User Reviews

Reviews by LucyS
Red At The Bone
Red at the Bone is a haunting story full of life detours, longing, desire, class distinctions, missed opportunities, burdens to be carried, love, support, coming-of-age, absenteeism, loss and life. In essence, obstacles thrown in our way. Iris, her daughter Melody, Melody’s father Aubrey, Aubrey’s mother CathyMarie, Grandmother Sabe and Grandfather Po’Boy are the family members that must contend with the ramifications of choices and generational issues.

Each character has chapters from their point of view. This method of layering the story is memorable. We get to know the character and then the next chapter’s character supplies another dimension to the story.

I highly recommend listening to Red at the Bone. Using multiple voice actors conveys such depth to this narrative that it, I think, makes the novel better. At just under 4 hours of listening or 196 pages of reading, author Jacquelyn Woodson has skillfully written a rich, impactful novel.
Gravity is the Thing
Gravity is the Thing is a self-help book, sort of, in fiction. Abi Sorensen is the owner of the Happiness Café and mother of four-year-old Oscar. She and several others have been invited to an all-expenses paid retreat to learn the truth about The Guidebook, something that all the participants have all been receiving in mysterious, out-of-sequence and puzzling chapters since they were teenagers. Abi has always associated this book with a tragic event from her youth and hungers for answers.

At first, the story may seem illogical or absurd but I found it to be a uniquely told novel about hope, trust, coping with grief and with motherhood. It is optimistic, sad, self-deceiving, bittersweet and romantic. Abi is taken on a long journey of introspection about past decisions and her belief that she was solely responsible for the emotional health in many of her relationships.

Author Jaclyn Moriarty has written several novels for young adults and children. This is her first novel for adults.
Becoming Astrid
Actress Alba August is luminous portraying beloved children’s author Astrid Lindgren of the Pippi Longstocking series in this Swedish language film, Becoming Astrid. Her performance from gawky teenager to a young woman is convincing, tender and compassionate.

Bored and restless, Astrid lived with her large family in rural Sweden. At age 16, she began a job at the local newspaper, first writing up ads and obituary notices, then gained new responsibilities of writing articles. An attraction developed between her married editor and herself and Astrid is soon pregnant. This is really where the story begins. She is forced to move away from her family because of the social mores of the time, around 1926. When her child is born, she must leave him with a foster mother in Denmark. When Astrid finds out that the foster mother can no longer care for young Lasse, she must step up and bring him home. To comfort her son who she barely knows, we see the beginnings of her story-telling talent as she weaves tales to ease his anxiety of being separated from the only person he knew as his mother.

Though her burdens are great, there is a brightness and humanity in how all the actors depict these real-life individuals. It was especially heartwarming to see a reconciliation with her estranged mother. I highly recommend this movie; watch with a box of tissues close at hand.
All That You Leave Behind
Erin Lee Carr is the daughter of New York Times journalist and author David Carr. In this case, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Erin is drawn to journalism and documentary filmmaking, her father is her guiding light. Preserved in emails and texts his advice to her is tender, loving, incredibly supportive, eloquent, direct, gruff, blunt, hard-hitting, spot-on and delivered with just the right touch whenever Erin reaches out to him.

Journalism is a competitive, work hard, play hard environment, constantly changing with breaking news and evolving with the rise of social media. Life is not easy. Both Erin and her father got caught in the trap of losing themselves to addictions and addictive behavior. How do you break free? Erin attributes her hard-won success to her father, leading her forward. He opened some doors for her professionally but she had to do the work. She has spoken for a TEDx talk about her work and has directed two documentaries for HBO. After his sudden death when Erin is 26 years old, she is stopped short, forced to look at her life and actions closely without filters.

All That You Leave Behind is a candid, moving memoir to celebrate fathers, families and I think this is a good read for high school and college graduates.

In the author’s acknowledgements, she includes a thank you and directive to her readers: “YOU (for reading this; now go write someone you love an email).”
When You Read This
Peoples’ lives distill into emails, texts and blog posts in Mary Adkins’ debut novel When You Read This. This feels very familiar since this is how many of us interact today. In this story, the impersonal becomes personal as the narrative fleshes out while we read the communications between the main characters of Smith, Iris, Jade and Carl. Carl is a self-important, manner-less college intern who insinuated himself into Smith’s brand management business to an exasperating yet comic effect. Iris worked for Smith and Jade is Iris’ sister. Their paths intertwine with each other, clients and friends. All this points out how complicated lives are and how we occasionally create our own stumbling blocks. The story is oddly endearing, occasionally philosophical, has tender moments and made me feel like I was peeking into their correspondence.

Try this book if you are a fan of epistolary novels. Other titles in this literary style are Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher and Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson.

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