This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave YouJudd Foxman’s wife is sleeping with his boss and his dad just died.  Judd, stressed and beaten down, returns to his childhood home to mourn his father with his two brothers, his sister, and mother.  The siblings are shocked to find out that their non-religious father’s dying request was that they would sit shiva as a family.  The Foxman siblings are less than thrilled to sit in mourning for seven days as a family but oblige for their mother’s sake.  Jonathan Tropper brings to life the dysfunctional Foxman family as they navigate awkward family dynamics and rehash the past with each other.

I really just want to gush about this book.  I absolutely loved it.  I was able to relate to each character and I really appreciated each of the different, personal issues that the characters were dealing with.  The book was well-written and I had a really hard time putting it down.  Tropper did an amazing job of instilling humor into some really tough situations in the book.  Even though the topics were not the most positive, Tropper kept me laughing throughout the book.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a good laugh and a family to fall in love with.  This book was also made into a movie this year.  I have not seen it yet but, after finishing the book, I can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD.  I rated this book four stars.  I gave it four stars instead of five because, quite frankly, I just wanted more of the Foxman family.  Finishing this book made me a little bit sad.

fourstar

The Silent Wife

The Silent WifeJodi and Todd have been a couple for more than twenty years.  They have created a beautiful life together full of luxuries.  Todd isn’t satisfied though and begins to stray.  Jodi, aware of Todd’s affairs, remains silent and allows him to do as he wishes in order to maintain their comfortable lives and relationship. Everything is going smoothly for Jodi until Todd decides to leave her and move in with his mistress.  Todd turns Jodi’s world upside down, evicting her from their home and cancelling their credit cards.  Jodi is distraught and makes a decision that will haunt her.

I actually found this book on a list of book recommendations to read after Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  It sounded interesting and I decided to put it on my “to-read” list.  It probably would have stayed there for quite a while but I ran into it in the clearance section at a local bookstore.  For only three dollars, I had to get it.

I found this book to be a relatively quick read.  It is fairly fast-paced but at the same time there isn’t a lot of action in most of the book.  A significant portion of the book is the internal dialogue of Todd and Jodi.  Harrison does leave enough intrigue in the book to keep the reader engaged.

At times, I thought that this book was predictable but then a twist would show up that I couldn’t always see coming.  The writing is well done and the characters are intriguing.  I found myself empathizing with both Todd and Jodi at times.  Harrison’s writing was smooth and allowed me to become very involved in the story.  It was definitely one of those that I had a hard time putting down.

Overall, I rated this book four out of five stars.  If you like tales that are a bit dark at times or hard to predict, pick this one up.

fourstar

Sharp Objects

GilliaSharp Objectsn Flynn is known for writing the hit novel Gone Girl but she actually has several other books that are just as dark and enthralling.  Sharp Objects is one of those novels.  This novel follows reporter Camille Preaker as she travels back to her hometown to cover the gruesome murder of two young girls for the newspaper for which she works. It has been years since Camille has visited her childhood home and it is an understatement to say that her relationship with her mother is strained.  As she tries to uncover who is behind the murders, Camille begins to find skeletons from her own past. Dark things about her mother and family begin to come to the surface and it forces Camille to reconsider her own memories of those dark times growing up in her mother’s house.

While all of the books that I have read by Gillian Flynn often have dark subject matters, this one is probably the darkest and most disturbing for me.  The main character was mentally fragile and often makes terrible decisions, such as drinking and taking drugs with her thirteen year old sister.  Some of the things the main character thought and did made me cringe a bit.  However, while I was frustrated with Camille and her decisions, Flynn does a fantastic job of writing a character that is very well-developed.  Flynn is a fantastic writer and has an amazing ability to weave quite the web of deception and darkness in her novels.

My only complaint about this book was that I found it to be a bit more predictable than Flynn’s other books.  I had this book figured out about half way through it for the most part.  Seeing the details play out, however, was still engaging.  If you are okay with dark subject matter and mental illness, then pick this book up.  It’s fast-paced and interesting.  Overall, I rated this book three stars.

threestar

Every Day

every Day

Every Day by David Levithan follows A, a being that inhabits bodies.  Every day A wakes up in a new body and becomes part of someone else’s life.  There is no family, no friends, and no routine for A.  And then, A meets Rhiannon and A’s reality becomes something painful.  A is in love and desperately wants to stay in the same body to be with Rhiannon. But, how can Rhiannon love A if she never knows who A is going to be each day?

I enjoyed this story for the most part.  The concept is interesting and the story moved quickly enough to hold my attention.  However, I did often find myself frustrated with the story.  A is a wonderful protagonist and I was constantly rooting for A but things just never seemed to go the way that I wanted them to.  While that doesn’t make for a bad book, I just had trouble getting really into the book because I was so frustrated at times.

