Tag Archives: book club

Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)

26 Jan

UnaccustomedEarth Unaccustomed Earth is such a lovely little book. It’s a collection of 8 short stories, each of them a glimpse into someone’s life. Lahiri stays within her comfort zone– most of the stories concern an adult child of Bengali parents, living in (or with connections to) Massachusetts, who is involved in a relationship with a non-Bengali. The stories are heavy with the themes of culture, family, guilt, trust, and independence, but balance those broader themes with an incredibly personal focus on the stories.

Although Lahiri’s characters have very specific characteristics, their decisions and struggles have many universal qualities. There was one story in particular that rang incredibly true to me. Without getting into the details (the story hit home on an incredibly personal and painful issue), reading that story provided me with kinship, feeling like there was someone else who has really been there and really knows how I felt.

This was my first Lahiri book, but I did see the movie based on her novel The Namesake. I’m typically not much of a crier with movies. OH BOY DID I CRY. Did I EVER cry. That movie will make turnips cry. They aren’t tears of sadness, it’s not an incredibly sad story. The struggles were just so personal and intricate and there was not one clear answer on how to sort through them and make everything better. And I cried and I cried and I cried.

Unaccustomed Earth is a perfect book for curling up in the cold winter, drinking tea, and feeling a little sad. Pick this one up for sure, just don’t take it to the beach with you. I’m really glad that my book club picked this book for January. It’s a book I ordinarily would not have chosen on my own, and I really loved it.

The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman (2012)

4 Oct

Some books must make your heart ache.  I finished The Light Between Oceans last night and couldn’t help but wander into Baby Beez’s room, listen to her tiny snores, and give her a snuggle.  I felt so very fortunate to have her at all, and so grateful that she is sweet, charming, beautiful, and best of all, mine.

Tom and Isabella Sherman tend the lighthouse on Janus rock, an isolated island off Australia’s Western Coast.  They are eager to start a family, but Isabella suffers three traumatizing miscarriages.  Unexpectedly, a rowboat washes ashore.  Inside is a dead man, and a tiny, wailing baby.  This small baby is an answer to Isabella’s desperate prayers.

But every decision has a consequence, and the consequence to Isabella’s decision is heartwrenching.  This novel is so realistic, in exploring how not every turn of life can have an easy resolution.  Fearing to divulge a spoiler, I’ll tell you that things eventually resolve about as well as they can, but the journey to that point is a rocky one.

Stedman is a talented storyteller, and I look forward to seeing her future works.

The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)

1 Aug

Tomorrow I leave for BlogHer, and I’ve got the “I’m going to be in a big place full of people I don’t know” jitters.  I’ve been in this situation a million times, and it’s always the same.  When I was a kid and I went to camp, I spent the first 2 days writing my mom 17 letters about how I HATED it and I WANTED TO GO HOME.  Then (despite my best efforts) I actually made some friends, had some fun, and loved it.  So here’s to hoping I make some friends quickly, and don’t feel like an out of place dork!

ON to the substance of this post: The Giver.

The Giver is Lois Lowry’s Newberry Award winning classic-dystopian future YA novel.  (Was dystopian a “classic” YA subgenre at the time she wrote it? I don’t know. That’s not today’s question.)  It’s thought provoking, and paced well so that the strange, frighteningly calm future society does not overwhelm the reader all at once.  It gradually dips in to questions of autonomy, and risk, and social good.  And then as soon as the pace of the novel really gets going, IT ENDS.

I got to the last page, and was exasperated! HOW could this be the end! About 2/3 of the entire story is still left out there! I’ve got so many questions about the world! The characters! Everything!  Apparently there are 2 more books that come afterward, but the summaries suggest that they don’t entirely wrap up the plotline of the first book.