It's that time again!! It's my book reviews of the month post!! Quite frankly, I just love writing up these posts. Sharing my thoughts on books is soo much fun, it's something I could ramble off about for pages and pages (though I'll try not haha).
To read last month's reviews, click here.
This month I read: WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE (MARIA SEMPLE), LEAVE ME (GAYLE FORMAN), SCRAPPY LITTLE NOBODY (ANNA KENDRICK), SO SAD TODAY (MELISSA BRODER), QUIET (SUSAN CAIN), and THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (OSCAR WILDE).
WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? - MARIA SEMPLE [2.5 stars]
"Just because it's complicated, just because you think you can't ever know everything about another person, it doesn't mean you can't try."
So you've probably heard about this book already, either because someone you know is reading/has read it (everyone seems to be) or because it's being adapted into a film. Personally, this is a book that I've been hearing a lot of talk about for awhile now. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a story about a woman with anxiety named Bernadette who, after a series of terrible incidents, disappears from her family, and her daughter, Bee, decides to search for her.
Overall, the book was okay. The epistolary style of the novel was pretty interesting and the writing was quite good. It wasn't so much the actual storytelling of the book that was a problem with me, but rather the storyline...
Let's start with Bernadette Fox, the main character. At first, I liked her - or at least, I liked the idea of her. She is presented as a character with social anxiety - like me - and she struggles deeply with interacting with others. But as the book went on, it turned into a lot of Bernadette putting down all the women around her, aside from her daughter (who was treated like a saint) and basically saying that she was too good to hang out with other mothers from Bernadette's school. Which was... odd.
Things took a turn for the worst as the book went on and Bee's father, Elgin, took on a role as a central character. OH MY GOD, I HATED THIS MAN. He was a bad dude, okay??? He only seems to really realize, or care, that his wife is suffering when it begins to affect his work life. For instance, when his colleagues see his wife asleep in the pharmacy. He talks a lot about how his wife's mental illness negatively affects their daughter, yet it's actually him that's causing the most damage to their daughter's wellbeing. Exhibit A: showing up unannounced at Bee's best friend's birthday dinner and causing a huge scene with his wife. Like, who does that??? Throughout the course of the book, he does a lot of shady stuff that I won't talk about because spoilers. But trust me, he sucked.
Also, mental illness was not dealt with well at all. They called mentally ill people "crazy" (without anyone really saying, "hey that's not cool, don't do that"). Elgin straight-out blames his wife for her mental illness, as if it's her choice. And then it's almost like they just brush social anxiety off as something that can be easily "fixed" when trust me, it's not. It just seemed like mental illness was used as a plot device tbh.
I don't know. All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this book, if I'm honest. And I likely wouldn't recommend this to anyone. It was really hyped up and the hype was all false imo *insert shrugging emoji*
LEAVE ME - GAYLE FORMAN [3.5 stars]
"She felt almost tearfully grateful to be off the hook, and residually angry because she was always on the hook."
Leave Me is a modern tale about the struggles of motherhood. Maribeth is a working mother with two young twins, who's desperately trying to juggle her family, her friends, and her worklife - all of which are messy atm. In trying to keep everything together, she has a heart attack and doesn't even notice until she ends up in emergency bypass surgery. With no help from her family or friends, she decides to run away.
So I guess my annoyance of this book really lies with the fact that literally all of this could have been avoided if Maribeth and her husband had just communicated properly, or better yet, gone to marriage counselling. If I can think of an easy solution for the conflict of a book right off the bat, then I don't really get invested in the story, y'know??
At the start, I felt a lot of sympathy for Maribeth. Although times have certainly changed, women - especially working women - still have a really tough gig. And Maribeth is the perf example. She has a job, two young kids, and not much help from her support system (i.e. husband, mother, and best friend who all appear in the book). It did make sense that she ran away.
