March’s Best Books includes some books I will definitely read again! March was a spectacular month! The ones I am featuring are almost all 5-star selections and you must read them! I am listing other books I read this month without reviews just to give you some ideas for your own next reads. (Keep in mind that I only list books I liked!) I did not have a disappointing book this month! Get ready for March’s best books:)
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Wish You Were Here by Jodi Piccoult
Diana O’Toole is a twenty-something living and working in New York City. She has a serious live-in boyfriend, a fabulous job, and big plans for her future.
This includes a vacation with her boyfriend, Finn, to the Galapagos Islands.
Finn is a surgical resident in a NYC hospital and has alarming news for Diana on the day before their scheduled departure to Galapagos. An alarming virus is spreading quickly across the United States and he cannot leave. With this threat of Covid-19 hanging over her head, Diana leaves on the trip alone- something she regrets as she is traveling.
Upon arriving on the islands Diana hesitates to board the last ferry to Isabel she learns she cannot go back. The islands are closing down, flights to South America have been canceled. She is stranded. In the spirit of a vacationer, she continues to her hotel on Isabela. Unfortunately, the hotel is also closed. Everything is.
A local woman, called Abuela offers her a small apartment and Diana tries to make do. Abuela offers her food occasionally and she persuades a local store to sell things to her. In the midst of exploring the island, she meets Beatriz, a young teen. She also meets Beatriz’s father, Gabriel.
The relationship between Gabriel and Diana blossoms as he shares the island with her. Day after day they take touring trips (he was a former tour guide) and Diana revels in the beauty and serenity of this place.
Internet service is almost non-existent and Diana only hears from Finn sporadically. She sends messages and emails to him but they rarely hear from one another. Her “romance” with Gabriel continues. What will Diana do? Will she stay on the island? Will she return to New York eventually? What will happen with Finn?
And then, the story takes a dramatic turn.
And, that Book Friends, is all I can tell you without totally ruining this story.
Beautifully told, this book is all about relationships and what makes us truly happy. Diana’s experiences, on Galapagos and in New York City, will merge. I listened to this book and would recommend this to you. The narrator was amazing. I will caution you on one point.
The story is about Covid and there are many mentions of the politics happening in the USA in 2020. If this is a sensitive topic for you, then you will not enjoy the book.
I give this one 4.5 stars. I loved it!
Small World by Jonathan Evison
Racism is apparent in the lives of all the characters but in different ways. Or is it all the same? These are immigrants, Native Americans, and poor people, all with labels and mistreatment due to their station in life. You will absolutely love them all!
First, there is Nora and Finn Bergin, twins who have traveled from Ireland with their mother. In an effort to escape the ravages of Ireland at the time, the Bergins find themselves without money, housing, or jobs. Kind-hearted people help the mother and they find themselves in Chicago. The mother’s death leaves the twins in an orphanage. Both are “adopted”, but not by the same people. Nora finds herself a servant in the home of a rich man and Finn is taken in by a couple moving west. The separation of Nora and Finn is heart-breaking.
Then there is George Flowers, a slave who desperately wants to be free and does escape his owner. He ends up in Chicago, too, in hopes of finding Cora. This is a woman he became enamored with while still living as a slave.
Wu Chen is a Chinese immigrant that is befriended by someone running a gold excavation camp. His travails begin with a murderous gang coming into the camp and what happens will haunt him all his life.
John and Luyu Tully are a Native American couple struggling to live peacefully in the Rocky Mountains.
In the present day, you will meet Malik Flowers, a teenage basketball prodigy, and his mom who is struggling to pay bills and deal with an abusive employer. Jenny Chen is a successful businesswoman with a stay-at-home husband and two sons. Laila Tully is a young woman living with an abusive man. Walter Bergin is a railroad engineer with a family, including a daughter that will soon marry.
The story of all of these characters is told in a sweeping tale. You will hold your breath and cry with the tragedies and you will not want this book to end. The story separates the groups and time periods and yet you will know from the start that there will be some cross-over and when it happens you will stop and re-read to relish the way it is all brought together. The chapters are alternate voices- from each character and over the hundreds of years. It is, quite frankly, like a jigsaw puzzle, but one where all the pieces will come together in a beautiful ending.
