I finished 8 books in March. I nearly finished two extra books by midnight March 31: The Handmaid’s Tale (the audio version narrated by Claire Danes, which is so fabulous) and Perfect Little World (decidedly less fabulous). But alas, it was not to be. They’ll be added to next month’s list!
Healing Spiritual Wounds, Carol Howard Merritt. I really loved this book, and I highly recommend it. It has some weak parts, though, and I’ll get to those in my forthcoming reviews. One strength of the book, however, is that the applicable portions are quite general. You do not have to have had the same experience as the author in order to spiritually benefit from her insights, which makes this a total winner for anyone needing to, ahem, heal spiritual wounds.
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. I understand why this book dominated 2016. Brutal, creative, and quietly emotive, Whitehead’s novel about a woman escaping slavery uses magical realism so effectively, it makes you wonder why more authors don’t attempt it.
The Veins Of The Ocean, Patricia Engel. This was a Book of The Month Club pick from several months ago that I finally got to. One of the things I love about BOTM is that they always present me with opportunities to read books by and about people who do not look like me or share my life experiences, and this book was really outside of my bubble. This lovely novel is about a Colombian-American woman who moves to the Florida Keys after her brother’s long sentence on death row is over (I won’t spoil how). It is, essentially, about freedom and the steps we do–or don’t–take to set ourselves and others free, but the cultural setting made this book particularly fascinating for me to read.
A Court Of Thorns and Roses/A Court Of Mist And Fury, Sarah J Maas. I own it: I LOVE YA novels. There are many very, very bad ones published, so I totally get the stereotypes. That being said, some YA novels are simply so good that they are worth the silly eye rolls I get when I tell people I’m re-reading a young adult fantasy novel for the fourth time. I re-read both of these books in anticipation of the final book in the trilogy being released in May (and YES I bought tickets to a book signing with the author and I’m SO excited!). A Court Of Mist And Fury has one of the most flawless and empowering feminist plot lines I’ve ever come across, and I completely recommend the series.
Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson. I adored Brown Girl Dreaming, and while this novel didn’t quite get me in the same spot, it was still completely worth it and I can’t stop thinking about the characters. I read it in one sitting, but the insights are staying with me.
Exit West, Mohsin Hamid. A man and a woman in the Middle East fall in love just before insurgents overrun their city, and suddenly they are refugees in an unwelcoming world. The plot and magical realism were so similar to The Underground Railroad that I couldn’t help comparing the two books, but I have to admit I’m not sure which one “wore it better”, if you will. This book was helped by the fact that it did not focus on one refugee, but a couple, because the necessity of the evolution of their relationship through different camps was easier to convey than a single person’s emotional growth on a solitary journey. I hope this one wins some awards or something.
Born A Crime, Trevor Noah. I’m realizing that, except for the YA fantasies (which are about faeries, for crying out loud), all the novels I read this month are from non-white, non-suburban perspectives. I guess I’m making progress toward my goal of regularly reading books that are not about people like me. Anyway, I listened to Noah’s narration of the audio version of his memoir about growing up mixed in South Africa under apartheid, and I highly recommend it. As anyone who has seen his show knows, Noah’s vocal impressions are to die for. His vocal abilities help capture the myriad accents and languages of his childhood. It was an interesting meditation on race that has been so fruitful to read in tandem with taking a class called “Racism and the African American Experience”. I loved it.
And a life update:
When I got ready to write this post, I noticed that I only published two posts the entire month of March. It is not because I have nothing to say. Instead, I’ve been dealing with the fatigue that comes with the final weeks of pregnancy (I’m 6 days from my due date!) and I have been dedicating more time to creative writing. I have been writing poetry again (probably bad poetry, but I wouldn’t know), and I have been editing several children’s books I wrote last year because I’m finally not terrified of the idea of trying to get them published. Wish me luck with that!
Once we get into a better rhythm with the newborn, I’ll be back. Big hug.