So she goes off and for awhile, it seems like this a journey of self-discovery or something. But it really isn't. I felt like in the end, not much had changed in her personal life, but she was acting like it had?? There wasn't a lot of character development, either with her or the other characters. And that poor doctor in Pittsburgh got his time wasted, man.
Overall, the novel was quite well-written and pretty enjoyable. The ending, however, left something to be desired, hence why I didn't quite rate it 4 stars.
SCRAPPY LITTLE NOBODY - ANNA KENDRICK [4 stars]
"I lost a Tony award to Broadway legend Audra McDonald when I was twelve, so I've been a bitter bitch since before my first period."
This book was quite wonderful. Anna Kendrick's memoir is perhaps one of the best I've read yet. She honestly seems like one of the most genuine celebrities (or at least she can sure act like it) and wow, is she funny.
I seriously just really enjoyed this. She could sure write, for someone who has no mentionable writing experience (and after a quick Google search, it'd appear that she didn't have a ghostwriter, but I may be mistaken?). Her anecdotes were quite funny and sure, she does play the "quirky, cool girl" thing often, but a lot of what she talked about seemed pretty genuine anyway. The essays were fairly short, which is just how I like 'em. I find that in some cases, people can drag on their stories for ages, by no fault of their own - but fortunately, Anna Kendrick didn't fall into that trap.
No matter how she's perceived - some reviewers on Goodreads said she seemed "pretentious" and whatnot - she must be quite ballsy to have put such personal things into a book for the world to see. I respect her immensely for that. Being completely authentic and honest is no easy feat, especially as a celebrity I'd imagine. And she was a good sport about some of the things that'd be pretty embarrassing to talk about!
All in all, this was a witty, fun read. It didn't take long to finish and I did have a few giggles over some of the stories!
SO SAD TODAY - MELISSA BRODER [DNF]
This book was really not for me. I didn't get very far into it at all before I just gave up. I gave it an honest try, but I just don't think I could've enjoyed it and I didn't want to have to keep forcing myself to pick it up anymore...
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY - OSCAR WILDE [3.5 stars]
"Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic."
I've finally finished this book!! If you've been around here for some time, you may remember my trip to NYC last year where I stopped by The Strand kiosk and picked up a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray (for quite a small price, I might add). I never got a chance to read it as at the time, I was reading Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and then we moved house and it sat in my bedroom closet for some time before I finally put it in my bookcase. But then stuff got in the way, you know how it is. Anyway, I'm finally now able to give it a review, nearly a year later!
Okay! So, I went into this book with a very different idea of what it would be like then it actually ended up being. I honestly can't remember now what I thought that this book was about before I read it. At this point, I'm so overwhelmed by it all that I can't even register it all haha. Essentially, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story all about morality, and a young society man who sells his soul in order to be eternally youthful. It's a "Wilde" story y'all (SORRY, I had to).
The first half of this book was rather slow, in my opinion. I kept waiting for there to be some big "wow" moment, which did ultimately come, but not until several chapters into the book. Eventually though, once that moment did come, the rest of the book was quite interesting and it was fairly jam-packed with intense moments.
One of the things that kind of bothered me about this (not terribly, but enough to be considered mentionable) was that there were often very long bits of dialogue. Some dialogue even lasted full pages and they were so long at times that I had to go back to make sure I hadn't missed something, like a change in speaker. Long dialogue like that often loses my attention, if I'm honest.
The writing, however, was very good overall. And the storytelling, once the plot picked up, was extremely interesting. Unfortunately, there isn't much that I can say about the plot without giving a bunch away, however it was definitely a page-turner! I thought it was a good novel, although I wouldn't say that it was particularly my taste or one of my favourite classic novels.
QUIET - SUSAN CAIN [--]
Because this book deals with so much, I thought that I'd be better of doing a separate review of it at another time so that I can fully delve into my thoughts and opinions on it!! :)
Hope you enjoyed this month's reviews! I'll be posting my April TBR very very soon, so keep an eye out for that!