Yikes! I can’t believe we are almost halfway into October and I’m just now wrapping up my book reviews for September. I was tempted to skip posting this altogether, but one book I read in September is my absolute favorite so far this year, and I couldn’t not tell you about it. Maybe you’ve already read it? (Sometimes I’m late to the party. It happens a lot…)
Anyway, here we go.
one two three
by: Laurie Frankel
Publication date: 2021
The Mitchell triplets—Mab, Monday, and Mirabel—live in the small town of Bourne. For years Nora, their mother, has been fighting for compensation from Belsum Chemical, a powerful company that poisoned the water, harming or killing many of the residents of Bourne. (Think Erin Brockovich.)
The story is told from alternating POVs of the triplets who have their share of health problems and birth defects. The girls often refer to themselves as One, Two, and Three (based on birth order, which also corresponds to the number of syllables in their names).
Readers will enjoy the author’s A+ character development. Each triplet has a distinctive personality and voice. I appreciated the story’s focus on environmental responsibility and how the girls were determined to right a wrong. I became a little bogged down in the middle though.
Favorite Quote: All of us have special needs.
Will It Be Okay?
by: Crescent Dragonwagon
Illustrated by: Jessica Love
Publication Date: 2022
In this new edition of Crescent Dragonwagon’s children’s book Will It Be Okay? (first published in 1977) readers of every age are provided gentle reassurance about life’s big and small uncertainties. Illustrator Jessica Love takes the story to the next level with stunning artwork.
As C. S. Lewis said, No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond. That’s the case for this charming story.
Favorite Quote: Will it be okay? Yes, yes it will.
by: Adrian McKinty
Publication Date: 2022
Heather married Tom a year ago. When Tom’s medical conference in Australia provides an opportunity for a family vacation, Heather is eager to better bond with his two children. (The role as step-mom is still new to her.) During a free morning off, the newly blended family embarks on a day trip to a nearby island that turns into the worst sort of nightmare.
Let this be a lesson—don’t go exploring a remote area without telling someone where you are going.
This book started with a bang for me—very strong, compelling, eerie in just the right way. Deliverance meets Race with the Devil. But then about midway through, the story seemed rushed; scenes that needed development were summarized in a snap. Even later, a few things I was asked to believe, well, I just couldn’t.
I loved the premise of The Island but this one fell short for me, and I was left wanting more depth. Maybe you will have better luck.
Favorite Quote: The cure for everything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea.
Lessons in Chemistry
by: Bonnie Garmus
Publication Date: 2022
Elizabeth Zott is a no-nonsense scientist working in a man’s world in the early 1960s. When she meets the brilliant Nobel-prize nominee scientist Calvin Evans (also no-nonsense), chemistry eventually ensues. There is so much to love about this fresh and compelling story. The witty dialog. A strong and quirky female protagonist and her smart-as-a-whip daughter, Madeline. Six-Thirty, Elizabeth and Calvin’s rescue dog who was my favorite character.
In particular, I loved the parts of the book devoted to Supper at Six—a cooking show Elizabeth reluctantly hosts. (Because, hello, cooking show.)
Lessons in Chemistry is chockfull of serious issues though. Like all of the current ones. Workplace discrimination. Rape. Misogyny. Atheism vs. Faith. I imagine some readers will be turned off by the extreme way in which some of these issues were handled.
Overall, this was a highly enjoyable read for me.
Favorite Quote: Cooking is serious science. In fact, it’s chemistry.
Remarkably Bright Creatures may just be my favorite read of the year so far. The two main characters, Tova and Marcellus now occupy a permanent place in my heart.
Yes, I have a soft spot for octogenarians. I also find sea creatures fascinating. Combine these two in a fabulous setting—Sowell Bay Aquarium in the Pacific Northwest—and this is the material of a modern-day fairy tale for me.
The setup: Tova cleans the aquarium at night. She is diligent and takes pride in her work. And she has suffered a great loss that lives beneath the surface of everything she does. Over time, Tova develops a type of friendship with Marcellus the octopus. And Marcellus? He’s one of the smartest characters ever. Then there’s Cameron, a young man with no anchor who sets out to find his supposed father. As the author weaves together the storylines of Tova and Cameron the ending becomes predictable, yet the feel-good nature completely pulled me under.
The story reminded me a bit of The Shape of Water (movie) which I thought was brilliant.
Favorite Quote: Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by: Haruki Murakami; translator: Jay Rubin
(Japanese Literature / Magical Realism)
Publication Date: 1994
Mercy. It took me some time to read this 607 page tome. In all fairness to the author Murakami and the reader (me), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle consists of three books in one volume: The Thieving Magpie, Bird as Prophet, The Birdcatcher. And while I was intrigued enough by the tale to continue reading, I’m not sure I understood it in the way the author intended.
And I’m not sure how to review it. But here goes…
A young unemployed man named Toru Okada sets out to find his wife’s missing cat. Soon, his wife is missing too. As Okada searches for both cat and wife, the oddest people ever to grace the inside of a book cross his path. And, he ends up in some of the strangest places, like the bottom of a dry well.
Honestly, several times I expected Toru to wake up from a bizarre-o dream only to find his wife sleeping beside him, his cat curled at his feet. But no, in this Alice-in-Wonderland-type journey inside the neverworld of Tokyo, we meet a physic prostitute, a traumatized war veteran, a sixteen-year-old dropout who works in a wig factory, and on and on.
This was a psychotic read that kept me reading. In fact, my determination to get to the end to see what would happen began to match Okada’s determination to understand the disappearance of his wife.
I found the ending to be satisfying, but still I need to read the Cliff Notes on this one or discuss it with someone more enlightened than I.
Favorite Quote: If people lived forever—if they never got any older—if they could just go on living in this world, never dying, always healthy—do you think they’d bother to think hard about things the way we’re doing now?
I hope your September reads filled your time with entertainment, wisdom, and/or empathy for someone or something.
What are you reading today?
Have you read and enjoyed any of my September reads?
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.