Standard Deviation

I finished Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny today. It follows the main character, Graham, a middle aged man in New York, and the relationships he has with his outgoing wife, his Asperger’s son, and his ex-wife. I had a hard time getting completely behind this character. He never could make up his mind on what he wanted, which was frustrating. There was very little plot and I struggled a little to finish.

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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

I read this short book over Christmas break and thought it had some great ideas. I had read the author’s Americanah with a book club so decided to check this out.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is asked by a friend how to raise her new daughter as a feminist. What results is a touching letter outlining fifteen suggestions. As a mother to a daughter, I found some good advice and would highly recommend.

Saints for All Occasions

I just finished Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan.  It tells the story of two Irish sisters, Nora and Theresa, who travel from Ireland to America in the 1950s.  When Theresa, the younger sister gets pregnant, Nora agrees to marry her boyfriend and raise the baby, Patrick, as their own.  Theresa eventually becomes a cloistered nun in Vermont.  The story jumps back and forth between the present and the past and centers around the death of Patrick and the family dynamics.  Each member of the family has an interesting role to play and the characters seems true to life in their certain circumstances.  I especially enjoyed the scenes when the sisters were young and had just arrived in Boston.

Turtles All the Way Down

I finished the latest John Green book a few nights ago, Turtles All the Way Down. I loved The Fault in Our Stars but haven’t connected to his others in the same way.

The main character is Aza, who is a high school girl struggling with mental illness. She compulsively thinks about how bacteria is invading her body and at her worst, she starts to ingest hand sanitizer. While I felt bad for her, I became frustrated at times especially when she didn’t take her medication. Aza’s illness also hurts her relationships with her best friend and her boyfriend. The story also follows a mystery regarding her boyfriend’s missing father.

I would rank this below Paper Towns. The mystery in that one was a lot more interesting.

A Separation

I finished A Separation by Katie Kitamura a few days ago. It was a fairly quick read and told the story of a wife who is separated from her husband, Christopher. She receives a worried phone call from her mother in law about him and so the narrator travels to Greece to search for him where supposedly he has been researching a new book.

She finds Christopher’s hotel as well as the young woman he has been sleeping with, but does not find him. His body turns up about halfway through although there is no real closure that takes place, either for his family or for the reader. The book never fully turns into a mystery nor is the protagonist particularly interesting.

The Marriage Pact

I finished The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond the other evening. The story is about a newly married couple that joins a group called the Pact, whose purpose is to maintain strong marriages among its members. There are a multitude of rules to follow, along with increasingly drastic consequences for not following them. The couple quickly begins to realize they need to escape but that possibility becomes less and less likely as time passes. 

The concept of the book is interesting, but I found it hard to believe they wouldn’t just call the police or at least confide in family or friends. The ending is also a bit of a cop-out where the ends are tied up a little too neatly. 

Little Fires Everywhere

I also finished Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  I loved this book and the story kept me hooked all the way through with its engaging characters.  The story begins with a house fire and then flashes back to explain the family dynamics and what really happened.

The story is primarily about Pearl, a new girl in town who rents a small apartment with her mother from the Richardson family.  Pearl soon becomes friends with the four Richardson children, but the relationships between them soon become complicated and messy.  Throw in subplots about a legal proceeding regarding an Asian baby left at a fire station and the mystery of Pearl’s mother’s past and you get a compelling read all the way to the very end.