I LOVED this book! I can highly recommend this one! 5+ stars!!
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book on March’s best book list turned out to be sooo good!
Let me explain- I started the audio version some time back and didn’t enjoy it, so I traded it for a different book. (Did you know you could do that with Audible?)
And then, I accidentally purchased it again!
I knew the title sounded familiar, and I decided to stick with it this time. It has fabulous reviews and was recommended on a list of best audiobooks. Wow, now I understand!
This is the story of Vivian Morris, a young lady exploring New York and herself. It’s a love story, of sorts, and a definite dive into promiscuity, but here’s the thing. It’s set in 1940 New York when ladies didn’t behave this way, or so I thought.
Vivian travels from her hometown to live with her Aunt Peg in New York. There are reasons she leaves her home where her wealthy parents are very involved in their own lives and continue to send her an “allowance” even when she moves away.
Aunt Peg operates a theatre called The Lily and has a writer that writes all the playhouse stories as they attempt to compete with other New York theatres. Vivian has no idea what is in store with this move but quickly becomes part of the rambunctious cast of characters that live and work at the playhouse.
Her closest confidante is Celia and Vivian is not the least hesitant about trying anything Celia does. This leads her to a scandalous lifestyle that she enjoys very, very much. Vivian is quite an accomplished seamstress and she also finds herself busy with creating new or redone costumes for the theatre.
And then, of course, it all comes crashing down as Vivian unwittingly is caught smack in the middle of a life-changing scandal. She retreats to her hometown with her head spinning. Will she stay there? Will she marry quickly since all her old school friends are already married? Will she return to New York?
You must read this book or better yet, listen to it! The narration was purely delightful in the Audible version. The book is touching, quite x-rated but never in a graphic way, and hilarious at times. I laughed out loud many times. 5 stars for this one!
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The book opens with ‘The Theatre’- a section that introduces us to Arthur Leander and a young girl, Kirsten. Shockingly, Arthur collapses midway into the play in which he is portraying King Lear. Efforts to save Arthur by audience members, Jeevan Chaudhary in particular, fail and the theatre empties.
Jeevan discovers his girlfriend has left the theatre without him and then he receives a phone call that changes everything. A friend calls to alert him to a mysterious virus that is highly contagious and quite deadly. It is sweeping across the country. Jeevan takes this news seriously and proceeds to load down grocery carts with essentials that will keep him and his brother alive, barricaded in their apartment, for months. By the time Jeevan exits the apartment, 99% of the population of the world has died.
Twenty years later, those left on earth are living in camps, abandoned houses or stores, and living without electricity, airplane travel, phone service, television, well you get it. This includes Kirsten who is traveling with a group of musicians and actors performing Shakespearean plays and just surviving.
“When Kistren looked at a collection of pictures she tried to imagine and place herself in that other, shadowed life. You walk into a room and flip a switch and the room fills with light. You leave your garbage on the curb, and a truck comes and transports it to some invisible place. Lift a receiver or press a button on the telephone, and you can speak to anyone.”
It is hard to remember how things were before. Many of the people encountered by the travelers were born after the virus and they have never known of airplanes, the internet, or fast-food restaurants.
In the meantime, the continent is not completely safe. Bands of survivors have formed various groups. Some are intent on control and will kill anyone who interferes. Others have formed compounds in order to survive- one, in particular, is led by the Prophet.
And lest you forget, this all began with Arthur. The fate that befalls five people connected to Arthur is the heart of this spellbinding book – Jeevan, Kirsten, Arthur’s first wife, Arthur’s son, Tyler, from his 2nd wife, and Arthur’s dear friend, Clark. The characters are woven together throughout the book.
Pay attention to the titles of the sections, too! I didn’t realize until midway into the book that this was significant. The ending will resolve almost everything, but leave you hanging a little. Given the nature of a current virus on planet earth, this book is likely to resonate with you.
I loved it. I will read it again. I will also watch the HBO version (which has some differences from the book, of course). FIVE stars for this one!
Also this month…
I also read these books for this month!
- Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
- The Miraculaous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo
- I Keep Trying to Catch his Eye by Ivan Maisel
- These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
- The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai Randel
You might also enjoy these reviews:
My rating system: 5 stars- perfection, the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.