Catch-up post

A catch-up post full of mini-reviews!

Eek! You ever have months where blogging just gets away from you? This was one of those months. It’s hard cramming in everything I need to get done every day, and sometimes at night I just want to collapse and not think anymore. And thus we have here a post to catch up on all the books I missed out on blogging about. I hate doing these; each book deserves its own post, but such is life, especially these days.

Ready? Let’s do this!

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post Holocaust Memoir by Esther Safran Foer (yes, she’s Jonathan Safran Foer’s mother) was a book I grabbed during my first library appointment, on the New Books shelf. She writes of the story of searching for the family she lost in the Holocaust, of online searches, long-distance phone calls, dusty paperwork, and lengthy plane rides to visit the site of the villages where her family once walked. It’s moving, heartbreaking, and almost miraculous at times, especially when you see the picture of her family after reading all that had been done to ensure that they wouldn’t exist.

I just happened upon Hostage by Guy Delisle, whom I’ve enjoyed in the past, at that same library trip- literally just walked by the shelf this was on, on my way to searching for something else, and this leapt out at me. He tells the true story of a man working for Doctors Without Borders when he was kidnapped in the Caucasus region and held hostage for three months. You wouldn’t necessarily expect a man chained to a radiator for that length of period would make for an engaging graphic novel, but Delisle’s sparse style makes this book an absolute page-turner.

Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani is a memoir of her family’s experience in America: surviving as undocumented immigrants, the greencards that helped secure their status, and the things that happened that showed them how quickly it could all go up in smoke. If you haven’t read much about the nightmare of the immigration process in the US, this might be a good place to start. If her family’s story had happened today, I don’t think the outcome would have worked out so well (although *worked out well* is relative here) and that hurt my heart for all the families struggling with these kinds of situations right now, but Ms. Shahani tells her story so smoothly, it nearly reads like a novel. I’d love to hear her speak one day.

I’d avoided reading Roomies by Christina Lauren for a while, but I needed something on the lighter side during my last trip to the library and since they’re a favorite of mine, I grabbed this. Roomies tells the story of Holland, who discovers the perfect musician for her uncle’s Broadway performance, only to find that Calvin, the Julliard-trained street busker, is Irish and here illegally. In order to help her uncle and feel like she’s really contributing to the theater (where she also works), she marries Calvin to help him obtain a greencard, but of course it’s all a bit more complicated than that. I avoided this one for a bit because I felt, and still kind of feel, that it’s a little tone-deaf in light of the horrific things the US is doing to undocumented people these days, and the book never mentions any of that (mostly because, I assume, it was written before all this came to light?). The book itself is extremely well-written and I very much enjoyed both the romance and Holland learning to be her own person and design her own course in life. If you can separate this story from the disgusting reality of what happens to brown people when they’re discovered to be here without papers, it’s a great read, but it’s painful when you’re aware of the realities versus the privilege Calvin had, both due to the color of his skin and his connections once he was brought into Holland’s circle. Excellent writing, great love story, hard to square with reality.

Another Christina Lauren novel for my lighter reading enjoyment. I didn’t like Twice in a Blue Moon as much I liked Roomies. It tells the story of Tate, the daughter of one of the most famous actors in Hollywood. She’s had no contact with her dad in ten years and no one knows where she went. She spills her secrets to Sam, a boy she meets on a trip to London with her grandmother. She and Sam are falling in love and it’s something major, something special…until he betrays her. Fourteen years later, Tate is one of the most famous actresses in the world, and the screenwriter of her new project is, of course, none other than Sam, whom she hasn’t seen since London. Messy? Oh yes. Liked it, but didn’t love it; I felt like Tate and Sam didn’t have quite the same chemistry as Holland and Calvin did, but it was an okay read.

And that’s it! All caught up. It wasn’t quite as many books as I had thought. I’ll do my best to update on a regular basis next month!!!

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