September 7, 2020

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Oh my gosh, I have some incredible books to share with you this month. Linking up with Steph and Jana.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Amezi

“You keep talking as if he belonged to you, just because you were his mother, but he didn’t. He didn’t belong to anybody but himself. And the way you’re behaving now – that’s why we couldn’t tell you. That’s why he lived the last months of his life as a secret. That’s why he couldn’t trust you. You think you own him, when you didn’t know anything that was going on in his life.” – Akwaeke Emezi, The Death of Vivek Oji

Do you think that the mental and physical spaces you are in affect the way you read a book? I feel like where I am in my life when I read a book affects what I take away from the book. For me, as I read this book, all I could think about was M, and how to make sure that I raise her in a way that she is her own independent person who also knows she can come to me with anything.

“‘He might still be alive,’ Kavita said, ‘if he’s felt safe enough to be himself in our house.'”

The Death of Vivek Oji takes place in a small town in Nigeria in the months following his death. While his cousins know what was going on in his life and what led to his death, his parents have no idea. His mother goes to great lengths to find out what happened to her son.

Told from the perspective of many different characters, including Vivek from the grave, the book alternates between the days Vivek was alive and the months following his death. The reader can pick up fairly quickly the secret that Vivek kept from his family, who think his long hair and depression are the result of “demons” inside him. They try to “fix” him without understanding what really is going on. The novel asks what would have happened if his parents had known, and had accepted him.

The Comeback by Ella Berman

Berman began writing this novel before women began coming forward about Harvey Weinstein, a few months before the Me Too movement began. It could not be more timely.

This fiction novel tells the story of Grace Turner, a famous actress who abruptly left the spotlight at the hight of her career. Now back, she wants to get back to acting, but is forced back in touch with Able Yorke, the famous director who discovered her as a child, then abused and sexually assaulted her repeatedly while on film sets. She knows the only way forward is to expose him, but how can she with her marriage a wreck, her family relationships strained, and feeling herself on the brink of relapsing back into drugs and alcohol?

I thought that this book was beautifully written. There were so many lines that I could really relate to and Grace felt very real to me.

“I know all about the power imbalance that exists every time you meet someone who’s seen you at your most vulnerable, whether or not it was your choice in the first place. How you have to hope that they don’t use it against you in some way.” – Ella Berman, The Comeback

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Rachel Krall is a famous podcast host who has come to a small beach town, the kind where everyone knows everyone, to cover a rape trial. She hopes she won’t be recognized. But a woman named Hannah does recognize her, and, through letters, begs Rachel to help her find out who killed her sister 30 years prior.

The book alternates between the perspective of Rachel and Hannah. For a long time I was wondering how these two cases and stories would come together, but they are of course connected.

Part mystery, part thriller, part courtroom drama, this book combines elements of all three of those genres that I love. Riveting and suspenseful. Also extremely heartbreaking, especially the chapters about Hannah and her sister.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

This is the book that got me out of my reading funk. Based on the cover of this book, I expected it to be a light, fast-paced book. It was anything but.

The novel unfolded slowly, revealing itself bit by bit. But I loved the slowness of this book. It was heavy, too, heavier than a typical mystery or thriller. There was so much to unpack in this book – the relationship between the sisters, family, addiction, corrupt cops. It was also extremely suspenseful – there were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming. But they also didn’t feel cheap.

This is another book that I think reading as a new mom really just gutted me to my core.

The novel centers around Mickey, who is a cop who works along the streets that her sister, Kacey, is often found on, doing sex work and drugs. Mickey doesn’t talk to Kacey, but she usually keeps her eye on her. But then she stops seeing her, around the same time that prostitutes keep getting murdered on her street. Mickey takes it upon herself to investigate these murders that the other cops don’t seem to care about.

“I was more afraid of the truth than the lie. The truth would change the circumstances of my life. The lie was static. The lie was peaceful. I was happy with the lie.” – Liz Moore, Long Bright River

Currently Reading

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. It’s incredible.

What are you reading? What have you read lately?

7 responses to “Recent Reads”

  1. Nadine says:

    Long Bright River has been on my TBR, I really need to get to it!

  2. I’ve never heard of The Death of Vivek Oji. It sounds so good! I also like the sound of The Night Swim and Long Bright River.

  3. SMD says:

    I adored Long, Bright River.

    I think I’ll try The Comeback.

    I have Transcendant Kingdom right in front of me!

  4. Audrey says:

    Oh my gosh, don’t you love it when book after book is fantastic??! These all sound SO good! I’ve seen a lot of bloggers reading Long Bright River. The Night Swim and The Death of Vivek Oji both sound really good!

  5. Jana says:

    Long Bright River was outstanding. Currently waiting on Transcendent Kingdom from the library and I can’t wait to read it.

  6. Becki says:

    Perspective on so many things is different in motherhood! I’ve been on the waiting list for Long Bright River for a long time. That TBR list just doesn’t shrink! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. The Death of Vivek sounds difficult yet fascinating, especially if he is speaking from the grave (a bit Lovely Bones vibes?) I had not heard of it before!

    I will link my recent reads in my name, if interested!

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