Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for August, 2017…
Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue – I quickly rushed to my library website to reserve a copy of Behold the Dreamers after the news broke that it was the next Oprah Book Club pick. (I got in just in time, because I was able to get a copy fairly quickly, but the holds queue is now a mile long.) It was a wonderful, heart-rending, riveting story and I was glued to the book, reading feverishly and fighting the temptation to skip ahead and see what would happen in the next few chapters. Mbue tells the story of two marriages – Jende and Neni Jonga, Cameroonian immigrants working to carve out a place for themselves in America, and Clark and Cindy Edwards, wealthy New Yorkers whose marriage and life is upended by the financial crisis. Jende works as Clark’s chauffer, and Neni does temporary stints as a maid in their summer home, and both become unwillingly drawn into the collapsing Edwards home while struggling to stay afloat themselves and obtain legal immigration status for Jende. I won’t say much about the ending, because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of reading it – other than to tell you that there are a couple of surprising twists, and the book ends differently from many others in the immigration narrative sub-genre (but still in a satisfying way). Go read it!
A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster – I was in the mood for a classic, but not something too terribly long or challenging, and A Room With a View fit the bill perfectly. I’ve been moving my Barnes & Noble Classics edition from house to house since high school and I finally made the time to acquaint myself with Lucy Honeychurch, Charlotte, the Emersons, Mr Beebe, and the rest of the gang. The book opens with Lucy traveling in Italy, chaperoned by her older spinster cousin Charlotte (who is a bit of a wet blanket and not a very good judge of character). In Florence, they meet the Emersons, a father and son traveling together who have, for some inexplicable reason, been shunned by the rest of the guests at their small hotel. As Lucy gets to know the Emersons, she begins to realize that her own social circle leaves much to be desired, and she starts to develop feelings for George Emerson, the son. Of course, she can’t acknowledge any of this, and so she winds up engaged to a man of her social class and previous acquaintance, who happens to be a big jerk. (SHOCK.) Lucy’s journey toward shaking off social expectations and learning what will make her truly happy is fun to read, even if I did want to smack her from time to time.
Anusha of Prospect Corner, by A.M. Blair with Maram Ken and Samira Ken – Full disclosure, first of all. The author is a blogging friend of mine (who I recently had the pleasure of meeting for the first time in person!). I assure you, however, that my affection for the writer has not at all clouded my judgment. Anusha of Prospect Corner is a delight from the first word to the last. A modern, diverse and multicultural retelling of Anne of Green Gables, Anusha introduces Anusha Smyth, who leaves her father’s house in a cookie-cutter suburb she calls “Camazotz” (love the L’Engle shoutouts!) to live with her mother, Pramila Carter, and uncle Manoj in a big, old, rambling house in Philadelphia. Like Anne, Anusha is a redhead and a dreamer. Anusha likes her red hair, but is sensitive when questioned about how she could be a redhead and also have Sri Lankan heritage. Pramila – the Marilla character – is a doctor who has spent most of her time working abroad after her divorce from Anusha’s father, but who agrees to move home and live with her brother Manoj so that Anusha can move in with them. Anusha’s exploration of the neighborhood, her friendship with sweet Dee Brooks, and her touching relationships with her mother and “Uncle Manny” are a joy to read – and even the side characters are delightful; I absolutely loved the update that Amal and the girls gave to Thomas Lynde (who becomes Thomas Lowry, the son – not husband – of the neighborhood busybody and a teacher at Anusha’s school; I was hoping he and Pramila would fall in love!). I’ve been reading about this project on Amal’s blog since she and her twin daughters first started working on it together, and I’m so very glad that I finally got to sit down with the book. (And inspired to do something similar with Peanut when she is older…)
Only three books this month… a very slow month for me, indeed. I blame summer! It was a busy month of running around, working, and spending time with family and friends on vacation, which didn’t leave much time for reading. What I did read, however, was all great. The highlight was Anusha of Prospect Corner, and not just because the author is a friend. But I enjoyed everything I read this month – and I’m looking ahead to a fun and productive September in books. Check back each Monday to see what I’m reading, and at the end of the month for reviews.