell Matt’s grandfather’s cabin where the past will come back to haunt them and their daughter goes missing. Will these events bring their relationship back together or put the final nail in the coffin? I enjoyed reading this book. The characters seemed realistic and reacted in ways that made sense and you could see where everyone was coming from showing that oftentimes no one is all right or all wrong. I give it a 6 out of 10.
34. Lie with Me by Phillippe Besson
After seeing a boy who reminds him of his long lost love, Philippe is transported back into the memories of his forbidden love affair with Thomas in 1984 France and now finally has the opportunity to find out what happened to his first love. This book didn’t do much for me. I just couldn’t find a way into the characters. It was all sort of ethereal, a story told in heady words about this love, but not in a way that actually made me connect with the characters or what they were feeling. I give it a 5 out of 10.
33. We Speak for Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America by D. Watkins
Watkins continues to share his stories of growing up in a poor neighborhood in East Baltimore as he did in The Cook Up and The Beast Side. He speaks about his experiences moving between that world and that of the elite society he has been invited into based on the success of his books and essays in The Atlantic. He pushes for the actual people who are living the poor, black experience to be given a voice to speak for themselves rather than requiring whites and black elites who have never lived through these things to speak for them. I give it a 6 out of 10.
32. Love on Lavender Lane by Karis Walsh
Kassidy has built herself a haven in her lavender farm, but now her peaceful sanctuary is being threatened by Paige, a corporate consultant her estranged father has hired to help convince her the farm has no chance of being economically viable. Despite Paige trying to assure Kassidy the only thing she wants to do is help her make changes that will keep the farm alive, Kassidy doesn’t trust her especially when she starts trying to force Kassidy to make changes she doesn’t want to make. It was sort of a run of the mill romance. I give it a 6 out of 10.
31. What Happens When by Samantha Boyette
When Molly accidentally comes out right before her senior year in high school by drunkenly kissing another girl at a party she finds her life in a tailspin. She loses her super conservative best friend who begins bullying her at school with another group of teenagers. She takes refuge in a new job at the diner across the street where she develops a big crush on the mysterious new girl working there. Their ill-advised relationship helps her comes to terms with who she is and who she wants to be.
Molly is very selfish and makes a lot of poor decisions throughout this book, but I still liked it. I really enjoyed the relationship between Molly and her brother Luke. It was the best part of the whole book. I give it a 7 out of 10.
30. We’re Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America by Jennifer M. Silva
Silva conducted 100s of interviews with residents in a small declining coal town in Pennsylvania. She looks at the lives of men, women, whites, blacks, and Hispanics and the way their lives have changed with the decline of social things that tie us together like unions, marriage, churches, and social clubs and how it has affected their politics. I thought it was an interesting book, but I also didn’t feel like I learned anything. At this point this all seems like well worn territory, although this book has a lot more in-depth research behind it most of it taking place before the 2016 election. I give it a 7 out of 10.
29. One Heart at a Time by Delilah
A memoirish book of essays written by Delilah, the queen of nighttime dedication radio. It’s not a straightforward memoir in that it doesn’t tell a concrete story from beginning to end. She wanders even within chapters which makes you have to sort of piece together timelines. In that respect it’s a little confusing to read, but probably somewhat mimics how someone might tell a story. She is definitely a fascinating woman who has experienced a lot of hardship, but who also has an admirable and profound faith that she is constantly putting into action to help those in need. I give it a 7 out of 10.