Me For You

By Lolly Winston

Me for You by [Winston, Lolly]

5 out of 5 stars

Lolly Winston definitely knows how to take a sad thing like grief and make it into a beautiful story. As she did in Good Grief (I highly recommend it), she has done again in this lovely book.

Rudy wakes up one morning at the age of 54 to his wife lying next to him. He goes about chattering about breakfast and things, as one does, and after a while, realizes she still isn’t stirring. His beloved wife Bethany has passed away in her sleep. Rudy is lost. The world as he knows it has crumbled. What do you do with such a loss? He still goes to his part time job as a piano player at Nordstrom’s. He has a wonderful friend there in Sasha, a woman who has seen her own share of loss, but he is losing his grip. His daughter arranges for him to enter the hospital for a while to work through his depression. The scenes in the hospital are just so touching. Everyone is so kind and everyone is working through their own pain. It shines a light on mental health.

His doctor says something that sticks with me. He said that we have to think of grief as a chronic disease. You know it is always there and sometimes it rears it’s head. That is so very true! That made me cry because I have so many of those moments.

This is such a wonderful book. It is sad and emotional but it is also very uplifting and hopeful. I think, in fact, that hopeful is the word for this book. The characters are all wonderful, so well written. You will laugh and you will cry. You will feel everything and that is always the sign of a great book.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this lovely novel.

 

Good Riddance

By Elinor Lipman

Good Riddance by [Lipman, Elinor]

4 out of 5 stars

Daphne’s mom leaves her an old high school yearbook when she passes. It isn’t just any old yearbook, it is from the first year that her mom started teaching at the local high school. Her mom went back to the class of 69’s every single year and every year, she would add little connotations to the names of the students. Daphne, never understanding her mom’s need to do this, tosses the book into the recycling in her building. A neighbor picks it up and this begins a story filled with laughter, secrets, and a lot of fun.

This is really a delightfully fun read. I was laughing throughout the whole thing. It wasn’t heavy, even as the secrets were revealed, and I really enjoyed that. Daphne is a great character. For what she has gone through, even in her fanatical way of thinking, she really comes out on top. All the characters are great. I loved her interactions with all of them, including the yearbook thief Geneva. With all the heaviness in this crazy world right now, this was the perfect remedy.

Thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a copy of this book.

The Mother-In-Law

By Sally Hepworth

The Mother-in-Law: A Novel by [Hepworth, Sally]

4 out of 5 stars

The police come to the door of Lucy and Ollie’s house one evening to inform them that Ollie’s mom has been found dead, apparently of a suicide. Our story then takes us between the past and the present as we find out that it was not as apparent as it seemed. The book goes back and forth between Lucy and Diana, the mother-in-law. It takes us back to the beginning of their relationship until the present. It is told in both of their voices, which really enhanced the story. Diana was a hard one to warm up to. I can say that for the most part, I was glad she wasn’t my mother-in-law, but I loved the way their relationship evolved. I also loved how Ms. Hepworth was able to take a very rigid character and make me eventually grow to understand and like her.

It took me a while to really get into the book but once I did, I could not put it down.Another shining outing from Ms. Hepworth.

Thanks to St. Martins Press for a copy of this book.

The Dreamers

By Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers: A Novel by [Walker, Karen Thompson]

5 out of 5 stars

I know that I could bend the rules, since they are my rules ,  but  I will say that this wonderful book deserves more than 5 out of 5 stars. If you are not sucked in from the get-go by the concept, I don’t know what to say.

Something is happening in the little California town of Santa Lora. It begins at the college when a young girl named Rebecca falls into a deep sleep. They cannot wake her up. She is not the last though. It starts spreading through the school and then citywide. People are dropping into a sleep state like flies. They call in doctors and as it grows, the hospital overflows, doctors and nurses become ill. They move out into the college gym, library. There are sleepers upon sleepers. They try to keep them hydrated to keep them alive. They all seem to be in a REM mode of sleep. What are they dreaming about? We learn with a few of the characters that we follow throughout the story. How will it all end? Will it end?

This book brings forth so many questions. I love how the author peppers us throughout the book with them in each chapter. It is like she is reporting to us and asking in her voice and the voice of the characters.  I was so invested into seeing what became of them. I cried. I felt relief. I felt sadness and joy. I loved that the chapters were short and I think it brought a timeline and a realism to what you were reading. Each character viewed it differently. I loved that it made me think about life and dreams. Ironically, I could not sleep for a while after reading it.

