Quick Lit February 2020

San Francisco Chronicle describes the title character as "funny, wicked and remorseful, a red-blooded original. The book is a page-turner because of her." From the publisher: "Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse."
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I was pleased to find this large Pilcher novel, the one published immediately after The Shell Seekers, in the hotel library when I was traveling last month—and even happier to discover that its minor character Noel Keeting play a major role here. The novel opens in May and, in rotating points of view, Pilcher examines the life and love troubles of several characters who we know will all find themselves at the old family home in the Scottish Highlands come September, because they've been summoned to attend a celebration for the daughter of one of the small town's leading families.
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In this fast-paced YA debut, a girl travels halfway around the world to find herself, and maybe find love, too. Ever Wong is an eighteen-year-old Asian American girl in Ohio, a talented dancer who, unknown to her parents, harbors dreams of pursuing professional dance. When her parents find out she's considering dance instead of med school, they send her to Taiwan to spend the rest of the summer at Chien Tan—an immersive high school program devoted to language and culture. When Ever arrives she's surprised to discover that far from the scholarly summer she expected, the students themselves call the program "Loveboat," because it’s tons of fun and so many long-term relationships begin here. I enjoyed the audiobook version, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. A sequel is expected in 2021.
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The premise of this caught my attention: what if one woman doesn't live her life linearly, but completely out of order, one year at a time? On the eve of her nineteenth birthday, Oona is in a good place: at a New Year's Eve party with the man she loves, counting down to both the new year and a new year in her own life. But just as the clock strikes midnight, Oona passes out—and wakes up as a 51-year-old, in an unfamiliar place, greeted by a stranger who expects this to happen, and a letter from herself explaining the wild ride she's just begun. I appreciated the creativity of this story, which reminded me of <em>Back to the Future</em> for theme and <em>Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine</em> for tone.
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