Books read in April: 7 // Total books read in 2018 so far (as of the end of April): 35
Enigma Variations by André Aciman (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Remember how much I loved Call Me By Your Name? It was so beautiful and evocative and full of longing, I was excited to pick up and read André Aciman’s 2017 novel Enigma Variations. Like Elgar’s orchestral work of the same name, Aciman’s novel explores variations on a theme. It’s a novel broken up into 5 vignettes (as opposed to Elgar’s 17) that center on the love life of Paul and his forays into lust, infidelity, emotional longing, and all matters of the heart. Aciman writes desire so well, and he manages to capture the palpable ache of yearning with gorgeous prose.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Difficult Women broke my heart. The women in these stories are not “difficult,” they are survivors. Of abuse. Of heartbreak. Of horrible men. Of the crap that life throws at them every single day. I loved this collection for the honesty and raw emotion found in each story, and am continually awed by Gay’s willingness and nerve to put her characters in difficult and necessary places. Bravo. trigger warning: kidnap, rape
Tangerine by Christine Mangan (⭐⭐⭐)
I picked up Christine Mangan’s debut novel, Tangerine, prior to my recent trip to Morocco. The book takes place in 1950’s Tangier, where a recently married couple is unexpectedly visited by the wife’s former college roommate. As roommates at Bennington College, Alice and Lucy formed a quick bond and parted ways after a mysterious accident. Now in Morocco, they begin to unravel the story of their past with alarming consequences. The book has flavors of a hard-boiled mystery with an obsessive female friendship at its core and a fairly predictable plot.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (⭐⭐⭐⭐.5)
At 500+ pages, Tomi Adeyemi’s epic debut, the YA fantasy Children of Blood and Bone (#1 in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy) is an entertaining and surprisingly fast read, with strong character development and world-building. Though the story is told from three different perspectives, the book centers on Zélie Adebola, a strong warrior/heroine who embarks on a journey of self-discovery with a mission to return magic to the people and land of Orïsha. So many fantasy books revolve around white boys, magicians/wizards who find their way to wizard school, are tested, and overcome adversity with magic.
I love that this fantasy features a cast of all-black characters and that the messaging throughout, about remembering those who came before, about finding the strength to fight, and about fighting a system of oppression and confronting police brutality, is so very relevant in our world today.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (⭐⭐)
Magic? Witches? Vampires? Yep. I was expecting to be swept up and carried away by Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches. Unfortunately, I found the plot interminable and characters and dialogue tedious.
You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Curtis Sittenfeld is a masterful writer of dialogue, character, and pacing, and these short stories are some of the best I’ve read. An excellent collection.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (⭐⭐⭐)
Clare Mackintosh’s breakout debut, I Let You Go, was recommended to me by a bookseller friend as a fast-paced thriller with a twist. While the book is skillfully plotted so you know that twist is coming, it doesn’t disappoint. A fun, quick read.