Swing Time

I finished Swing Time by Zadie Smith last night and I’ll be honest, I had a hard time getting through it.  There were several points where I almost put it down due to lack of interest, but I am the type of person who finishes things, so I persevered.

The story follows two young brown girls in London who begin taking dance lessons.  Their lives take different paths and the reader primarily sticks with one girl, following her through her job as a personal assistant to a pop star and setting up a school in Africa.  The relationship between the two girls is probably the most interesting part of the book, but it doesn’t dwell long on it and instead takes a long time with details that I really just did not care about.

The Rules Do Not Apply

I finished The Rules Do Not Apply awhile back, a memoir by Ariel Levy primarily about one business trip changing the author’s life forever.  Pregnant and in love with her wife, Levy left for Mongolia in 2012 and suffers a tragic and dangerous miscarriage there.  Her marriage subsequently falls apart and she must reevaluate her priorities in her life.  While the story might seem depressing and I certainly didn’t agree with every decision the author made, her writing drew me in and I was fully engrossed in the story.

Thirteen Reasons Why

I zoomed through this book in the past two days, partly because of the new Netflix show. Written by Jay Asher in 2007, it follows Clay, a high school student who receives a box of cassette tapes from Hannah, another student who has recently committed suicide.

On each side of the tapes, Hannah tells the story of one person who contributed to her decision to commit suicide, ranging from a fellow student who was a Peeping Tom in her window to a boy who raped another classmate while she was in the room.  The book is pretty melodramatic, as is common with a lot of teen fiction and I can definitely see the argument that many have made regarding it glorifying suicide.  I still may check out the Netflix show to see how they adapted it.  I’ve heard there are a lot of changed they made.

The Circle

I kind of wanted to see the new movie The Circle with Emma Watson, but I generally like the read the book first.   Published in 2013 and written by Dave Eggers, The Circle tells the story of Mae, young professional who gets a job with a large technology company, The Circle.  The company is a mix of Google, Facebook, PayPal and pretty much any other social media website you can think of.  Basically, they control everything.

Mae is fascinated by the people who work there and the new projects they are developing.  She becomes more and more sucked in to the philosophy they adhere to even as it appears the world’s privacy rights are about to be stripped away.  Mae’s relationships between her family, friends and a potential love interest become strained as well.

I read through this book quickly because I really wanted to know what would happened at the end and if the Circle’s plan for total world domination would work.  I only wish Mae had been a more sympathetic character and with a little more conviction.

The Underground Railroad

I finished The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead today, which recently won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  It tells the story of Cora, a slave in Georgia and follows her from her time as a slave on a plantation throughout her journey to freedom and all of the trials in between.

The descriptions of the horrors of slavery are moving and often uncomfortable to read, even though I’m sure all of these atrocities actually occurred.  It seems like every time she caught a break, something would happen to her and beat her back down.  It was interesting to read about the aspects of the novel’s railroad system, which functioned as a literal railroad underground here instead of merely safe houses.

This book is set to be made into a mini-series soon and I will definitely check it out once made.

Exit West

I finished Exit West, which came out this year and was written by Mohsin Hamid.  It tells the story of two young people presumably in the Middle East, who start to fall in love at the same time their country is being torn apart by strife.  They cling to each other and when magical doors open up leading to other safer parts of the world, they develop a plan to leave.

Their travels first take them to Mykonos, then London and finally San Francisco.  Ultimately, the story is bittersweet as they eventually grow apart from each, as many relationships tend to do.

The book presents a very interesting point of view of today’s refugee crisis and makes the reader sympathetic to the two people who are trying to escape for a better life.  The depictions of refugee communities springing up around the globe is no different than what is really going on today.

The Arrangement

I finished The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn today.  It tells the story of Lucy and Owen, an ordinary couple who decide to have a trial open marriage for six months.  This immediately struck me as a horrible idea, but I zoomed through the book wanting to know if my initial thoughts would be proven right.

The husband, Owen immediately finds a new partner and is initially thrilled, but of course, she ends up being crazy and he wants to end the experiment early.  Lucy falls in love with her new partner and becomes torn between the thrill of a new guy and the family to whom she feels loyal.  The epilogue ties up all of the storylines neatly, maybe a little too neatly.  Even though the story is interesting and a quick read, it’s hard to recommend because of the subject matter.