I like the cover of this book, but because of the title, I avoided picking it up because I assumed it would be a nonfiction book about churchgoing women. Although I am spiritual, I’m not a fan of church communities, so I avoided this book until I couldn’t.
A local book club selected it for its January read, and that’s when I learned that it’s a book of short stories. At first I borrowed the audiobook, narrated by Janina Edwards, from the library. Edwards’s voice was so mellow and soothing and just a treat for my ears. But I quickly realized that this book is one I’d need to physically read so I can pay close attention the prose as well. I was already impressed.
I decided that when I’m ready to reread this book, I’ll certainly pick up the audio version to hear Edwards’s voice again. But to get on with reading the book for the book club, I borrowed a copy from a friend and quickly got swept up in the stories about Black women and their experiences.
I had to request an ARC of this novel when I saw the title and cover and learned that it’s set in Jamaica. And I was so excited when I was granted access to it through NetGalley. 😀
My thoughts on it below are my own and are about my experience reading the novel.
October 20, 2020
Twelve-year-old Clara lives on an island that visitors call exotic. But there’s nothing exotic about it to Clara. She loves eating ripe mangos off the ground, running outside in the rain with her Papa during rainy season, and going to her secret hideout with Gaynah–even though lately she’s not acting like a best friend.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a Sisterhood book, but I’m glad to continue on with the series. I enjoyed the first three novels: loved the variety of personalities that make up this friend group and admired the strength of the friendship between the girls, which I hope is maintained through to the end of the last book — the fifth in the series, Sisterhood Everlasting. However, I don’t have high hopes that this will happen since it seems the girls begin to drift apart in Forever in Blue and not even the pants could help prevent it.
Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, book 4
Forever in Blue begins in the summer following the girls’ first year in college. Carmen is at a drama camp in Vermont hoping to build sets for a play, Lena is taking a summer painting class in Rhode Island, Bridget is off in Turkey on an archaeological dig, and Tibby is creating drama for herself in NYC.
I read this one back in July for a bookstore’s book club because the author was going to visit for the discussion. I’d heard such great things about Dennis-Benn’s first novel, Here Comes the Sun, which I own but haven’t read, that I was excited to get stuck in this one.
The excitement and anticipation paid off. Not only did I love the story and could strongly relate to certain parts, I also loved Dennis-Benn’s writing and was easily swept up in the story. To top off the experience, I attended the book club discussion and was glad that I completed the novel in time for it because I could then understand the context of the questions asked as well as the responses given. Patsy is one of my best reading experiences of the year.
Contemporary literary fiction
Patsy is a young woman living in Jamaica. She is a single mom raising her daughter and caring for her God-fearing mother who refuses to get a job to help support their small family. Patsy works in accounting and is great with numbers, but she barely makes enough to cover the bills, buy food for her home, and send her daughter, Tru, to school.
This was a sweet story and a fun read. I heard of it from Book Riot’s All the Books podcast and decided to try it because Liberty said it’s like The Parent Trap and I loved that movie (both the original with Hayley Mills and the remake with Lindsey Lohan).
When Bett Devlin learns that her dad is conspiring with his new boyfriend to send her and his boyfriend’s daughter to summer camp, she reaches out to the boyfriend’s daughter, Avery Bloom, so that they can devise a plan to thwart their fathers’ intention.
The fathers are single gay dads who met at a conference and started to date. They’d like their daughters to get along, so they conspire to send them to the same summer camp; but Bett and Avery have other plans and instead vow NOT to be friends and definitely not let their dads date each other. But nothing goes as planned.
I heard many great things about this novel when it was published, but I wasn’t interested in reading it. If not for a bookclub I recently joined, I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book.
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use.
When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
Ruth Reichl’s Delicious! was the first novel I completed in 2018. I borrowed it from the library toward the end of last year because I was in the mood for something light and fun, possibly romantic, and about food, so I picked up Delicious! because its cover beckoned to me and the title made me curious.
Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.
Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love. (Goodreads)
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
The problem with reviewing books weeks after I’ve read them is that time has passed and made my memory foggy so details aren’t as fresh in my mind anymore. I completed this book on June 11 and though my memory of the story is beginning to fade around the edges, I enjoyed it so much that certain parts are still holding out.
Maise O’Malley is an 18-year-old girl from a broken home. She lives with her mother, who’s a drug addict and cares little for her. Maise has daddy issues. She admits it. She accepts it. But despite all the hard balls life has thrown her, or because of them, Maise intends to graduate high school and attend a university in California to study film. She will not end up like her mother — strung out on drugs and turning tricks to hit the next high.
But life throws her a curve ball — Mr. Wilke, her high-school film teacher. He’s fun, attentive, caring, and good looking. It sounds cheesy but from the time they met, they’ve found it hard to stay away from each other. They try, after all, they are student and teacher and though Maise is old enough, it’s still not accetable for a teacher to engage in an intimate relationship with a student, but self-control is impossible in face of such a strong attraction, and Maise and Mr. Wilke risk getting caught.