The flowers are blooming…it’s staying lighter later in the day…spring break is upon us…and summer is right around the corner! You know what that means? Books, books and lots of books! I’m getting pickier and pickier the older I get. I’ve started quite a few books lately that I didn’t finish because they just didn’t grab me. I want to be counting down the minutes until I get back to my book, you know?
Here’s what I’ve read lately:
What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell
This is a riveting story about a cycle of mental illness and how it is dealt with through three generations of a family. Olivia, her mother and her son all have bipolar disorder and all handled it in their own way. Olivia was often left neglected and alone as a child when her mother would have her bipolar episodes. The story starts as Olivia is embarking on a family vacation to her hometown, post-divorce with her teenage daughter and her young son, who is also bipolar. When her son disappears as they are enjoying shopping on the boardwalk by the beach where Olivia spent her teen years, she gets lost in memories of her childhood. The story alternates between Olivia’s memories and her current situation. I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, easy read with interesting characters. I found the common mental illness thread to be very unique and fascinating. Olivia’s mother handles her mental illness very poorly; Olivia tries so hard as an adult to handle it so much better. However, she’s really struggling to parent her son through his mental illness. The author does a great job of making you really care for Olivia and what happens to her and her family.
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
I loved this book. I want to know if you read it so we can talk about it! Charlotte “Charlie” has just lost her son and her marriage and is really struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. After her sons death, she begins having visions of children in trouble; these children are either being abused or murdered or a serious accident. She then discovers that these were real when the situations she has visions of come true. Charlie has a disturbing vision of a boy with a chipped tooth named JoJo who lives in Lousiana and needs her help. At the same time, she gets an offer to write a book about a boy who was kidnapped over 30 years ago in, you guessed it, Louisiana. Charlie desperately needs a change of scenery to help her with her grief so she goes to Evangeline to research her story. There are many intriguing characters, lots of twists and turns and surprises in this story. You will love it! (P.S. It’s really difficult for me to write book reviews without giving away plot twists…so that’s why mine are so short!)
The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
I just happened upon this book while searching for another book by this author that my Mom recommended. (I’m reading that one next!) Let me put it this way…as soon as I finished this book I texted my BFF and told her she had to read it ASAP…that’s how good this book is! Sarah is a widow struggling to keep her life with two boys together. When her dear friend’s son is involved in a terrible tragedy, she finds herself in welcoming another child into her home and in the middle of a nightmare. It is a riveting story but I will warn you it involves major child abuse that is upsetting. But the story and the way Sarah and her boys handle everything is soooooo good. I keep thinking about them as though they are real people…that’s the sign of a great book!
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
There’s no way you can call this book “good” when it’s about something so horrific. I can’t really say I enjoyed it because of it’s awful subject matter. I will say it was fascinating and scary and upsetting and I’m glad I read it. It hurts to read it so you’d definitely have to be in the right frame of mind. I also think when you read it you have to remember that the author is one of the killer’s mothers and to read it through her eyes and her opinions and memories, which may not be “the facts”. As a mother, I found it very disturbing to think you could raise someone and love someone so deeply and yet have no idea that they were so angry, suicidal and homicidal. But then I think of how little I truly know about my own kids and what they think and feel and I start to understand. That, my friends, is super scary to me. To think that your child could be hurting so deeply and not share any of it with you, to think that your child could be planning to murder and commit suicide and you had no idea, is really upsetting. According to Klebold, they were a loving, tight-knit, typical american family and had no idea what their son was up to or planning. It’s astonishing and, yet, to anyone who deals with or loves a teenager, somewhat understandable that they had no clue. I also had never thought of the tragedy through her eyes and how she lost a son to suicide. All of a sudden, after the tragedy, she was the mother of a murderer, a monster who didn’t know what horrors were going on inside her own house, instead of being a mother who was allowed to grieve her son. It’s a terribly dark, sad story but worth the read. By reading her story with her hindsight, it’s helpful to see clues to his pain that you could also look for in your own children or family members. Like I said, I wouldn’t say it’s a good book…but it was worth the read.
Right now I’m reading The Shining by Stephen King because I haven’t read it in forever! What are you reading?