As typical for David Levithan, Every Day is very well-written.  Levithan does an excellent job of including necessary details and tying all the ends of the story together.  I think he also did an excellent job of creating a wide variety of characters for A to inhabit.  Each one was different yet believable.  Levithan managed to represent an entire spectrum of teenagers with different background stories that clearly influenced the lives that A experienced.

Overall, I rated this book three stars.  It is well-written and has a very interesting plot.  The first fifty pages or so were very slow for me but I slowly found myself more involved and interested in the story.  Check it out if you are looking for a quick, interesting read.

threestar

Reconstructing Amelia

reconstructing ameliaWhen fifteen year old Amelia Baron dies after falling from the roof of her prestigious Brooklyn private school, everyone assumes it is a suicide.  Just a few weeks after her death, her mother, Kate, receives an anonymous text message suggesting that Amelia didn’t jump.  It wasn’t a suicide.  This revelation sends grieving, single-mother Kate on a whirlwind journey to reconstruct the last few weeks of Amelia’s life and find out what really happened to her daughter in Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

This book had some tough subjects in it, including suicide, bullying, and homosexuality.  However, I really enjoyed this book.  While these are difficult subjects to talk about sometimes, it is reality for many of today’s youth.  As a high school teacher, I see much of this play out in the lives of my students so I think this is a really relate-able book, especially for the young adult age group.  Not only were the characters easy to relate to, the book was also very well written.  The author does a fabulous job of engaging the reader in the story.  It is fast-paced with lots of plot twists throughout the book.  The author also does a great job of tying up all the loose ends in the book as well.  The ending left me feeling satisfied rather than still asking questions.

Overall, I gave this book four stars.  It was a book that kept me interested and gave me a lot to think about.  If you like fast-paced mysteries, check this book out.

fourstar

I Am the Messenger

Ed KennIamthemessengeredy is an underage cab driver who doesn’t have a whole lot going for him.  He is in love with his best friend, Audrey, but she doesn’t seem to feel the same way.  His mother can’t stand him and he lives alone with his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman.  Everything changes for him when the bank he just happens to be in becomes the site of a robbery.  Ed acts heroically and foils the robbery.  His name is in every paper and the would-be bank robber is not happy.  At the trial, the robber tells Ed to watch out and vows to seek revenge after he completes his jail sentence.  Ed just wants things to go back to normal.  However, some one else has other plans for him.  Shortly after the trial, Ed receives the first ace in the mail.  A simple playing card with a cryptic message.  Ed has been chosen to figure out the message and carry out his new duty.

This novel follows Ed as he discovers each message that he is supposed to deliver.  This story kept me guessing the whole time.  It is far from predictable and I really enjoyed each of the twists and turns.  I also enjoyed the messages that Ed had to carry out.  Essentially he was challenged to care about those in his community which is something the world, as a whole, could use a little more of.  

Markus Zusak is probably most well-known for The Book Thief.  If you have read and enjoyed that, then I would definitely suggest picking up I Am The Messenger.  It felt a bit more fast-paced than The Book Thief but just as well written. One of my eleventh grade students actually recommended this book (and let me borrow it).  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading it.  I hadn’t heard anything about this book but it grabbed my attention quickly and drew me in.  It ended up being one of those books that I couldn’t stop reading and was a little disappointed that it was over when I finished it. Overall, I rated this book with four stars.  

fourstar

Where She Went

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Where She Went is the sequel to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.  I mentioned in my review of If I Stay, which you can find here, that I felt as though the ending was a bit abrupt and I would like some more information about Mia’s recovery.  I was hoping to get that with this sequel and I did get a little bit of it.  The first book really followed Mia and her plight over whether to stay alive or not.  The sequel is much more focused on her ex-boyfriend, Adam.

Rock star Adam’s band has made it big.  He is touring the country with thousands of girls swooning over him.  He has a famous actress for a girlfriend.  To everyone else, Adam has everything.  He should be happy but instead, he is miserable and heartbroken.  As Mia recovered from the fatal accident that took her entire family, things began to change between Adam and Mia.  Suddenly, Mia stops returning his phone calls and Adam is left without closure.  Where She Went chronicles Adam grieving over the loss of their relationship until one fateful night Mia and Adam run into each other in New York City.  

I enjoyed this book almost as much as the first book.  As a narrator, Adam was not quite as likable Mia for me but I still liked the book.  While the story was fast paced and a pretty easy ready, I was blown away by the emotions that Forman is able to capture with her writing.  She did a wonderful job at articulating what it is like to be heartbroken.  The emotions portrayed in this novel are often raw and heartbreaking. I think that portraying emotions and putting them into words is one of Gayle Forman’s biggest writing strengths.

Overall, I liked this book.  It was a quick read and very easy to relate to the characters. I only wish that there had been more.  I always feel like I want to know more about Adam and Mia’s lives when I finished both the first book as well as this one.  I gave this book four stars. Check it out if you’ve read the first one and need a quick read.

fourstar