I have quite a varied taste when it comes to books; typically a story that draws me in is one that makes me laugh. I enjoy animal stories, have read almost every book by Jodi Picoult and am a sucker for a story with strong emotion. Recently, however, I have found an interest in thrillers because I like to follow what the “bad guy” does and can’t wait to see how he/she will get caught. Overall, I need a book to really draw me in at the beginning and make me feel something throughout, and of course, a happy ending is always best!
Leave Me – Gayle Forman
343 pages (2016)
This book poses and answers the question, “How can a woman leave her family and what are the events that could cause this to happen?” Our main character, Maribeth, is a mother to 4-year-old twins with a husband who always seems to work and not help much with household chores. Add in her job working for a magazine, sorting through hundreds of emails a day and you have one very busy and often stressed-out lady. She is so busy, in fact, that she mistakes a heart attack for an attack of indigestion from a late dinner of Chinese food. Upon discovering her issues are not stomach related and are actually a bit more harrowing, she is sent home from the hospital after surgery. She soon finds that home is not an environment conducive to healing and makes a pain-induced snap decision to pack up and get out of town. Her ensuing journey takes on a sense of self-discovery where she learns things bout herself and even the family she has left behind.
The thing that really struck me about this book is that I can see this happening to any over-worked, stressed out mother, especially if she has a health scare. I found myself sympathizing with Maribeth and wondering why her family did not seem to realize the struggle she ws having with her recover. I know that a lot of people will feel differently and be mad at Maribeth for her actions, and I think my advice would be to keep in mind what she has gone through and that she feels as if she has given more than her fair share and does not see any return from her loved ones. There were definitely parts of the story where I questioned why she was acting the way she was and wondering if she was considering what her family may be going through after her disappearance but I found that in the end, everything works out all right.
In the Clearing – Robert Dugoni
355 pp. (2016)
This is the third book in the Tracy Crosswhite series; however it is not overly necessary to read them in sequence to understand the story. This is a compelling thriller about a cold case that happened 40 years in the past. Told with alternating snapshots of the time the crime was committed and the current timeline, this fast-paced story will keep you guessing until the end. The disturbing scenes in the book will make you gasp and wonder “what next?” as well as why this gruesome murder occurred.
What I really enjoyed about the book is how the many characters in the story really come to life. There is one character who was particularly likeable and who had me laughing several times. I enjoyed the twists and turns as Tracy followed the decades-old leads and tried to determine what happened that fateful night. There was just one thing that turned me off a little about the book, which is the lack of attention given to another case happening in the current timeline. It fest as if it had no real purpose other than to fill in some downtime in the cold case. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would suggest that readers who like it should read the other books in the series, which are just as good and in my opinion even better.
Sweetbitter, – Stephanie Danler
356 pp. (2016)
This novel from newcomer Stephanie Danler takes the reader through a year in the life of Tess, who has just arrived in New York looking to escape her past. Most of the story is set in the restaurant where Tess lands a job as a backwaiter. The reader becomes privy to the hectic life behind the scenes at this restaurant, where many illicit things take place. Tess becomes completely enamored and caught up in this life as well as with two people who shape her new life in New York; Simone, a senior server and Jake, a bartender. Ultimately, this is a novel of rebirth, soul-searching and a character that has to lose herself before she can figure out who she is.
I enjoyed this novel in a different way than I usually do, in that I could not put it down simply because there were times when I was confused on what was happening and had to read on to figure it out. There are some entertaining pieces in which you get bits of conversations that feel like they could be heard in real-life situations. I would recommend this book for those who do not shy away from gritty, coming-of-age stories with the “traditional happy ending.”
Be aware: this novel contains very strong language and adult situations.