Monday, January 7, 2013

A Few Good Books

Nathan gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I believe my Kindle Fire is magical - or at least lucky - because every book I have read since Christmas has been outstanding.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. This book has an Arrested Development feel, which makes total sense since the author used to be a writer for AD. The story and characters are quirky and whimsical, but the novel still has a lot of soul. I could not stop reading this and was very satisfied by the ending.

The Newlyweds, by Nell Freudenberger. A woman from Bangladesh and a man from Rochester, NY meet online and get married. An Amazon reviewer complained that the story was not "realistic." Folks, if you are looking for realism, please head to the nonfiction aisle. But if you want a damn good story that will make you think and will keep popping into your head long after you finish the last sentence, then I highly recommend The Newlyweds.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis. This is the latest Oprah Book Club selection, so I avoided it for a few weeks on principle. (What principle? Honestly, I don't know.) The novel starts with Hattie, the mother of a large brood, and then each chapter focuses on a different one of Hattie's children. I worried it would feel like a short story collection, and I'm rarely in the mood for a short story. I'm a novel reader, and when I pick up a novel, I expect a novel. And yay, that is exactly what Mathis wrote. Although the chapters follow different characters from 1923 into the 1970s, the narrative pulled me along and I was disappointed when I reached the end. My Kindle Fire said I had read 94% of the text, so I expected another chapter! When I clicked to the next page and saw the word "Acknowledgments," I sighed loudly and then reread the last few pages, just to make the story last a few minutes longer.