Quick Lit March 2018
A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being

A couple of years after the devastating 2011 tsunami, a woman finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the wave, containing a diary—washed up on the shore of her remote island home in the Pacific Northwest. The woman is an American novelist with writer's block; the diary belongs to a troubled Japanese schoolgirl who's contemplating "dropping out of time," by committing suicide. Ruth is determined to find the girl and get her help, but how? And even stranger—as she acts on the diary's clues and begins reaching out to people who may know the teen's family, the words in the diary begin changing. This was a WEIRD book, a real brain-bender. I found it fascinating, but heads up: the content is strange, sad, and gritty. More info →
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Dumplin’

Dumplin’

Readers have repeatedly recommended this novel to me as "a YA book for people who don't usually like YA," and it was so much fun. Murphy combines several unlikely themes into one feel-good story: young love, a small-town beauty pageant, and Dolly Parton super-fans. The story centers on sixteen-year-old Willowdean (whose mother calls her Dumplin'), a self-described fat girl who's confident in who she is—until the cute boy at work gives her a kiss. I read this with an eye towards handing it off to my own nearly-thirteen-year-old, and I won't be doing that, but I did enjoy it for myself and am looking forward to reading more Julie Murphy novels. More info →
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Dream More

Dream More

When Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg from the By The Book podcast recommended this on episode 121 of What Should I Read Next, I couldn't download it fast enough. This book is an expanded commencement speech Dolly gave at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville about getting more out of life—work, relationships, all of it. There's nobody quite like Dolly Parton—good gracious, I had no idea just how much the woman has accomplished—and I LOVED hearing her tell stories about her life. I grinned like a fool the whole time I was listening. Short and sweet, and highly recommended—and please, do the audio version! More info →
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Alternate Side

Alternate Side

I've developed an appreciate for Quindlen's work, and loved her last novel Miller's Valley, set in an insular community in rural Pennsylvania. Her new novel centers on another unique community: a well-to-do corner of the Upper West Side, noteworthy as the only cul-de-sac in Manhattan, and an act of violence that disrupts the easy status quo the residents have (on multiple levels) reached. I appreciated the way Quindlen probed questions of marriage, family, complacency, and class issues, but it was darker than I was expecting. The tone and content reminded me a lot of Emma Straub's Modern Lovers, but with a lot less sex. More info →
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Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours

This novel has been on my personal bookshelves for nearly a year, and I finally allowed myself to be badgered into reading it (by YOU—and I mean that affectionately, of course!). Wingate bases her latest historical novel on the real-life Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal, in which children were stolen from their families and offered up for expensive adoptions. The story shifts between past and present: in 1939, 12-year-old Rill and her siblings are taken from their family and placed in new families. In the present day, successful lawyer Avery discovers her family's past is not what it seems, and her search connects her to Rill. If you loved The Sweetness of Forgetting, be sure to read this, and vice versa. More info →
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