December 2016
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Mini Reviews

The Passport, Herta Muller

This short novella revolves around the quest for a passport out of Romania for a miller, his wife, and daughter.  I can’t summarize it more than that because this book and I really just didn’t get along at all.  I found it to be far too vague, one of those books where every word means something and you have to spend time puzzling it out before you can properly appreciate the story.  As such, I might have liked it if I’d read it in a class and had a chance to dissect it, but as I did read it I just wasn’t in the mood for that sort of thing.  I finished it, but I doubt I will read anything else by Herta Muller.  I’ve seen elsewhere that this was a poor translation from the German, but despite that I just don’t normally want to read anything that literary.

A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby

New Year’s Eve is a very popular time to kill yourself.  Four people from entirely different walks of life in London discover that as they meet atop a tower.  They manage to talk themselves out of suicide and spend an evening wandering around the town.  Afterwards, they struggle to find a place for one another in their lives, even though they recognize that few other people will understand their unique experiences.

I didn’t really know what to make of this book.  I liked that it highlighted the differences yet similarities between people of all different backgrounds, how their problems seemed more or less severe but all were in despair.  I didn’t think the book really had a point, though, unless it was that people are different from the way they think about themselves – butI’m not sure it was meant to.  I can’t decide if I like that or not.  I read this one during the Read-a-thon so it’s gone sadly fuzzy now, but I do intend to read more of Hornby in the future.

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

This is a hard book to write about, so I’m chickening out with a mini review.  Basically, Didion’s husband passed away suddenly at her dinner table, just days before Christmas, and while their daughter was severely ill in hospital.  The book is about the year after she lost her husband, how she behaved irrationally because of her grief, and the profound effect that losing someone can have.

This was a difficult book for me; ever since I lost my brother, I’ve been incredibly worried that I’ll lose someone else.  I don’t grieve in this way any longer, but it’s still such a tough subject to cope with.  I read the book mainly because I thought it was worthwhile to see how other people felt, to try and learn about emotions that aren’t mine.  The loss of a husband and a brother are different, but I could recognize much of myself in this book.  Ultimately, it’s difficult to take, but it does give you a real insight into how a grieving widow will feel – and it may make you stop and think when you or someone you love loses someone.

Dead in the Family, Charlaine Harris

This tenth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series deals with the aftermath of the catastrophic events in Dead and Gone.  Sookie’s changed quite a bit over the course of the series and now has her own grief and hard feelings towards others to deal with.  Things never stand still, though, so she’s not left alone to recover.  Instead, her friend Amelia moves away and her fairy cousin Claude moves in.  She has a visit from Hunter, her little cousin who shares her powers, and she has to deal with some unexpected visitors from Eric’s surprising side of the family.

I love getting my hand on another installment of this series; it’s a nice return to a familiar world, even if it’s changed somewhat since the first books.  I think Sookie herself has probably undergone the most changes.  So I definitely liked the book, but the plot was very loose if at all existent.  This is another book where some things happen, but most of them don’t actually lead to much.  The climax of the book is quite speedy, but we lose much of the build-up to it.  Mainly, it’s Sookie going about her life; I don’t mind this, but as a book I don’t think it held together all that well.  Still, always looking forward to the next!

I am an Amazon Associate. The first of these books was sent to me for review; the rest I acquired on my own.

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