188 Winter

winter

by Ali Smith, 2017

Winter is the second book in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, and I excitedly picked up my hold from the library the same week it was published. Following the same style of writing as Autumn, Winter is a meandering tale that ponders the meaning of familial connections and art. In her 70s, Sophia is mildly disconcerted to see a head floating about and following her throughout her house. She is a prim sort of woman, taking pride in her otherwise perfect vision and her standing as a “Corinthian account holder” at her bank. Things start to unravel when the head will simply not go away and a Christmas dinner forces Sophia to confront her feelings about long-estranged members of her family.

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186 Little Fires Everywhere

littlefireseverywhere

by Celeste Ng, 2017

I loved Everything I Never Told You, so I was supremely excited to get my hands on Celeste Ng’s second novel. Like her debut, Little Fires Everywhere focuses on suburban life, both the promise that it holds and the prison that it can become. Elena Richardson has a seemingly idyllic life with her husband Bill in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Bill is a successful attorney, Elena is a respected local journalist, and their four high school-aged children – Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy – complete this portrait of a perfect American family. Well, except for Izzy who, at the beginning of the novel, has set fires in each of the bedrooms of the Richardson home. Izzy has always been Mrs. Richardson’s greatest struggle and she will be her ultimate undoing.

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184 The Sympathizer

sympathizer

by Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2015

Man, I really wanted to enjoy this book. There is a certain disappointment in picking up a much lauded book only to find yourself struggling through it every step of the way. In this case, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed in the book – I was disappointed in myself. I’m certain The Sympathizer contains a fair amount of genius within its pages, but, either because I did not have sufficient background knowledge of the Vietnam War, thus exposing my own ignorance, or because I could not follow the stream-of-consciousness narrative, calling into question my English Master’s degree, I clawed my way through every page. You guys…this book made me feel dumb.

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183 Patternmaster

patternmasterby Octavia E. Butler, 1976

Patternmaster is first on my Year of Octavia challenge! It is important to note that while these books are now published in chronological order according to the story’s timeline, I will be reading them according to publication date, which I believe is the way a series should always be read. It is also worth noting that there were originally five books in this series, but one – Survivor – appears to be indefinitely out of print. So, I will forge ahead with what I have available to me, and this brings me to start with the concluding book in this series’ chronology.

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182 The Power

thepower

by Naomi Alderman, 2016

If women were the dominant force in society, the world would be a much more peaceful, compassionate place, right? Well, according to Naomi Alderman…not so much. The Power imagines exactly what would happen in this scenario by granting women the gift of physical superiority. While men, in general, are still bigger and more physically imposing than women, girls and young women have discovered an electric spark that emanates from their hands and allows them to control, subdue, and even kill others. It is no longer women who have to travel in packs, fearing what might reach out for them in the night, but men who tremble at the thought of being randomly assaulted. Some might say dudes had it coming, but I’m not entirely convinced of the righteousness of this world.

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181 Salvage the Bones

salvagethebonesby Jesmyn Ward, 2011

I’ve heard much praise bandied about for this National Book Award-winning novel, so I was excited to finally get my hands on it. Alas, sometimes award winners leave you nodding in complete agreement with the book’s judged greatness, and sometimes award winners leave you wondering if, perhaps, you just don’t understand what makes a book great. Sadly, it was the latter for me with Salvage the Bones, and while I can see glimpses of greatness in it, overall this book just wasn’t my style.

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