Ah, it’s all about relationships! The theme of this month’s book choices are all relationships.
Real life, folks! It’s about an older mom and her secrets from her ten-year-old daughter. It’s about an agoraphobic woman that spies on her neighbors. It’s about identical twins that do not speak to one another. It’s about a five-year-old that loses his way and ends up adopted to parents in another country. And, it’s about a family that is torn apart by secrets long kept from one another and the laws of a state that threatens them.
These books will keep you reading way past your bedtime!
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The Book Of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall
It is late in the 1990’s when Polly discovers she is expecting a child. Already a mom to two grown children, this is surprising news, especially given that her husband has just died.
The book begins when Willow is ten and Polly is 68. Willow has gotten into some trouble at school for telling “lies” about Polly. One of those lies is that Polly hunts with a falcon, so of course, Polly goes to the school to see the teacher- with a falcon on her shoulder.
This little glimpse into the lives of these two begins with laugh out loud moments and continues throughout the book. Along the way you meet the crazy neighbors, Willow’s brother and sister, and a host of characters that are interwoven with Polly and her secrets. Willow almost discovers one of those secrets from finding her mom’s old letters, but before she can read very much Polly finds her and destroys the letters. All Willow is left with is a name. Garland.
Who is Garland? What happened to Polly as a young girl that made her leave her home and travel to Texas? As Willow grows to be a teenager she is challenged to find these answers and help her mother battle cancer.
Fabulous little book with such funny moments. You will love all the characters and hope the secrets bring them together! 4.5 stars!
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly
I totally broke my own rules with this book! I watched the movie first and then read the book. In this case, it was the right thing to do because the movie gave me a visual of all the troubles Saroo had in his home country and his new home in Australia.
Saroo lived in India with his mom and several brothers and a sister. Dad had abandoned the family and they lived from day to day with very little. At the age of five, Saroo would often play with his older brothers and maybe travel to the train station with them. The older brothers traveled by train to get to jobs in order to help the family survive. Saroo was left at home most of the time caring for his younger sister as mom worked.
One evening, Saroo goes to the train station with his older brother and lies down to wait for the brother to return from his job. Somehow, in the middle of the night, he boards a train and is gone. Gone. The empty train takes him far, far away from his home and as a five-year-old, he doesn’t have enough knowledge of where he lived to be able to tell anyone. Eventually, Saroo is homeless and living on the streets of Calcutta. He is FIVE.
Saroo is discovered on the streets and placed in the orphanage system of the city. This eventually leads to his adoption and moving to Australia. As a young adult Saroo is plagued by memories of his family and wants to find them. Through a process of using Google Earth and searching a radius of where he thought he was from, Saroo miraculously does recognize something on the map that leads him back to his home city.
This book is fascinating and will make you cry- the movie will, for sure! Try both of them- in whichever order you like. I listened to this book using Audible and it was a great one to listen to as I worked or commuted! 5 Stars!
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
The story is set in 1960 in a rural area of North Carolina. Ivy and her sister, Mary Ella, live as tenants on the farm of Mr. Gardiner. Mary Ella has a toddler, but no one has determined who the father is. The girls (who are teenagers) live with their grandmother. The family is visited weekly by the local social services agency. They receive welfare compensation, food, clothing, and medical care. There is a trade-off.
The social workers have determined that Mary Ella is feeble-minded and have had her sterilized. Yes, in 1960 North Carolina had this policy. Mary Ella and Ivy do not know about the sterilization. In addition, the grandmother is pre-diabetic and Ivy has occasional episodes of epilepsy.
Enter Jane. Jane is a young woman who has moved to the community with her husband, a pediatrician. He wants her to stay at home, attend ladies functions, and have babies. She is not for this at all. She takes a job as a social worker and her first clients are Mary Ella and Ivy.
Just a glimpse into the world after Jane arrives: Mary Ella and Ivy tell her they have never left the farm or seen the ocean. Jane arrives one weekend afternoon and takes them to the beach. The agency is appalled, as is her husband. She did it anyway!
The story is told beautifully. You will love Jane and the girls and you will love meeting the other clients. I think you probably will be as angry as I was to see what happens to the girls. This book needs to be on your next-read list! 5 Stars!
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
The title of this book might lead you to believe that the two main characters are identical. But, are they?
They are identical twins, but Tabitha and Harper could not be more unlike one another. As young girls, they live on Nantucket with mom, Eleanor, and dad, Billy. The parents divorce and it is decided that each adult will take one of the girls. The two girls actually play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to determine which of them will go with Billy.
Harper moves to Martha’s Vineyard with Billy and Tabitha stays with Eleanor. Many years later a tragedy occurs with Tabitha and her children and she and Harper stop communicating.
This is about where the book begins- with the two (almost 40-year-old women) living on different islands, living very different lives, and not speaking.
Then Billy dies and Eleanor has an accident and things change drastically. Tabitha goes to the mainland to take care of her mom while Harper goes to Martha’s Vineyard to take care of Ainsley, Tabitha’s teenage daughter. Eventually, Tabitha goes to Martha’s Vineyard to settle dad’s estate and remodel his house.
Has this gotten convoluted enough for you yet? It’s actually a grand puzzle, with a lot of characters that are somehow intertwined.
I really enjoyed this book! I also want to move to one of these islands! This one is purely a beach read, but well written. It does have some odd parts- like the shenanigans with Ainsley and her friends, but it also has some good parts. Grab a copy and save it for a long plane ride or a snow day! 4.5 stars!
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
The “woman” is Anna Fox, a child psychologist, who lives in a brownstone in New York. She is agoraphobic and has not left her home in months. Her husband and child live apart from her. What does she do in her home all day and night? She watches her neighbors through the window.
The problems with her neighbors accelerated when a new family moves in and the wife comes to visit. Shortly after that Anna sees a “murder” and the wild ride starts. Anna is a heavy drinker and also takes a massive amount of medication for her agoraphobia and this leads her to have memory losses and questionable judgment. Will the police believe her when she reports the killing? What are the neighbors saying about her accusations?
That’s about all I can tell you without spoiling some of the big moments, so just grab this one and see where it goes! It was definitely a page-turner and not overly predictable. There was a small part of that I figured out early on, but there was plenty that totally surprised me! Five stars for this thriller!