In an effort to maybe, perhaps, hopefully get caught up on all the books I haven’t reviewed, I’m planning to start doing mini-reviews every couple of weeks for books that I read but didn’t have much to say about. If you have more specific questions about any of this week’s titles, leave them in the comments!
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Many, many bloggers that I respect have deeply loves Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow; I’m afraid my feelings weren’t so unequivocally positive. The book starts out with a awesome premise: one man with two wives, each with a daughter. The second wife and daughter know about the first family, and have grown up in the shadow of two women they keeps tabs on but have never met. The story is beautifully sad in the sense that Jones reveals ways these two families could co-exist and the tragedy that brought them to their current state, but I never connected with the characters as much as I wanted to.
Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy
If there is only one thing that I want to say about Simon Van Booy’s Everything Beautiful Began After, it’s that Van Booy writes with incredible style. If you took a paragraph from this book and set it next to any other book, you’d clearly be able to pick out which is which. A sample:
Athens is a world of despair and sudden beauty.
And it was from these two conflicting moods that Rebecca found her way as a woman.
It wasn’t long before she loved the city.
And the ability to love Athens, like all love, lies not in the city but in the visitor.
The city matched Rebecca at every turn. Her books reflected in the things that took place around her — things that she noticed: a cigarette vendor giving bits of fish to cats, a sudden shower of rain, deformed children sitting calmly on the steps of churches as their mothers shook their fists at God and then opened them to passing tourists.
Rebecca felt a physical part of the city, and sensing such blind devotion, it embraced her as its own.
Van Booy’s use (maybe overuse) and grand metaphors takes a little while to get used to, but I was quickly drawn into this story of a tragic love triangle and just devoured the book. I highly recommend this one. I loved it.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
I read Rules of Civility sitting on a Zero Gravity lounger — the world’s most comfortable lawn chair — at my cabin, looking out at the lake. I think that was the perfect setting for this book, the story of one young woman making her way through the high society of New York in the late 1930s. The protagonist, Katy Kontent, is truly delightful and self-aware and so fun to cheer. I read this one in a bit of a blur, so I’m afraid I don’t remember many more specifics… but I am excited its out in paperback so I can buy my own copy soon.
Disclosure: I recieved a copy of Everything Beautiful Began After during my trip to Book Expo America this year. I bought a copy of Silver Sparrow. I borrowed a copy of Rules of Civility from my local library.