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MOAM BOOK CLUB. SUMMER 2016

I really don’t know where the time goes. But I know it’s been a year since my last Book Club post. What the?!?!?! I’ve read a tonne, and these are my faves over the last little while.

 

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is an absolutely stunning novel spanning generations and continents. It starts in 18th century Ghana, with two half-sisters whose lives and descendants will forever be unknowingly connected. One sister is stolen and sent to America as a slave. The other is married off to a white British soldier and remains in Africa. The rest, as they say, is history. Like Roots before it, this is brilliant historical fiction – especially when you consider that this is a first novel!!  And what a debut it is – a  multi-generational family saga that is authentic, devastating and incredible.

 

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Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offil

I absolutely loved this poetic portrait of a woman coming to terms with her life as a mother, a wife and an artist. So much has been written about how to maintain artistic integrity – or even find the time to pursue your art/passion once you’ve become a parent. Especially for women. In this spare and eloquent book, Man meets Woman. They get married. Have a baby. Shit goes down. They need to work out their shit and she needs to work out her shit. The whole thing feels intensely personal and private, exhilarating and heartbreaking. It’s super short – literally and stylistically – and feels slight, but with the turning of each page, you become ever more immersed. Written in short vignettes, it’s nearly impossible to put down.

 

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The Nest By Cynthia Sweeney

This novel hooked me from the very first page.  If you think your family has problems…. This is a study of what money can – and can’t do. The time is drawing near for the four adult Plumb siblings to finally “redeem” their inheritance – only to find out it is gone.  A story about a bunch of entitled adult babies may not be a draw but once you’re in, if the dysfunctional characters don’t intrigue you, the sense of schadenfreude certainly will. There has been a lot of talk about this book. Some call it praise, others call it hype. Ignore it all – and enjoy this compelling read right to the last page!

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Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff

This was one of the most talked about books of 2015. Maybe because Obama named it the book of the year. It is a very dark book about a marriage, told from the points of view of the husband and the wife. Needless to say, it’s two books in one, with phenomenal twists and turns. Just when you think you know these characters…..BAM! It’s quite a ride. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love this! Genius.

 

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A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

A mom writes a letter to her son, trying to explain her “small indiscretion”. Flashing back to her reckless youth in London, and back again to the seemingly idyll life as a married mom of three, this is a captivating story of a woman trying to come to terms with her past in order to save her future. Forgiveness, perfection and expectations all wrapped up in a spellbinding and sensitive novel… Loved, loved, loved.

 

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Fifteen dogs by Andre Alexis

Two Greek gods walk into a downtown Toronto bar…Sounds like the start of a (lame) joke. But the premise of this book is a bet: would animals die happier if they possessed human consciousness? Endowing a pack of 15 dogs with human intelligence and language, the gods watch as the pack navigates life – and death. Heart-breaking, philosophical, and more than a little Animal Farm-ish, this Giller-winner is a quick and gripping read. And one that ensures you’ll never look at your dog – or anyone else’s – in quite the same way again….

 

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The Expatriates: A novel by Janice Y.K. Lee

This is the compelling story of a group of Americans in Hong Kong. By turns juicy and heartbreaking, moving and cringey, this novel explores relationships and privilege among the expats.  Three different women, their stories as interconnected as the community itself. One is devastated by loss, one is afraid of losing what she has, and one IS lost and trying to figure it all out. Total page-turner. A great read for summer – or any time!

 

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi

Young lovers in Nigeria. One stays. One leaves. This is (mostly) the story of an African woman in America. And it is awesome. A fabulous study of race and culture, leaving home and coming home, romance and love. And hair. This multi-prize winner is a truly exquisite book, soon to be made into a flick starring and produced by Lupita Nyong’o.

 

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This is Happy by Camilla Gibb

This is impressive. Gibb’s memoir explores how we become who we are and what, if anything, can make us “happy”. In fact, there is a lot of misery… Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, relationships, parenthood – Camilla Gibb covers it all. This is one of those books that you want to copy and quote and remember. Poignant, sometimes brutal, always beautifully-written. Just gorgeous.

 

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The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

I’m a sucker for anything written by Isabel Allende. Always have been. So I felt like I had no choice but to read and enjoy The Japanese Lover. Was it my favourite of her books? No. But she is such a magnificent storyteller and this book is no exception. What begins as a story of an elderly woman and her caregiver soon takes us through the woman’s life: from escaping Nazis in Europe,  and re-settling into a well-off San Fran family. From her secret relationship with her Japanese gardener to being torn apart, and reunited throughout their lives. This is  a sweeping epic, tackling the juicy themes of loss, love and fate.

 

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Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

This one’s a total summer read. Former bandmates and BFF’s in college grow up, buy homes and become married neighbours in Brooklyn. When their kids get together they need to reflect on what their lives have become, what’s changed and what hasn’t. Hipsters having mid-life crises. A lot of people LOVED this book.  Which is intriguing to watch but eventually becomes annoying. And yet….

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Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

I wanted to adore this book. A woman in her early-20’s moves to the Big Apple and lands a crappy job at a fabulous 5-star restaurant.  The restaurant becomes her new home, its workers her new friends and family. As a fan of food and fiction I figured this would be the perfect marriage of both. But it wasn’t. The gossipy tone, and examination of the hierarchies within the restaurant world was compelling at first, but ultimately I found Tess, the protagonist, way too provincial. I kept waiting for her to grow up and become someone I cared about. But I’m still waiting….

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The Girls by Emma Cline

I was scared to read this book. I thought it would be too Helter Skelter. And it might just be. I only started it the other day but I’m seduced. So far, it’s a coming of age story. Teen girls, suburbia, summer boredom. I’m riveted. But I know what’s coming so I’m hanging on and plowing right through!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 comment

1 rOSEMARY GOLDHAR { 07.08.16 at 4:14 am }

I FOUND WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE BOOKS VERY INTERESTING AND I WILL BE DOING SOME READING THIS SUMMER
THANK YOU

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