I just really loved this book. It is one of the best books I have read this year so far (I know, we are not too far into January) and probably ever. It definitely lives up to all the hype and lists it is on.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for a copy of this fantastic book.

 

 

The Night Olivia Fell

By Christina McDonald

The Night Olivia Fell by [McDonald, Christina]

5 out of 5 stars

At 4:30 in the morning, Abi Knight’s phone rings. That is never a good thing. They say something has happened to her daughter Olivia. She needs to get to the hospital. She is shocked awake, thinking her daughter was still in her bed, but no, they are right. Olivia has fallen off a bridge and is officially brain dead. Abi is in shock but as she prepares to have her daughter become a organ donor, she is hit again with another shock, Olivia is pregnant. They cannot unhook her and will do whatever it takes to make sure the baby survives. Abi struggles with the fact that she had no idea what was going on in her daughter’s life. She thought she did. She has done her best to raise her alone, keeping her secrets tucked away. And she did, until Olivia accidentally sees a girl who looks exactly like her.

Abi is determined to find out just what happened the night Olivia fell.  Abi knows this was no accident. She will go through hell and high water to get justice for her baby. She will also have to come to terms to a life without Olivia and a life with this little baby.

I loved this book! It was one that I picked up and in no way was going to put down until I found out what happened. My husband was sitting there talking to me but I honestly couldn’t tell you what he was talking about. I think I said “yeah” a few times. (FYI, I think it was about football)  I loved Abi’s progression throughout the story. She was so shut off from a lot of emotions and it truly makes sense when you read her backstory but watching her open up was wonderful. The story is both sad and uplifting. I was sobbing at the end. (Which I am sure surprises no one) You can’t help but put yourself in her shoes if you are a mother.

There are many twists and turns, a few I had worked out, but the ultimate mystery, the who did it,  was a surprise and yet it was hard to find a villain.

I thank GoodReads for a copy of this wonderful book.

 

The Water Cure

By Sophie Mackintosh

The Water Cure: A Novel by [Mackintosh, Sophie]

4 out of 5 stars

Grace, Lia and Sky are raised on an island away from a world where men can hurt them. They live with their parents, parents who run them through a daily bunch of tests and actions to make them safe from whatever these men in the world can hurt them with. They are taught that just breathing the air from where the men are can kill them. Other women come to this island to be cured. No one else stays.

One day, King, their father, is gone. Their mother says he is dead and they begin a different kind of life. Their mother still adheres to all the old rules. Our story is told by Grace and Lia. Grace is pregnant. Yes, you read that right. That makes your brain go one hundred miles an hour. Lia is struggling with emotions. They aren’t supposed to feel them. Until the one day, two men and a boy wash up on their little utopia….

This has such a hazy, atmospheric quality to it. I felt the bones of the big old house they lived in. I felt their breaths as they played the drowning game. I felt the cuts Lia inflicted on herself. It is really harsh. Their mother was tough. It was hard to sympathize with her. There were truths that were revealed and I just was shocked. It is hard to put this book in any box . I have not read anything like it. The writing is superb.  I think I will think about this one for a long time.

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for an advance copy of this book.

Looker

By Laura Sims

Looker: A Novel by [Sims, Laura]

4 out of 5 stars

Looker is a deep, long trip into a mind that is slowly falling apart. Our woman, who is never named, is in the midst of a marriage breaking up. They had tried for a long time to get pregnant and unfortunately, they are never able to have a child. She becomes obsessed with an actress who lives in their neighborhood. And I mean obsessed! She has these fantasies of having sex with her husband, of them being friends. Her envy is palpable. She thinks about scenarios constantly. Her job as a teacher suffers and she also becomes involved with a student. At times, it is hard to know what is reality and what is in her mind. That is how wonderfully written this novel is. I hope it is the closest I get to a breakdown!

There is also a deep sadness in it all. I felt so sorry for her, even when she was at her meanest. She does some despicable things and the last being so very sad. It is hard to read at times but it is well worth the time put into reading on and on. It is marketed as a thriller but it is so much more than that. I don’t even know if I can categorize it properly. Isn’t that the kind of book you want to read?

Thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for a copy of this ARC.